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What Would You Do?

We've all been in crazy situations and I want to know how you handle entertaining blusters and bad restaurant behavior. Much like our What Would You Make feature, I'll present a situation and you tell me what you would do.

Here's the scenario: you're at a new, trendy restaurant. You don't have a reservation but, it's 8:15 and you figure they might be able to squeeze you in. When you arrive at the restaurant there are several open tables. However, the hostess tells you there is a 20-minute wait. You are in no hurry and decide to wait. The 20 minutes go by and there is still an empty table. All of a sudden you realize you've been waiting 50 minutes and the table is still empty. What would you do?

To see what I did in this situation — true story, it happened to me a couple of weeks ago! —


I went to the hostess and told her we had been waiting for almost an hour when she said the wait was only 20 minutes. While, I understand that people with reservations get priority over those without them, I wondered why we stood there for 50 minutes when we could have been seated and eating. Luckily I noticed there was a spot clearing up at the bar. I told her we would like to sit there. The open spot was only for two people and we were three, but it was better than waiting outside in the cold night!


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JaimeLeah526 JaimeLeah526 8 years
I'd just ask the hostess how much longer it was going to be since I'd already waited 50 minutes. Just be nice and either she'll accommodate you or you can tell her you're going to leave because you're starving and don't want to wait anymore.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
You know, whenever there's been too long of a wait for a table, my fiance and I have eaten at the bar instead--in every restaurant we've been to, the menu has been the same, and it's anyway more fun than waiting hours for a table :p
AmberHoney AmberHoney 8 years
Still happening with the top posts. They are not in the boxes, it's on top of the ad.
AmberHoney AmberHoney 8 years
I'd do what you did, on the other hand living in the SF bay area there are plenty of other restaurants that want my business. Although I've never had that happen to me. I'm never in that much of a hurry and if I am I'll grab a quick something.
Kimpossible Kimpossible 8 years
I think what helped this situation was how you handled it. You didn't storm up to the counter and start complaining in a nasty way. You handled it in a mature, calm way (from what I can tell from your story anyway). If I wasn't hungry or on a schedule of some sort I would have done the same as you. I think it was very nice of them that they comped the drinks. It's nice to be nice. This happened to me yesterday at the doctors office. I arrived about 15 min. early for my appt. for paperwork. My appt. was at 2:10 at 3:15 I was still sitting in the front waiting room. I went up and said to the receptionist "i'm sorry to ask this but do you know how much longer it's going to be? I have another appointment at 4:00." (which was true). She apologized, looked up on the computer that I was the next to be called, and said that it looked like they'd been with another patient for longer than expected. Now I took all of this into consideration as it was at the gyn. office so there are pregnant women in there who may be having problems or whatever and I was just there for an annual. I would have hated to have to call my 4:00 to cancel (it was with my trainer at the gym). And to even go up and ask is something I have never done before, I think I'm getting a little bolder in my old age lol But I always try to be nice. As it turns out I was called back as I was up talking to the receptionist I got in, got out, and made my 4:00 :-)
aimeeb aimeeb 8 years
party-good to know they did that, at least they recognized their wrong doing.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
Agreed with luv2blazy!
luv2blazy luv2blazy 8 years
whoa, free drinks!!! They are forgiven. Drinks, for me, cost more than my food bill.
partysugar partysugar 8 years
So here's what happened: I ended up standing at the bar because I was with two friends from out of town and I felt awful for bringing them to this place that made us wait. Our cheese plate came and then the communal table opened up and they moved us to the table. When we got our bill we realized they comped our drinks, so in the end, the restaurant handled the situation well. I will definitely go back.
Xandara Xandara 8 years
This is pretty much why I avoid trendy restaurants. Granted, I don't live in a place with many of them, but I find that I'd rather spend the time cooking at home than waiting around for a meal that might or might not be good.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 8 years
Yeah, I mean, if you dont have a reservation, you dont have a reservation and this is not a good beginning for trying to eat at a new trendy restaurant. The absolute worst is when they tell you it will be however long of a wait, and then you go up to the bar, and then when you realize it is way past the time you should have waited, you go up to the hostess only to find out that she forgot about you guys! This has happend to me, its quite sad actually but we waited almost 2 hours at the bar overall!
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
those are irritating situations. i can understand the desire to keep tables open for reservations since that's the point of taking reservatins. it's never an exact science to say how olng a wait is going to be but to say 20 minutes and have almost an hour go by - that's a bit excessive.
dishcatastrophe dishcatastrophe 8 years
I'm a hostess and I probably don't communicate with people that are waiting a long time for tables enough, but really it is usually based on how well we are staffed.
anaisethenry anaisethenry 8 years
I'd leave or ask to see the manager... leaving a table empty for that long is ridiculous... you shouldn't save a reservation for more than 10-15 min if the people don't show... I live in NY and there's plenty of good places to go and eat... so if they don't want to seat me, they just won't have my business.
verily verily 8 years
I don't eat at the trendy restaurants in town. Too expensive! But to be honest, hour or longer waits at those trendy restaurants are not unusual. However, after 30 minutes, I would have checked in with them and asked for another estimate.
yellowbanana yellowbanana 8 years
If for some reason the situation changed after the 20 minutes, the hostess should have communicated that to you so that you knew what your options were...I'd never want to leave a customer hanging like that.
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
I'd leave.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 8 years
The table was probably for a reservation that hadn't yet shown, or the servers in that section were probably maxed out on tables. Sometimes there are more tables because they have to have a variety to fit different parties, but it doesn't mean that they can fill the restaurant to max capacity. The best restaurants make sure the dining experience is worth the wait, and that requires attentive servers. Did someone end up standing at the bar, or what? I'm curious how you guys dealt with the three bodies, two seats dilemma. :)
polleyda polleyda 8 years
As a server/bartender, I know that there are alot of factors that go into waiting on a table,(how busy it is, how many servers are on, even how many cooks there are). But I also know what its like to go out and eat too. I know that restaurants, at least mine, if a customer complains, we do all in our power to fix it. Whether it be a free appetizer, round of drinks, etc. You should complain in a nice calm way, and I'm sure they would do whatever they could to satisfy the customer, afterall thats how we make money : )
lickety-split lickety-split 8 years
it would piss me off and i would leave. in the alternative, maybe call (w/o her knowing) from your cell to get a reservation and see what she says.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 8 years
I don't live in a city where there are hot new restraunts and snarky hostesses (not saying all of them are, but some are known to be!). Most of the problem we have is lines for clubs. Truth be told, I've never been in line for longer that 30 minutes though. :)
tweet-hotpants tweet-hotpants 8 years
i'd probably leave. that's ridiculous.
mich-elle mich-elle 8 years
Just because there's an empty table doesn't mean there's someone to wait that table. Trust me, the hostess is well aware that there are empty tables behind her. It sucks for her because she has to repeatedly deal with inpatient guests pointing them out.
randomname12345 randomname12345 8 years
I would've asked to see if I could've had one of the empty tables. I would've also told the hostess that I really wanted to eat there, and the fact that I had waited patiently for 50 minutes surely reflected my desire to be there in an effort to convince her to let me have one of the empties.
uptown_girl uptown_girl 8 years
Oh crap... I wrote a book again. I'm so long-winded!
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