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Friday, November 2, 2012

No Seating of Incomplete Parties

Can we talk about seating incomplete parties? I know, I know, it's like beating a dead horse(face) to bring this topic up yet again, but it needs to be discussed. There are two ways to thinks about it.

The person who has never worked in a restaurant before: I don't see what the big deal is. I mean, it's not like we're not going to order food eventually...

The Bitchy Waiter: It's freakin' annoying. 

I am at work on Thursday night and the place is slammed. People in Queens have major cabin fever from being cooped up in their apartments during Hurricane Sandy and since there is very little subway service into Manhattan, they are settling for a dinner out at their local neighborhood restaurant. We had a 100% increase in covers over the last two nights. Slammed.

A woman arrives and alerts us that she is waiting for two or three other people who are "on their way." I ask her if she'd like to sit at the bar and wait for the rest of her party to arrive but she's says "No, you can go ahead and seat me now."

I can? I can go ahead and seat you now?? Oh, why thank you, ma'am. My evening will be complete for I have had the wonderful opportunity to seat you now.

She wants a booth but they are full so she agrees that she will suffer through the horrible situation of sitting at two small tables pushed together. Never mind that there are millions of people in the area with no heat, water or electricity who are suffering in their own way, but this woman has to truly suffer by sitting at two tables, the poor thing.

"If a booth opens up, let me know," she says.

Right, sure, uh huh.

She orders a glass of wine from her server all the while popping up out of her seat every ten seconds to scan the room seeing if a booth has opened up. She looks like a fucking meerkat in a pink polyester pantsuit.

About ten minutes later, she is still waiting for her guests. Meanwhile, we are on a waiting list because all of the tables are full. One of my booths in the back of the restaurant has paid their check and are on their way out. Miss Meerkat smells her chance. She leaves her table at the front of the restaurant and hovers around my booth as I wipe it down. She immediately places her cell phone on the table like she is Christopher Columbus claiming some new piece of territory.

"I've been waiting for this booth, so I'm gonna sit here now," she tells me.

She returns to her original table and gathers her coat, menu and wine and then heads back to her little piece of heaven known as booth 14 where she asks me what the specials are. So now, we have to reset the table in the front and transfer over her one glass of wine to me because another server had originally started the table. That is annoying.

Five minutes later, one of her guests arrives who wants to know the specials and order a drink. I regurgitate the soup of the day (verbally, not actually, although the soup of the day is white kidney bean with kale which sounds disgusting so had I tasted it, it could quite possibly have been regurgitated.) I go get the pinot grigio and then try to carry on with the rest of my tables. Five minutes later, another person arrives at the table who also wants to know the specials and order a drink. I have now spent and inordinate amount of time on one table. Between transferring the check, resetting her first table, making way too many trips for a first round of drinks and reciting our laundry list of specials, this table has already gotten more attention from me than I give to some of my family members, and I haven't even taken their food order yet.

"One more person might show up, but you can go ahead and take our order now?"

I can? I can go ahead and take your order now?? Oh, why thank you, ma'am. My evening will be complete for I have had the wonderful opportunity to take your order now .

Two people were ready and the third only thought he was. "Hmmm, I don't know. You don't have any fish specials?" he asks me.

"No, sir, the only specials I have are the ones I already said. Three times."

"Well, what fish do you have then?"

I glare at the menu he is holding that says we have salmon and tilapia. "We have salmon and tilapia."

I can see two other tables in my station waiting to order and I can see an order of fries in the window that needs to be delivered.

"Salmon and tilapia, huh? Nothing else?"


"I wish you had swordfish."

"Salmon and tilapia."

"Okay...I guess I'll have a cheese burger then."

I decide that he will be having it medium with cheddar because quite frankly he is out of time with me and they have used up all of my patience.

This is why I hate seating incomplete parties. It throws off the rotation of the restaurant. It always puts us behind because we can't consolidate our trips to the table. Seating incomplete parties requires us to make individual trips to that table over and over again instead of getting all the drink orders in one fell swoop. Who's with me, here? I can't be alone in this thinking, can I? If you have never worked in a restaurant and still can't understand why seating incomplete parties is a bad idea, kindly go back to the top of this post and re-read it out loud. I'm right. I just am.

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Bathrobe Bitch said...

I can't be alone in this thinking, can I?

Nope. You're spot on.

jordan said...

