Traffic=Late Tables. Help!

January 12, 2012

So Friday nights are the worst.  This last Friday, we had the “Gift Mart” and the Atlanta Boat Show in town, bringing in over 100,000 people.  My hostess received six phone calls (which we greatly appreciate),from customers who were stuck in gridlock on the freeways.  It was raining too, which often creates a mind boggling mess in Atlanta.

The guests were trying to get here but were running late. Most were here within 15 minutes.  Now I have to seat them.  This means the people coming for a later reservation are going to of course be on time and wondering why their table is not ready.  I sat one table 20 minutes late and they were furious.

This is not one of the my favorite moments in the restaurant business.  Most customers are understanding when the wait is 15 to 20 minutes and I guess this is what I’m asking for.  If we have overbooked a table or the service or kitchen has slowed down a meal, I try to make amends with drinks at the bar or extra sweet service at the table.  How many parties should be compensated for a traffic jam and how?  Help me.

We’re not going to touch on the topic of guests who book an early table, knowing that they will never be able to arrive at that time, nor incomplete parties (which is the same as late), nor tables that just come in late and wonder why we are giving them an unpopular table on the back deck or one hour later, nor the guy who moves his reservation via Open Table four times on one Valentine’s night because he just couldn’t commit.  Those topics are for another, less proactive blog post.

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