The Front Door

My wife and I went to Washington D.C. a couple of months ago, and attempted to go to a restaurant on the recommendation of a friend of ours whose opinion we value.  “You’ve got to eat there!”

Now this guy eats out quite a bit. Travelling for work gives him occasion to eat at some of the finest places that this country has to offer. He also does quite a bit of online research, so his recommendations are not to be taken lightly.

7:45 reservation

As we approach the restaurant, we know we are a bit early, so we decide to have a cocktail down the street and come back closer to our reservation time. The place has a lot of people waiting outside (what do they do in the winter?), so it’s just as well, I think to myself.

We return at our designated time and get the usual: “We are just a few minutes behind”, the host tells me, “so it will just be a bit.” The exact quote was something more like, “we are getting ready to seat our 7:30 reservations, so it shouldn’t be too long.”


Now in Portland, I find that people like to wait in line for their tables. I guess it must be obvious to everyone that I am from California, because I am not one of those people who likes to wait.

My problem is not the wait for a table that is not ready on time, but rather the rushed experience once I am finally seated.

My father

I have gone out with my father, who happens to be diabetic, and he has to have a pretty regimented eating schedule. The thing is this: Is it 20 minutes? Or is it actually going to be more like 45 minutes before that table is ready?  And then how long will we have to wait for service, and finally, food? Because I have an 80-year-old gentleman with me who could potentially go in to diabetic shock…

I understand that the whole front door thing is not an exact science, especially at crazy busy places, but it can be pretty close, however sometimes I feel that little or no effort is being put in to at least trying to be upfront about the situation.

Give accurate expectations of the wait

There really is no reason to pretend otherwise. It is only going to piss the customer off. Remember, it is not about getting their money for this one transaction, but you want to have multiple transactions with every customer. Being less than forthcoming is not the way to go about it.

Give customers realistic wait times, and then go back to the bar and check on them! “Sorry for the delay, folks, it shouldn’t be much longer.” Doesn’t that sound much better?

“The folks sitting at your table have paid, and we are just waiting for them to get up–should have it soon.” Don’t take them for granted, or you will lose them.

They are not cattle

I don’t want another drink, I just had one. Besides all of that, it turns out that I don’t need to eat here that much.

I don’t know, am I alone here in not wanting to wait a long time for a table that I reserved?

BTW…I did end up going up to the front desk to tell them that we wanted to help them out, and wouldn’t be needing our table after all. They didn’t care.




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