Hospitality Today: Please Hurry Up & Eat

The Wall Street Journal: “As online reservation systems make it simpler to fill seats at less-popular hours, restaurateurs are finding that their biggest challenge is getting tables turned over in time for the next reservation … To move the meal along, many restaurants keep tabs on loitering diners, rush out food for guests sitting at in-demand spots and regularly entice diners to the bar for free dessert or a post-dinner drink.” Restauranteur Gabe Garza comments: “We really concentrate on being able to control the dining room without the guest feeling it.”

“While restaurants don’t publish turnover times, most won’t let two-person meals run much longer than 90 minutes during busy nights. That limit can be closer to two hours for slightly larger parties or fine dining. In general, two-person tables tend to leave earlier, while a four-person table can order the same amount of food but stick around at least 15 minutes longer … To create pockets of faster turnover, more restaurants are opting for communal tables in the dining area, along with backless stools at the bar, where patrons can order from the full menu.”

“What’s the solution for diners who want to stay past the allotted time without the hassle? Dine later. Or be upfront when reserving about wanting a leisurely dinner, which may lead to an out-of-the-way table that’s best for lingering. As a last resort, Mr. Garza suggests dropping a hint to the server upon arrival.” He advises: “There are diners who enjoy the art of dining and we want to give that to them.”

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