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Restaurants Failing to Accommodate Special Needs


Walrus
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So I thought I'd solicit the opinions of the other members of this board on an experience that left kind of a sour taste in my mouth.

We had reservations recently for us and two of our friends. One of our friends is diabetic and has had severe heart problems and needs to eat on a very regular schedule. I mentioned this when I made the reservation, and the very pleasant reservationist said she had a diabetic relative herself, so she completely understood.

On the day of the meal, Tripewriter was stuck in traffic on the way back from work. He called me, and I called the restaurant, saying that we were going to be a little late for the reservation, but that one member of our party had diabetes, so please seat the other two as soon as they arrived, and we'd be there right away. She asked how late we'd be, and I said I wasn't sure, but about 5-10 minutes.

When we got to the location, about 8 minutes late, Tripewriter had to find parking, so he dropped me off and I went in, only to find that the restaurant had refused to seat my friends because their policy was to only seat complete parties. I then spoke with the host myself and explained again -- for the third time -- that one of our guests had diabetes and had to eat on a regular schedule. I said that Tripewriter was parking and would be there in just a few minutes. They simply restated their policy -- we don't seat incomplete parties -- and basically sent me away. They were polite throughout, but completely inflexible. Also, at no time did they offer us any food or drink while we were waiting.

I was pretty peeved by this -- I mean, on one hand, I can completely understand the complete-party policy, and under normal circumstances I'm happy to abide by it. On the other hand, it seemed pretty unreasonable to me that if three out of four people are present, the missing person is simply trying to find parking, and you've been informed (twice in advance and once on the spot) about a specific medical condition that requires a guest to have food, that it would behoove you to seat the party. I can even understand that if there are only two of four expected guests there you wouldn't want to give them a 4-top on the off chance that the other two never showed up. But three people are going to use a 4-top no matter what, so what would the harm be in seating the three guests and seeing to their needs?

I will say that it turned out ok in the end -- we were seated as soon as Tripewriter walked in the door, and they brought us bread almost as soon as we sat down, which enabled our friend to eat only a little bit late -- and we had a great meal, with excellent company. I'm just still a bit steamed about the stiff-arm that we got in the beginning because it seems 100% unnecessary to me.

What do you think?

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This coming from the point of view of someone who has virtually no experience with diabetes.....but, if it is so critical to have a diabetic eat on a regular schedule ( I take your word for it), I would think that this person would be prepared with a snack (or something) for just such an emergency. Again, I have no idea what diabetics go through and I do not think your request was unusual or outrageous. I personally would have thought that they would have risen to the occasion, but like I said, I am pretty ignorant about diabetes. Just my 2 cents.

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Did the restaurant confirm that they would seat your friends when you spoke to them about it? It sounds like you talked to three different people, and the only one that mattered -- could actually do something -- was the gatekeeper on duty that night.

As a former insulin-dependent gestational diabetic, I can confirm that it's critical for a diabetic to eat within a certain amount of time after an insulin shot. However, I would not have dreamed of leaving the house without bringing a snack, just in case.

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My wife, who was diabetic, but is no longer after losing 75 pounds in the last 18 months, still carries around a snack and glucose tablets, just in case of a sugar low. Her doctor insisted from the very first diagnosis as a gestational diabetic that she must carry these things with her every waking moment. No diabetic would be without them.

If you spoke to someone who agreed in advance to waive the complete parties policy, you should have gotten that person's name so you could have the waiver enforced when you got to the restaurant. Though it seems boneheaded of the restaurant to deny the exception once presented with the medical need, if there were other guests around, it could have been awkward for them to publicly violate the policy. A no-win for the host - obviously they haven't taken the Kobayashi Maru test.

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Seems to be that the restaurant's not unreasonable policy (though perhaps unreasonable suspicions) could have been tempered by an offer to bring out a breadbasket or a snack; I am surprised no one asked.

It's unclear to me whether the initial conversation resulted in an agreement to seat an incomplete party or merely an acknowledgment that it was important to move swiftly once the party arrived.

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We have a only seat complete parties policy and we make exceptions all the time. Our typical exceptions are for elderly, pregnant women and anyone who tells us they have a medical condition. Not saying that this restaurant should follow my policy, but at the very least they needed to accommodate this person with an offer of food while waiting.

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Our typical exceptions are for elderly, pregnant women

Do you get a lot of elderly, pregnant women coming into your place? If so, will you still seat the entourage of reporters from the National Enquirer, etc, that are following her if they don't all arrive at the same time?

