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May 28, 2012 05:53 PM

Tip and other etiquette for table sitting

Manhattan. I'm going to have a "meeting" with someone at a local diner. I notice that it's empty between meals and others seem to be conducting business there or just sitting around for long periods of time. I think we'll just order coffee to rent the table. if the place is really empty (i.e., the server doesn't need the table), what's the protocol? I thought maybe put out a $5 bill on the table for the server to see, for one hour of sitting during which time the server does nothing? More $$ for a longer sit? (We might be there two hours.) Thanks.

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  1. I would speak to them and find out what they expect from folks using their space for a meeting. Just seems like the right way to proceed.

    1. If they don't stop serving food all day, ordering coffee and tipping the server should be fine, just let them know. If they stop food service from say 2-5:30, then sitting in the dining room and keeping the server there is not something I would do.

      1. Just give them a heads-up. Yes, it is true that true that they may not need the table, and it is true that your tip is more than enough to cover the trouble. Still, it is always nice to ask if it is alright to rent the space. I have been to restaurants where they don't like it, while others don't mind.

        P.S.: When I was young, I used to TA, and some of us go to restaurant/cafe for grading papers. It is my experience that most cafes don't mind prolong sitting, while some restaurants do not like it.

        1. Thanks, everyone. I ended up asking the host on the way in, as well as our server, whether it was okay for us to sit awhile. A different server came up to us after a while and asked us to pay the check since he was going off duty. He hadn't done anything for us, but i guess we had taken his table. i told him to keep the change and then I left $5 on the table. i felt comfortable that i had covered my bases and done right by everyone there. i guess i'll be welcome the next time.

          3 Replies
          1. re: NycLass

            Your original server probably didn't get anything, as the change you left from the bill likely went to the server who closed out your bill. The $5 you then left on the table probably went to the server who had the table next. It seems to me the person who actually waited on you got no tip.

            1. re: pollymerase

              Probably, but life is unfair. I think NycLass did what he reasonably could.

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                I realize it's not fair, that's the system, etc, but I just wanted to point out that the person who actually did the work probably got nothing--thus, not really done right by. If I suspect I'm going to have an open bar tab or be camping at a table through a time when servers/bartenders are getting cut and/or a shift change is occurring (typically afternoons, slow evenings, etc) I'll mention to them that I would like to be cashed out prior to them leaving so I can get them a tip and have their sales recorded. If they decline, I usually try to give them a tip at that time so they won't receive nothing if the place where they work doesn't keep track of such things and give them the tip on their next shift.