We’ll Give You The Magic Table At The Back That’s Always Empty

, , , , | Right | November 24, 2018

(I work at a pretty well-known family restaurant chain that does NOT take reservations. I often get people complaining about their long wait times on parties as it is; however, management has implemented a new rule where we are supposed to quote parties nearly twice as long as usual because they sit too long and take away from store earnings. It’s a Sunday morning, which is by far the busiest time of the week, and a party of twelve has been waiting roughly half an hour of their forty-five minute quote time. I’m currently placed up front to call names for next to be seated; that way guests don’t have to push through the crowd and waste time getting sat.)

Me: “May I please see one member of the [Guest] party to the hostess stand, please? Just one member.”

(As per usual, everyone currently here for the party comes to the stand, which makes things crowded.)

Guest: “Hi, we’re the [Guest] party.”

Me: “Great, we just wanted to see if you folks were all here.”

Guest: “Well… no.”

Me: “That’s all right. How many of you are here?”

Guest: *counting* “Um… six? Yeah, I think six.”

Me: “Okay, one moment.”

(I reiterate this information to the hostess in charge of deciding where to seat the parties. She confers with management, and they choose not to seat the half party because they don’t know how long until the rest of the party will arrive. The guests are not angry and are fine with this; however, about fifteen minutes after we seat the tables we had been saving, the rest of the party arrives.)

Guest: “Hi, we’re with the [Guest] party and we’re all here now.”

Me: “Great. We’re saving some tables for you now, and it looks like we’re just waiting on one more table to leave.”

Guest: “But I thought you already called us up here to be sat?”

Me: “I just needed to see how many of you were here; since you weren’t all here, my manager decided to go ahead and seat those tables with other guests and look for something else for you. We are, however, just waiting on one table to leave.”

Guest: “Well… are they going to be leaving soon?”

Me: “They’ve been there for about forty minutes, so one would think, but it’s hard to know how long a table might sit and talk.”

Guest: “Do they have their bill yet?”

Me: “I don’t know; they’ve been there forty minutes so I would imagine so. They’re most likely just talking.”

Guest: *now raising his voice* “Well, how do you not know if they have their bill? You guys are supposed to know everything.”

Me: “I’m sorry, sir, I just don’t have access to that information. If you’d like, I can ask the hostess in charge to see how far along they are.”

Guest: “Why can’t you just answer my question?!”

Me: “I don’t have access to that information. I’m not allowed to leave the hostess stand while we’re on a wait.”

Guest: “This is bulls***.”

(About five minutes pass, and the table still hasn’t left.)

Guest: “How long are they going to be there?”

(My coworker and I are getting visibly agitated at this gentleman’s rude tone of voice.)

Me: “I’m not sure. I don’t have control over that, but we are still saving your tables.”

Guest: “Well, can’t you push the two tables you have together and get some of us sat?”

Me: *knowing this is really an act to just get everyone sat prematurely without enough space so they can complain* “Even if we could do that, which we can’t, the table we’re waiting on to leave is placed in the middle of the two we have open, so we couldn’t push them together if we had anything.”

Guest: “Can’t you do anything?”

Me: “I don’t have any control over the dining room. I can bring the hostess in charge up to show you the tables she is saving.”

Guest: “I don’t want her to show me; I want to sit down, now!

Me: *now getting verbally agitated* “I don’t have anywhere to sit you at the moment. Believe me; if I did, we would absolutely have you sitting down already.”

Guest: “I just can’t believe that; I can’t believe that you don’t have anything. There have been at least four or five other small groups that have gone in before us; why couldn’t you push those together?”

Me: “None of those tables were next to each other.”

Guest: “I just can’t believe that. You have to be able to do something. You have to be able to do something!

Me: “Unfortunately, there isn’t anything I can do right now.”

Guest: “This is bulls***; I don’t believe you. You just aren’t doing your job. I want to sit now. We’ve been waiting long enough, and this is f****** ridiculous! I think it’s our turn. You have to do something.”

Me: “There isn’t anything I can do.”

Guest: “I don’t believe that. You have to do something about this!

Me: “Look here, sir; unless you want to sit in three small groups of four that aren’t next to each other, there isn’t anything I can do.”

Guest:We want to sit together!

Me: “Then there isn’t anything I can do! You’ll just have to wait until the table leaves.”

(My coworker finally chimes in, she’s been complaining under her breath for the entire conversation and now is finally speaking up.)

Coworker: “Look. We can’t just kick people out because you’re tired of waiting. How would you feel if someone was up here complaining that you’ve been sitting too long enjoying your meal, but they’re tired of standing around so they think you should just leave? How would that make you feel, having someone breathing down your neck wondering how long you’re going to sit for?”

(The man looked at both me and my coworker, astonished that we finally had the audacity to say something. He huffed off with his girlfriend until their table was ready to be sat, at which time the rest of their party had to search for them because they were shopping and not ready. Might I add that not a single other person from the party complained or even looked agitated. The man later came up to me and stopped, opened his mouth as if to say something. Then, when I looked him directly in the eye and waited for an apology, he scurried off to the bathroom in a fit of embarrassment.)

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