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Okay.

Here's my two cents.

And I apologize in advance if anyone is offended.

Obviously, yes, your friend should have been seated. That's a given. But should you be peeved? I think a little bit of disappointment would be only natural. However, I don't think we need to make a metaphorical federal case out of this.

Of course, I do not have, nor do I regularly dine with anyone who has, any sort of "exception" such as age or a medical condition. So all of this is easy for me to say. Maybe I would feel different if I had a friend with special needs.

But that's the key word, isn't it? "Exception." The good of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Someone who has an exception should not expect to be bent over backward for. If you need to eat at a set schedule, you need to understand that society at large may not conform to your needs and it's up to you to handle them by bringing snacks along. If you need crutches to walk, you bring them: you don't expect your waiter to help you hobble to your seat.

Insensitive? Maybe. But it's not like the restaurant only allows patrons to drink from their water glasses during odd-numbered minutes. Their rule is not that unusual, so it's up to the exception, i.e. the one who is "unusual", to make allowances.

Also, it's not the restaurant who denied your friend a seat. It was an individual. I'm sure that had the person you spoke to originally been the one to seat you, this issue would not have come up. However, the restaurant has a policy and I'm sure the low-wage host just wasn't sure what to do and didn't feel comfortable making an exception. People tend to follow orders - that's just the way we're wired.

So the only two people at fault here are your friend for not being prepared despite knowing that something like this might have happened (what if the meal had been delayed due to traffic?) and the host for following the rules because s/he didn't want to get in trouble at work.

People need to know their limitations and not blame others when problems arise because they don't.

Still, I probably would have spoken to a manager.

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Dan, I'm shocked by your insensitivity towards those among us who have special needs. We should each and every one of us show compassion and kindness toward our fellow human beings with disabilities and medical conditions (for their challenges and hardships, we do not know), and thank (insert diety or whatever) for the blessing of being able-bodied and healthy. And, in reading your response, all I can say is that thank goodness for the American with Disabilities Act.

Your diabetic friend should have been seated. End of story.

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But that's the key word, isn't it? "Exception." The good of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Someone who has an exception should not expect to be bent over backward for. If you need to eat at a set schedule, you need to understand that society at large may not conform to your needs and it's up to you to handle them by bringing snacks along. If you need crutches to walk, you bring them: you don't expect your waiter to help you hobble to your seat
.

Right -- who would want an exception at a a restaurant? Who would want a restaurant to reserve a particular table because your friend has a broken leg, put the salad dressing on the side, whip up an off-menu vegan entree for your hippie friend, or bend the "no jeans rule" because you weren't planning to eat there but it suddenly seemed like a good idea? Who would expect the steak with no sauce, mashed potatoes instead of fries, the staff to help the patron in a wheelchair, the waitress to come up with a plate of pasta or some crusty bread when the kids begin to fret?

Fuck that shit. Rules are rules and should never be bent or broken under any circumstances, because that would lead to thinking and, you know, unrest.

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Okay, but that wasn't the question, was it? It was about whether you should be peeved.

I am a very compassionate person. When a friend is ill, I'm Johnny-on-the-spot with tea and chicken soup. With pregnant friends I get car doors, help them in, make sure their needs are met, see if they need any pickles and ice cream... whole nine yards. I not only would have sat your friend, I would have asked if they needed any bread or possibly something sweeter like juice or an iced tea.

However, you shouldn't expect most people to be like that. In this case, you simply ran up against someone who was conflicted between compassion and their desire to do right by what might be an overbearing boss, and the latter won out. And it sucks. But we should all be prepared to run into people like that. Doesn't make them a bad person, or someone deserving of our ire... just someone who made a bad decision.

I'm sure speaking to the manager would have gotten amends made, and possibly even gotten the policy adjusted ("We only seat complete parties... unless a member has a health issue etc.").

Apparently no one read the disclaimers at the start of my post. :D

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Okay, but that wasn't the question, was it? It was about whether you should be peeved.

I am a very compassionate person. When a friend is ill, I'm Johnny-on-the-spot with tea and chicken soup. With pregnant friends I get car doors, help them in, make sure their needs are met, see if they need any pickles and ice cream... whole nine yards. I not only would have sat your friend, I would have asked if they needed any bread or possibly something sweeter like juice or an iced tea.

