Vol. 6, No. 20 | Why Restaurants Insist on Seating When Your Entire Party Arrives
I’ve realized lately that people really dislike not being able to be seated before the rest of their guests arrive. I can see how annoying it might be to have to wait 30 minutes before your friends show up, but that’s your friends’ fault, no?
While it might seem like restaurants are trying to piss you off or it’s just bad hospitality, there is a completely rational reason for this…actually two.
Restaurants allot a certain amount of time for someone to be seated at a table. It’s called a turn time. If your reservation is at 7:30 and you’re a party of five, the next reservation on that table might be at 10pm. If two out of six people arrive and they’re seated, chances are they’re going to wait for the rest of their guests to arrive before ordering. So if the next two guests arrive at 8pm and then the last two arrive at 830pm, that leaves this group one hour to order and eat. Unrealistic.
A lot of people make up numbers when making a reservation. Or some of their guests cancel last minute for a variety of reasons. If someone makes a reservation for 10 and only 6 people show up, chances are there are other options for seating instead of taking up a table for 10.
Reason # 3
Ok, I have a third reason. Restaurants generally seat a certain amount of people at one time to help with the flow of the kitchen. As in example #1, if people are trickling in for a large party and then place their order when it’s the busiest time for a restaurant, this leads to increased wait times for every guest to receive their food…and then everyone is mad.
These things are especially true for busy restaurants with limited seats. So if you’re dining with people that you know are always late (we all know these people), tell them an earlier time so they arrive on time.
And if you show up to a restaurant on Tuesday at 9pm and it’s half empty and they still tell you that you need to wait…well then you might have a point.