Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

obnoxious diners


zeffer81
 Share

Recommended Posts

My boyfriend and I ate at a small(ish) BYOB here in Philadelphia last weekend. While it isn't a big place, the accoustics are horrible and the sound tends to carry. When we were seated, I noticed an empty table set for approximately 12 people directly behind my seat. A warning bell went off in my head but I promptly ignored it and set to exploring the menu.

Fast forward about 30 minutes...

The table of men entered the restaurant and immediately demanded the attention of everyone in the room. How could they not, they were extremely loud. In addition, the man sitting behind me had his chair pushed out so far that I was practically stuck in my seat.

Although I tried to ignore it, they were really, REALLY loud and occasionally ventured towards offensive language/conversations. There were times that I could not even hear what my boyfriend was saying--and he was sitting right across from me!

My question for you, my fellow gulleteers, is this: does it ever get to a point where the manager or owner should intervene for the sake of the other customers?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally, although I really, really HATE being stuck in a restaurant with people like that, I would have to say that I don't really think the manager or owner of the restaurant should intervene unless the obnoxious diners are doing something which is actually forbidden, like smoking in a non-smoking area (and over here I doubt anyone would stop them even then).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

'Tis the season for loud drunk groups in restaurants.

I don't think I've ever seen a manager explicitly intervene in a case like that. I'd be interested to hear about someone doing it successfully. It seems like the kind of thing that could easily backfire. What I have seen a few times is a manager or owner who goes up to the table and chats with them in a friendly way; that sometimes seems to tone loud people down a bit. It helps if you're the kind of manager who walks around the dining room.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

or like my family did at a recent meal in Palm Springs where two wahoos were dropping every name they had in their little black book to impress each other - we started talking opening about their conversation in a volume that they could hear. It quieted them a bit without elevating hostilities.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We experienced this several times in a row at a favorite restaurant. In this case it is after-work get-togethers of screaming women. We talked to the management; they hate these people, but they are local business types and the restaurant doesn't want to lose both their work and personal business. Instead, they lost us.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

the other issue to take into account is the likelihood that a table of twelve will probably (hopefully!) leave a significantly larger tip than a table of two.

also, i forgot to mention that another table nearby asked to move. i may have done the same but we we were nearly finished by the time it really started to get under my skin.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is on the host or manager to maintain the decorum of the restaurant. Easier said than done, but he/she should at least try. My approach, back in my hosting days, would be to speak to the host of the large party and explain that we are a small restaurant with tables very close together. Perhaps he could ask his guests to keep their voices down. Probably has a chance of working maybe 10% of the time but at least an effort was made. Best tactic is to rush the food out to the 12 top. Food quiets down most groups. Keep the courses coming fast and get them out as soon as possible.

My first question for the manager though is why a small restaurant accepts a reservation for 12 in the first place. The answer is greed, because even if noise doesn't turn out to be a problem, service to the other tables as well as service and quality of food to a 12 top is going to suffer.

I place the blame on the management both for accepting the reservation in the first place and for not at least attempting to quell the noise once it became an obvious issue.

Edited by Holly Moore (log)

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

Twitter

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is on the host or manager to maintain the decorum of the restaurant

I place the blame on the management both for accepting the reservation in the first place and for not at least attempting to quell the noise once it became an obvious issue.

agreed. i have on a couple occasions politely asked the host if they would like to move into our private dining room (that happened to be empty that night) so that they 'didn't have to worry about the other guests' and could let loose and have fun. obviously that wasn't an option in this instance. anyone who's been in the business should have a plan for anything and everything; loud people most definitely included. even if a server comes up every few minutes and interrupts them to get their attention (to take an order, to describe the entrees they just received, to go over the dessert menus, etc) that will stop the momentum of their increasing volume. there are any number of solutions for these issues. bad management simply throws their hands up and relinquishes responsibility.

Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany twitter: @theoakland

Link to comment
Share on other sites

or like my family did at a recent meal in Palm Springs where two wahoos were dropping every name they had in their little black book to impress each other - we started talking opening about their conversation in a volume that they could hear.  It quieted them a bit without elevating hostilities.

This is a great strategy and reminds me of an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm from last season where Larry David was seated next to a very loud person gabbing into his bluetooth headset (I hate those people with all that is in my soul)....... Larry started having a very loud conversation into his imaginary bluetooth to annoy the guy and the comedy ensued.

Jerry

Kansas City, Mo.

