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DutchMuse

How To Handle Excessively Loud (obnoxious) Diners at the Next Table

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I would love to hear your comment on how to handle excessively loud and boisterous diners at a fine dining restaurant. This happened tonight; we had invited a couple to a hip, though fine dining restaurant and the table next to us consisted of 6 drunk diners, 3 men, 3 women who were entirely loud and obnoxious. The restaurant where we were is not a sedate, Michelin *** gastronomic restaurant; indeed, it has a very lively bar with TV screens and its own DJ later in the evening but it is fine dining--we ate in the dining room, not the bar. It is decidedly fine dining, and we had two dishes with black truffles and another pasta dish with black truffles and lobster. It is, by any definition, fine dining with a name chef and operated by a well known restaurant group. Our dinner tonight started at 6:45pm and ended at 9:55pm. The table next to us was so loud, the men were laughing hysterically at the top of their voices, the women encouraging them and also loud, and the women began making sexual gestures around the food. The problem wasn't the behavior of the woman with her sexual gestures--it was the loud talking and laughing of the entire table. So loud, that our guests (he is 28, she is 26) commented that it was ruining their first time at the restaurant.

It bordered on ruining our night for all 4 of us; so much so that early in the evening, when I shot daggers at them via my eyes and they realized they were loud, they seemed for a nanosecond embarrassed, and I said to them "You are ruining our dinner; seriously." The ensuing quiet from them lasted 5 minutes, then they resumed. At the end of our 3 hour meal, when they got even more drunk and resumed their profoundly loud laughing and carrying on, we told the management of the loud noise and that it had ruined experience; they basically shrugged as if to say (and I think they actually did say this) "We're sorry about the noise but there's really nothing that we can do.

We're not prudes or church mice; indeed, we like the music at the restaurant and love the hip vibe. That our 20-something guests had an issue with the noise also makes a statement.

So....those of you either in the restaurant industry or as diners (btw, we are regulars at the restaurant; we go there usually 2 times a week and are quite friendly with the management and chef), what are your thoughts about how this might be handled?

Thanks!


Edited by DutchMuse (log)

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...we told the management of the loud noise and that it had ruined experience; they basically shrugged as if to say (and I think they actually did say this) "We're sorry about the noise but there's really nothing that we can do."

Regardless of where you sat in the "fine dining restaurant", would that not be the expected response at a place that features a "very lively bar with TV screens and its own DJ later in the evening"?


So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

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Joe is right.

There is more to fine dining than some lobster and truffle. By the nature of the place it was not a fine dining restaurant, well it wouldn't be in the UK. I assume you are in Holland?? Once again nothing on your profile to tell readers where you are talking of.


Sid the Pig

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There's nothing you can do, unless you look really, really scary (i.e.scary enough to frighten a bunch of drunks by just striding over to their table and quietly saying, 'Shut up. STAY shut up'). Are you two metres tall, a metre wide, have stainless-steel teeth, and look as though you moonlight as a public executioner somewere? No? Trust me, you don't look scary enough.

If the restaurant won't do anything about this sort of thing, you're pretty much screwed. For whatever it's worth, I won't dine anyplace with a TV visible anywhere on the premises; it's a red flag.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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For restaurants it's a difficult situation. Whatever they do, they risk upsetting a customer.

Personally, I would first try to discretely ask management at the restaurant if there is anything that could be done. For instance, if they won't say anything to the party making all the noise, then maybe they might move my party? If they say "Sorry, we really can't do anything." then next I would consider going up to the noise-makers and politely asking if they might try to keep it down a little. It's astonishing how some people do not realise the way they effect others around them, but if you are polite they do sometimes try to tone it down.

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best said above: the TV told you what to expect on one hand, but drunk and out of control is another thing entirely.

blog this somewhere so others might make a better choice in the future

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...we told the management of the loud noise and that it had ruined experience; they basically shrugged as if to say (and I think they actually did say this) "We're sorry about the noise but there's really nothing that we can do."

Regardless of where you sat in the "fine dining restaurant", would that not be the expected response at a place that features a "very lively bar with TV screens and its own DJ later in the evening"?

I don't believe so. The bar is in one side of the restaurant and the fine dining on the other side.

The restaurant, despite what you may think, is considered fine dining. It is not a sports bar or some kind of similar place.

Do you work in the restaurant industry?

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best said above: the TV told you what to expect on one hand, but drunk and out of control is another thing entirely.

blog this somewhere so others might make a better choice in the future

There are no TV screens in the restaurant. They are in a bar which is quite separate from the dining room.

Just so folks get a sense of this as a fine dining restaurant--we had house made ricotta with shaved black truffle, we had a house made bigoli pasta with lobster and shaved black truffle, etc etc and the bill for 4 of us was just under $1,000.00. They have a good wine list and we had a magnum of a second growth 1996 Bordeaux. This is not a dive place and there are no tv's that can be seen from the restaurant portion of the restaurant.

Now, after the less than helpful comments above, may I ask others ITB what is the "expected" approach from a fine dining restaurant?

This happened to me many years ago at Lespinasse in the St Regis Hotel in NYC and I got the same response: "There's nothing we can do, unfortunately." Is that the "standard" response when this situation occurs?


Edited by DutchMuse (log)

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Sorry

I guess you have to have a discrete word with whom ever is in charge. If they feel that they cant or wont do anything, then if it is ruining your dinner, why not then explain to the charge person your problem and then just leave. No balance due.

on the other hand, a gratuity for the serving staff might be in order as they are helpless. One group or the other has to go.


