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Solo Patrons Hogging Booths... A Problem?

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Aloha Kakou:

Ordinarily I'm pretty relaxed about most things that can happen in restos and bars, but lately I've been noticing an uptick in the incidence of 4- and 6-place booth seating taken by ONE diner. It doesn't seem to be cases of an advance guard waiting for companions, nor the rear guard lingering. And frankly, it would not register at all on my radar if there weren't other patrons waiting to be seated. The common denominator seems to be oblivious Web activity, sometimes to the exclusion of food and/or drink. And IME, it seems not to matter if there is available solo bar/counter or 2-place seating.

Does this bother anyone else? Have we as a society become so solipsistic that it doesn't occur to these diners that they are being selfish? Or am I out of touch?

Aloha,
Kaleo

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  1. Why make an issue of it? In a seat-yourself place, customers who arrive before you are entitled to choose where they sit for whatever reason or no reason; they need not sacrifice their own comfort for the benefit of random strangers such as you. If customers are seated by the maitre d', then blame him/her, not the customer.

    You might as well complain about customers who take their time eating, drinking, and leaving. Why shouldn't they enjoy their dining experience at their own pace? If those who come later have to wait a bit longer to be seated, so be it.

    1. Join them.

      1. Frankly, I'm not sure I understand the complaining I often see on these boards sometimes. As a customer, and one that often dines alone - and sitting sometimes at a 4-top or even, sometimes, a six top, the considerations of prospective customers that come after me never enter my mind. If it made a difference to the restaurant, I assume they would not seat me there or would otherwise ask me to move after the fact. Most of the time I assume the staff thinks my seating, wherever it would be, will be to their benefit, either that evening, alone, or in repeat patronage.

        1. If I had a party of 4-6 and could not be seated because only 2 tops were vailable and I saw solo diners at 6 tops, I might be bothered, BUT I'd be upset with management, NOT the solo diner.

          The problem I see is that you state the solo diner is busy with web activity, not dining. I resent people hogging tables near electrical outlets for long periods of time with just a coffee or minial meal when serious diners want to eat a meal. Again, management is at fault.

          1. Went to a place a few months back where I'd made a reservation as a solo diner. Place was busy in its main room, but fairly quiet in the not very pleasant room at the rear. They said they'd seat me in the main room - pointing at a 4-top. I said I was fine in the back room and didnt want to take up a prime table. Manager said "No, you made a reservation, please sit here". And they very happily cleared three of the four place settings.

            1. It is the restaurant's decision, not the diner's, though I choose not to frequent restaurants where "oblivious Web activity" is common among the patrons.

              1. Wow! I didn't expect some of the posts but for balance, I will agree with Kaleo.

                I see this most at Panera, which is for sure not fine dining, but does offer wifi, as y'all know.

                There are a few different issues here---jumping to mind
                One is, management failed by seating less than an entire party during a busy time
                Second is, the patron in the booth for six is oblivious, and management failed by not training the hostess/seater to say "these booths are for parties of four or more."

                My local Panera (again, essentially just a fast food-ish place) has signs asking single and couple patrons to use tables especially during busy times, and they limit time on wifi (in fact, they do it for you if you're using Panera wifi--30 minutes--in case patrons can't self-monitor).

                So Kaleo, no, it doesn't occur to those diners (or surfers, or sippers, whatever they're doing in the booth) that they're selfish.

                This is why in the lunch spot I bought a salad from today, there were single guys hanging out in booths for four, small tables for two with five people around them, and three two-person tables with no chairs.

                Is it the end of the world? Nah. Is it awkward? Sure.

                21 Replies
                1. re: pinehurst

                  our local Paneras are all self seating, so there is no control over who gets which table, BUT they limit occupancy to 45 minutes between 11am and 2pm, so webusers won't keep diners from being seated. When the newest Panera in the area opened, they placed the electrical outlets only near the tables for 2, none are at the booths.

                  1. re: pinehurst

                    I have only been to Panera once (ehh) but the wife likes it and she said this seems to be a prevalent issue there.

