Welcome to the Louisville Restaurants Forum, a civil place for the intelligent discussion of the local restaurant scene and just about any other topic related to food and drink in and around Louisville.
User avatar
User

Paul T Carney

{ RANK }

Foodie

Posts

46

Joined

Tue May 08, 2007 12:08 pm

Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Paul T Carney » Thu May 17, 2018 11:29 pm

Just curious ...what does the brain trust think about a local restaurant posting (and enforcing, apparently) that customers can only stay for 90 minutes?
A nearby much-beloved spot has started doing this, and I’ve had friends who were asked to leave, even though they were still ordering food and drinks. I’ve honestly never heard of this kind of policy, and while I can imagine some maybe legit reasons for them wanting to do this, it seems like a ham-fisted solution to whatever problems motivated it. Seems like a good way to alienate a lot of customers.
Thoughts?
Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.
– Terry Pratchett
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

{ RANK }

Forum host

Posts

20714

Joined

Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:38 pm

Location

Crescent Hill

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Robin Garr » Fri May 18, 2018 7:13 am

This is in Louisville? Barring information that I don't know about, it sounds like a terrible idea, worth shaming. Would you mind naming the place, Paul, so we can discern more clearly what's going on?
no avatar
User

Ryan Rogers

{ RANK }

Foodie

Posts

264

Joined

Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:28 am

Location

Louisville, KY

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Ryan Rogers » Fri May 18, 2018 8:08 am

Name and shame... grab the pitchforks... how quick to condemn. I'll "name and shame" ourselves at bar Vetti then, but lets do a little exercise first.

We have 33 available seats in our dining room. In Louisville the dining sweet spot is 6pm-8pm - we literally do 80% of our seatings between those hours. If a table decides that they'd like to dine at 6:30pm and spend 2+ hours at the table, by the time they're leaving it is now 8:30pm+ and we have little (weekend) to no (weekday) chance of turning that table. If they spend 90 minutes (and we'll have 3+ courses out in 45 minutes), and leave by 8pm, we still have a fighting chance.

On the best case scenario (which never happens) where the 4 top isn't a 3 top and the available 10 top isn't an 8 top at 33 people in the dining room spending $30-$50 per person - you can do the math here - if we do not get a second seating at those 33 seats we go out of business. 100% out of business.

But hey grab the pitchforks.

On a side note, when you (which I'm sure none of you will do now) make a reservation through the extremely convenient, but costly (for us) reservation application on our website, it does inform you of the 90 minute table time - so there's that.
Feast BBQ - New Albany, IN & Louisville, KY
Royals Hot Chicken
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

{ RANK }

Forum host

Posts

20714

Joined

Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:38 pm

Location

Crescent Hill

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Robin Garr » Fri May 18, 2018 8:53 am

Ryan Rogers wrote:\On a side note, when you (which I'm sure none of you will do now) make a reservation through the extremely convenient, but costly (for us) reservation application on our website, it does inform you of the 90 minute table time - so there's that.

Ryan, you know I've had a uniformly positive view of you and your restaurants. I'm no hater. And I love bar Vetti, too. That said, while I hear your argument, I'm still having a hard time seeing a positive outcome from this. I hope it works for you, but I wonder if you risk shrinking your base by leaving some fraction of your customers upset and disinclined to return. I hope it works. I wish you well. But I wonder how other popular restaurants with limited seating have addressed similar concerns. Might it be well to look around at other wheels before inventing a new one?
User avatar
User

Carla G

{ RANK }

Foodie

Posts

2682

Joined

Mon Sep 28, 2009 9:01 am

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Carla G » Fri May 18, 2018 9:20 am

Hmmmm... I can’t help but flash back on restaurants that a server took a while to get to our table for an order or a kitchen that took too long to get our dinner out and made us late for the theatre. ( Tickets sure weren’t cheap!) or a backed up bar that took forever because it was happy hour. So how would that work? Maybe timers on the table?
That knife cuts both ways. This has been a problem in restaurants since forever. I rank this idea right up there with restaurants that cram as many tables and seats into a dining area nearly sitting paying customers in each other’s laps.

I agree with Robin. I simply don’t see a positive outcome.
"She did not so much cook as assassinate food." - Storm Jameson
User avatar
User

Bill Veneman

{ RANK }

Foodie

Posts

1277

Joined

Thu Mar 01, 2007 12:35 pm

Location

East End outside of the Watterson, but not afraid to travel for good grub

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Bill Veneman » Fri May 18, 2018 9:35 am

Well, this clinches things for me! I've not been yet, but was looking forward to checking things out....this information definitely changed my mind!

When I dine out (which I frequently do) I want to feel like a guest and not a commodity! Putting a time limit on customer dining is a greedy move! Dining out is an event to be savored and enjoyed by the guest! It shouldn't be rushed, forced, nor put on a timer! When dining out, I want to enjoy what the chef has taken the time to showcase their talent and skills! Additionally a well trained staff can make the event even richer!

