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Nora Boyle

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

by Nora Boyle » Fri May 18, 2018 5:17 pm

There are signs and hosts that explain not seating incomplete parties, and there’s even an app called “Nowait” that you can get that gives you the estimated wait time. When the host marks a table seated it will tell them how long a party has been there. But once again, no one is pushing you out at an hour and a half.
Also, afternoons are a great time to join us. Depending on the weather we will either have table service on the patio or upstairs from 11:30 on! With the exception of Sunday (closed) and Monday (5pm-10)
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Mark R.

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

by Mark R. » Fri May 18, 2018 9:05 pm

There is one thing I think may be an unintended consequence of this policy is that if a party is asked to leave after 90 minutes etc. I'm betting the tip goes down drastically. They obviously have to pay the bill but the tip is optional and if they feel their dinner was cut short they're going to want to blame it on somebody so it's going to come out of the tip. Thus even though the policy is implemented by the management the servers are going to come out on the short end.

Have any of the restaurants that have this policy seen this happening?
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GaryF

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

by GaryF » Sat May 19, 2018 12:36 am

I guess, having been in the business since Noah's flood, I have a different take on this.
As long as I know the constraints ahead of time so that I can judge whether or not it fits into my evening I have no issue with a time limit. I think being upfront is much better than another tactic I've seen used- putting a check book down, stopping service (filling glasses etc), opening up the check book, staring at the guests, etc.
I know of restaurants in other cities that actually use this as a marketing method. One place, called the Hourglass Cafe, had large 90 minute hourglasses above each table. When the server took your drink order they turned over the glass and you were off. They were seldom empty- folks went for the fun and oddity of the experience.
Honestly, many, if not most, popular restaurants block off 90 minute to 2 hours per table on a busy night. I think most people don't realize this because most meals don't last that long. Usually the tables that linger are offset by the tables in a hurry.
Since we are such a food-centric town I would hope we could get behind supporting smaller independent restaurants that are trying to make a go of it, even if it means moving to the bar for an after dinner drink or dessert.
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Gary Z

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

by Gary Z » Sat May 19, 2018 5:43 am

As much as I like to ruffle feathers on this forum about service, I’d like to calmly expand on points that both Nora and Gary have made.

First of all, I don’t think setting a time limit on any guest’s dining experience is a good idea. I do however think it’s a good idea to manage how and when they are seated. It’s time to put the responsibility back on the guest.

If you are 20 minutes late for your reservation with no advance warning, you lose your reservation and are bumped to the bottom of the wait list. There are paying customers waiting for the table that you couldn’t be bothered to show up for on time.

If you have a reservation for more than four people, you do not get sat until the entire party has arrived. This prevents people from occupying a table that seats ten when only four show up.

And I know this will be an unpopular opinion (Gary hates it) but service stops from the time you pay your bill. If you want to sit and talk for the next two hours, have at it. But your empty water glasses are a clear sign that it’s time to give up the table.

Just have some respect for the process people. You want to have a good dining experience, but the restaurant and the employees also want to maximize their earning potential. We don’t need to set time limits as long as we have just a little bit of empathy for the needs of others.
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Re: Restaurant with a. 90-minute table limit?

by Carla G » Sat May 19, 2018 7:17 am

Totally to the side-
Hasn’t this been a very well rounded, thought out discussion? Both sides (or maybe I should say all sides) make valid points and there is enough responsibility around for everyone to shoulder. Perhaps after a discussion such as this where all involved are asked to look at opposing viewpoints we can all be better diners/business owners.
I will say however there seems to be a great deal lacking in the way of planning for many trying to make it in the restaurant business. Too many enter the biz with little more than their mother’s great chicken/chili/cake/whatever recipe and a storefront then whine because the world doesn’t beat a path to their door. This seems to be the flip side of that problem - the world IS beating a path to their door, now where to seat them?
The complexities involved in running a restaurant successfully should make the rest of us tip our hats to those owners that have been doing it for years. I wish someone like Doug Gossman would weigh in and share how they handled the problem at the original Bristol B&G. That would be interesting.
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Will Terry

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

by Will Terry » Mon May 21, 2018 8:27 am

Gary Z wrote:Just have some respect for the process people. You want to have a good dining experience, but the restaurant and the employees also want to maximize their earning potential. We don’t need to set time limits as long as we have just a little bit of empathy for the needs of others.


I wish it was this easy! The problem comes from the people who don't know or don't care that they are eating up profiting sitting at a table after dessert. I get the desire to linger, you've had a good meal, you are out on a nice evening... and when you get up from the table, the evening is most likely over...So people linger... and it costs the restaurants money...

It'd be awesome if there was a way to move people to a dessert area, with comfy chairs and a quiet room... finish off your meal in a different spot that takes up less space while clearing a tabletop for the next diner.

I think a rule of 90 minutes, offered with explanation (and giving exceptions on slow nights or to big parties or if there has been a problem with the service) makes a ton of sense, but I also see how it creates a certain amount of stress of the diner... then again, I feel stressed if I linger too long because I know I'm costing the restaurant money!

I also wonder if this creates any incentive to "use" all 90 minutes of your dining time... In some ways it creates that as a expectation. Freakonimics had an example of parents picking up children later at pre-school once they issued fines for it... because the fines made the behavior "OK" because they were paid for.

Lots of interesting dynamics in Social Economics!
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JustinHammond

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

by JustinHammond » Mon May 21, 2018 9:13 am

Bern's in Tampa has a separate area for after dinner dessert/drinks. They offer a kitchen tour immediately after your meal, then you have dessert in the Harry Waugh room.



https://bernssteakhouse.com/Harry-Waugh-Dessert-Room

One of the most famous, and popular, aspects of Bern's Steak House is its dessert room. Here guests can enjoy a leisurely and intimate end to their dining experience choosing from nearly 50 dessert choices to more than 1,000 dessert wines and spirits.
"The idea is to eat well and not die from it-for the simple reason that that would be the end of your eating." - Jim Harrison
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Will Terry

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

by Will Terry » Mon May 21, 2018 1:13 pm

JustinHammond wrote:Bern's in Tampa has a separate area for after dinner dessert/drinks. They offer a kitchen tour immediately after your meal, then you have dessert in the Harry Waugh room.



https://bernssteakhouse.com/Harry-Waugh-Dessert-Room

One of the most famous, and popular, aspects of Bern's Steak House is its dessert room. Here guests can enjoy a leisurely and intimate end to their dining experience choosing from nearly 50 dessert choices to more than 1,000 dessert wines and spirits.


Yeah, the problem is a small restaurant is small... but maybe it'd be worth investing in the extra space to increase turns without rushing people out the door?

A hard solution to retrofit, obviously.

I kindof like the concept of a linear restaurant... start off in a noiser "tapas" section waiting for your entree table... (you get dinner menu here, and plan on ordering as soon as you sit down)... Eat dinner in a quieter section, and then move on to a dessert room for a leisurely conclusion to the meal. At that point you are just running a larger restaurant, but whatver! I like my idea!
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