                    1. re: pinehurst

                      When I saw this thread I immediately thought of Panera. Once during Xmas shopping I went to one for lunch and stood in line and watched people awkwardly looking for a table. At almost every table there was one student with their laptop and books without any food in front of them. Thankfully an employee did go up to some tables and asked the people to pack up. But if I saw a table w/only one person I wouldn't hesitate to just ask if the other seats are taken.

                      1. re: viperlush

                        Yeah, seriously. What's wrong with sharing a table?

                        1. re: linguafood

                          Lots. "I've got a good idea sweetheart. Why don't we go to 'Eddies' steak house tonight and drop two hundred bucks and BTW lets share our dining experience with a total stranger with smokers breath and dirty underwear drenched in 'Musk' after shave.
                          Brain wave!!!!!!!! Lets open a restaurant where the concept is to sit with total strangers. If we're lucky the total stranger will have a screaming two year old that needs breast feeding. That ought to be a winner.

                          1. re: Puffin3

                            So I'm guessing that you aren't a fan of communal tables?

                            1. re: Puffin3

                              You've had some crappy restaurant experiences, then. So sorry.

                              1. re: Puffin3

                                I'm also guessing that you've never eaten in Europe where not only are communal tables regularly seen, even individual tables are often a tight squeeze.

                                I truly believe, based on my own experience, that tight dining quarters is why most Europeans can carry on a conversation without the entire dining room overhearing it and why most Americans cannot.

                                1. re: gardencook

                                  I'm curious to know the European countries where you'd regularly see communal tables. Of course, I havnt dined in every one of our continent's countries but I can't recall seeing them In the countries I regularly visit (Ireland, France, Belguim, Netherlands, Cyprus, Malta, Italy, Spain) - or the UK where I live.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    I was thinking the same thing -- sure not common in France.

                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                      It's not completely unusual in Germany, but depends on the restaurant. Certainly in the more casual places, this is not a big deal.

                                  2. re: gardencook

                                    I've been in casual restaurants in Europe and seen a stranger in a busy place walk up to a half empty table, ask if the seat is taken and then sit down.

                                    1. re: gardencook

                                      I haven't seen this in the UK, Iceland, or Italy. And believe me, I was eating at very casual places.

                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                        London was the first place I saw it, but we are talking 40 years ago.

                                      2. re: gardencook

                                        I eat out pretty frequently and I think "most" is a fairly generous generalization.

                                      3. re: Puffin3

                                        Actually,many times when it's just my husband and I we have eaten at the communal table at Carrabba's and also at the area where they do the cooking. We have met some interesting people and have had some interesting conversations,which has made for a fun evening.

                                      4. re: linguafood

                                        Some people might not mind sharing a table, and that's great for them. Personally, I could not cope it. Dining alone is peaceful and perfect for my occasionally introverted self.

                                      5. re: viperlush

                                        I agree with you both, but this is doable in casual, kinda friendly places like Panera, not the one the OP described.

                                      6. re: pinehurst

                                        I don't understand the appeal of hanging out sipping a coffee or whatever while surfing the internet. If you are from out of town and having lunch while house hunting, ok. But a local as a regular hang out, the appeal eludes me.

                                        1. re: rasputina

                                          Free WiFi?

                                        2. re: pinehurst

                                          Interesting about Panera. That was the first restaurant that entered my mind when I read the post. I have been to a number of them and never have I seen a sign about sitting at tables nor have I seen any mention of limiting the amount of time that customers can spend on wifi. I don't sit at a table that holds more then two when I am by myself,nor do I use my their wifi,but I think that limiting the size of the table and limiting the amount of time you can hold up the table is a wise decision on their part. Panera is one of those restaurants that most people consider a quick in and out,at least I do.

                                        3. I frequent a restaurant in my area.

                                          At every single table sits one person with their computer. There is no internet service, it's just a bunch of writers, writing. Each one sits there for hours and, maybe once an hour, each one will get up and purchase something, like a cup of coffee. For some reason the owner(s) like it. I have no idea how they make a profit except for people like me who come in, purchase a lunch or breakfast, and find somewhere else to eat it. It's none of my business and I could go elsewhere if I wanted to , but I don't.

