To Seat, or Not to Seat

Food writer Andrea Strong raises two excellent and underconsidered big-think dining questions in her weekly column, “The Strong Buzz.”

First, what is the story with restaurants not seating incomplete parties? Why can’t we just sit down and
order drinks (and maybe have a little pre-dinner nosh), while waiting for that one friend that is always late?

Pure speculation: It may be that the first two or three hundred times that customers claimed their straggling friends would be nipping along smartly, only to have the latecomers arrive a full hour late, it was kind of cute. After that, it became ridiculous to let three people monopolize a table for six while waiting for Sheila and Dan to wrap up their monthly expedition to IKEA.

And what about refusing to transfer checks from the bar to the table? What’s the issue here?

This seems to be considerably more well grounded. We now have tiny, Wi-Fi–enabled animals that can tell you when your email has arrived, how your stocks are doing, and what the weather’s going to be —maintaining a single check for bar and restaurant seems to be well within the grasp of the modern dining
establishment.