However, you shouldn't expect most people to be like that. In this case, you simply ran up against someone who was conflicted between compassion and their desire to do right by what might be an overbearing boss, and the latter won out. And it sucks. But we should all be prepared to run into people like that. Doesn't make them a bad person, or someone deserving of our ire... just someone who made a bad decision.

I'm sure speaking to the manager would have gotten amends made, and possibly even gotten the policy adjusted ("We only seat complete parties... unless a member has a health issue etc.").

Apparently no one read the disclaimers at the start of my post. :D

I'm not offended, just a bit disheartened in your words that followed. We should expect the best of people, not simply accept mediocrity and indifference. True acts of kindess and compassion are those done for even those who are strangers, and for which we know, will go unoticed by anyone but ourselves.

So, peeved? Sure. It's another word for annoyed and angry--anger brought forth from being hurt that the hostess could not show understanding to someone that you care about, who is living with a chronic disease.

Be righteous, be peeved.

Oh yeah...talk to the manager! (to air your concern and hopefully impress upon TPTB how important it is to accomodate special needs. Perhaps this could change the experience for the next person they ought to "bend the rules" for)

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However, you shouldn't expect most people to be like that

But I do expect most people in the "hospitality" industry to be like that. And I do become peeved if they don't.

Also, if they try to take my order before they bring my martini.

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Dan, I'm shocked by your insensitivity towards those among us who have special needs. We should each and every one of us show compassion and kindness toward our fellow human beings with disabilities and medical conditions (for their challenges and hardships, we do not know), and thank (insert diety or whatever) for the blessing of being able-bodied and healthy. And, in reading your response, all I can say is that thank goodness for the American with Disabilities Act.

Your diabetic friend should have been seated. End of story.

Let's show a little compassion to the host, who was probably a 19-year-old kid who knew that if they sat this party incomplete, someone else standing there was going to demand that their party also be sat now, and chaos ensue.

Should the restaurant have sat the party? Yes.

Should the diabetic have brought a snack with them? Yes.

Was there a better way for the party and the restaurant to handle this? Yes.

Peeved? No.

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My mother was diabetic (type 1 and brittle, meaning her blood sugars fluctuated wildly even though she did everything she was supposed to) for over 50 years, and one of my very early memories is of her passing out in a restaurant. She had more leeway for adjusting meal times as the day went on, but she had very little flexibility for breakfast or lunch.

I used to be a wreck when dining out with her if service was slow, or someone we were meeting was late, in large measure because she never wanted to make a fuss about anything. I can't imagine her ever eating a snack from her purse in the waiting area of a restaurant. By the time it was clear someone else had to insist on something on her behalf it was dangerously close to being too late. Even if we were seated as an incomplete party while waiting for someone else, she didn't want to order food until everyone was there. Insisting she get a coke was about the best one could do, explaining to the server that she needed it right now.

My mother's idiosyncrasies aside...I don't know to what extent Walrus's friend didn't want to make a fuss, but it strikes me as interesting that Walrus seemed to have been the one trying to ensure the arrangements were made. I identify with that and with the stress that goes along with it. Thinking you have it all set up and having that undone several times would be quite exasperating. It doesn't really matter what restaurant it is, but if they remain this inflexible, at some point they're going to have someone keel over on the floor in the lobby waiting for the rest of their party.

The best recommendation I have is to get names when making these inquiries, but I'm not sure I'd remember to do that.

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... I called the restaurant, saying that we were going to be a little late for the reservation, but that one member of our party had diabetes, so please seat the other two as soon as they arrived, and we'd be there right away. She asked how late we'd be, and I said I wasn't sure, but about 5-10 minutes...

What do you think?

Had I worked in that place and answered your call I would have told you: "You better hurry up because we have policy of....I am sorry you are not aware of it." She did not tell you about their policy, did she? You should have been told about that policy when making reservation you requested that they sit your friend as soon as he arrives.

Doesn't manager of this restaurant with "strict rules" know that people who pay $$$$ for their meal have a right to expect a pleasurable experience as oppose to adhering to a set of rules that seem to be aimed at saving a few steps for the host or hostess. I understand not taking food orders until everyone is at the table, but refusing to sit 3 people while the fourth one is parking the car is ridiculous. Where is this restaurant, in Bucharest during Cheaushescu rule?

Regardless of what happened to the "customer is always right" idea, good restaurants should not be inflexible. They charge big bucks for providing good time, not lingering bad taste.