Mr. Roger's, I wish you well, but I don't see this policy holding water in such a foodie centric city! Just my humble and learned opinion!

Until this policy is reversed, I won't be visiting your establishment!
If life's a Banquet, what's with all the Tofu?

Cheers!

Bill V.
User avatar
User

RonnieD

{ RANK }

Foodie

Posts

1850

Joined

Thu Aug 23, 2007 12:09 pm

Location

The rolling acres of Henry County

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by RonnieD » Fri May 18, 2018 10:36 am

While we were in NYC, there was a brunch spot just west of the Village that had a 2 hour table limit, but that was also tied to a brunch special they ran (2 hours all you can drink Mojitos, Sangria, Bloody Marys). After the 2 hours you could move your party to the bar and continue your stay, but the table and the bottomless booze was on the clock.

This is a really tricky situation as I can easily appreciate both sides of the argument. Small houses are hard to make profitable if you can't turn the tables, but you don't want any guest to feel that their visit is constrained. Letting guests know up front that there is a time limit on tables is at least fair, even if it is unpopular. This won't stop me from patronizing bar Vetti. It would stop me if I wasn't told ahead of time.
Ronnie Dingman.
Head Cook, The Kitchen at Gerstle's Place
no avatar
User

Iggy C

{ RANK }

Foodie

Posts

410

Joined

Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:33 am

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Iggy C » Fri May 18, 2018 10:58 am

For what it’s worth, I’ve been to Bar Vetti three times for dinner, each time eating three courses. And every time they have gotten the food out quite fast. So it is probably the case that we left under 90 minutes, now that I think about it, but I never felt at all rushed. At the time I just thought they had an efficient kitchen. If the service had been slow and then I’d felt pushed out, that would be another story entirely. But as it is, I haven’t yet run up against the unpleasant constraints of this policy and wouldn’t have guessed. On the other hand, BV is the kind of place it would be nice to spend a long time lingering over. So if I ever do plan to go out with a larger group and stay a long time, at least it’s good to be informed now that we should choose somewhere else for that kind of evening rather than by finding out the hard way.
User avatar
User

Paul T Carney

{ RANK }

Foodie

Posts

46

Joined

Tue May 08, 2007 12:08 pm

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Paul T Carney » Fri May 18, 2018 11:23 am

To clarify, this wasn’t about Vetti; it’s actually El Mundo that I knew had instituted this policy.

And to echo what I’ve said and what others have said, I get it. El Mundo is pretty small, very popular, and they need turnover and have always struggled with that. I’m sure they get tons of customers who linger over chips and margaritas. But ( and I know that anecdote is not the same as proof), in at least two cases that I know of, people who were still ordering food were asked to leave.

So, the clash between turnover and customer experience...how does everybody win here?

(To be more clear, I haven’t checked this out myself, because the last few times I went by, they were too busy for me to get in. I’d be curious to hear from Bea, who has done fantastic things with El Mundo, and has been a vital part of the Clifton resurgence. )
Last edited by Paul T Carney on Fri May 18, 2018 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.
– Terry Pratchett
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

{ RANK }

Forum host

Posts

20714

Joined

Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:38 pm

Location

Crescent Hill

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Robin Garr » Fri May 18, 2018 11:33 am

Paul T Carney wrote:To clarify, this wasn’t about Vetti ...

Well, we sure didn't see that coming! :shock:
no avatar
User

Ryan Rogers

{ RANK }

Foodie

Posts

264

Joined

Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:28 am

Location

Louisville, KY

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Ryan Rogers » Fri May 18, 2018 12:48 pm

Robin Garr wrote:
Ryan Rogers wrote:\On a side note, when you (which I'm sure none of you will do now) make a reservation through the extremely convenient, but costly (for us) reservation application on our website, it does inform you of the 90 minute table time - so there's that.

I hope it works for you, but I wonder if you risk shrinking your base by leaving some fraction of your customers upset and disinclined to return. I hope it works. I wish you well. But I wonder how other popular restaurants with limited seating have addressed similar concerns. Might it be well to look around at other wheels before inventing a new one?


There are actually multiple restaurants in town that have similar policies. I figured this wasn’t about us, but I figured I’d chime in as to why these policies exist.

In small dining rooms where there are no more options for expansion you have a limited number of alternative options to make the numbers make sense.

1. Increase table turns. Cons: If you don’t get the food out or people want to linger you’ll make them feel rushed.
2. Raise prices. Cons: You’ll only be able to serve the most well heeled patrons, of which the pool is relatively small and doesn’t really fit in with our ethos.
3. Cut food costs. Cons: No local, no organic, no good.
4. Cut labor. Cons: Less product made in house, food quality and service goes down.

Please let me know another way to solve this problem? I feel like we’ve made the most consumer friendly choice, and believe me we don’t make these decisions without a lot of deliberation.

