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How much do you trust a hosts estimated seating time?

We went to dinner last night asked the host how long the wait was
he said 30 min we had some things to do so that was fine. We came back in
a little less than 30 min and the host said the table would be a few minutes.
this "in a few minutes" game went on for another 45-50 min until we were seated. If he was up front about the time an hour ago we would have not waited as we could have gone home and cooked some food in the same amount of time.

My question is how much do others trust a hosts estimated seating time? When do you give up?

We felt that we waited long enough and that surely we would be seated soon but that time kept getting longer.

Note: The host tried to make it up to us with free drinks (which would have been nice, if I had not told him twice already that I could not drink for medical reasons)

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  1. am assuming this thread will get moved form the boston board, since it doesn't ask a location specific question...

    walking into anyplace on a saturday night is a crap-shoot, if it's a place on the smaller side, even moreso. they can work off normal table-turn times (90 minutes for a deuce, 2 hours for a party of 4-6, etc.), but if people decide to linger there is little the host can do. this isn't a matter of "trust" for me, lol, though it's a matter of reasonable expectations on both ends.

    a 30-minute wait would be reasonable to me, but i never would have waited another 45 on top of that.

    1. When the restaurant is busy I assume the seating time will be +/- 15 minutes of what they say. In my experience the host/ess is never great at estimating seating time.

      When I host a party, guests can expect to eat no sooner than 30-60 minutes from when I say dinner will be served.

      1. it would depend on whether or not i was a regular at the restaurant.

        1. Reminds me of a story about Dan Tana's in LA. Party comes in without a reservation and is informed that there will be a two hour wait. He says "Do you know who I am? I'm John Travolta!' Suitably impressed, the head waiter says 'Oh, for _you_ Mr Travolta, the wait will be _three_ hours!"

          2 Replies
          1. re: mwhitmore

            perfect response!
            and funny!

            basically, if a person needs to ask, "Do you know who I am?" it's a very bad sign to begin with.

            when i'm a regular at a restaurant, i consistently tip extravagantly.
            when i walk in the door of any restaurant of which i'm a regular, EVERYONE already knows who i am--from the parking attendant on up.

            when i go to restaurants of which i am not a regular, i can always tell which patrons ARE the regulars at that particular restaurant.
            the hostess will make a visit to his/her/their table during the meal to make sure everything is alright. waiters/waitresses that have other stations will find a moment to drop by and say "hi!" as will the bartender if the party regularly drinks alcohol at the place.

            dan tana's has MANY A-list stars that are REGULARS.
            john travolta was just a movie star that was dropping in and on top of that he was obnoxious.

            1. re: mwhitmore

              Ha!

            2. Shame on the host. Some restaurants will play this game..knowing that a person would be less likely to hang around if they were told the wait would be 1 hour+.

              I am not one to hang around a restaurant for more than 30 minutes waiting for a table. For 30 minutes, I can sit at the bar, have a drink and socialize..but anything longer than that I consider a waste of my valuable time.
              The best way to avoid this ..in my opinion..it to make a reservation whenever possible.

              1. As someone who rarely makes reservations I often find myself at the mercy of the host. I think the vast majority do a good job in at least getting close. Sometimes stuff happens where the timing gets thrown off like people eating dessert and then having another cup of coffee or just camping. Maybe someone with a reservation showed up early and were given the table that you would have had. My guess is that the table they planned for you "in about 30 minutes" became available in 20 minutes before you returned. It was probably given to someone who came in behind you but stuck around and was on scene when a table opened up. You probably got bumped because the host might have thought you wouldn't return which happens all the time. That they offered a round of drinks indicates to me they value your business and acknowledges they made a mistake. I'd cut them some slack. As others have stated if you really want that table, you'll have to make a reservation.

                1. Well........BEFORE my new job, which includes seating people at a small wine bar with food, I used to feel differently about this. NOW I realize that, depending on the size of the restaurant, it can be very difficult to estimate turnover times. In a very large place I'd think it's easier because of the number of tables and varying guest behavior. In a small place all it takes is a couple of big (let alone combined) tables just 'sitting there' after their service to seriously screw up seating estimates.

                  The better the staff is at estimating, the more credible they are to guests.......... but it isn't always as easy as it might seem. Just sayin'.

                  1. Where I am I find that the restaurants always give a serious over estimate. If they say 30 minutes, the actual wait is generally 10-15, if they say an hour, it's more like 30 minutes.