And THIS is Why We Don’t Seat Incomplete Parties

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.

11 thoughts on “And THIS is Why We Don’t Seat Incomplete Parties

  1. Marye

    They were 10 minutes before their friends, (as she kept insisting) during which there was much questioning, arguing, and whining, then they nagged for seats, where there was more questioning, arguing, and whining….. so basically they were sitting in the wait area for less than 5 minutes. That poor woman. She should look into getting help if her impatience and need for a cup of coffee is that strong.

  2. kimber

    Another reason for not seating incomplete parties is they claim to expect 10, turns in to 15 and they don’t understand why we can’t drag the tables together like it’s a damn potluck in some church basement!

  3. Michelle

    Exactly what Kimber just said…. AND the opposite. We are 8 and then 30 minutes later… oh, the others aren’t coming, we are only 4. That’s ok, we can just take up an 8 top, no big deal. God forbid you try to move them to a smaller table too. We have a 6+ reservation policy and people do that all the time. They think we are stupid. We now have it posted, if you show up with less than 6 people we will add you to the wait list.

  4. David V.

    Yoder’s evidently got BONZAI’d by Bitchy Waiter Fans. The review is no longer available, but not before Donna Kay got her backside taken to a cheese grater. It was glorious.

  5. Alison

    I work in a busy restaurant also and we have that policy also same reason as kimberly said some dont show up .i had a party of 4 show up said would b 10 so we sat the 4 we had actually had to open up the table to accommodate 10 the others showed up an hr later just ordered waters no food for the party of 6 that took an hr ..people dont realize it affects the servers turning over there tables so it affects there money ..we have our policy posted up front but people get so mad about our policy

  6. El Gallo

    I worked at a very busy restaurant with an outrageous PSA. We were jammed on weekends and without a reservation, you didn’t have much hope of being seated between 7 and 10:30. So, these douchebags called in for a 6:00 8 top. 3 table stations, mind you. I come in and see I have an 8 top booked early, so I’m stoked. Even that early check ought to be 400, easy. I’m in the last cut station, not closing, so I figure to walk with 250 minimum the way the books were shaping up. Alas, at 6:15 two of the eight douchebags arrive and tell me their companions are “running behind.” Manager says relax, bring them drinks. They said it was a birthday party. The rest, you already know. They camped out making excuses and when the rest of their group showed at 7:30!! it was only 5 total. They cost me basically a full turn and left me flat footed the rest of the night. Walked with half what I should have because my third table was a two top – wait for it- because I had that 8 top booked early. Oh, how many times I stabbed them in my mind that night. Nine years later, yeah, I still hate them. Upside? Bartender made me a Togo cup of Vodka, a splash of soda and lime on my way out the door. About the time I hit my garage, I was good and loaded.

        1. Bryony

          drink driving not only endangers yourself but others around you! I bet you’ll wish you were boring when you get arrested for manslaughter

  7. Recon

    I work at a busy BYOB and it amazes me how ignorant people can be with this issue. Every night we have reservations, that these idiots make to fit in their schedule, and the guests will arrive over a hour or two apart. “Hey, let’s all go out to dinner at the same restaurant at different times”
    And being a BYO, they make a reservation for 10 people at 7 PM, people are still arriving at 9 PM and they’re not even going to eat, just want to hang out and drink the wine they brought with them. This isn’t a public park people.


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