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Would this bother you? Restaurant Seating


goldberry
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We live in a smallish rural town, about 7500 people.  Restaurant selection is limited.  There is a place we like to go, DH and I, for date nights.  It's normal for it to be fairly crowded on the weekend, and the restaurant is fairly small.  So tonight it was raining cats and dogs but we still decided to go out.  At the restaurant, we are told that they would only seat parties of two at tables for two, and there were three other parties of two waiting ahead of us. Meanwhile there were FOUR tables for 4 available, three in the main dining area and one in a bar area (a tiny one that would barely fit four I'm thinking). So raining horribly, four open tables, and three parties of two waiting. They confirmed again that they had to save those only for parties of four if any came in. 

I see the reasoning...but really?  Four open tables and three parties of two waiting?  It was really unwelcoming.  I've waited awhile there before, and don't mind waiting in general.  But waiting because they refuse to seat anyone at four open tables just really rubbed me the wrong way.  Is that a usual thing?  I've never encountered it before.

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It bothers me when restaurants do things like this.  I have been places which have lots o empty tables but they keep people waiting for a table because they don't have the wait staff free to wait on those tables.  I don't know why they think that I am less irritated standing and waiting in a crowded area than sitting at a table, even if it will be a while before a wait person can wait on me.

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That's ridiculous!  Yes, it would bother me.  Is that common practice there, or was it an inexperienced host working that night?

I've never been to a restaurant that does that.  Four-person tables are probably the most common size, and are typically given to anywhere from 2-4 people, and sometimes even just 1.  Plus, 2 people eating out is probably the most common number, especially on a Friday or Saturday night.  They should have let all the 2-person parties in line have those tables.

I'd either complain to management or not eat there again.  That's just really dumb.

 

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This is what would definitely bother me--It's a rural area and you eat at that restaurant a lot, so I assume your face is at least somewhat known. I'd be a bit miffed if I were a frequent customer and they kept me waiting because of only having tables for four available. It's not like you're not giving them enough business over time to make up for losing a couple of seats for an hour or so.

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This is rather normal for me I’m afraid. But, at a similar restaurant we used to go to (also rural, sometimes we were the only ones there in the off season but super popular in summer with a line out the door—they would be flexible for us because they really know us. They wouldn’t let us jump the line (we wouldn’t agree to that and we’d have a standing reservation anyway) but they’ve set 4 of us at a table for 6 etc. 

I’d say a word to the manager/ owner—hey we come here all the time, kind of silly policy you had there the other night.

But...i’d take any nonsense they threw because the food is that good and there’s nothing like it for miles. We moved to a less rural area and we just don’t eat out anymore. We’re trying to convince the owners to move closer to us ???

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It would bug me. If they held one or two tables for larger parties, fine, but not four of them. And parties of three would get the larger table since they don’t have tables for three. So that makes it even worse- you were really only one person shy of needing that larger, available table. 

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Sounds like the restaurant has a table design flaw as well as a flawed business practice of turning away customers who are present, while waiting for non-existing ones. If they had more smaller tables that could be configured into seating for 2, 4, 6 or 8, then they would have a lot more flexibility to seat a greater variety of clients. And for money making, isn't a table for 2 a faster turn-over, with potential for more clients flowing through during the same period of time compared to a table with more people?

I would talk to the owner, if you cared enough about going back.

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1 hour ago, Annie G said:

. And parties of three would get the larger table since they don’t have tables for three. So that makes it even worse- you were really only one person shy of needing that larger, available table. 

 

2 minutes ago, elegantlion said:

Yeah, I'd be irritated. It's like penalizing people because they didn't bring enough others out to eat with them. I get holding 1-2 tables, but not four. 

 

Exactly!  I felt like we were being told we weren't going to be spending enough to get that table...

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I would find it irritating but it does happen here in summer.  My very social DH would cruise the crowd and find another couple to share the table with us so we could get seated right away.  Then he would have a new set of Best Friends by the end of the evening!

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I am not aware of a policy like that at restaurants that I go to, but I might not be aware of the reason we are not seated right away.  I would be annoyed to be kept waiting while there were empty tables.

Years ago, my dh and ds were camping and so I took my two dds, was pregnant with the third one, to our local Chinese restaurant for a late lunch.  I planned to order one entree for the three of us to share, plus soup and eggrolls.  So around $20.  After our order was placed and we had been served the soup, the waitress came out and said that I needed to order $10 more of food because we needed to spend $10 per person to eat there. That was the last time we ate there.  We had eaten there many times before and I never heard of that “rule”.  There was no wait for the tables either.

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As mentioned upthread, empty tables sometimes means they do not have enough staff to wait on all of them.  I must admit that I may tell the seating host that I am expecting a third person and see if they will go ahead and seat us.  Some places require your entire party to be there but most around here will go ahead and seat you while you wait on the rest of your party. 

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I have never had this situation. We are usually sitted at 4 place tables. In some very small restaurants we do get 2 people tables. But a few of those put 2 or 3 2 person tables together for larger parties. But we normally have to wait when we take out our children and s-i-on which can be up to 6.

 

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