All of that being said, if you book the larger group table in our restaurant, we built in a 2 hour turn time because we realize groups tend to take longer. Additionally if there isn’t a reservation after your reservation - which is almost 100% if the time if your reservation is 8pm or later - you’re welcome to linger as long as you’d like.

You all are more than welcome to vilify me and say you’ll never visit bar Vetti, but I would challenge you to put yourselves in my shoes where I’m trying to do what’s best for our employees.
Feast BBQ - New Albany, IN & Louisville, KY
Royals Hot Chicken
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

{ RANK }

Forum host

Posts

20714

Joined

Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:38 pm

Location

Crescent Hill

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Robin Garr » Fri May 18, 2018 1:05 pm

Ryan Rogers wrote:You all are more than welcome to vilify me and say you’ll never visit bar Vetti, but I would challenge you to put yourselves in my shoes where I’m trying to do what’s best for our employees.

You will not hear me say that, Ryan. And I hope you won't hear any forumites say that after having heard your response. I do wish there was another way. If I can think of one, I'll tell you. But I'm afraid it would be best for everyone not to hold their breath. Maybe there isn't another way. Well ... other than to reinforce what you already do: Try your best to ensure that diners are well aware of the policy before they sit down. I think a lot of the vilification came from a (false) understanding that people were being booted unexpectedly when they hit the 90-minute mark. I'm sure you agree that would be a bad thing.
no avatar
User

Nora Boyle

{ RANK }

Foodie

Posts

390

Joined

Sat Mar 03, 2007 2:24 pm

Location

Clifton

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Nora Boyle » Fri May 18, 2018 1:54 pm

Hey there! Feel free to post this on hotbytes if you wish. We also have a suggested 90 minute policy and I’ll bet your poster was referring to us. We, at El Mundo, go on a wait every night. After our tables fill up, the host has to estimate how long it will be before a table is available for in coming guests. We base this estimate on an average customer experience of 90 minutes. Most of our customers do not stay more than an hour and a half so we feel this is a fair estimate for us to work our wait list off of. We also over estimate our wait list in case we do have guests who stay longer than 90 minutes.
With that in mind, we only seat complete parties so that a table isn’t waiting for their joiners. Before we started this, we often times had an entire dining room ( all of 10 tables upstairs or on the patio) filled with seated parties who were waiting for joiners...sometimes waiting for their friends for up to an hour before ordering. This extends the wait for other guests who are complete parties and ready to sit and order.
When an incomplete party asks to be seated we put them on the list and ask them to let us know when everyone has arrived so we can seat them as soon as possible. We are trying to be fair to all of our customers who want to dine with us and be efficient in our process.
When a table says they are all here, but they keep adding people to the group after you have been seated, it is hardly fair to the hungry folks waiting their turn.
After a table has eaten and has paid their bill after 90 minutes we will check to make sure everything was OK and thank them for dining with us. After the 2 hour mark, we will politely ask if they wouldn’t mind giving up the table for another guest. No one is ever commanded to leave while they’re dining. That is just plain not going to happen. We thrive on our repeat customers, but as Ryan stated, we have to sell food and turn tables to operate!
Hope this clears the air a bit, and maybe you can see it from a business prospective. As our table toppers state, “During peak hours, you may be asked to respect an hour and a half maximum at this table”. We base our wait estimates on 90 minutes and shall continue to do so.
Thanks for the opportunity to respond!
El Mundo
User avatar
User

Robin Garr

{ RANK }

Forum host

Posts

20714

Joined

Tue Feb 27, 2007 2:38 pm

Location

Crescent Hill

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Robin Garr » Fri May 18, 2018 3:19 pm

Nora Boyle wrote:We also have a suggested 90 minute policy and I’ll bet your poster was referring to us. We, at El Mundo, go on a wait every night. ...

Thanks, Nora! More good info ...
User avatar
User

Paul T Carney

{ RANK }

Foodie

Posts

46

Joined

Tue May 08, 2007 12:08 pm

Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Paul T Carney » Fri May 18, 2018 5:07 pm

Nora Boyle wrote:Hope this clears the air a bit, and maybe you can see it from a business prospective. As our table toppers state, “During peak hours, you may be asked to respect an hour and a half maximum at this table”. We base our wait estimates on 90 minutes and shall continue to do so.
Thanks for the opportunity to respond!
El Mundo

Thanks, Nora. I really appreciate your response. It was just a surprise to me initially, and I understand the situation that smaller restaurants are in. If the policy is stated, and the request is done well when the time comes, then I can’t immediately see a better way to handle things.
Quick question: is there anything posted about not adding people to a seated table, or about the 90 minutes counting from initial seating? It might help head off any further misunderstandings.
Humans need fantasy to be human. To be the place where the falling angel meets the rising ape.
– Terry Pratchett
Next

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot], Majestic-12 [Bot] and 3 guests

Powered by phpBB ® | phpBB3 Style by KomiDesign