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It's not clear from your first post, Walrus, but I am inferring that when you first made the reservation and mentioned your friend's needs the reservationist did not point out the establishment's policy of seating only complete parties, even if she sounded like your request could/would be accommodated. If this is a correct inference, then I think you have reason to feel, if not peeved, then agrieved.

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Let's show a little compassion to the host, who was probably a 19-year-old kid who knew that if they sat this party incomplete, someone else standing there was going to demand that their party also be sat now, and chaos ensue.

Should the restaurant have sat the party? Yes.

Should the diabetic have brought a snack with them? Yes.

Was there a better way for the party and the restaurant to handle this? Yes.

Peeved? No.

That the restaurant put (what we have now decided is) a 19-year-old kid out front that neither fully exonerates the (alleged) kid -- there are managers who can be consulted in these situations -- and possibly aggravates the sins of the restaurant, which now appears not only inflexible but less competent, as well.

Peeved, at least.

I had a friend who had a similar situation years ago in Rupert's (remember them?) -- they wouldn't bring the bread basket until the food had been ordered, even after a manager was brought over -- in the retelling he appeared a lot more than peeved, stomping out of the restaurant in what mildly be called a huff.

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(To give what seem to be some necessary details, my friend I'm sure was prepared for disaster -- but should it really have to get to the point of disaster before we are seated or offered something to eat? And there were three people at the host stand when I arrived. The one to whom I spoke -- and I don't know which one my friend spoke with -- was a 40+ male who clearly had the authority to do whatever he wanted. Also, when I called and spoke with whomever answered and explained the situation to them, at no time was I told that seating my friend early would not be possible or even given a standard spiel about only seating full parties, even during the phone call during which I was informing them that we would be unexpectedly and unavoidably late. On the plus side, they did seat us as soon as all four of us arrived and at no time were rude or unprofessional to us -- just curt and completely 100% inflexible, no matter the issues at hand.)

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Any reason for omitting the name of the restaurant in question? Perhaps others in similar circumstances would benefit from being forewarned of a potential for a rigidly inflexible application of the seating policy.

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DCS, I didn't mention the name of the restaurant -- or even when I'd dined there, other than it was recently -- because it seemed to me that this was a pretty specific set of circumstances, and I was more interested in what other people on the board thought of what happened than in excoriating a business or a management team -- I was surprised by the vehemence of my reaction and wondering whether it was legitimate...

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We should expect the best of people, not simply accept mediocrity and indifference.

You can expect all you want and not accept the things you do not want (to experience), but I suspect you are setting yourself up to be disappointed a lot of the time by a lot of the people out there. I'm splitting hairs between 'expect' and 'hope' I think, so take it for what it is worth. ;-)

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Much has been offered by way of thought, so I'll be brief. It was simply bad business for the restaurant not to have seated the incomplete party. The guest made every effort to inform the restaurant in advance of the not so special request. The onus was on the restaurant to communicate the requirement to the front door staff in order to avoid the ordeal that actually took place. Systems such as Open Table and other reservations databases make it quite easy to leave notes for special requests on a reservation record. Quite frankly, to accommodate your simple request was "Hospitality 101" and the restaurant failed miserably. Next time, make a point of speaking to the highest ranking manager.

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Much has been offered by way of thought, so I'll be brief. It was simply bad business for the restaurant not to have seated the incomplete party. The guest made every effort to inform the restaurant in advance of the not so special request. The onus was on the restaurant to communicate the requirement to the front door staff in order to avoid the ordeal that actually took place. Systems such as Open Table and other reservations databases make it quite easy to leave notes for special requests on a reservation record. Quite frankly, to accommodate your simple request was "Hospitality 101" and the restaurant failed miserably. Next time, make a point of speaking to the highest ranking manager.

While I agree with this sentiment, my cynical side also thinks there are people out there that would take advantage of these types of situations. :D FWIW, I also agree that the responsibility lies with the individual to be prepared for unusual circumstances. One thing I can say, having been a T1 brittle diabetic myself for 38yrs, is that the best laid plans will go astray. I've found the need to be a true girl scout and always be prepared...but shit happens sometimes. I no longer take insulin by injection (the pump has changed my life) so I almost forgot what it was like previously when I would eat only to the insulin. (Meaning my life was entirely ruled by when the insulin would peak.) Snacks will help, but there is a point of no return when blood sugar will continue to plummet without a meal. And I cannot speak for T2 diabetics, though from what I know it is important to keep a schedule but not nearly as fragile a situation.

