No Buffer Zone

April 8, 2009

in Non-Stories

Hey Dev,

Hi there. This always happens to us: we go to a restaurant, I ask for a booth, which I prefer, and even if the entiiiiiiiiiiiire restaurant is virtually empty, they invariably stick us in the booth right next to other people. Why is this done???? I like to have a buffer zone between myself and other diners, especially if the restaurant is not busy.

My husband says it’s because they work to fill the restaurant from the back to the front – is this true??

When I ask for an alternate table, my daughter always gets embarrassed and says that I am being too picky.

– J.

Dear J.,

Great question, J. I’ve wondered about that as well, and thought that it was just one of those mysteries in life that will never be solved. But since you asked the question and I aim to please, I consulted with the Director of Operations of a very good restaurant. He provided the following explanations:

  • There might only be one server on duty at the time and therefore all diners will be placed within that server’s section.
  • The kitchen might be transitioning from lunch to dinner, and so to reduce noise levels diners might be placed into a remote section.

That made sense, but it didn’t answer the question why diners seated within the same section are placed right next to each other. So I pressed on.

Finally the answer to the question was revealed. He explained that that is done in case tables have to be combined should a large party arrive.

While that didn’t explain why diners wanting to sit in booths are placed next to each other, I didn’t press him on that scenario since his restaurant doesn’t have any booths. I also didn’t ask him why, whenever I’m the first patron in a restaurant, I’m often given the worse table which usually seems to be the one closest to the restrooms. You’d think that any restaurant would be proud to display Dev, who dresses for the atmosphere and polishes his horns, up front and center. But I was happy at least having part of a mystery in life solved, and therefore promptly ordered a martini to celebrate.

Regarding your daughter’s embarrassment about you asking for a table of your choice, be comfortable in knowing that your actions teach her that it’s entirely proper to be politely assertive in order to negotiate one’s way in life.

Dev the Dining Devil

[Note: Dev the Dining Devil mysteriously disappeared into parts unknown and therefore we’re no longer able to continue this feature.]

nicole December 21, 2009 at 1:36 pm

That is an easy one. A server's section usually consists of one or two (maybe three) booths and a couple of tables. the other servers who come in a half hour to one hour later don't want to lose a table for the opening rush, so the host, in an effort to keep the peace, will inevitably seat the people in the servier's section. This will only happen with late lunchs and early dinners or really late dinners when the dining room is operating with a skelaton staff.

If you do ask to be seated elsewhere, please don't camp out at the table. You may not have ever met the other server, but that is probably a large percentage of her section.

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