Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Because You Are Polite

by Ginger Philbrick

I am part of the staff of a local restaurant.

Recently, on a very popular day for people to eat out, because of the number of reservations we had received, I began my shift thinking we would be filled. I was so disappointed when, in the first hour we were serving, five tables were no-shows. As the day went on, several others who had made reservations did not come or call.

I want people to know that this thoughtlessness caused problems for both the waitresses and the kitchen staff who had prepared for many more people. It is rude to say you are coming and not let the restaurant know if you want to cancel.

Still fuming, Irvington

Dear Still Fuming,

First, let me thank you for bringing this ever-growing problem to our attention.

I am most sympathetic to your feelings about being left holding the bag—or in this case the plate—or those who either don’t understand or don’t care about the importance of reservations. Asking that seating be held for you is a type of promise that both parties, the restaurant and the customer, make that they will uphold their end of the transaction.

Restaurants take their end of the process quite seriously, sometimes losing money so that our table will be ready when we want it. In the case of a no-show, the loss may be of food that goes unordered, staff that may have been brought in based on expected customer numbers and tips. 

Often a popular restaurant will have a waiting list but by the time it is obvious that a party isn’t going to come, it is too late to notify those on that list. In order to ameliorate and reduce their loss in this situation, some dining establishments have begun a policy of “priority seating” which means that they put the caller’s name on a list for a certain date and time and, if/when the party comes in, they will be seated prior to others waiting; however, immediate seating is not guaranteed.

Although it hasn’t happened in our community yet, there are restaurants which request a credit card number when we reserve a table and, if we fail to appear, we will find a penalty charge on our next statement.

Cancelling our reservation is a simple action. It takes only a minute or two to call.  No profuse apology or explanation is necessary. Saying, “This is Ms. Hollyhock. I regret I must cancel my reservation for 7 tomorrow evening,” is sufficient. The restaurant would much rather lose our business at that time than lose more revenue because they couldn’t put another customer in our time slot.

And what about those who respond to RSVPs, saying they are coming but do not show up? I have reservations about sharing what I think of such behavior. I think I should keep them.

Ginger Philbrick is the owner of Because You Are Polite LLC. You are invited to email your manners questions to her and she will respond as time and space allow. You may contact her at [email protected].

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team
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