Submitted By Simon Hardy Butler, February 2, 2017
Say you’ve finished your meal at a hopping downtown eatery. You and your friends have spent upwards of $300 in total on the repast. You’ve just paid the bill and are casually chatting as part of the après-dinner pleasantries.
Suddenly, a server approaches and asks you to leave, as the restaurant has reserved the table for another party. Without thinking, you do so.
Then you start thinking.
That’s what happened to me recently at a rather well-known Manhattan establishment, and although I understood the need to move things along, given the busy nature of the night, I feel this could have been handled in a better way. Asking guests to scram, change seats or otherwise shift their bearings after they’ve settled into their comfort zones at a provisioner seems contrary to the rules of running a business—unless the folks are disruptive, of course. And lingering at a table for a few minutes after the check has been negotiated certainly doesn’t warrant expulsion for another group.
It’s true that people who reserve tables deserve to be seated at their appointed times, so this can factor into the equation, too. The way to fix the issue: Restaurants can schedule their reservations better, allowing diners more time to eat … and then adjust as needed if they cut these windows short. Maybe 10 more minutes would work. Or perhaps 15, depending on how fancy or lengthy the meal is. Cut and dry, right?
Yes, I know time is money, and eateries have limited periods where they can make it. Yet believe me—this could help in the long run. Not rushing customers makes a better impression on them and helps set a benchmark for service and quality. Letting them vamoose of their own accord is the right thing to do. After all, they’ve paid for the pleasure. Why not give them everything within reach?
Being pressed to exit this joint the other night put a damper on an otherwise delightful noshfest. Patrons shouldn’t have to go through what I went through. So please, restaurateurs, take note. Your clients are asking you to.
Because when push comes to shove, we’d rather stand our ground. And that’s what we’ve come for, no matter who the hell’s next in line.