I was nodding my head the entire time I was reading this.

Laura said...

Huh, never thought about it like that before. One of my favorite restaurants won't seat parties until everyone is there, and it drives me crazy.

So here's my question for a Professional like you: What do I do when some of my friends are afflicted with Chronic Lateness? Sometimes we meet for dinner, 80% of the party will show up, and then the Chronically Late will waltz in an hour later. What would you do? (Other than tell your friend that she's being a selfish bitch who thinks her time is more important than everyone else.)

jenn said...

Busy or not I hate it when incomplete parties are sat for the reasons you stated in your post. I have in the past just ran a glass of water and tended to my other tables in hopes that the rest of the party arrives before I have to go back.
I have heard people say how stupid it is when we are busy and are on a wait about waiting for the entire party before being sat. Yeah, real stupid.

The Bitchy Waiter said...

Hi laura: tell your friend that she's being a selfish bitch who thinks her time is more important than everyone else. :)

Anonymous said...

To Laura: I would not even bother saying that person is going to show. I would just saw however many ppl are on my party minus your chronic late friend. When they show up enough noticing there isn't room at the table maybe they will get the hint to be on time. OR tell that friend the reservation or dinner is an hour before it really is.
ANd yes Bitchy, I totally agree with you. Incomplete parties ESPECIALLY on a busy evening should never happen.

Anonymous said...

I just deliver drinks and I say I will go through the menu and specials when the rest of the party arrives. And take the table at last priority until they do arrive and then put them back in rotation when everyone arrives.

Sarah said...

As I read this, I'm wonder why the hell people won't just wait at the bar or until their party arrives.

If I'm going to meet friend somewhere for dinner, and I'm waiting on a couple more friends to arrive, I'll just wait to be seated.

Am I a weird customer because I don't want to create unnecessary work for the server?
Even more so if they're busy as hell.

Micah said...

The part where they ask you what sort of fish you have when it's right on the menu...........that pisses me off. Can you not FREAKIN READ?!

I used to wait tables at a Chinese restaurant and we had one of our large appetizer platters on the menu with an explanation of EXACTLY what was on it. But regardless, we'd always have people who would ask what was on it. So I'd make it a point that as they are looking at me waiting for me to explain what was on the platter, I'd look right over their shoulder at the menu and read the list right off the menu.

I don't know if they understood what happened, or were to stupid to realize it, but I was never called on it so I continued. Come on people, SERIOUSLY???

Sarah said...

This happens at my restaurant all the time, and the owners don't see an issue with it. This also consistently causes me to be double, triple, and quadruple sat. I assign the lowest level of importance to the tables that are sat incomplete, are on the phone, or are 'so busy' talking that they 'forgot' to order. Excuse me, but you did come here to eat food, right? You only need to devote 90 fucking seconds to decide what you want and tell me, and then we don't even need to speak the rest of the evening.

To Laura,
Repeatedly tell your friend that the restaurant won't seat an incompete party, and that they need to act like a responsible adult and show up on time. Otherwise, you're stuck waiting at the bar or in the lobby. The entire staff of the restaurant and the other guests shouldn't have to suffer because you have an inconsiderate ass for a friend.

Anonymous said...

I get your point. As someone who has been in the hospitality/customer service industry for over 20 years, I get that it's not ideal and annoying. But it's part of the job. Maybe try a different career?

Anonymous said...

Incomplete parties are the bane of server existence. I have to suffer them all the time, because working in a corporate restaurant, the guest comes first. I hate when it's like a party of 12, they show up 2 at a time, all ordering alcoholic drinks. So I spend 20-30 minutes running back and forth from their table to the bar while my other tables are staring me down and wondering why I'm ignoring them. My favorite ones are the ones that will yell at you across the restaurant while your obviously juggling three bottles of wine, and a bunch of wine glasses for your party. If they had waited for everyone to be there, I could have boxed up and cashed out my other tables, so that their stupid large party got all my attention after being seated when EVERYONE was there.

The Cheese said...

Laura, tell you're friend you are meeting for dinner. Then stand her up. Once he/she has to be the person sitting looking stupid waiting maybe she'll get it. Then tell them bluntly you stood them up to make a point, and you won't be dining out with them anymore unless they can manage to be on time. Some times people need real life examples to put them in their place.

