So it's Friday night and our restaurant is fortunately busy as usual. The dining room and bar tables are usually filled by 5:30 pm and from that point untill about 9:30 we're on a wait. We have a lot of regular customers who come in, know they're going to have to wait and happily get a cocktail at the bar or sit in the waiting area while I put their name on the wait list. It would be amazing (although not realistic) if everyone was like that. This, however, is what a bulk of the night goes like:
5:31: "There's a wait? Why is there a wait this early? We came in early so we could get right in." It should be about 15 minutes. "Well, we came for the happy hour menu. Are we still going to get happy hour prices? We came in before 6!"
5:35-5:59: see above
6:30 "How long is it for a table of 10?" Probably about 40 minutes. "That long????" I have several tables already ahead of you. What if you split us up....we can do the (6) kids at one table and us at another." It will probably still be about that long before I can seat you; there are about 7 tables ahead of you. (They will wait and allow their kids to run in and out for the duration)
7:30 "We have 6." Ok, Looks like about 25-30 minutes.
7:31-8:00 "We have 2." "Table for 4." "How long for a table for 3?" "Can we get a table for 5?" "2 and we want a booth." It might be a little longer for a booth, but I'll do my best for you.
8:00 Table of 6 gets seated.
8:15 Table of 6 previously seated announces, "We have four more coming so can we just move to that other table over there?" I'm sorry, there is another party that I am just getting ready to seat there. "Then can we just pull up another table and more chairs?" As soon as the table next to yours gets up I can do that, but I can't guarantee it will be before your joiners get here." They sulk but have no choice.
8:30 "We have 2, we can just take that table over there." I'm sorry, I have people ahead of you. "That table is empty and you have people waiting up here." I'm waiting for the table next to it to get up because I have to combine it with another for a party of 5. "So you can't seat us even though it's open?" Explain yet again, get snide comment, watch them leave because they didn't want to wait.
8:31 Seat table of 3 who have been waiting pleasantly and patiently. Man who insisted upon a booth says, "We were here before them!" I'm sorry, sir, I'm waiting for a booth to open up for you. "Well how much longer is it going to be? We've been here for an hour!" I know they've only waited about 30-35 minutes and say, "As soon as a booth opens up I will seat you." Answer the phone for the 15th to go order in the last 30 minutes and watch man shake his head and grumble at his wife.
8:35 Family with small children exits booth and man quick steps up to my hostess stand to point it out. "As soon as it's cleaned and set I'll get you seated. It will only be a couple of minutes." I contemplate telling bussers not to clean kid mess from under table so man steps on mac and cheese but decide that it probably isn't the best idea.
8:38 Seat couple at the coveted booth.
8:45 Seat party of 5, tell them who their server is and the specials. "Oh...well, we wanted to sit in insertnamehere's section. Can she wait on us?" I'm sorry but this isn't her section, I really can't do that to the server who has these tables. "Oh. How long will it be to sit in insertnamehere's section?" It doesn't look like she has any tables getting up where I can seat 5, I'm so sorry. I walk away and hope they don't say anything to their server about wanting the other server.
8:48 "How long for a table?' For how many? "4". Notice the baby in car seat and ask, 4 including the baby or 4 plus the baby? "4 plus the baby, but she's not eating." I'll get you seated as soon as I can. "We can take that booth that just got up." I can't put a high chair at the table because it will be in the aisle and we can't block the aisle. "We can just put the car seat on the floor." Wondering how or why she could consider that an option, I reply, I wish we could do that, but it would still be in the aisle. I'm sure it won't be too long, there are a few people with their checks on the table.
9:00 Answer phone. "Hey, a bunch of us are coming in...just wanted to give you a head's up so you can get it ready." Define a bunch. "I don't know, we're leaving the kids' soccer game right now and everyone wants to come up there. I'd guess about 11 16 you know what, make it 25 to be on the safe side." OK, we don't have anything open right now, but I'll do what I can for you. It could be close to 45 minutes depending on how tables start getting up. How long do you think it will be before you get here? "We're about 15 minutes away. Thanks."
9:15 19 people including 11 kids with muddy soccer shoes come in. "We called ahead for our group? Where do you want us?" I don't have quite enough tables ready yet but we're working on it. It's probably about another half an hour. But we'll see...it might not take that long. Men go to the bar and order a couple buckets of beer, women sit in waiting area; all ignore the kids who are wandering around the restaurant and bar because they're bored.
9:45 All 11 kids squeeze in around one large table, parents split up; moms at one table, dads at another. Again, no adult is aware of what kids are doing at their table. I give kids the evil eye, remove the one remaining sugar packet from the caddy along with the salt and pepper and remind the little angels that there are a lot of other people here who aren't with their group soa they need to keep their voices down. Unfortunately I neglected to also suggest they only use the restrooms 2 at a time....
9:50 Announce to kitchen that we are finally off the wait. Return to the front for a relatively non eventful hour; no wait, seating people easily, one or two to go orders.
11:00 Decide between a cocktail or going home.....
What would you choose?