Edited by rotuts (log)

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Sorry

I guess you have to have a discrete word with whom ever is in charge. If they feel that they cant or wont do anything, then if it is ruining your dinner, why not then explain to the charge person your problem and then just leave. No balance due.

on the other hand, a gratuity for the serving staff might be in order as they are helpless. One group or the other has to go.

Thanks; this is a good suggestion. I posted this on a wine board I frequent and folks there also pointed out (correctly) that I should have let the manager know much earlier on and asked to be moved to another table much earlier on. Had we done this early on, it probably would have avoided the disappointment at the end.

Based on the same response from the Lespinasse staff years ago, I am curious what folks who have gone to restaurant/hotel hospitality school (e.g. Cornell, abroad) were taught about what the textbook response is in a situation like this.

But in the future, I have learned a lesson to let the management know much earlier on in the dinner. It seems obvious, of course, but in the moment, I guess we hoped it would get better (hope springs eternal, I guess, even though baseless).


Edited by DutchMuse (log)

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You said you dine there on a regular basis. Walking out, even stating you would walk out would have been a strong statement to management. Did these boors bother anyone else? If the party was drunk, the establishment has some responsibility for their actions. Don't know where this happened but in the States, the house could be held liable if they get in a car and hurt or kill someone else.

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The textbook first response should be to offer to seat you at a different table.

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Thanks, folks. I'm seeing (again, obvious, but..) our greatest mistake was in not asking for a different table when the problem started. I put too much hope the restaurant would be able to ask them to tone it down. This is helpful, because undoubtedly, there will be a next time somewhere, sometime.

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in the end, you use the only democratic thing left to us: the Dollar ( your own currency - fill in ) vote.

One dollar = one vote.

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Yes, DutchMuse -- as you said above, I'm confused as to why you didn't ask the staff to move you, if that group was ruining your meal. For a three hour meal, I'd think you could have asked the staff to move you at almost any point during the evening, give the truly over-the-top obnoxious behavior going on at the table next to you...

And to me a "there's nothing we can do" response is totally inadquate. There *is* something they could have done -- moved you to another table! Or comped you part of your meal!


Edited by Emily_R (log)

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Yes, DutchMuse -- as you said above, I'm confused as to why you didn't ask the staff to move you, if that group was ruining your meal. For a three hour meal, I'd think you could have asked the staff to move you at almost any point during the evening, give the truly over-the-top obnoxious behavior going on at the table next to you...

And to me a "there's nothing we can do" response is totally inadquate. There *is* something they could have done -- moved you to another table! Or comped you part of your meal!

Yes, I should have made this request early on. I did tell the people at the other table that their noise was "seriously affecting our enjoying the evening" and for a while they quieted down. Then for the last third of the meal, they got loud (or louder) again. About half an hour into that, I did ask to move, but the restaurant was full and I don't think there was an option to move--no staff ever came over to inform us we could move (the gesture was made by the waiter, and we said yes).

But long story short, I should have said something early on and we would have been able to move.


Edited by DutchMuse (log)

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Asking to be moved makes sense. But it doesn't solve the problem for other diners.

Restaurant management should have recognized the problem before you felt it necessary to talk with them. If it was my restaurant, and a customer brought it to my attention because we hadn't caught it, I'd watch the table for a while to see if they were at fault or the complaining customer was hypersensative. Assuming the table was, indeed, objectionably loud, I'd first have a quiet word with that table's host. If a couple of such warnings didn't work, I'd offer to move them to a more private area or to a table in the bar where they could be more "relaxed." If that failed, I'd ask them to leave.

On the other hand, if I thought the customer was hypersensative, I'd offer to move his party to a different table.

It is the management's responsibility to maintain a pleasant dining environment. The most a customer should need to do is call an issue to the management's attention. It is up to the management to resolve the issue.

Based on the same response from the Lespinasse staff years ago, I am curious what folks who have gone to restaurant/hotel hospitality school (e.g. Cornell, abroad) were taught about what the textbook response is in a situation like this.

I am a Cornell Hotel School Grad. At least in my day, we never covered such issues in a classroom other than having "hospitality" stressed at every opportunity. Handling customers comes with intuition, experience and, unfortuanately, an occasional call to law enforcement.


Edited by Holly Moore (log)

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Asking to be moved makes sense. But it doesn't solve the problem for other diners.

Restaurant management should have recognized the problem before you felt it necessary to talk with them. If it was my restaurant, and a customer brought it to my attention because we hadn't caught it, I'd watch the table for a while to see if they were at fault or the complaining customer was hypersensative. Assuming the table was, indeed, objectionably loud, I'd first have a quiet word with that table's host. If a couple of such warnings didn't work, I'd offer to move them to a more private area or to a table in the bar where they could be more "relaxed." If that failed, I'd ask them to leave.

On the other hand, if I thought the customer was hypersensative, I'd offer to move his party to a different table.

It is the management's responsibility to maintain a pleasant dining environment. The most a customer should need to do is call an issue to the management's attention. It is up to the management to resolve the issue.

This is what should have been done...it's management's job. If people get loud and obnoxious in a bar, they're asked to leave (or shown the door). Same thing should happen in a restaurant.

We're unfortunately at a time in the "evolution" of society where there are people who don't respect boundaries when they are in public places. Sometimes they need to be told how to.


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

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