                                          1. If chairs at the tables in most places had better padding, I'd be fine seated anywhere. As it is, I have no...ummm...personal padding, and while I keep an extra seat cushion in the car for meetings, it might seem odd to take it with me to a nice restaurant. So I ask for a booth, if it's clear from the host stand that the other chairs are hard. Most often these are booths that could easily seat 4.

                                            That being said...although occasionally I'll flip through a book on my iPad while waiting for my order, I don't linger just to use my computer. And I usually eat before the evening rush, so I've never seen anyone waiting to be seated for any amount of time.

                                            1. lol! They erased my original reply.

                                              To answer your question directly, yes, you are out of touch.

                                              I dine alone frequently. I do not sit at the bar because I do not want to dine directly next to a complete stranger. If I have a newspaper, small tables are inconvenient because one cannot eat and read without creating a food-newspaper mess.

                                              Anyway, why are you worrying about other people's business?

                                              20 Replies
                                              1. re: Dagney

                                                He's not worrying about other people's business. He's worried about not being able to get a booth.

                                                1. re: Dagney

                                                  Exactly. The typical tiny 1-2 person table has barely enough room for your food, and basically no room for your reading material. If I'm dining alone, chances are very good I've brought something to read, and I don't want to fight the salt shaker for a place to put my magazine.

                                                  1. re: Dagney

                                                    I dine alone frequently during the workday or when traveling for work and previously when I was single. As I've had an e-reader for years now, 2 tops are more than fine for most solo dining situations. I really don't mind as much taking up a 2 top in such situations, but feel somewhat bad about taking up a 4 top if there are not a lot of other 4+ tables open. If they are busy I definitely can understand the host/hostess not allowing solo diners at 4 tops that might generate 3x to 4x more revenue.

                                                    1. re: Dax

                                                      ...whereas those old fogeys like me who read (gasp!!) actual PAPER copies of newspapers printed in INK on NEWSPRINT (think NYT format) made of sheets of cellulose need more space. :-)

                                                      1. re: huiray

                                                        And half of a 2 top is not enough to open two pages of newspaper? Whatever, I am not judging I just don't like to do it.

                                                        1. re: Dax

                                                          Nope, it isn't. Not even with plonking your plate on top of the newspaper folded in two. Not with the tiny 2-tops with all that other stuff (pepper+salt, mini vase maybe, sauces, this and that, napkin, glasses, cutlery...) plus your plate or bowl plus the dishes of food [so in a Chinese place I might typically have three standard size plates - 2 with food, 1 my serving plate. A NYT opened out is 24" x 22.5" which is about the size of the entire 2-top in many places if not most. There is simply not enough real estate. When I *do* take a 2-top (see my post below, for example) the only way to read the paper and eat at the same time is to fold it into quarters or even eights.

                                                          And no, I'm not giving up my paper copies. I like reading the papers in its full-sized paper formats. Even if I use their web editions as well.

                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                            I'm in complete agreement with you on this, hurray. Reading the newspaper is one of my greatest pleasures. 2-tops seem to have become smaller, though, and it makes reading the paper at one much more difficult.
                                                            It *is* fascinating, though, how many people don't read a newspaper anymore like they used to, in public. Gone are the days when it was the norm and reading a paper at a 2 top would never have been an issue.

                                                            1. re: huiray

                                                              My husband needs a big table to read the paper because he spreads it out. I on the other hand hold it in front of me and fold it vertically so it doesn't take up any table space.

                                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                                I'm with your husband. I, personally, would find it very difficult to hold the paper in one hand vertically, folded, while eating with the other hand with the food on the table; I am envisioning having to peer behind the paper to see what I am doing with the food then rearrange the vertically-held paper to get food to my mouth then rearrange the paper (presumably still held vertically in my non-food-handling hand) and rearrange my food-handling hand and carry on. Sigh. I get exhausted just thinking about it.