Unsaved Loved Ones

My eG Food Blog- 2011

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm with Zeffer, on the rare occasions that this happened to me, we just asked to be reseated. There is no way the staff is going to "shush" the party of 12. I think it's easier, and certainly makes for a more pleasant meal, to just bite the bullet and move. Life is aggravating enough, I want to eat my meals in peace.

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are many ways to bring a 12 top under control. But the easiest way is (this is pure Gary Regan) to figure out who the "host" is, and quietly ask for "thier help" in getting the group in line so they are not disturbing everyone in the resturant. This way the staff isn't the bad guy, so it shouldn't affect the tip, and everyone is happy as can be.

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

Link to comment
Share on other sites

or like my family did at a recent meal in Palm Springs where two wahoos were dropping every name they had in their little black book to impress each other - we started talking opening about their conversation in a volume that they could hear.  It quieted them a bit without elevating hostilities.

am i understanding this correctly? the topic of conversation between two strangers was annoying, so you behaved in a manner that made them think twice about what they were talking about?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My boyfriend and I ate at a small(ish) BYOB here in Philadelphia last weekend.  While it isn't a big place, the accoustics are horrible and the sound tends to carry.  When we were seated, I noticed an empty table set for approximately 12 people directly behind my seat.  A warning bell went off in my head but I promptly ignored it and set to exploring the menu.

Fast forward about 30 minutes...

The table of men entered the restaurant and immediately demanded the attention of everyone in the room.  How could they not, they were extremely loud.  In addition, the man sitting behind me had his chair pushed out so far that I was practically stuck in my seat.

Although I tried to ignore it, they were really, REALLY loud and occasionally ventured towards offensive language/conversations.  There were times that I could not even hear what my boyfriend was saying--and he was sitting right across from me!

My question for you, my fellow gulleteers, is this: does it ever get to a point where the manager or owner should intervene for the sake of the other customers?

the seat thing - i would've asked him nicely to move a little.

We once - at a very nice, but sort of destination restaurant - sat next to a table of tourists who had a guide with them. The guide talked nonstop throughoout the whole meal. She was telling them all about the area etc, but I wanted to tell her to shut up. So did my husband.

I was reveiwing the restaurant and thought about mentioning the event in the article, but knew it wasn't the restaurant's fault. But maybe the yakker would've read it and realized it was her?????

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is it possible that your definition of "obnoxious diner" is someone else's definition of "having a good time"?  I do agree that pushing out your chair and invading someone elses space is obnoxious though.

Point taken. However, these gentlemen were obnoxious. There was borderline offensive conversation (discriminatory language, which I would have addressed had it continued.) However, I think my favorite was their demand to see the waitress "at least once every five minutes" to make sure their needs were being met...and then asking her if she was married...

In the grand scheme of thing, the chair in my back was actually the least of my worries.

In response to Holly--I didn't think the 12 top was too outrageous at this given restaurant whose name I don't want to reveal because you'll definitely know it.

Overall, a wonderful woman, not our waitress, who we later realized was the owner, saved the evening with her gracious friendliness. I don't think we'll return, but that is due to a variety of other reasons including, but not limited to, the vast number of other INCREDIBLE restaurants in our great city!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh go ahead name the restaurant. There is no implied confidentiality when one eats out. A bad experience should be outed.

Re someone else "having a good time"...that is fine up to a point and depends on the setting. A sports bar has one sort of conduct. A quiet restaurant another. From my point of view, a conversation should not be audible at the next table.

Edited by gfweb (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My question for you, my fellow gulleteers, is this: does it ever get to a point where the manager or owner should intervene for the sake of the other customers?

Yes, there is. I've seen the intervention be done extremely well and all has ended perfectly -- and I've seen it not go so well. Like many things in the business -- it might not be so easy, LOL.

Eric

Link to comment
Share on other sites

or like my family did at a recent meal in Palm Springs where two wahoos were dropping every name they had in their little black book to impress each other - we started talking opening about their conversation in a volume that they could hear.  It quieted them a bit without elevating hostilities.

This is a great strategy and reminds me of an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm from last season where Larry David was seated next to a very loud person gabbing into his bluetooth headset (I hate those people with all that is in my soul)....... Larry started having a very loud conversation into his imaginary bluetooth to annoy the guy and the comedy ensued.

I've seen several people do that -- and it's getting more and more mainstream in today's society.

BTW, are you a member at CF? The handle looks familiar.

Eric

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My favorite handling of the cell-phone obnox occurred in the For Better or For Worse strip, way back when Michael and Deanna were dating---he had taken her to a lovely restaurant, evinced by the candlelight and white cloths and shadows of ferns around the perimeter. As well as the demeanor of the nicely-dressed young couple, with Michael's jacket-and-tie a clue that this was an important occasion.

