No Reservations

| April 28, 2010 | 1 Comment

I read an article recently in Restaurant and Hospitality Magazine which really got me thinking about what people expect when they go out to dinner. In a nutshell, the article discussed proper etiquette on the part of the restaurant and the customer when it comes to dinner reservations. Is it okay for a restaurant to give away your table if you show up late or your entire party is not present?

The restaurant where I work is very small. We don’t take reservations, instead we use priority seating. All this entails is priority over customers who walk in. We do reserve the right to “scratch” your priority reservation if you don’t show up within fifteen minutes of your proposed time. As for those larger restaurants that do take a standard reservation, is it okay for a party to get upset when they show up late and their table has been given away? From a restaurant’s perspective, servers are usually assigned a section and their tips are based on how many tables they have and how many times those tables are turned over. So if a server is expecting a large party in his or her section and the party shows up forty-five minutes late, that server and the restaurant have lost a significant amount of money.

I have encountered, on several occasions, customers who become extremely upset when their table has been given away due to their tardiness. Is a reservation not an agreement between two parties? The restaurant agrees to have a table prepared for you at the scheduled time, and the customer agrees to arrive at the scheduled time. There really is no gray area there. If you buy a ticket to a football game and you show up late do they hold the kick-off for you? No.

For me, it is always interesting to see how certain customers react to our priority seating system. Upon making the priority seating “reservation”, we explain to the customer that we cannot guarantee that their table will be ready when they arrive but we will do our best to have them seated as soon as logistically possible. My favorite is when certain customers think they deserve celebrity service and can’t understand why they have to wait ten minutes for their table to be ready. They huff and puff, hover over tables and constantly nag the host to seat them. The best part is, once these people are seated, they’re total hypocrites. They sit around talking for hours after they’ve finished and paid their bill, squatting at the table and making some other poor party wait. We humans are very fascinating creatures.

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Category: Entertainment, LIFE IN THE AREA, OPINION

About the Author ()

I graduated with an Art degree from a small liberal arts college, did a bit of traveling and moved to Annapolis from Baltimore about seven years ago. I currently manage a well-known Annapolis restaurant, serve and bartend. I live downtown and I like sunsets and long walks on the beach :)