                                                                1. re: huiray

                                                                  <I, personally, would find it very difficult to hold the paper in one hand vertically, folded, while eating...>

                                                                  Really? How about riding the NYC subway, standing up & holding onto the vertical bar while holding the very specifically folded NYT & WSJ, a certain way so you don't have to turn pages or rearrange (a learned folding technique that is like magic), while @ the same time eating breakfast and drinking hot coffee, reapplying lipgloss and hugging the snug pocketbook to the hip, so it won't get robbed, all the while keeping the balance so as not to tip over and fall into someone's lap....aaaah.

                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                    Why would I want to reproduce a subway struggle when I am sitting down in a restaurant? I am not that sort of a masochist.

                                                                    1. re: huiray

                                                                      LOL....hilarious.

                                                                      I'm with ya, huiray, I'm just saying it can be done.

                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                        Only if you are eating one-handed food - like a hot dog or small sandwich (NO Dagwood Bumstead concoctions) and your drink is in a sippy-capped cup and you have a holster or purse strapped over your shoulder to function as a holster for the food and capped drink.

                                                                        Heh. I'd like to see you do the juggle with newspaper, a plate with individual fork and knife, another plate with food on it, a separate open-top glass, etc. while holding on to that vertical bar - all simultaneously, of course, and, importantly, do so successfully without spilling food or drink or dropping anything or breaking the plate or glass or getting any food or drink on your neighboring passengers. Of course, it shall be on a moving train, you shall be standing up and holding on to said vertical strap, and you are not allowed to have one of those tray contraptions strapped to your front like those cigarette-vending ladies used to have in olden days when prancing around smoky night clubs. I shall also question you on the content of what you were reading in the newspaper. :-) ;-P

                                                                        1. re: huiray

                                                                          :-).

                                                                          For sure, the comics.

                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                            Oh yes....

                                                                            Did I mention 6" stilettos? I could do it, could you?

                                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                                              Really? With aforementioned plate and glass and fork & knife properly held, plus paper; or with hot dog & sippy cup? Please have a video taken of you doing aforementioned claimed exercise and publish it.

                                                                              I don't do stilettos, let alone 6-inchers. I am not a cross-dresser.

                                                                  2. re: huiray

                                                                    When I am eating, I fold the paper and read small sections. But mainly I'm focused on trying to eat my eggs before one of the cats does.

                                                              2. re: Dax

                                                                No, half a two top is not enough space at which to read and eat. As I note below and the poster above states, it is not even enough room to eat.

                                                              3. re: huiray

                                                                that's why they invented tabloids (NY Post format) for straphangers, etc. I read my NY Times at home with breakfast.

                                                            2. re: Dagney

                                                              Isnt that what a library is for?

                                                              Im with Kaleo on this one - send the campers packing!

                                                            3. A four top is the minimum seating I will accept - when dining alone. There is simply not enough room on a two-person table - heck, I'm a big guy, there's not enough room there before I'm served.

                                                              1. You should ask management if they could free up that booth for you. And wave your arms to indicate how much larger your party is, and how much more revenue you would generate.

                                                                BTW, for those who argue there is no etiquette rule that says a solo diner at a booth should be mindful whether they're hogging a booth during prime time, is there an etiquette rule that prevents a party of 4 from just sitting at the booth as well ? Because I don't remember that being written down anywhere either.

                                                                1. I often visit restaurants solo. Sometimes I am seated in booths that are meant for many people, presumably because they are considered more comfortable and/or are what is available at the time. I don't seat myself in those place unless I am invited to, but if that's where the host puts me, I'm also not going to argue with them, nor am I going to get up and move half way through my meal. (I might move, if asked politely enough, but it's never happened.)

                                                                  Also, I don't sit at bars. My feet were meant to touch the ground.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: Jacquilynne

                                                                    Love it -- "my feet were meant to touch the ground" -- I'm long legged and make a beeline for the bar knowing that my feet will touch the ground when dining solo. I also prefer the relatively privacy of the bar. But I don't do it to avoid hogging a larger table. If I need to spread out for some reason, I'd take one for sure if it was first come first served, or it was offered to me. Not a fan of anyone who camps for hours but that does seem to be the management's issue to deal with.

