Booths from Hell

Posted on Wednesday 29 March 2006

Everyone wants a booth. “Can I have a booth?” “Any booths left?” “A booth would be great.”

Okay, okay, we get it.

So, the designers of my recently opened restaurant installed booths all over the place–some seat four, some can take on 5, others comfortably hold 6 adults. Thus, no shortage of booths in any of our five dining rooms.

For some reason, however, the gap between the seat and the table of the booths in one dining room is narrower than those in our other areas. Normal-sized people (whatever normal is–I just know it when I see it now), love them. But these particular booths have a sinister side: They are the bane of anyone teetering between 40-plus pounds overweight and morbid obesity.

In other words, I find myself having to do a covert belly check before seating patrons in this dining room.

Sometimes I guess wrong. Like the time two women seemed fine when I seated them, then minutes later stormed out the front door, screaming at me as they stomped past the podium, “You deliberately discriminate against large people! Those booths are a disgrace! How could you seat us there?”

How do you answer that?

Regardless, I don’t want that scene to replay anytime soon, and yet the potential is there every shift.

Example: Daughter arrives without mother, takes a pager, and waits for mother. We page daughter for one of these booths (nothing else is available), and, daughter sits in the booth, saying mom will be in shortly. Mom arrives, and, to my horror, is nothing less than enormous. I have to seat her with her daughter, right? Which I do, and mom barely wedges herself into the edge of the booth, sitting with her legs out to the side of the table.

“You know,” I say with the biggest smile I can muster, “The hosts upstairs tried to page you at the same time I did. They have a table upstairs, if you would prefer that.”

“No, no,” smiles mom. “This is just fine.” I felt terrible about it, but she didn’t want to switch tables.

Thus, I now perpetually wonder how to handle:

–People who see those empty booths and wonder why they can’t sit there (yes, well, you won’t fit!)

–People who specifically request that dining room (I love it too, but we have four more upstairs that are more your “fit”)

–People who get angry when they don’t feel comfortable in those booths after insisting they be seated in one (I tried to direct you upstairs!)

–People who notice others having trouble with these booths and point it out in not-so-soft-spoken voices (shut up)

4 Comments for 'Booths from Hell'

  1.  
    erin
    April 3, 2006 | 11:27 pm
     

    My restaurant has the same problem…just one of our booths is a “normal people” sized one, but I’ve had to deal with the same stuff. Awkward!

  2.  
    April 14, 2006 | 6:45 pm
     

    The lady’s daughter should know if the booth is going to be a problem, and alert the server to it. The thing that bothers me is restaurants with arms on the chairs when so many North Americans are overweight. That doesn’t make sense because it loses them business.

  3.  
    Restaurant Gal
    April 14, 2006 | 7:51 pm
     

    Hi Andrew–I think what usually happens is this: A person of average build who fits in the booth doesn’t even realize the problem until an overweight person tries to sit down as well. Thus, the woman’s daughter probably didn’t realize how close that gap was until it was too late. Happily, we don’t have that problem in our other booths upstairs. And being the ace maitre ‘d that I am, I am getting better every day at making sure no one has a problem in “those” booths.

  4.  
    GG
    June 13, 2007 | 6:33 pm
     

    I never even thought people would not fit into a booth.
    Great blog, nice posts. I’m catching up with the archives.
    gg

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