I apologize to the server in advance. Sometimes we gotta take one for the team!

KC said...

You need to lie! After rattling off the specials twice, by the time the next people arrive, simply tell them, 'Oh, I'm sorry. We just ran out of the specials.'
I like what Micah said, reading the menu over there shoulder. Good one!

Noelle said...

Oh this is very annoying. The MOVING after you've been seated is even worse. I run Open Table and it runs with a nearly flawless plan start moving around on me an CHAOS. I don't have booths so the reason for the move are obnoxious. Too cold, too hot, not enough light. Smile and sigh.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised she took her wine and menu with her. Too often when people move tables they take their phone, or their bag, and leave everything else they've used, dirtied, or piled up, on the table, assuming you'll come straight over to settle them into their new chosen table. I have been known to go over and look at them expectantly, before saying, "Oh, you don't know what you want? I assumed you no longer needed your menu since you left it over there."

Anonymous said...

Laura: you can't sit in the bar and wait for your late friend because then the server is holding the table for you and by the time you order the kitchen may be under pressure and your large order is gonna send them crashing down. Tell your friend if she's not on time, she simply won't be able to sit with you and won't be able to eat - so instead SHE'll be left sitting in the bar for an hour waiting for YOU to all finish your meal and join her.

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, and yes.

How about the table where two people have arrived and been sat, and are waiting for more, and when they have joiners, they feel the need to flag you down and alert you that someone new has arrived?
When you're headed into the kitchen with an armload of dirty dishes, no doubt.

Oh, really? That person is NEW to the table? I never would have noticed if you hadn't flagged me down so obnoxiously!

Joanne said...

Pbi. If you must invite her, tell her you are meeting at one hour before the actual meeting time.

Anonymous said...

I know this is un-related, and let me just say that you're amazing - but can we please talk about this dumb bitch in the future?

“Why do people take jobs if they rely on tips to pay their bills?
There are so many people on facebook complaining about how they get shitty tips.
”Try paying YOUR bills with 1 dollar tips” they say

ALSOOOOO: I don’t get tips, and I’m up in my office making an awesome print from a nasty photo that Uncle George and Aunt Betty couldn’t take care of…..

If you’re relying on tips to pay your bills, don’t take the job.
A $2.00 per hour job should be a job you do on the side.

I have tipped 1 dollar. And I haven’t tipped at all before.
100% of the time, if you get a dollar you deserved only a dollar.

Quit ya bitchin and go find a job that pays.”


Anonymous said...

We don't let people switch sections. Once they order anything from one server they are stuck exactly where they are, because we usually have a line out the door.

Stupid people. I think everyone needs to work in a restaurant and wait on people like themselves to see exactly how annoying they really are to us.

Kris C said...

Anonymous- that kimberlyx whatever the hell the name is sounds a lot like "she who shall not be named or allowed to post here again." No one deserves a dollar, that is just rude. It is funny you bring tips up. I sent BW a email with a link earlier today so I will share with everyone.

Now it does look a little strange but people are assholes so I believe it could be true. always love your blog and I have shared it with my waiter friends in DC...Lets just say you are the gospel at Old Ebbitt Grill.

Gangle said...

You are soooo correct Bitchy-baby.
I hated that when I was a waitress. What I don't understand is, I actually PREFER to sit at the bar until the others from my table arrive. It is closer to the alcohol, I don't have to wait for the poor waitstaff to come over and take my drinks order and if the bartender is a cute-looking guy I get a better view.

Anonymous said...

Ok so I live in canada where servers make minimum wage, have health care benefits, vacation time, sick days etc and don't pool tips and I always ALWAYS tip 20%. I see it as giving me a night off from cooking/serving my family so I make sure to be kind. My kids dont get their meals first, they learn to wait, like everyother person. Yes I have two little ones (2&1 years old) but I pick appropriate restaurants for them (family friendly), make sure they are not in foul moods before we leave the house and they always use their manners. Last time we went out my 2 year old used the crayon they gave him for his placemat on the side of the bar as we were leaving and not only did I make him clean it off but made him apologize to the staff. I'm not perfect and neither are my kids but you can be damn sure that if they started any thing they would get the death glare from me knowing if it continued we would pay our bill, tip and leave. If dinner didn't arrive yet then too bad they would get whatever I made when we got home! Since when did ppl stop raising their children properly! I'm sick and tired of children, teenagers and adults being rude, inconsiderate, and feeling entitled for no reason at all!!! Tell it like it is BW!!! Love this cold Canuck ;)

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't have such a problem with this except it seems 99% of the time this happens, when everyone FINALLY arrives, they get very demanding. For instance, "We need to go ahead and order right now" and then there is someone or often multiple people who have know idea what they want, so they just leave you standing there while they read the menu....ANNOYING!!!

teresa said...