                                                                  2. Yeah, it bugs me. But I'm pretty anal retentive, so I figured it was just me. As a kid, one of my heros was Politeness Man.

                                                                    1. It depends. In the situation you describe, with non-eating and web-surfing going on indefinitely, yes it would bother me. In the Panera Bread situation described by others above, yes it would bother me. In fact I get annoyed just reading about it. In both cases that is if there are other customers waiting for tables or the place is getting crowded so that it is quite likely that there will be larger parties that will need a table of sufficient size.

                                                                      I frequently dine alone so am no stranger to "seating arrangements" and the various permutations of management-customer dances regarding where a solo diner is seated. I personally like to have a four-top if possible, because I frequently have my newspaper or something with me and I like to read as I eat. In one place I used to go to all the time the owner-hostess always gave me a booth or 4-top table if one was available, without my asking. There were times, such as at a busy lunch, with parties of folks waiting, when I stopped her and despite her protestations asked to sit at a 2-top instead even though it would be difficult to read my paper then. At other places I will ask for a larger table or a table with more light if such are available, usually when I am being led to a 2-top with many other tables and booths available.

                                                                      On the other hand, I get a little uncomfortable if I am seated at a 6-top by myself whether a restaurant is full or near empty. It seems so... excessive, especialy if they have to clear 5 place settings.

                                                                      I linger after my meal, continuing to read whatever I am reading at my 4-top or booth, only if the place is not busy or there are many tables available, but also keep tabs on whether my server (in mid-range places and below, especially) is at the end of his/her shift and settle my bill so he/she can have the tip in hand before he/she leaves - and then I generally leave. At high-end places that is not a concern, of course.

                                                                      1. I don't even pay attention to how many people are sitting at what size table. But then I tend go to restaurants on off hours and days most often.

                                                                        1. Hint: Check out any busy/money making restaurant on the planet and notice how many 'six tops' have one or two patrons. You have a better chance of seeing a unicorn. And people wonder why most restaurants go broke.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Puffin3

                                                                            +1

                                                                          2. Gosh, thanks for the replies.

                                                                            It's obvious that there are innumerable factual variations that make this subjectively more or less tolerable, but the actual experience that prompted my OP was: (a) the solo was in a booth that easily could have squeezed in 8 good thin friends, and the only large top in the house; (b) it was self-seating; (c) there were several other parties of 4 or more (including mine) waiting, (d) it was an iPhone he was mentally masturbating with; and (e) barstools, sidebars and 2-tops all were available nearby.

                                                                            It's also clear from several of the responses that many people feel no compunction about taking 4 or more places when one or two not only would do, but also when it greatly inconveniences others and cuts the house's take. I'm fascinated at the absence of shame and self-awareness the practice conveys, but hardly surprised.

                                                                            To me, it's a little like a solo driver using the carpool lane, or that full-cart grocery shopper in the "5 items or fewer" checkout line. We're all raised a little differently, I guess...

                                                                            Aloha,
                                                                            Kaleo

                                                                            20 Replies
                                                                            1. re: kaleokahu

                                                                              When I was much younger and much more impulsive (not to mention full of myself), my friends and I would have sat down in the booth and asked the sole occupant, "Looks like there's plenty of room here...you don't mind if we share, do you?"

                                                                              Times like that really call for a stainless steel hankie, tho....

                                                                              1. re: ricepad

                                                                                Nice Politeness Man reference.

                                                                                1. re: ricepad

                                                                                  of course, that's where I would say "why yes, actually, I do mind"

                                                                                  I hate eating alone -- and I hate being shoved off into a corner at a postage-stamp-sized table that gets bumped every time someone comes through the kitchen door.

                                                                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                    We would have ignored your protests and either (a) tried to engage you in conversation or (b) ignored you, depending on our mood.

                                                                                    (Yes, I have actually done this, but again, it was a long time ago.)

                                                                                    1. re: ricepad

                                                                                      which is kinda why I hate eating alone.

