3

Context

I was at a restaurant yesterday and one person on the table next to us was so loud that they sounded as if sat right at our own table, an annoying companion you could say.

Regularly, loud people are not too bothersome of an issue as to not being able to enjoy a meal, and you can even crack a joke at their expense, but this person was being rude to their own fellows, made me cringe from how she talked to one of them.

Even if that wasn't the case, sometimes the occasion calls for a more intimate or at least a slightly more comfortable and calm atmosphere.

Whenever I'm alone reading or writing or whatever and the restaurant is not that fancy, I move tables by myself taking the main things with me. I've noticed sometimes the waiters are very helpful and immediately start moving the rest of things, other times they sort of look like they're not sure how to handle the situation, I'm guessing it was because they have assigned tables and I moved to some area they're not responsible for? Additionally, having a company increases the complexity of that fórmula.


Question

What's the proper elegant way to do this without exhibiting I'm sort of a brutish man used to middle age pirate taverns?


Objective:
I'm looking for proper comprehensive procedure that covers manners, class, chivalry, spatial management (avoiding clumsy perception) and considers the sensibilities of the people I'm addressing without coming up as snobbish, that would be not only the waiter, but also and most specially my companions to avoid awkwardness and handle myself elegantly in a fancy setup or even sustaining a remarkable impression regardless of the setup being extremely fancy or not.

  • Thnak you, that's a nice answer by Catija btw. I'm looking for proper etiquette that covers sensibilities of the people I'm addressing, that would be the waiter and my companions to avoid awkwardness and handle myself elegantly. – J A May 27 '18 at 20:42
19

I'ver spent a lot of time working in restaurants. Let me start out by saying, "This is a known issue/procedure with restaurant staff." They generally, especially on a busy night, see at least one table that wants to move for whatever reason, whether it's loud neighbors, proximity to kitchen or restrooms, dislike of the server, or just plain wanting something different.

At a restaurant where they seat you, management is supposed to keep a balance between the servers to one doesn't get overloaded while others have nothing to do. So moving yourself can cause (a small bit of) upset to that.

To get moved to a different table, there are several ways to do it.
First of all, when you get seated, you can ask the host. They see this all the time and are used to it. "I'm sorry, is it possible to sit over there?" and indicate where you would like to sit. Unless there's a reason to not seat you there (server recently took a large table, section is closed, table is not clean), the staff will as a rule comply and not think anything of the request.

Once sitting, if the table is not to your liking, you can approach the host and say, "I'm sorry, the table I'm at is not working for me. Would it be possible to move to another table?" If you know where you'd like to move to, indicating that would help. If you just want to move, then anywhere will do. Remember, it's the hosts's job to seat people in a way that works for everyone. So they'd as a rule be happy to help you move. Also, when they do that, they usually inform the servers that you have been moved and arrange transferring responsibility for you to the new server, if needed. (Moving by yourself sometimes leaves 2 servers thinking, "the other one is taking care of them...", leaving you with no service at all.)

If you don't want to approach the host, you can ask the server at any time during your visit. Merely ask if you could move. If they haven't done much for you yet, you may get a new server. Otherwise, if they've taken your order and brought out drinks, you'll most likely keep that server. Either way, it's a known event to servers so not a surprise to them. Remember, it's their job to maximize your experience there; leaving you unhappy with your table does not do that.

You'll notice that at no time did I say to explain why. You can certainly do that; that will help resolve the issue. Generally, especially when it's busy or someone's really loud anyway, no one hears what's going on at your table. So it's safe to explain to either the host or server, "I'm sorry, this table won't work for me. It's too loud here." That will help them find you quieter seating.

The most important thing is to be polite - polite patrons as a rule have a much better experience than rude ones. Rude ones get exactly what they ask for more often - but generally nothing more. Polite ones may not get exactly what they want, but the staff will generally work harder to ensure a pleasant experience.

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6

Having worked in more than a few restaurants in my younger days, I would recommend asking your server to move you to another table.

As you've guessed most restaurants break up their dining rooms into sections. Each server is assigned to a certain section of somewhere between 3-10 tables, depending on the style of service they provide and how many seats per table. They'll tend to be a little put off if you move on your own to a different section because that section may be assigned to another server and it screws up their seating rotation, or whatever system they use to make sure that the servers get a roughly equal share of customers. Servers can be very territorial about their sections because each table in their section is a potential tip. So... If you up and relocate on your own, you may inadvertently cause a conflict between two or more servers.

Restaurants that work on a tip-share system usually won't have these issues because all of the servers are pooling and equally dividing their tips at the end of the shift. This may explain why some servers are more helpful than others when you want to move. Or they may simply be a little more professional about it because they're kinda supposed to be regardless.

With all that in mind. If someone at a nearby table is being too loud, just discreetly ask your server if you can move to another table. They'll most likely move you right away and/or deal with the patrons who are being too loud.

Asking lets the server know why you want to move and gives them a chance to square it with the other servers on the floor.

If you ask and they decline, ask to speak with a manager. The manager will most likely be very accommodating and may even comp your drinks or give you something extra for your inconvenience.


As for addressing your companions, again it's as simple as asking. It may show a little more class not to point to the source of the noise, with a "Wow! That person is awfully loud". Your companions have ears too, so they're likely aware of the situation.

Try something like:

It's a little loud over here, would you all mind if we moved to another table?

Then, based on their response, follow through by discreetly asking your server to move you all to a new table. Again, you don't need to point to the person, or persons who are being loud, your server will be able to hear them as well.

It's a little loud here, could we be moved to another table?

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