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Walking out on a restaurant meal

Last night my wife, MIL and I went to an early (6PM) dinner at a restaurant directly on the Connecticut shore. i have dined at this restaurant (and at it's previous location) for more than 55 years.

We were seated at a booth directly by the waterside windows and were enjoying our appetizers. The restaurant was 2/3 empty (not unusual for 6PM on a Tuesday), the hostess brought in a family group of 6 adults and two tykes and proceeded to sit them at the large booth next to us. The youngest was crying and screaming and the two oldest adults were hacking away.
I asked the hostess to either seat the group somewhere else, or move us. I was not going to listen to the bawling toddler and hacking oldsters all during my meal. The hostess refused to do either.
I asked for the manager, and was told none was available. My wife asked for Ms. X (the owner's daughter, a friend of my wife). The hostess told my wife that Ms. X was not in. My wife said, Then why do I see her sitting at the bar. The hostess replied, I mean she's not working, you can't involve her, I'm in charge.
I said to the hostess: "then you explain to Ms. X that your stupidity caused us to get up and walk out. I threw a $10 bill on the table for the waitress and we walked. We were not going to put up with this bad treatment by a stupid hostess.
Today, my wife was at the hairdresser, Ms. X was on the other side of the salon and didn't see my wife. Ms. X was busy complaining to her hairdstylist that there was some old fool hacking away at her restaurant last night and 3 tables walked.
My wife walked over top Ms. X and said: "We were the first to walk. I gave your hostess the chance to move them or us to a different table, but she wouldn't, and wouldn't let me talk to you (even though I saw you at the bar)."
Ms. X was horrified, asked my wife to bring me and MIL back as her guests. Wife said, she'd offer, but intil the offending hostess was gone, we'd not return.
Bad help and lack of management can sink a restaurant that's been there 70+ years and 4 generations.
If my wife didn't consider Ms. X a friend, I'd name the restaurant and probably have posted negatively on Yelp.
I don't generally walk out on a restaurant, BUT there was no excuse for being subjected to both the poorly behaved toddler and an adult who sounded like he had consumption.

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  1. I'm assuming the tenner was just to cover the cost of the apps.

    1. <Bad help and lack of management can sink a restaurant that's been there 70+ years...>

      Conversely, stellar help and wonderful management can *make* a restaurant.
      A hostess is one of the most important jobs in a restaurant. It's the first person the patron meets and the last one they experience as they go out the door.
      It'll be interesting to see if the owner fires her, as she should. You and your wife absolutely did the right thing.

      1. Dining at the same place for 55 years. Bravo. First of all the customer is always right. They are a service to you. And you even left a ten dollar tip. I would forget about it for now. Don't eat there for a while. Speak with your dollars. Mention the service next time you return. Word travels fast . Those hairdressers.

        22 Replies
        1. re: emglow101

          "First of all the customer is always right. "

          ~~~~~~~~

          and the money of that other family is just as green. perhaps they haven't been dining there for decades like the op, but am sure the restaurant wants to please them too. the adults could have used better judgement than to come out with coughs/colds, whatever, but who knows their situation.

          am sorry, but it is utterly presumptuous to ask for another table to be moved. YOU should have asked to be moved.

          also, the staff is only as good as their management and training allows. calling someone in over her head "stupid" is incredibly rude. i'm a lifer and would have been very upset to be on the receiving end of that and a younger person would have been more than flustered. how is she supposed to make anything better after that? now, as a patron, YOU are insisting she be fired?

          for all you know, "ms x" might have told that hostess that she was at her personal wit's end and to not bother her for anything.

          you've been a loyal guest for longer than i have been alive. ms.x is trying to make things right for you. let her, and let that be that. let HER handle her staff as she sees fit without holding anybody hostage.

          as a semi- ot remark, "ms x" seems less than circumspect if she is in public bitching about guests in what sounds like a small town.

          1. re: hotoynoodle

            Please read MY post, I asked the hostess to seat them elsewhere or move us. she refused to do either...................

