Diners, Fight for Your Rights

We’ve all heard it before: “I can’t seat you until your entire party is here.” Sure you have a reservation and you’re on time, but your one friend is running late so you must cool your heels at the bar. Then, when your friend finally arrives, you ask to transfer your bar tab to the table, only to be told you must settle up at the bar first.

Leslie Brenner of the Los Angeles Times thinks this is unacceptable behavior. “Bad service in Los Angeles restaurants has reached epidemic proportions,” she writes.

This week the Times published its version of a Diner’s Bill of Rights. It includes 25 points that cover all manner of things, from the right to refuse food or wine that is found lacking to the right to continual bread service and the right to have the prices of any menu specials mentioned at the time they are presented to the diner.

Some of these are just plain common sense—to be seated in a timely manner, for example. Brenner also thinks you should be allowed to claim your table, even if your party is not complete.

Wait at the table. If you arrive at the time of your reservation and your table is ready, you shall be promptly seated, if you wish, not asked to wait for your party to be complete. ‘If you make a reservation for 8, the table should be yours at 8,’ [LA restaurateur Donato] Poto says.

Some of the other points seem to be a bit more far-fetched, such as number eight: “Waiter’s anonymity. You have the right not to be told your server’s name. ‘Folks don’t come in to make new friends with the service staff,’ says Martha Keller, adjunct professor of hospitality at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m really not bothered when a server tells me his or her name. I won’t remember it or use it, but I’m not going to be steamed by the fact that the information was offered.

But for the most part, the list is a good one. If restaurants followed even a fraction of these points, the dining public would be lulled into complacency with good service and the soothing carbs of continual bread from anonymous servers. It would be like a Danny Meyer–inspired version of diner heaven.

Where can I make reservations for that?

See more articles
Share this article: