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Over-the-top noisy diners...what to do?

It seems that recently we have had more than our share of really loud, truly over-the-top noisy and obnoxious diners being seated near us at very nice, upscale restaurants. On at least a few occasions, it was quite obvious that there was very excessive drinking going on. On one occasion, after complaining to management, we were moved to another table...a real pain, because we were in the middle of eating, and our food got cold, and it was very disruptive. On other occasions, the restaurant was so busy that there was no room for us to move. The restaurant management generally says that there is nothing that they can do...they usually do not want to talk with the offending party, and will not try to move them. What is the most reasonable approach to take when faced with this situation? Keep in mind, I'm not talking about neighboring diners just having a good time...I'm talking about shouting, bad language, and grossly offensive behavior. Is it reasonable to try ourselves to talk to the offending table? Is it reasonable to tell the management that unless they resolve the problem we're leaving? How do other CH's handle this?

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  1. We've been fortunate the last two times this happened, although the large, loud parties were both seated before we were. The first time we asked and were moved while we were still on our appetizers. The second time, knowing the acoustics of the restaurant in that area, we asked to be seated elsewhere before we sat down. The hostess acknowledged the situation and had no problem moving us as there was plenty of available space in an area that may not have been in service that night, but was put into service for us.

    My Dad is very sensitive to loud noise and will refuse to eat if things are too loud.

    1. Recently had a similar experience with a loud obnoxious drinking group in a full restaurant. We were in the middle of our meal and did not want to leave. The language was more than offensive and the manager refused to talk to the offenders-they were spending hundreds on booze.

      My BIL- walked over to the group, picked up a drink glass and dumped it on the table-this got their attention fast. He told them that if they didn't control their toilet mouths, he'd call the police.
      The shock worked, they behaved in an acceptable manner for the rest of our meal.
      I wouldn't have done this, BUT BIL is 6'6" and 300+ pounds of hard muscle.

      He's also army reserve and carries a licensed firearm.

      9 Replies
      1. re: bagelman01

        No doubt about it. Having a "button man" in your party can solve a lot of problems!

        1. re: bagelman01

          The problem with that, bagelman, as you are no doubt aware, is that your BIL just committed an assault. Things like that sometimes have the likelihood of escalating. Trust me, I laud your BIL's conduct and likely would have done something similar. Problem is, in my experience, when the police show up, questions usually get answered at the Station. Nothin' worse for dessert than steel bracelets.

          1. re: MGZ

            True, it meets the definition of common law assault, but it wouldn't get an arrest in out small town. Cops, if they showed up would have probably written up the foul mouthed louts for a misdemeanor and thanked BIL for quieting them down.

            1. re: bagelman01

              Not if the loudmouth was a cop.

              Point is that there is always an element of an unknown in a confrontation. Sadly, my actions are not always those I would advise others to take. I have scars to prove that!

              1. re: MGZ

                I don't know where to post this so I'll just throw it in under your response since I think you will get a kick out of it.

                I was asked to leave Big Ed's BBQ, for behavior not becoming of a family establishment.

                There is obviously a lot more behind it, but I figured you would enjoy the visual of me getting thrown out of there. lol

                1. re: jrvedivici

                  I ate at Big Ed's once. Way I see it, they did you a favor, my friend.

            2. re: bagelman01

              I would imagine your BIL could have had the exact same outcome had he done nothing but stand up, come to their table, and give them an 'eye'.

              I have a similar looking friend...he's extremely intimidating and people *do* respect his presence.

              1. re: latindancer

                Just standing there probably would have been ignored, dumping the drink, caused a stop to the vulgar conversation and got their attention.
                I would not have approached the table, period.

            3. I find this much more common than the unruly child/crying babe scenario everyone complains about on this site. Even so it's pretty rare but I agree that many managers do not want to deal with it, especially if the loud folks are regulars or have rung up a huge tab. If they won't talk to themI have no qualms asking the offending party to keep it down, usually trying with humor.

              However in the situation you described-

              <<I'm talking about shouting, bad language, and grossly offensive behavior. >>

              I would absolutely NOT approach them. It's not worth the potential risk. Most likely folks acting that outrageous won't take any comments you have have agreeably. If management won't deal with it and you can't move I would leave. It's just dinner.

              2 Replies
              1. re: foodieX2

                What would you pay for...only what was consumed before the problem arose, the full bill even for those items ordered but not consumed, nothing, a gratuity...???

                1. re: josephnl

                  If my entrees had not arrived I wold tell the manager to cancel the balance of our meals and pay for what I consumed. If I already had my meal in front of me I might take them home, depending on just how bad situation was. If It was as bad as the OP said I would leave them behind.

                  I see no reason why the server should be penalized if they had done their best rectify the situation ie: listened politely, got the manager quickly, were pleasant, etc. They can't help it if their boss won't deal with it and I wouldn't expect them to have to handle offending party themselves.

                  There is only so much I can control and in the situation the OP outlined (mgt won't don't do anything, I can't move, the loud table was acting more than just loud but also in an offensive manner) why sit and suffer thru it? What do I gain by staying except having to listen the bafoons? It's one meal. There will be others, others that will never be in that establishment.

              2. What do you mean by "grossly offensive behavior," besides noisy talking and bad language? Did somebody at the next table moon you? Short of that, it's not for the restaurant's management to "discipline" its customers, unless several tables complain. Did they, or was it just you?

                If you ask the offending party nicely, they might pipe down. If you won't, or they won't, it's just your bad luck. Grin and bear it, or just bear it, and if this happens at the same place more than once, stop going there.

                To do what bagelman01 describes could have gotten his party thrown out of the restaurant rather than the troublemakers, or provoked a fistfight, or worse. In this country, he might not have been the only one with a gun. Very, very risky and ill-advised.

                2 Replies
                1. re: John Francis

                  Yes...by offensive language I mean loud shouting and using bad language.

                  Yes...others were disturbed by the behavior, and when I complained to management, I received a "thumbs up" signal from other tables.

                  No..."Grinning and bearing it" is for me, not a reasonable option when we are spending $100+/pp at a fine dining restaurant.

                  Yes...it is, imho, the restaurant's responsibility to make some effort to remedy the type of situation I am describing.

                  1. re: josephnl

                    Over time place like that will attract and repel potential punters. Maybe it's better to have places where people who enjoy/need to 'act out' can congregate. Leaves other places for the rest of us who have 'outgrown' the need to act like idiots in public to 'prove' we're having a good time.

                2. The original comment has been removed