That being said, I don't think being peeved is the ideal response.* Do something constructive...take the opportunity to let the restaurant know where the mistakes were made and how to avoid those problems in the future. Better to speak with the manager to let them know that you took the right steps to try to avoid a problem, and then were confronted with a difficult situation because the restaurant did not let you know of the policy when you were trying to be proactive and make advance preparations.

*ETA--I did not mean to imply that you do not have the right to be peeved at the situation--you have every right to feel however you feel. However, how one responds to the situation is what I felt the need to address.

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That being said, I don't think being peeved is the ideal response. Do something constructive...take the opportunity to let the restaurant know where the mistakes were made and how to avoid those problems in the future. Better to speak with the manager to let them know that you took the right steps to try to avoid a problem, and then were confronted with a difficult situation because the restaurant did not let you know of the policy when you were trying to be proactive and make advance preparations.
If there is one thing those in the industry have asked us the patron to do over and over, it is to ask to speak to the manager when any situation arises.
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You have every right to be peeved, but you definitely should have asked for the manager. Just tonight, I had 6 (!) tables that we seated as incomplete parties when they were missing only one or two people. Three of those six tables were complete within 10 minutes. The other three tables' missing guests arrived 25, 40 and 75 minutes later than the first group that had arrived on time. (I can't begin to tell you badly these tables screwed us up for the rest of the night with the later reservations...utterly ridiculous. I had to do lots of comps. I should have put the items I bought for pissed-off guests on the bills for the obnoxiously late tables!)

This is what will happen with us as a result of tonight-- I will talk to the host staff tomorrow and let them know that we will not seat incomplete parties. They will hold true to my instructions for fear of getting in trouble at work. This exact situation could happen at Eventide in the future for someone, but if I am summoned to talk with a guest about being seated as an incomplete party, I will make the exception every single time and just simply tell the guests what time I need the table back for the next reservation. The hosts will not have that same purview.

It only takes a few people to screw things up for everyone, sadly.

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You have every right to be peeved, but you definitely should have asked for the manager. Just tonight, I had 6 (!) tables that we seated as incomplete parties when they were missing only one or two people. Three of those six tables were complete within 10 minutes. The other three tables' missing guests arrived 25, 40 and 75 minutes later than the first group that had arrived on time. (I can't begin to tell you badly these tables screwed us up for the rest of the night with the later reservations...utterly ridiculous. I had to do lots of comps. I should have put the items I bought for pissed-off guests on the bills for the obnoxiously late tables!)

This is what will happen with us as a result of tonight-- I will talk to the host staff tomorrow and let them know that we will not seat incomplete parties. They will hold true to my instructions for fear of getting in trouble at work. This exact situation could happen at Eventide in the future for someone, but if I am summoned to talk with a guest about being seated as an incomplete party, I will make the exception every single time and just simply tell the guests what time I need the table back for the next reservation. The hosts will not have that same purview.

It only takes a few people to screw things up for everyone, sadly.

In a high-end restaurant where the table has little chance of turning more than once, of course it makes sense to seat incomplete parties. In modestly priced restaurants where the table could very well turn three, four or 5 times in a night, it absolutely makes no sense to seat incomplete parties. The difference is, the guests need to be told up front that this is the policy.

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In a high-end restaurant where the table has little chance of turning more than once, of course it makes sense to seat incomplete parties. In modestly priced restaurants where the table could very well turn three, four or 5 times in a night, it absolutely makes no sense to seat incomplete parties. The difference is, the guest need to be told up front that this is the policy.

Agreed Mark. We try to get two seatings out of each table, so we need to be up front with people when they're incomplete.

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Mark & Dave:

I think the greater point here is that as restauranteurs, we cannot become slaves to policy. Certainly we put policies in place for the purpose of reasonable and fair governance. However, instances will always occur that bring the veracity of a policy into question. I'm sure you've both been in situations where a common sense decision is made to the detriment of a policy. For instance, I recently worked on an opening for a very busy downtown restaurant that has a "no employees allowed to drink at the bar as a guest, ever" policy in place. At the same time, this establishment encourages employees to dine at the restaurant (in the dining room) with friends and family. The restaurant is incredibly busy. When an employee recently showed up for his reservation with the restaurant on a 30 minute wait, the manager had to make the critical decision to either ask the employee and party to wait at the bar (and break the policy) so that he could catch up with seating full ticket paying guests, or stick to the policy and seat the employee while having full fare guests wait. Policies must be developed based on what makes the best operational sense most of the time, with leadership's willingness to make allowances for what happens some of the time.