You know, that is good information - to be honest, I am guilty of waiting for people and getting seated ahead of them and never realized the issues it caused!!! Won't be doing that again!!

Bluejew said...

I like it when they tell you that there are more people coming. I clearly couldn't have figured that out on my own, I just assumed they needed all those extra menus the hostess placed on their table.

Sabrina said...

I'm glad someone forwarded the link about "single Mother,sorry" I was going to do so myself. The moment I read it,I thought BW has to see this. Anyway, I agree it really is selfish for 1 person to take up a table while "waiting for others" especially when its clear the restaurant is busy..then the demanding behavior that follows makes it worse. Don't get me started on the whole fifty questions your asked when they could just read the menu. I have no issue answering questions of how is something prepped, ingredients, etc..but, the asking for something that isn't on the menu really annoys we have a secret stash just for them. Looking forward to the next blog as always.

Anonymous said...

it must be horrible to have a job where you have to serve food to people. such stupid people too. how awful for you. but, at least you get to write all about it with great sarcasm and bitterness. and, at least you have so many comments that agree with you. so you must be right. puts me off waiting staff quite frankly. oh, you forgot to mention tipping on this post. or did you, and i just didn't make it to the end. as someone said, maybe you are in the wrong industry.

Kimberly said...

And I think you've found yourself in the wrong blog, Anonymous.

The main point really, is that no restaurant should cater to these people, as they are taking money out of our pockets. That table (especially a large one, that could be split into four or two tops) could be turned two or three times, in the amount of time these holdouts take. Would you rather turn 3 to 4 tables twice each, or would you rather have 10 annoying people tie up one table all night? The restaurant and the server make money turning tables, period. The chances of these people spending enough money to justify their tardiness and high-maintenance-ness is low....what do you wanna bet there will be a lot of waters, bread and separate checks?

DanORants said...

Laura, if they are your friends, you can politely explain to them how inconvenient their friendship is when trying to eat out!

Not just a Waitress said...

Uh, just wanted to alert one of the "anonymous" posters above me that I am a server in Canada, and I most certainly do NOT make minimum wage, or have health care benefits, sick days or vacation time!!! If only!

Love u BW!

Anonymous said...

I've worked as a server for years, and my main problem with seating incomplete parties is that the person who shows up first ends up telling the host the wrong number of people showing up. They didn't get the memo that someone decided last minute to come/not come to dinner. So tables end up getting pushed together and not completely used (so other diners have to wait for a table longer)or they have last minute people show up and we have to figure out how to cram an extra chair or two at an already crammed table/section. If everyone was seated together, we could plan accordingly!

Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous, who claims BW is in the wrong field. F.Y.I. This column is called "the bitchy waiter" and is for those who work in the restaurant business and want to read satisfying rants and issues waiters face in todays food industry. It disappoints me when guests come in and tell BW she is in the wrong industry. Its her blog, shes allowed to write whatever she wants. If you cant respect that go read another blog on rainbows and ponies. Or possibly a blog on "Minding your own business." Its rude to be critical especially when the name of the blog states the purpose of the blog. As for Bitchy Waiter, continue to write for us waiters who understand you and love your posts! Thank you and have a fabulous day!

Anonymous said...

Thanks, from one in the trenches. Love it when people are considerate and pleasant; usually if we don't HATE each other, things tend to go a little better for your experience & a little easier for me.

danno666 said...

Wow, your post has enlightened me...nice sarcasm yourself there! You're wrong, though, for posting here. Don't like people complaining about working in a restaurant? You must be confused about how to properly use the internet, because wtf are you doing HERE? I'm here to vent, laugh, and lambast the occasional moron here and there...thanks for weighing in on a topic about a job you don't like or know much about. Jackass.

Bluejew said...

