A few days ago at the Blennerhassett Hotel we had a very busy night in our dining room and patio. It was one of those very pleasant nights and there was great entertainment playing. So, with great food, great wines, great music and great weather we were slammed with people wanting to dine. Great problem, huh? Well, yes and no. Let me tell you what happened.
While there was a substantial waiting list for a table, one small group of guests attempted to seat themselves. They simply waited for another group to leave their table and then they sat themselves at the newly vacated spot even though there were dirty dishes remaining. Well, this was awkward. They then had to flag a service person down on order to have the previous guests' plates and glasses removed. That's when it got really awkward.
Keep in mind; we had a large list of other guests waiting on tables, many of them who had made earlier, advanced reservations. Several groups had been waiting over an hour and then witnessed this "table seating protocol breach." Needless to say, those folks were not happy, and it quickly became the Hotel and dining room staff's problem. Here's how my staff handled it; right or wrong.
A very fast mini-staff meeting was held in the service station to determine the best course of action (probably to draw straws on who got the unpleasant assignment of approaching the law-less, renegade gang of table squatters, explain to them their table etiquette faux pas, and request them to vacate their wrongly-gotten territory).
Soon the poor server, who had drawn the short straw, timidly approached the guilty patrons, very quietly apologized to them and then asked them to kindly step away from their ill-gotten booty (i.e. someone's else's table). This action received a multi-leveled response.
First were the darting side glances to each other that virtually confessed their guilt. Then came the reaction I call the "Vinnie Barbarino" (If you're young, you may have to Google this).
It's sort of like, "What!? Who!? Me!?" Then came the awkward, pregnant pause followed by the public "walk of shame" away from the table.
Some of you may want to pass judgment on these table thieves, but not me. I don't know their hearts. Maybe our "Please Wait to Be Seated" sign was too small. What I do know is this apostate action happens with downtown parking all the time. Parking rules seem to be for everyone else but a few. Those scofflaws are regularly parking where they don't belong. When parking is a premium, it happens, but it shouldn't be allowed. Simple courtesy and consideration for others should be the rule.
When you're in downtown, please follow the parking signs and rules. If you don't see the signs or know the rules, please ask someone for help. If you break one of these rules' you might get a parking ticket, or have your car towed, or, worse yet, be forced to perform a "perp walk" back to your automobile.
All of those options are unpleasant and awkward.
Come see me. I'll be in the lounge. If you can't find a place to park, ask one of our staff. We'll gladly valet your car, free of charge.
Cecil Childress is general manager of the Blennerhassett Hotel and Chairman of Downtown PKB.