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Janet,

Policies are set in place so the guest is informed very honestly of what we are trying accomplish. Of course, we break policy from time to time, but if no "policies" are never put into place, we have no starting point for working as we do at a "read and react" kind of pace. There are way too many human elements involved in the restaurant business so things NEVER go as planned. We know this already.

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Janet,

Policies are set in place so the guest is informed very honestly of what we are trying accomplish. Of course, we break policy from time to time, but if no "policies" are never put into place, we have no starting point for working as we do at a "read and react" kind of pace. There are way too many human elements involved in the restaurant business so things NEVER go as planned. We know this already.

Dave,

Please know that I completely understand the need for clear and concise policies in not just restaurants, but all businesses. My point was more about the ability of managers possess the depth of judgement that allows them to know when a policy should be overlooked for the sake of a greater business need. I agree that without strong guidelines by which we operate, day to day operations would be absolute chaos!

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There are very good reasons these seating rules are in place. However, that shouldn't stop hosts/managers/owners from thinking.

It's called the hospitality industry, so set your policy but still try to be a little hospitable.

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It wasn't just the "let them eat cake" response (" Taskrabbit for instance, is one of multiple services offering human place-holders"to the cranky yet somewhat persuasive folks who wrote into complain about the lines at Little Serow (my last visit suggests it should have demoted in the Fall Dining Guide rather than upgraded, btw) and Rose's, but the way he tenaciously held to the point after being challenged a couple of additional times.  I don't think it would have killed him to admit a restaurant essentially telling you: "sorry about your arthritis, granny, but if you want dinner you have to flip a Benjamin to an unemployed English major before you can even get your name on the list," is maybe not the most hospitable welcome a restaurateur might extend. I think the guy may be getting jaded and out of touch -- he's more interested in novelty, buzz and interior design and less concerned with actual dining out these days.

I've been pretty quiet about this lately, but sheesh people!  Do you all want to appear even more oblivious and aloof from the populace than well pampered DR denizens already are?

People have been queuing up for food since time immemorial and most of us had to do it all through high school and college.  Some of us still do it regularly at food trucks and quick lunch places.  It's not that big of a deal.

And if disability is that big of a concern, treat an able bodied young friend with a flexible schedule and ask that person to stand in line.  Then show up 5 minutes before opening.  Dilemma solved!

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I never feel like having dinner at 5 PM.

Book the terrace, treat us to dinner? :)

But more seriously, there are many many fine restaurants in DC (arguably better than RL and LS) that would be happy to take your reservation, at your desired time, for the desired number of people. I understand that is frustrating to not be able to go to a restaurant that is otherwise very appealing, but that will be the case for every popular restaurant for at least some of their potential audience.

If you do really want to go, I recommend trying Thanksgiving or between Christmas and New Years, then locate a back up bar near by in case you need to wait. Or just go across the street to the shiny new Garrison.

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I think his response was absolutely the correct one. If he were to go down this slippery slope, should he also downgrade pricy restaurants such as Inn at Little Washington for being beyond the financial reach of most people? Or any restaurant without a substantial vegan-friendly selection for being hostile to vegans?

And should I be retroactively upset that my grade school cafeteria made me wait in line (no cutting!) for lunch rather than offer me the option to reserve my space? And should I be picketing the food trusts since they often require substantial standing waits for their food?

I've been pretty quiet about this lately, but sheesh people!  Do you all want to appear even more oblivious and aloof from the populace than well pampered DR denizens already are?

People have been queuing up for food since time immemorial and most of us had to do it all through high school and college.  Some of us still do it regularly at food trucks and quick lunch places.  It's not that big of a deal.

And if disability is that big of a concern, treat an able bodied young friend with a flexible schedule and ask that person to stand in line.  Then show up 5 minutes before opening.  Dilemma solved!

Book the terrace, treat us to dinner? :)

But more seriously, there are many many fine restaurants in DC (arguably better than RL and LS) that would be happy to take your reservation, at your desired time, for the desired number of people. I understand that is frustrating to not be able to go to a restaurant that is otherwise very appealing, but that will be the case for every popular restaurant for at least some of their potential audience.

