We recently went to one of our local restaurants, Bun & Burger. We have been going there several times a week for lunch or breakfast over the past 20 years. I think you could call us regular patrons.
We asked for a booth and were asked: “For how many?” There were two of us there at the time, which is the rule to get a booth, but we said we would be four in total. As we sat down to wait for our guests (who were only minutes behind us), a waitress asked us to move to the counter until our guests arrived. When we explained that our guests were only a matter of minutes behind, she insisted (on behalf of her boss) that we wait at the counter because if another party of four arrived, they would have to give the booth to them. We told her okay and that it would just be the two of us.
We ordered coffee and grapefruit and in came our friends. As they sat down, the owner came from behind the grill he was working and told us (in a rather loud voice) that we knew the rules and lied to the waitress. At that point, one of our guests got involved and asked him how many people do you need for a booth. The owner said our party of four was not all together, and we should have waited at the counter until the other guests arrived. He then walked away.
We were going to just chalk it up and order our breakfast. But then he came over again from behind the grill. He said we should know the rules and should have waited. With that remark, our guest again asked if you only need two people for a booth, what difference does it make if someone comes to join you?
Embarrassed by his confrontation, our guests left fuming. They saw no reason to put any money in this man’s pockets after hearing his rules. Our friends are also regulars. Their father was a daily figure there for over 30 years at breakfast until he passed away. It wasn’t like the owner didn’t know us all.
I can understand a restaurant that’s busy in the summertime. You don’t need people holding up booths waiting for a party that is late or never shows up, but this was not the situation. We are patrons who often come in and get a booth. Sometimes people join us who we didn’t even expect and nothing is said. Where is the loyalty? This place is one of the few places open in the winter for breakfast. This gives them the upper hand. Loosing four people won’t hurt him, but is this any way to treat your loyal patrons?
If all his local patrons didn’t come in for just one Sunday, say around May 9, maybe he would lose some of his inflated ideas about his rules. Sometimes there is a need to be lenient. Most especially with the people who help keep you in business through those rough winter days in the Hamptons.