Dear Restaurant Guru,
Last Tuesday, my husband and I went to dinner. We were seated immediately by the hostess. She gave us menus but we waited and waited and no one came to the table. It was over 15 minutes before anyone came to the table to speak to us or offer to get us a drink. It seemed like a very long time to us… we thought of leaving. How do you know when you’ve waited too long? What should we do next time?
I feel for you. There’s a lesson I give to my new hosts during training: “Pacing is the most important key to our success. If you seat everyone at once, the kitchen gets backed up, the servers get frazzled and the guests get left alone.”
Just because there are open tables in the restaurant doesn’t mean they all need to be seated. Each night is unique and should be treated as such. Sometimes a large party is running 30 minutes late and an unusual amount of walk-ins (people without reservations) drop in.
A guest would rather wait to be seated for 30 minutes, than be seated and left alone for 10 minutes. We (the restaurant and the guest) haven’t completely entered our dining contract until you have been seated. Once your butt hits wood, it’s game-on… or at least it should be.
There’s no good reason that you waited so long. I’m sure the place was busy and the server sections may have changed.
Either way, it was a communication breakdown. Give them another try.
— Max Trujillo
Host of the NC F&B Podcast.