                                                                                      It's a pretty sad statement that it's still difficult for a woman to go out to eat by herself or even to have a glass of wine and to just be left alone.

                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                        If you had been at a 2-top or even a 4-top, we would have left you alone. But if you're sitting at the ONLY 6- or 8-top in the place and there are smaller tables available, prepare for company!

                                                                                        1. re: ricepad

                                                                                          even though the restaurant staff seated me at that table?

                                                                                          Or that the 6-top was the only table available when I arrived, and the party of four left after my meal arrived?

                                                                                          Or that I was working through dinner on a presentation (not even on my laptop) that I have to do in the morning, even though I got bumped off of my first flight, missed my connection, and got caught in a rain delay, so I really need to work?

                                                                                          All of which are actual things that have happened to me.

                                                                                          Is there some reason why a solo diner has less claim on a table when they are paying for that meal?

                                                                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                            Well, the devil is in the details, right? In the OP (and clarifying subthread), we're talking about a self-seating restaurant with other tables available, and you're (rhetorically, at least, not you personally) sitting at a 6-top mentally [pleasuring yourself] with your iPhone.

                                                                                            Now, if you're an Army general and you have battle plans unrolled over the entire table and you're clearly plotting attack/counterattack strategy, airstrike potential, and logistical support, we'd probably leave you alone. But if you're cluelessly (my leapt-to conclusion) occupying way more space than you need, you may get company.

                                                                                            1. re: ricepad

                                                                                              and you may get far more protest and pushback (very loud and very rude, if necessary) than you could ever think possible, as well as a very loud shout for help from management and other patrons.

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                And if I were in that restaurant, I would shout with you. All the blatant judgement against a single diner on this thread is mildly bizarre. Apparently, we should be ashamed of our horribly selfish ways, because ALL we are doing is "mentally masturbating.". Are there mediums on this thread? How do these people know what we are doing? And is it their business?

                                                                                                1. re: Dagney

                                                                                                  I don't necessarily feel like the responses in the thread are anti solo dining, but rather anti camping at a large table while leisurely playing with your devices or reading a paper, etc. I don't think people have a problem if you are eating, are between courses, but rather lingering longer than needed when not eating/drinking and instead just taking up valuable real estate while others wait for someone to finish playing fruit ninja 30 minutes after finishing their sandwich.

                                                                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                          +1

                                                                                  2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                    Well, driving in the carpool lane as a single driver is illegal, and the 5 items or less issue is usually posted. In a self seating restaurant, a diner may choose any table as per the sign, "seat yourself.".

                                                                                    There are many things people should ashamed of and self aware about in this world, but eating alone in a restaurant is pretty low on that list. First world problems.

                                                                                    1. re: Dagney

                                                                                      The issue isn't eating alone - it's hogging up seats when eating alone. I seriously doubt third world folks would be blase about one person taking up the seating of 6 to 8 people. Space is usually at a premium for them as it is.

                                                                                    2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                      Who are you that your convenience and comfort are more important than mine? Talk about sefish. As a solo diner, I am at the restaurant to enjoy my meal and the environment, not to shovel the food into my mouth while sitting at an uncomfortable table. And, since you seem to have forgotten, I AM paying for my meal, which includes the space and time in the restaurant that I require to enjoy my meal. As, per your statements there were/are multiple 2-tops/bar seats available, why didn’t/don’t you and your group grab a couple of them?

                                                                                      1. re: Vidute

                                                                                        lol! love your reply. I frequently dine alone and this whole discussion is hilarious.

                                                                                        1. re: Vidute

                                                                                          Give um hell Vidute! I don't dine out often but you should be able to enjoy your meal without worrying if you are ofending those waiting for your table.

                                                                                          One of the reasons I'd rather eat at home. The grub is good, the seating is comfortable. And I like the chef

                                                                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                            <<like>>

                                                                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                                              Do you take reservations? And may I have the window booth? ;)

                                                                                          2. re: kaleokahu

                                                                                            LOL!

                                                                                            i'm with you, K.

