A CornerShot that ran in the Extra section of The Roanoke Times earlier this week generated a healthy debate over restaurant etiquette. But since CornerShots are very short, the writer, Susan Stilwell of Roanoke County, was not able to include all the details we craved as we attempted to analyze the situation she described.
Fortunately, Susan was kind enough to stop by the blog and elaborate a little on what happened when her party of eight had to wait for a table of six to clear out, even though the table of six was finished with its meal.
I’m going to share the original CornerShot again, followed by Susan’s follow-up comment. Does knowing more change what any of you had to say the first time around?
CornerShot, Feb. 27, 2012
Dear Table of Six,
We’re glad you had the chance to catch up over lunch. It looks like y’all had a great time.
We’re not so glad that after you paid your bill and your table had been cleared, you spent the next hour sitting there chatting.
You see, we were next in line for that table. We didn’t mind standing the first 10 minutes, but when 10 turned into 20, we were a little peeved.
The hostess apologetically squeezed us into another table where we enjoyed our lunch, a meal that lasted 40 minutes.
As our server cleared our plates, your group inched away from the table and said their goodbyes.
May I offer a little piece of restaurant etiquette? The next time you clear your calendars for a 2-hour lunch, please remember to leave your server a generous tip. This will help make up for the one you cost her.
Sincerely, Table of Eight
— Susan Stilwell, a reader in Roanoke County
Susan’s Comment, Feb. 28, 2013
Wow, I never expected this to generate any buzz. Of course there was a backstory that couldn’t be fully developed within the Cornershot word count, so this might clarify things a bit:
The restaurant in question is a small bistro-style place. We eat there often and know that lunch is their money-maker.
We DID call ahead to reserve the table. The hostess told us that Table of 6 had finished, was paying their bill, and the table would be ready in 15 minutes. We arrived at our appointed time, and then waited 20 minutes until another table became available. This is a busy bistro and we weren’t the only people waiting to be seated.
The hostess was gracious and apologized for the wait. We weren’t angry and we never expected her to ask Table of 6 to leave. We just felt it was inconsiderate for a big group to stay so long after they’d paid their bill.
I intended this entry to be a quirky reminder to be considerate, especially during a restaurant’s busy hours. And to leave a good tip if you take a little extra time.