            1. re: bagelman01

              i did read your op. you gave her 2 options: us or them, in effect cornering her. imagine if you were that other family and the hostess asked YOU to move?

              a discreet request of "gee, the dining room is pretty empty. could you please us move us away from that family? the parents seem sick and the kids are too rambunctious for us to enjoy our meal." not combative, not aggressive and no name-calling would have resulted.

              dining once at a 3-star michelin in nyc. my friend and i were in for the long haul, having ordered a tasting menu, but it was early and the place yet to be full.

              a woman with an ENORMOUS hat was seated at a central window table. the host tried seating several parties next to this woman, but her hat was SO BIG, it touched the other person behind her!

              the host did not ask hat-lady to move, nor to take off her hat, even though the thing was absurd in its enormity.

              we managed to joke with him about it and he was simply resigned to not having use of that table til hat-lady was gone.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                <not combative, not aggressive and no name-calling would have resulted>

                Really? In a perfect world, perhaps.
                The restaurant's 2/3 full, the OP and his wife are regulars, and a party of 6 was seated next to them with disruptive guests who weren't really considering their comfort while dining.
                Obviously, from the very beginning, the hostess wasn't either.
                The OP requested 2 scenarios, the hostess would *not* oblige, even though the OP asked for the manager who wasn't available and then Mrs. X who appeared to not be too enthusiastic about pleasing the customers. Sleep deprivation, frustration, exhaustion....these are all part of running a restaurant. If you'd like your business to succeed then these elements aren't an excuse for poor management.
                Mrs. X complains "3 tables walked" to her hairdresser because of "some old fool hacking away".
                That's not why 3 tables walked. Three tables walked because Mrs. X and her STUPID hostess allowed them to.

                1. re: latindancer

                  please re-read the op. the restaurant was 2/3 EMPTY.

                  moving a party of 3 is far easier than moving a party of 8.

                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                    <moving a party of 3 is far easier than moving a party of 8>

                    Perhaps but it's not relevant.
                    The OP was making the request. The table of 6 was content to stay where they were. The OP's request should have been immediately responded to and anything he wanted should have been given. It doesn't matter if his request was right or it was wrong.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      Yes, I agree moving a party of three is easier than moving a party of 8. As I read the posts from bagelman, he would have been happy to have the hostess move them. He offered two choices--one of which you find acceptable and one of which you do not. The hostess did neither, nor did she handle the situation in a professional manner.

                      I don't care how unreasonable a customer may be (and in this case, bagelman definitely was not), it is not okay to stonewall their requests to address a situation with management. Doing so most often indicates one of two things: 1) they don't give a rat's a$$ about the customer and their concern, or 2) they don't want to get in trouble because they couldn't handle a situation. Either one is not okay.

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        hot toy, the OP said they volunteered to be moved themselves. now maybe the hostess knew that in 15 minutes all the other tables would be filled, but the OP did what they could to give the hostess some flexibility. You seem determined to miss that point.

                      2. re: latindancer

                        "Mrs. X complains "3 tables walked" to her hairdresser because of "some old fool hacking away".
                        That's not why 3 tables walked. Three tables walked because Mrs. X and her STUPID hostess allowed them to."

                        I agree 100%.

                  2. re: hotoynoodle

                    "as a semi- ot remark, "ms x" seems less than circumspect if she is in public bitching about guests in what sounds like a small town."

                    Absolutely agree.
                    I guess Mrs. X doesn't subscribe to "the customer is always right." :)

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      ITA, i don't think name calling and messing with a person's livelihood is productive. and if she really were that inept, then i think it's a situation that will ultimately resolve itself. either she'll be out of a job or the restaurant will drive away customers and fold. the latter seems to be the scenario most likely to win at this point. To show the grace you wish had been afforded to you makes you the ultimate winner. That's not saying the situation wasn't wrong or that you should have accepted it. I just think that hurling insults and insisting someone lose her job may not be the best approach.

                      also the following does read as if you were asking a seated party to be moved: "the hostess brought in a family group of 6 adults and two tykes and proceeded to sit them at the large booth next to us. The youngest was crying and screaming and the two oldest adults were hacking away.
                      I asked the hostess to either seat the group somewhere else, or move us."