                                                                                          3. When a solo diner feels that the only way for them to enjoy their meal is tying up the only large table in the restaurant for an extended period of time without a single thought of the large groups that dont have a place to sit - that is the DEFINITION of selfish in this persons book.

                                                                                            I think some of the comments that come in support of the solo diner suggested by the OP are from the same type of people that would say "why should I give my subway seat up to that elderly person - my comfort is just as important." Some people get it, others dont and trying to reason/rationalize is pointless.

                                                                                            4 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                              Large groups can break into smaller groups and use smaller tables. And, if as you and the op state, there's just the one large table, what happens when there are mutliple large groups? Ummm... let me search my memory.... oh, yes! As I recall, smaller tables are re-arranged or the group is seated at adjoining tables.

                                                                                              And to compare an elderly person (or pregnant woman, or a person with a disability) having a physical NEED for a seat on public transport to a large group that WANTS a particular seat in a restaurant is ridiculous! NEED vs WANT.

                                                                                              Yes, continue to rationalize, joe777cool. You definitely DON'T get it.

                                                                                              1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                so let me get this right - the solo diner NEEDS the big table?

                                                                                                got it

                                                                                                Make everyone else change their dining plans to accomodate one person tying up a huge table, you are right....no selfishness at all.

                                                                                                1. re: joe777cool

                                                                                                  nope, you don't "got" it.

                                                                                                  I wanted the table. The table was available, I got the table. I am sitting there until I finish my meal, for which I am PAYING.

                                                                                                  You want my table? You wait your turn. If you don't want to wait your turn, take smaller tables or leave.

                                                                                                  Oh, and if the large table was occupied by six people who are leisurely enjoying their meals, beverages and each other's company, what would you do?

                                                                                                  1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                    and (assuming it's not fast food) if the restaurant sends a server over and serves you at that table, then they have given their (implied or express) consent that it's okay for a solo person to be at that table -- for any of a number of reasons (as above - the booth was the only table available at the time -- a need for a larger table -- a desire to NOT be shoved off into a crowded, dark corner -- larger parties left AFTER the solo was seated - the solo waiting for someone -- the solo the last person of a large party -- etc etc etc)

                                                                                                    Your gripe, then, is with the restaurant -- not with the customer.

                                                                                            2. I used to live in a small town and everyone came to the local coffee shop. There were tables for 2/4 against the walls and at one end but the most popular tables were 2 big round ones that easily held 8, at a minimum. First groups would congregate early and from then on people would come and go based on their schedules. If there were 8 at the table, they'd all just squeeze in closer to add more chairs when more people arrived. Politics were the most popular subject--one table held the left wingers, the other the middle of the roaders (there were few conservatives in this town) and it was a wonderful way to while away a few minutes or a few hours. Around the edges sat the folks on their computers who never seemed to be having half as much fun. Wish it wasn't thousands of miles away.

                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                When it comes to patrons hogging tables or booths, nothing begins to compare to the self-absorption and selfishness of large groups. They tend to camp out for hours, taking 2-3 times the time window usually allotted for patrons, often creating noise that disturbs others, hanging out in traffic lanes, kids making a huge mess. And they get indignant when made to pay a compulsory tip!

                                                                                                1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                  If you are referring to the group I wrote about, we were all regulars that bought many cups of coffee, all sorts of breakfast items and we always put a good amount into the tip jar. Moms with kids would come over to show us their newest outfits/tricks and sometimes one would come up on a lap for a read while their tired mom had a cup of coffee. This was a coffee shop made for socializing, so those who wanted peace and quiet either went to the other place in town or came in the afternoon. We crammed a lot of people around one table, thus leaving other ones open.

                                                                                                  1. re: escondido123

                                                                                                    Nope I was not referring to your group.

                                                                                                    1. re: Leonardo

                                                                                                      Well, we were welcome there, in fact the owner designed the place to be the neighborhood hang out. There were worn leather chairs tucked into corners, a bar at the window for those who wanted to watch the world go by, and the big tables for groups. He explained that he wanted an alternative to Starbucks or else he who would have filled the place with tables for 2 and 4. The owner set the tone for the place and we followed his lead.