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Mar 5, 2014 08:31 PM

Is this a legit gripe - asking for seating

The following is a gripe in the form of a question - much like jeopoardy answers must be in the form of a question.

My parents came to town last week to celebrate my 30th birthday. A month prior, they made a reservation online at one of our favorite restaurants in the city, requesting a table in a specific area of the restaurant. Upon arriving at the restaurant, the hostess informed us that a table in the area we requested wouldn’t be available for another 30 minutes. We mentioned that our request was made over a month prior, but she didn’t even offer an apology. Not seeing a way to rectify the situation, we didn’t ask for a manager; we sat in another area of the restaurant, and luckily our waiter more than saved the evening. That being said, is there anything we should/could have done differently? Called the restaurant beforehand to follow up? I know your maxim is to speak up early, but short of kicking folks out of their table, I didn’t really see a way for a manager to rectify a situation like this.

Why does the person think the restaurant must grant their request, regardless of when it was made?

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  1. Here's the response by Washington Post's critic:

    In writing, if there's a point an author wants to make, he tends to repeat it. Same thing applies to diners. If there's a request you have -- for a specific table or server or dish -- make it early and restate it.

    A *good* restaurant shouldn't make you do that, of course, but details sometimes fall through the cracks. Had I been you, I would have followed up your parents' online request with a call to the restaurant the day of the dinner and asked to speak with a manager.

    At the very least, the restaurant should have apologized for the oversight. But it sounds like the evening was a success, thanks to your server?
    This suggests the OP has a legit gripe. I don't think a restaurant has to honor a request. The OP ask for a reservation and they got one. The OP was unhappy because they didn't get the table they want, and that almost ruined the evening?! Is this just another narcissistic millennial?

    2 Replies
    1. re: Worldwide Diner

      It's hard for a restaurant to guarantee a table in a specific area at a specific time given that the guests with reservations in the earlier slot may linger longer than the restaurant anticipates.

      Having to wait 30 minutes for a specific table - while inconvenient - is not unacceptable.

      I've found the only way to truly guarantee a specific table at an appointed time is to pay for it. Separately from the food.

      1. re: Worldwide Diner

        The hostess should have apologized to you and offered another table or seats in the bar where you could wait. I don't think 30 minutes is too long to wait for what I assume is one of the more desirable tables in the restaurant.

        (By the way, I've known Tom Sietsema for decades, our families grew up across the street from one another. I have not seen him in many years, but I talked to his mom a couple years ago.)

      2. I can't imagine that most restaurants can hold to a promise of a specific table (at a specific time). Not unless it was for the first seating of the night, right at opening.

        1. What is calling three hours prior to a dinner reservation to confirm time and seating when made thirty days in advance.Still might have to wait a little.

          1. WW Diner,
            I'm with you. I think if you make a specific request and you are not notified that it can't be honored, it's reasonable to expect you'll get the table you want at the time you reserved -- parTICularly when you made the reservation a month ahead of time.

            This assumes, of course, that your parents left a phone number where they could be reached. Did they actually talk to someone when making the reservation, or did they leave a message? Either way, though, really, someone should have notified them well in advance if their special request couldn't be met. OTOH, a call the day of couldn't have hurt!

            I know I have favorite restaurants where the table location can make a huge difference in the overall experience. Glad your server saved the day.

            1. I know many restaurants that routinely run 30 mins behind a reservation time. Sometimes they do it to encourage a pre-dinner trip to the bar, sometimes just sheer greed jaming in as many people as they can. So for me the issue of the 30 min wait wouldn't have been that substantial of an inconvience to me, if that table meant that much.