If you do really want to go, I recommend trying Thanksgiving or between Christmas and New Years, then locate a back up bar near by in case you need to wait. Or just go across the street to the shiny new Garrison.

                  

I think that's a slightly ludicrous response.  The restaurants are essentially choosing impose a sometimes-severe burden on their customers, solely for the convenience of the restaurant.  They are within their "rights" to do that.  But the it does detract from the dining experience and it does exclude or impose a "tax" on some diners.  Tom's correspondents certainly had a valid point in suggesting that 4-star restaurants should treat their customers better.  Acknowledging that fact -- "certainly it is an inconvenience, but the food is worth it" -- rather than getting dismissive and defensive (or suggesting 84 strategies that all of us have heard and most of us have executed) would have suggested a critic that is actually concerned a diner's experience more than cheerleading the local glamor-boy chefs. 

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I really wish I could take my grandmother to Rose's Luxury, but I can't because she's dead.  Obviously, this is the restaurant's fault.  If they cared about their customers AT ALL, they would have opened years earlier when she was still alive.  Four stars my ass.

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I really wish I could take my grandmother to Rose's Luxury, but I can't because she's dead.  Obviously, this is the restaurant's fault.  If they cared about their customers AT ALL, they would have opened years earlier when she was still alive.  Four stars my ass.

This makes complete sense because the Rose's has life or death power over your grandmother and no power whatsoever over whether or not they take reservations.

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I think that's a slightly ludicrous response.  The restaurants are essentially choosing impose a sometimes-severe burden on their customers, solely for the convenience of the restaurant.  They are within their "rights" to do that.  But the it does detract from the dining experience and it does exclude or impose a "tax" on some diners.  Tom's correspondents certainly had a valid point in suggesting that 4-star restaurants should treat their customers better.  Acknowledging that fact -- "certainly it is an inconvenience, but the food is worth it" -- rather than getting dismissive and defensive (or suggesting 84 strategies that all of us have heard and most of us have executed) would have suggested a critic that is actually concerned a diner's experience more than cheerleading the local glamor-boy chefs. 

But let's look at your critique - Is it just for the convenience of the restaurant without cost?  It's been repeatedly mentioned that the no reservation policy allows LS and RL to keep their prices lower than it would otherwise be, treat their employees well, and serve more covers (thus reaching more diners) than is possible under a traditional reservation scheme.  The owners have also expressed a desire to keep themselves as neighborhood restaurants that are more convenient for people in the neighborhood to drop into.  These are all real financial and aesthetic considerations, every bit as valid as Inn-at-Little-Washington's high price tag and middle of nowhere location or most restaurants' decision to only serve 1 or 2 vegan friendly options on their menu.  

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But let's look at your critique - Is it just for the convenience of the restaurant without cost?  It's been repeatedly mentioned that the no reservation policy allows LS and RL to keep their prices lower than it would otherwise be, treat their employees well, and serve more covers (thus reaching more diners) than is possible under a traditional reservation scheme.  The owners have also expressed a desire to keep themselves as neighborhood restaurants that are more convenient for people in the neighborhood to drop into.  These are all real financial and aesthetic considerations, every bit as valid as Inn-at-Little-Washington's high price tag and middle of nowhere location or most restaurants' decision to only serve 1 or 2 vegan friendly options on their menu.  

I have no evidence that the restaurants' prices are lower because I wait in line.  Even if they are somewhat reduced, it would be interesting to see how much and to compare that to some valuation of my time in line.

More likely, it's to increase the restaurants profits (which I'm not against).  Just don't, as they say, piss on my leg and tell me it's raining.

The idea that it's "convenient to drop in" to Rose's is pretty far-fetched.

Interesting that the Inn at Little Washington makes at least some effort to accommodate vegans, while Little Serow/Rose's seem to make no effort at all to accommodate those for whom hours of line-standing is a significant obstacle to dinner.

I went and stood in line for Little Serow the other day -- I'm not an absolutists and I recognize that restaurants have to make a lot of difficult decisions.

To be clear, I don't think any restaurant is obligated to take reservations, accommodate vegans, let you tie your dog to cafe railing, stock your brand of bourbon, turn the music down (or up) throw a screen around breastfeeding moms, welcome breastfeeding moms, stick a changing table in the bathroom, or pretty much do anything aside from serve what they say they're serving and not poison you.