A loud man at an adjoining table was sending up endless balloons of yak-yak-yak into his cell, and in about the sixth or eighth frame, Michael began to construct his OWN cell phone from a pistolet, a toothpick, an olive to cap the jaunty antenna.

He uttered a loud BRRRRR-IIINNNG, then answered, rose, and handed the edible phone to the loud man, saying, "It's for you," to the applause and wide grins of several adjoining tables.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Over the holidays this topic came up in conversation among others. We discussed why are we taking a day or two's pay to dine out and then subjected to abuse? Should we have to pay for that experience?

I can't think of one time that I have refused to pay a bill. This and other situations are making me question why I do sometimes. I like to think I let the management or server know if something is wrong however I know I often just put up with these kinds of things.

Back to the topic though, why do we pay for this kind of experience?

"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Back to the topic though, why do we pay for this kind of experience?

You nailed it. We have to pay for the food. The experience, a good one that is, is what we hope to get. It's the bonus. It's what's behind door #3 when we've chosen door #1. Luck of the draw. Obviously the experience part doesn't always work out for everyone. The obnoxious people probably thought they had a good time though.

There's no extra charge for the experience whichever kind we get.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Back to the topic though, why do we pay for this kind of experience?

You nailed it. We have to pay for the food. The experience, a good one that is, is what we hope to get. It's the bonus. It's what's behind door #3 when we've chosen door #1. Luck of the draw. Obviously the experience part doesn't always work out for everyone. The obnoxious people probably thought they had a good time though.

There's no extra charge for the experience whichever kind we get.

You are right if you are talking about Denny's or Olive Garden.

But if I'm in a nice place, paying big bucks, and planning to tip my usual>20%..THEN I HAD BETTER GET A GOOD EXPERIENCE!!! It is expected and decidedly not a bonus.

If it is truly bad, and my requests to be moved aren't honored, and the problem continues... then as a minimum the tip would be zero.

Unfair to the server? Perhaps, but what is a tip for if not to get a good experience?

A few lost tips will make the servers more proactive.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

...Back to the topic though, why do we pay for this kind of experience?

You nailed it. We have to pay for the food. The experience, a good one that is, is what we hope to get. It's the bonus. It's what's behind door #3 when we've chosen door #1. Luck of the draw. Obviously the experience part doesn't always work out for everyone. The obnoxious people probably thought they had a good time though.

There's no extra charge for the experience whichever kind we get.

You are right if you are talking about Denny's or Olive Garden.

But if I'm in a nice place, paying big bucks, and planning to tip my usual>20%..THEN I HAD BETTER GET A GOOD EXPERIENCE!!! It is expected and decidedly not a bonus.

If it is truly bad, and my requests to be moved aren't honored, and the problem continues... then as a minimum the tip would be zero.

Unfair to the server? Perhaps, but what is a tip for if not to get a good experience?

A few lost tips will make the servers more proactive.

My boyfriend and I ate at a small(ish) BYOB here in Philadelphia last weekend.  While it isn't a big place, the accoustics are horrible and the sound tends to carry. 

It didn't sound like The Inn at Little Washington or something.

No it's all in the price of the food. That's all you pay plus a tip. They never requested the manager nor asked to be moved.

I would without reservation ask anyone sitting too close to me to give me my space. I don't need/expect someone else to do that for me.

But the question is why do we pay for this? Because to do otherwise would ultimately land one in trouble with the law. I mean call the manager over and tell him you want your food comped or something. It's the squeaky wheel as evidenced by the group 'getting away with it'. No?

We are paying the price for the food listed on the menu and we all plan on and hope to have a great time. The owner/management is not in control of every jot and tittle of their own day much less everyone else's just because they are open to have people dine there.

I would never ever stiff a waiter for the bad manners of some patron or for any circumstance beyond his job description. If the food sucks I do not penalize the waitstaff. If the service does I do.

I'm just saying I think there's a big difference between service and 'the experience'.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a young man typically dining alone, I don't think I'd have much of the manager's sympathy in an incident like that, especially if a larger party is involved...but if the situation degraded from annoying (loud inane conversation or out of control child) to downright offensive I wouldn't hesitate to comment to the wait staff or manager.

I respect that it's very much a judgment call on the part of the staff--the only way I would ever consider dinging a waiter or waitress for an incident like that is if my complaint was received in poor grace.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...