He doesn't complain about ALL of his customers. These are just highlights of the stupidity one can encounter doing our job. I have regulars that ask for me and are completely wonderful to me. I do, however, encounter the idiot that shouldn't be allowed in public without supervision. That is what this blog is about, that customer. There is a reason we do this job, for the most part it pays really well. It also works well with different schedules, I'm in nursing school and it accommodates my schedule completely. Is there nothing you don't like about your job? You don't piss and moan about anything you deal with on a day to day basis? Well this is what we have to bitch about, that one jackass that can come in a treat me like a piece of shit on his shoe, it's probably someone like you, Anonymous. Asshole.

Anonymous said...

I think you answered your own question.

Pete said...

Am I the only one more irritated by your stupid rant than by any of the behaviors you rail against? I did shitty service work for a decade(and hated it), and hence am always polite, NEVER complain or ask for extra shit, and always over-tip. BUT, I get it already. People suck. Your job sucks. Your rant sucks. You suck. I want that ten minutes of my life back, bitch.

Anonymous said...

I love these people who tell us to go get another job! If we did that, who would wait on you dumbasses! The blog is called Bitchy Waiter, not Bitchy Customer! Go start your own blog, and stay your asses at home to eat!

Josh A. said...

My parents are late all the time but I don't see an issue with it because I just sit at the bar and get a drink.

Jess said...

Ummm yes...I absolutely, 112% hate hate hate seating incomplete parties!!! At my restaurant it's "against the rules" to seat them ESPECIALLY when we are on a wait, and yet, those sneaky bastards still manage to weasel their way in! They come up to the host and say "We have a part of 12, the name is Johnson" and 20 minutes later when the host calls "Johnson, Party of 12" 2 people walk up and get seated stating that the other 10 will be right in...............uh huh, riiight....40 minutes later, the rest of them have finally made their way to the table. "wow, you guys sure are busy today....sorry we kept you waiting. You can start us off with sweet teas. We should be ready to order when you get back." Fuck you!!

Holly Walters said...

In addition to the incomplete parties... the people that actually have no idea how many are going to be there and when asked "How many in your party" the answer is "I don't know.. a lot" Because that helps the person seating figure out where the hell to put them! I tell you, the longer I serve, the more I hate the general public.

Anonymous said...

I had a party with joiners last Thanksgiving. They sent the grandparents ahead of them. they sat for three fucking hours before the rest of them got there. Mind you, they were taking up my whole section. By the time they all got there, ordered, ate, and sat around all fucking day, it was my only table. They made a huge presentation about the $20 tip. Thanks a whole heap. I worked on a holiday for $20. The Thanksgiving before, I made $190.

vscamilo said...

I completely agree on seating incomplete parties!

Would you mind sharing your thoughts on ..

A party of four just gets their dinner.
Server: Folks is everything to your satisfaction?
Guest 1: You know I could use A-1.
Server: Perfect .. any refills?
Guest 2: sure
*Server returns with refill and a-1
Guest 1: you know I think I want a refill.
Guest 3: can I have more dressing for my salad?
*Server returns AGAIN with refill and more dressing
Guest 4: I need more dressing too!!

That drives me crazy. How about you?

Anonymous said...

You're a cunt.

Anonymous said...

Reservations: the forgotten art. Not only saves your server the time but a great way to ensure people are on time to dinner. Reservations seem special so a "we have to be on time or they cancel the table" usually but not always, works. Also this sets your server up in advance for the disappointment they may suffer if you're guests are late or for the love of god want separate checks

Anonymous said...

I don't expect to be seated untill all my party is there and if I am seated ill wait to hear the specials ect until they are there. What a pain to all you hard workers . I feel for you.

K said...

This has become a huge problem at my restaurant the past few weeks. Yesterday we were fully booked and I had a ten top at 5.At 5:10 the first guest arrived and was seated. By 6, about 5 other people had arrived, and a full hour into the reservation the appetizers were ordered. At 6:30 the 6 of them order dinner and say no one else will be joining them. Ok, you've now taken up my entire section and are going to run way past the 2 hour turn time, but at least I can take the extra table and seat some of the angry waitlisted reservations. As I'm about to do so, a seventhperson arrives at the same time as the entrees. great, now I can't separate the tables, and now I need to wait for this asshole to read the menu, order, and eat, successfully cock-blocking my section for another hour during the busiest week of the year. This has happened to me twice in the past week. Time to look for a place that doesn't seat incomplete parties...

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