Don’t Bump in to My Chair!

Back in the old days, when I was a server at Spago Restaurant in Los Angeles, and we did over 4oo dinners every single night, I would often find it difficult just to get to my customers. That was a challenge. On some nights I would be handed a party of two, and when they left, the bus boys would wheel in a very large table, plop it down on top of the other table, and that party of 2 was now a party of 16.  Talk about making it hard to reach my customers…

I’m glad you are busy, but

Make sure you are not cramming too many tables in to a limited spot. The waiters will not be able to reach their customers, the customers will feel like sardines and resent the fact that there is another table right on top of them–forget that intimate dinner I was hoping to have. Not to mention the constant bumping in to the back of my chair. How annoying is that?

There are actually templates you can find online showing you how many tables you should be able to fit in to however many square feet you have to work with. Check those templates out and don’t try to pry in extra tables. I know that is hard for a owner to do–every table equals more revenue, but think about all of those customers who will not come back because the ambiance is not what it should or could be.

Bad tables

Every restaurant has bad tables. How you manage those bad tables is the key.  I have worked some pretty big, busy houses in my time, and I used to walk through my station every night–to make sure the place settings were clean and symmetrical, wine and water glasses were polished, etc.; but mostly to make sure I could ‘work’ my station. In other words, be able to reach my customers. Nothing worse than not being able to serve food, drinks, or clear tables without tripping over someones feet, or having to stick my armpit in their face because I can’t reach them.

Sell the table

Another thing I tell my students and consulting clients is the whole ‘sell the table’ routine. You don’t walk 20 feet in front of the guest, plop down the menus, and then just walk away. NO! You engage the customers while you walk to the table, and sell them the table before they even get there. Otherwise, 50% of the time the customer will ask to sit somewhere else, and it probably will not work well for what you are trying to do.

So many times I would try to seat a party at a specific table, because I knew I needed it back for a large group in a couple of hours, only to have them reject it and want to sit somewhere else–leaving me in trouble for when my big party showed up later. It can get tricky.

Not my main point

Sorry, not sorry, for getting side tracked there. So, make sure that your table configurations makes sense, that employees have enough room to navigate, so they can take care of the guests, and don’t bump in to my chair!


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