My friend and I went to a nice restaurant the other night (about $20 per entree). It was busy and we had to wait a good 15 minutes and there were people waiting behind us as well.

The host took us to our table but it turned out to be right next to the bathrooms and I really don't like that so I asked if we could get a different table but was told no because the restaurant was full, and the host was not very nice about it either, which was kind of embarrassing to me.

I thought about asking if we could get back in line and wait for a better table but I couldn't come up with the words to do so, and being turned down for that as well would have made the situation much worse and I'm not sure if they have a procedure for that and the whole procedure would be awkward as well. I didn't want to disrupt our evening so we just sat down and had the meal.

I really didn't enjoy the dining experience as people kept walking right next to our table going in and out and we could hear flushing noises and it was just uncomfortable. I was kind of annoyed to have paid so much (bill came to $70 after everything) for such a poor experience.

At the same time I understand that under the circumstances the restaurant is not to blame. But then why did they put a table there to begin with? I doubt anyone seated at that table enjoys their experience.


The question: How do I insist to get a different table or be re-inserted into the wait queue so as to get the next available acceptable table?

I'm thinking that as we arrive at the table instead of sitting and taking the menus from the hosts I might say "I'm sorry but this table isn't going to work for us, I'd prefer to wait for the next available table after this one."

Could someone with restaurant hospitality experience say how this would go over, whether a procedure exists for this? I'm imagining being walked back to the front and the next people seeing us and then being upset when they get to the table...

  • Might or might not be an IPS question.If it's about giving feedback to the restaurant personal/owner then please specify your question.
    – Boondoggle
    Jul 15, 2018 at 22:20
  • I don't think this is a duplicate. The other question is about requesting a new table for different reasons, and context matters with IPS questions.
    – apaul
    Jul 16, 2018 at 4:15
  • @apaul even if it's not a duplicate... asking 'how do I handle' and 'what else can you do' makes this seem like asking 'What should I do', which we've decided to be off-topic. Phil, what do you want to do that you need our help with? It might be better to rephrase this a little so that we know what we're actually supposed to help you with doing, instead of making your decision on what to do for you.
    – Tinkeringbell
    Jul 16, 2018 at 8:10

1 Answer 1


Having worked in more than a few restaurants, I can tell you that your options are limited. When a restaurant is already at capacity, with a backlog of people waiting, your best bet is to make your preferences clear when you ask for a table to begin with, or make reservations well in advance.

Making a reservation in advance is probably best if the restaurant accepts reservations. Most higher end restaurants do. When you call to place the reservation, tell them that you want a table away from the restrooms.

If the restaurant doesn't take reservations, and is at capacity with a wait, ask the host/hostess for a table away from the restrooms. Be clear that you're willing to wait a little longer if necessary. Tipping the host/hostess may go a long way towards getting a better table.

Basically there isn't a great way to ask to be moved to a better table once you're already being seated. The restaurant is packed, all of the other tables are in use. You can ask, but it's better to ask in advance, and avoid the situation entirely.

Try to keep in mind that working in a packed restaurant is stressful. The staff is generally trying to do their best to accommodate the preferences of all of their customers at the same time. Time spent with a "difficult" customer is time other customers are neglected. Give people a little breathing room, these are high stress jobs that don't typically pay very well. I don't mean to be scolding, just trying to give you an inside perspective.

  • How do you tip the host in this case? You tell your request and accompain it with few dollars? Doesn't it look like "corruption"?
    – Fez Vrasta
    Jul 16, 2018 at 3:29
  • @FezVrasta Tipping is common and customary in the US. It's considered good etiquette to be subtle about it in some cases, but it's not generally seen as a bribe.
    – apaul
    Jul 16, 2018 at 4:14
  • @apaul Tipping your server in the US is common. It is not at all common to tip the host, and I would find it very strange to do so. Generally when you tip other types of service people (valet, etc), you always do so after you have received the service. In this case that would be equivalent to tipping the host after you have been given a table you are satisfied with.
    – David K
    Jul 16, 2018 at 12:21

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