The Tasting Panel magazine

December 2016

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4  /  the tasting panel  /  december 2016 Okay, I railed about this before, a few years ago, but it warrants a repeat airing, because this ridicu- lous practice is still very widespread. You arrive at a restaurant on time for your 7:30 reserva- tion for four. Three of you are there, but Chauncey is driving around trying to find a parking place. If you happen to be in San Francisco, Boston or any number of crowded urban locales, finding that elusive parking space can be a very time- consuming endeavor. The snooty hostess peers down her upturned nose at you. Her condescending attitude makes you feel as if you have just emerged from your tent under a nearby highway bridge. "We will seat you when your party is complete." She harrumphs. "Wait at the bar." This boneheaded practice immediately creates an adver- sarial relationship between the customer and the restaurant. Why do they do this? Are they afraid the three of you will camp out at the table? Are they afraid you'll steal the silverware? Many of the restaurants that use this practice are small and, if you choose not to sit at the bar and order an $18 cocktail, they will ask you to wait crushed up against the coat rack or, even better, on the street. This might be acceptable some- where like Los Angeles or Miami, but can you imagine if you had to wait in the street in February in Minneapolis. Yoiks! I am revisiting this issue because it reared its ugly head recently for me. Believe me, it's a very unpleasant experience. I felt like a naughty child being scolded for some heinous transgression. Let's scrap this practice. If they want people to return to their establishments time and time again, restaurateurs need to go out of their way to make their customers feel welcomed. A warm and friendly reception goes a long way towards cre- ating a strong, positive relationship. Not allowing part of a party to sit at the table that is ready and waiting for them is transmitting the completely wrong message. —Anthony Dias Blue "Wait at the Bar" LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

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