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Would you be okay with being given an exit time?

I recently attempted to go out to dinner at an up-scale casual restaurant with some friends. We were shopping and had no reservation, and went in at 6pm. The place was quite empty, and when we asked for a table, the hostess told us they had a very large reservation coming in at 7:30, and so if we chose to stay, they would want our table cleared by then. Three of us were fine with this, as we have eaten there before and 1 1/2 hours is plenty. The fourth was adamant we find someplace else, and informed the hostess she was extremely rude. Thoughts?

FYI, we went to the not-quite-as-good spot next door, and were out of there at 7:20

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  1. I think the hostess was very polite and clear. You came in without a reservation and they were willing to accommodate you--within limits. What is rude about that?

    1. Yeah nothing wrong with that.

      1. Totally OK. You didn't have a reservation, others did, and those others would appreciate being seated on time -- as I'm sure your fourth friend would if she were the one with the reservation.

        1. I would have thanked the hostess and been mindful of the time knowing they didn't have to accommodate us at all.

          1. What specifically did the fourth person think was rude? Would she have preferred being told that you couldn't eat there at all?

            1 Reply
            1. re: LeoLioness

              She simply thought being given a time limit shouldn't be done. We didn't really discuss it with her much at the time, as nobody wanted a tense dinner. I'm really not sure what her ideal solution was, as I don't see how it could have been handled in a better way. Because the big reservation should trump a walkin group of 4!

            2. I guess it depends on how it was said. There's a neighborhood restaurant we pop into frequently without reservations. The hostess usually says, "Oh, we have a party coming in at XXX. Do you think you'll be able to be finished by then?" We always assure her that's it would be fine. If, in your case, it was said rudely or dismissively I could understand your friend being miffed no matter the situation. If the hostess said it nicely then your friend was wrong.

              1 Reply
              1. re: PegS

                The hostess very politely told us what the situation was, and was a bit apologetic. IMO, the restaurant did nothing wrong, and I (happily) see that seems to be the consensus view.

              2. We run into this periodically when we travel. Sometimes we're unsure of our schedule and unwilling to commit to a reservation. If it works out we're in the general area, we walk in as soon as they're open and ask if we can be squeezed in. We're always out of there by the agreed upon time and have had many great meals and service when the staff realizes the situation.

                1. I am fine with this, and it's so much better than the alternative, which has happened & I wasn't fine with--being shoved out at the appointed time unceremoniously and with no advance notice.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: foiegras

                    Exactly. Everything was open and above board on the restaurant's part in this case. No reservations? You take what you can get. And the OP and her friends were given 1-1/2 hours (and ended up taking less time than that at the restaurant next door). Had they not said anything and then tried to rush them out close to 7:30 while they were all lingering over coffee, then it would be a situation with which I'd be unhappy. But all parameters were revealed from the start.

                    The OP's friend was definitely in the wrong in this situation.

                  2. Would you rather find out at the end of the meal that you're expected to vacate in ten minutes?

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: JK Grence the Cosmic Jester

                      Hell, sometimes I can barely get the check within 10 minutes of the end of my meal. At the end of my meal I want to vacate.

                    2. My husband and I were in a similar situation while on holiday. We had just rolled into town on a Friday night and wanted to grab a bite to eat close to our B&B. Our innkeeper suggested the bistro two doors down, and because it was early we might be able to get a table. At the restaurant were three empty tables in a row. The hostess was reluctant because they had a large reservation scheduled in an hour. I suggested that if we could have table service for an appetizer and main, we would be happy to move to the bar for dessert, coffee and after dinner drinks. We were promptly seated at the nicest of the three tables. Service was actually quite leisurely and we didn't feel rushed at all, and moving to the bar afterward turned out well.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: AntarcticWidow

                        Ding, ding, ding.

                        I've been through this before. Not a thing wrong with it and in fact, a lot right with it.

                        Maybe time to jettison #4.


                      2. Methinks your friend has control issues. Just think, if you had stayed, you would have had an attentive, well-paced meal. An hour and a half is plenty of time to have an enjoyable meal.

                        1. What I don't get is, if the restaurant was "quite empty" then why was there an issue? Was the very large reservation going to take up most if not all of the restaurant? Four people is not so large a party that it would cause concern in my mind.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: PotatoHouse

                            It was a very large reservation. All of the empty tables, plus two of the in-use tables were needed for the reservation.

                          2. Perfectly fine. The adamant friend has issues.

                            1. Many places will time limit a table, even with reservations.

                              I turned up at one place, without reservation, a couple of years ago, as a solo, and was told they would seat me - but only for 45 minutes, as the table was required by a reservation. . I went elsewhere.

                              1. This happened to me the other night. We were grateful that she told us. And it's nice to know that if we did make a reservation there we know that the restaurant works very hard to honor it.

                                I really don't see why your friend felt offended perhaps she just feels entitled.

                                I wonder how your friend would feel if the situation was reversed with her arriving at a restaurant with a reservation and found the the table wasn't ready?

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Withnail42

                                  Yeah, I'm not sure why she was upset either. She often does feel entitled, and has had people doing whatever she wants for most of her life. If she had a reservation and showed up to find it not ready, she would fume.

                                  (I know she sounds like a treat. It's long and complicated and really not important to others why we are still friends)

                                2. Yes, I would be ok with the scenario CandaGirl describes.

                                  When we visitrestaurants on the spur of the moment, I always ask about being squeezed in and pledge to meet the incoming reservation schedule.

                                  1. Sounds like a very practical and logical hostess. Not rude at all!!

                                    1. I'd be fine with it, as long as there was time for me to finish my meal before I had to vacate the table.