What annoyed me about Tom's response is his cavalier dismissal of legitimate complaints about what is unarguably a diminution of service by a "four-star" restaurant.  At some point the equation seems to have shifted, and we diners are supposed to be sufficiently grateful that we have the privilege of eating at certain establishments that we will gladly put up with whatever inconveniences the restaurant throws our way.  I think that's a surrender of our power as consumers and I think that participants in the "hospitality" industry, who refer to their customers as "guests" should seek to be hospitable to their guests, especially at the higher levels we're talking about.

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I have no evidence that the restaurants' prices are lower because I wait in line.  Even if they are somewhat reduced, it would be interesting to see how much and to compare that to some valuation of my time in line.

More likely, it's to increase the restaurants profits (which I'm not against).  Just don't, as they say, piss on my leg and tell me it's raining.

The idea that it's "convenient to drop in" to Rose's is pretty far-fetched.

Interesting that the Inn at Little Washington makes at least some effort to accommodate vegans, while Little Serow/Rose's seem to make no effort at all to accommodate those for whom hours of line-standing is a significant obstacle to dinner.

I went and stood in line for Little Serow the other day -- I'm not an absolutists and I recognize that restaurants have to make a lot of difficult decisions.

To be clear, I don't think any restaurant is obligated to take reservations, accommodate vegans, let you tie your dog to cafe railing, stock your brand of bourbon, turn the music down (or up) throw a screen around breastfeeding moms, welcome breastfeeding moms, stick a changing table in the bathroom, or pretty much do anything aside from serve what they say they're serving and not poison you.

What annoyed me about Tom's response is his cavalier dismissal of legitimate complaints about what is unarguably a diminution of service by a "four-star" restaurant.  At some point the equation seems to have shifted, and we diners are supposed to be sufficiently grateful that we have the privilege of eating at certain establishments that we will gladly put up with whatever inconveniences the restaurant throws our way.  I think that's a surrender of our power as consumers and I think that participants in the "hospitality" industry, who refer to their customers as "guests" should seek to be hospitable to their guests, especially at the higher levels we're talking about.

If I follow you correctly, your argument boils down to:  Rose's Luxury is inconvenient and inhospitable for you and some others.  So even though Sietsma personally found it more convenient than the reservation and ticketing options of other highly sought after restaurants, he made the paramount mistake of not recognizing the importance of your specific situation, above all the other types of conveniences (including the convenience of actually serving more covers and letting more people try Rose's menu) and business considerations that a restaurant may have.  

Can't argue with that.  

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If I follow you correctly, your argument boils down to:  Rose's Luxury is inconvenient and inhospitable for you and some others.  So even though Sietsma personally found it more convenient than the reservation and ticketing options of other highly sought after restaurants, he made the paramount mistake of not recognizing the importance of your specific situation, above all the other types of conveniences (including the convenience of actually serving more covers and letting more people try Rose's menu) and business considerations that a restaurant may have.  

Can't argue with that.  

My argument is that line standing in line is inherently inconvenient for everyone and especially for certain groups and in evaluating a restaurant it should be considered.  Apparently you (and Tom) have nothing better to do with your time on a (soon-to-be-cold) Wednesday afternoon than stand in line and watch the meter maids work 8th street for several hours and thank your lucky stars that Rose's deigns to let you eat there.

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What annoyed me about Tom's response is his cavalier dismissal of legitimate complaints about what is unarguably a diminution of service by a "four-star" restaurant.  At some point the equation seems to have shifted, and we diners are supposed to be sufficiently grateful that we have the privilege of eating at certain establishments that we will gladly put up with whatever inconveniences the restaurant throws our way.  I think that's a surrender of our power as consumers and I think that participants in the "hospitality" industry, who refer to their customers as "guests" should seek to be hospitable to their guests, especially at the higher levels we're talking about.

I'm both in favor of, and annoyed by the no reservation policy :wacko:, but I think it's legitimate for Tom to give the place 4 stars for the food and service. Or to put it another way, I don't think it's fair to expect him to dock them a half star or a full star because you have to wait in line.

Is this any different the hassles and expense of driving and parking at some place downtown? There are lots of places with little or no street parking so you're stuck paying 10 bucks an hour and walking 4 blocks for the privilege of eating somewhere. I abandoned a dinner in Georgetown last weekend with my parents because of the gridlock traffic and lack of parking options (they can't get around so well, so a long walk was out of the question and the traffic was so bad we quickly gave up trying to turn around to drop them off right in front of the place). Should The Grill Room get penalized for any of that?

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