                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                        Having spent 24 years in retail I can tell you that the customer is definitely not always right. In fact its probably 50% or less. And the ones who complain the loudest and are the most belligerent, the ones who make the greatest demands, are usually the most wrong. Its how a business manages to placate these people that makes the difference.

                        I don't think the OP was necessarily wrong. I think you ask to be moved and don't mention moving another party. But, given their experience with the place that should have been a pretty simple thing to do.

                        I would accept the offer to be their guest and leave it at that. Another issue with the hostess and I'd never return. If the OP has been going to a place that long it must be pretty good.

                        1. re: HoosierFoodie

                          <it's how a business manages to placate these people that makes the difference>

                          Absolutely. The business that tells their employees to make the customer "right", with a huge smile and a willing gesture is the successful business.

                        2. re: hotoynoodle

                          I agree with everything in the original post except this:

                          "Wife said, she'd offer, but intil the offending hostess was gone, we'd not return."

                          As hoytoy says, "let HER handle her staff as she sees fit without holding anybody hostage."

                          1. re: TroyTempest

                            Have to agree 100% Let the restaurant deal with it. A patron should not be insisting on someone being fired.
                            On another note: patronizing the restaurant for 55 years and then one mistake and they're dead to you? Wow. Tough crowd.

                            1. re: bobbert

                              No one insisted anyone be fired. As I wrote earlier, I'd go back on a shift the hostess wasn't working, or they might want to change the job the hostess performs. Not my problem or decision, I'm not the employer.

                              As for dining there for 55+ years, as mentioned it was MIL's choice. In the last 5 years, it has always been MIL or mother's choice and we drive, never our first choice. The location and view are great, but it is past its prime

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                My apologies if I misunderstood. I read “…but until the offending hostess was gone, we'd not return” as implying that you would not return until the hostess was fired. Logistically, it might be awkward while making a reservation to ask whether a particular hostess was scheduled that evening. Anyway, I agree with everything in your post except for the part which I apparently read into. I believe that having had the opportunity to actually speak with the owner directly, the issues you had would have been given ample opportunity to be rectified to everyone’s satisfaction. This would include a personal contact from the owner explaining what steps they may have taken to keep it from happening again – with the sincere apology and the offer to make it right. Whether or not the hostess remained should be the owners call. If there were a repeat performance, then sure, don’t return but I always give the place a chance to make it right (not with comped meals - I hate those - but with an apology and an explaination).

                        3. re: emglow101

                          "First of all the customer is always right. "

                          That is absolutely not true. The customer may think so, but anyone who has run a successful business knows this is not always true.

                          The table with "the bawling toddler and hacking oldsters" were also customers. So if "the customer is always right" it must have been perfectly acceptable for them to behave in this way and there should not have been any problem in the first place. Correct? "The customer is always right" only makes "sense" when you are the customer and you want something done in your favor.

                          1. re: ttoommyy

                            <must have been perfectly acceptable for them to behave in this way>

                            Absolutely not.

                            1. re: latindancer

                              "Absolutely not."

                              But I thought "the customer is always right!!!" Why did they not have the right to act this way???

                              That's it. I can no longer debate this topic. It's futile.

                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                A skilled and professional hostess should have been able to handle and accommodate both parties without making either feel slighted, especially in a restaurant with ample open tables. She was either lazy or incompetent.

                            2. re: ttoommyy

                              i worked for a big consulting firm that I think has this one nailed:

                              "The customer isn't always right, but the customer is always the customer."

                          2. Good for you! If customers are not going to use common sense regarding kids, etc. then the management should look out for their patrons. Bravo, sir!

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