Lots of people write to tell me that I am their spirit animal because of the way I cut to the chase and tell things how they really are. This blog has become an educational tool that allows me to pass along my deep, deep wisdom for all things restaurant. While I appreciate that so many readers see me as their spirit animal, I can never live up to my own spirit animal which is a plate of beef nachos with the jalepenos on the side. And now, please allow me to teach a lesson to a woman named Donna who does not understand the ways of restaurant seating.
Donna, you see, wanted some breakfast when she was on vacation in Sarasota, Florida, so she and her companion made their way to Yoder’s Restaurant & Amish Village. She was meeting some friends who were expected to get there ten minutes later and Donna wanted to be seated right away. Well, as is their policy, they would not seat an incomplete party. It’s not like Yoder’s is the only restaurant in the world who has this policy, but it must have been the first time Donna has ever heard of it. She was not pleased.
(The following dialogue is inspired by true events.)
“But my friends will be here in ten minutes,” she pleaded. “Why can’t you seat us?”
“I’m really sorry but our policy is to not seat incomplete parties. I’m so sorry. You can have a seat in our very comfortable lobby while you wait for your friends though. Thank so so much.”
“I just don’t understand it,” whined Donna to her friend who was only half paying attention because whining was Donna’s number one hobby and quite frankly, it gets fucking old. “The restaurant is half empty. Why would they not let us sit at a booth and wait for our friends? This makes no sense. I feel like we are in time out, like we are bad little children who are being punished. What next? Are they going to spank my bottom or take away my allowance? This is unheard of! You just wait until I get back to my desktop and log onto Facebook. Oh, boy! They are going to hear from me!”
Donna’s friend rolled her eyes and and considered going to the Dunkin’ Donuts across the street.
“I just feel so uncomfortable right now and I am 99% sure it has nothing to do with my blue jeans. I’m going to go speak to the hostess again and tell her how desperate I am for a cup of coffee and see if I can convince her to seat us.”
Eventually, the hostess decided to break the policy and seat Donna’s incomplete party. We cannot be sure if it was because of Donna’s persuasive argument or if the hostess was simply sick of listening to her. Donna and friend were given two menus, which Donna did not appreciate it.
“But there’s going to be four of us. Why would you only give us two menus? We need four! Are we supposed to share? Oh, let me guess, if I refuse to share will you put me in time out again, is that it?”
“I’ll bring two more menus when your friends arrive,” said the weary hostess.
Ten minutes later, Donna’s friends showed up and we can assume they had a lovely breakfast. But it wasn’t lovely enough for Donna to give more than one star to Yoder’s on her Facebook review.
Donna, look: restaurants don’t seat incomplete parties because if the rest of your party does not show up as you expect them to, then they have two people at a four-top and those are wasted seats. It doesn’t matter if the restaurant is half empty or not. You may say your friends are “on the way” but very often customers lie and it may be twenty or thirty minutes before they show up. This creates a trickle down effect in the restaurant. Now there is a server with one of her tables being used but with no one ordering food. There are a pile of menus sitting on a table that could be used for customers who are actually in the restaurant. Seating rotation is off and now servers won’t be getting an equal number of covers. The kitchen gets behind because your party decides to order one at a time as people straggle in. Donna, they are not asking you to sit in the lobby to punish you, they are asking you to do that so you can be a responsible restaurant goer. Learn this lesson well and chill out on the 1-star reviews for things that are essentially your own fault.
You want to feel more welcomed and comfortable in a restaurant? Be a better customer and wear elastic pants.