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Please Don’t Be Seated

I’m rather curious as to what others will think about this incident. Honestly, I am willing to take the blame, so long as I am properly deserving of it.

My friend and I went to a restaurant in a busy city. It was around 1pm and the shop was booming… in fact, there was barely any room to sit. We were just getting dessert, so we got it to go and walked across the street to what we believed to be an empty pub, which wasn’t open. Since it wasn’t open yet (in fact, people kept walking up to it to go in and get food, but they kept walking away because it was closed) we sat down at one of the little tables outside and ate our desserts.

We were there about five minutes when a man comes out, totally peeved. He says, “What makes you think you have any right to come and sit at our tables without so much as asking?” His tone is very rude, but I respond that, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize you were open. We’ll move.”

I think what really bothers me is that if we were eating at the tables during a time when the establishment were open or if there were many people waiting for a table and we selfishly were sitting there, then I would completely understand. I can even understand that he doesn’t want us there simply because it’s HIS establishment. That’s fine! But did he really have to come out and be so rude about it when we said quite nicely, “Oh, so sorry we didn’t know, we’ll move?”

So he continues to tell us of his displeasure and I get a little upset and say, “I’m sorry sir, we believed you were a pub and you wouldn’t open until later. In my hometown it’s acceptable to sit at restaurant’s tables so long as they are not open.”

So he asks where I am from. I answer him… he mocks my hometown and goes indoors.

My friend and I go back to the busy place we bought our food from, wait for a table, sit down and eat the last three bites of our desserts.

Was I wrong? In my hometown it is acceptable to sit at the outside table and eat food if the restaurant isn’t open. If it is then it’s considered to be rude. I’m not upset he asked us to leave, just that he asked us to do so in such a coarse fashion. If I was horrible please tell me so I can improve my errors for the future. 🙂 0403-10


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • kate August 19, 2010, 4:34 am

    Where I come from that’s acceptable as well – of course as long as you leave the area as you found it, take trash with you, put chairs back, etc. But even if he didn’t want you to eat there (liability reasons, maybe), there’s no excuse for his rudeness. A simple “Would you please eat your food somewhere else, this is private property” would have been enough.

  • Simone August 19, 2010, 4:37 am

    I don’t think it’s relevant whether or not it is acceptable to sit at his table. Even if his original brusqueness was justified it was completely unnecessary to reply to politeness with continued rudeness.

  • kingshearte August 19, 2010, 5:15 am

    Personally, I would never take food from one place, and eat it at another place that sold food, regardless of whether they were open or not. That struck me as quite odd. But if that’s the norm where you are, then so be it.

    I do agree, though, that the guy was a jerk. There’s just no reason for him to start out all cranky and aggressive, when a a simple “I’m sorry, you can’t sit there” would have done.

  • cam August 19, 2010, 5:44 am

    His rudeness- not ok. His request for you to move- totally ok. His licence might only allow for certain trading hours, and you eating/drinking at his tables could put his livelihood at risk. Likewise his insurance policy. Not to mention the extra cleaning and work generated by you eating there. On top of this if there is a really busy restaurant over the road, this sort of thing might happen alot. Therefore he might be tired of constantly moving people off his property, hence his shortness. From working in shops/bars is totally understand where he is coming from. I must admit I wouldn’t even consider using the facilies of a business I haven’t endorsed, ESPECIALLY not to consume a product from a direct competitor.

  • Bint August 19, 2010, 5:50 am

    You were both in the wrong. He was wrong for being so rude and making fun of your home town. On the other hand, you trespassed on his land and used his facilities to eat another place’s food. His closed pub is not public property and you treated it as though it were. Very wrong where I’m from.
    I’m not surprised he was angry, and when someone’s disrespected your property, their politeness about it doesn’t always count for much.

    Landlord goes to E-hell, but seriously, I would never do this again outside towns where you *know* it is ok. Do it in London and you’re asking to be physically thrown off the property.

  • Hal August 19, 2010, 6:20 am

    I live in a big city. If those tables and chairs were just sitting there empty on a sidewalk sit. That pub owner is lucky all you did was sit. Sometimes, unfortunately, we who live in large cities have to indulge ourselves in what my friends and I call “City Moments.” If you had asked why he put out chairs and tables when he wasn’t open if he didn’t expect them to be used like park benches; and, if you said it in a raised voice and partially stand when you said it – “City Moment.” And, any city guy would respect you for doing it. Be cautious. Some dudes are armed. It is always wise to be ready to walk away acting disgusted rather than stay for act two.

  • AMC August 19, 2010, 7:10 am

    I think he was within his rights to ask you to move, but he could have been much nicer about it. Certainly nothing you did justifies him making fun of you or your hometown.

  • omoizele August 19, 2010, 7:23 am

    if the tables were roped off or the chairs were put up in such a way as to indicate they weren’t to be used I could see not using them. Otherwise I would have done as you did. In any case even if he’s tired of having to clean up the mess of people who use his chairs and leave their trash behind for him to clean up, which probably happens quite a bit because people are assholes,it’s not to smart for him to be obnoxious to people like that. It tends to turn potential customers into “i wouldn’t eat here if the zombie apocalypse came and you were the only source of food in a 20 mile radius.

  • Lily August 19, 2010, 7:23 am

    While he didn’t have to be so curt, I don’t think you should have sat there, regardless of whether it was open for business. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say you were rude.

  • Mojo August 19, 2010, 8:00 am

    I’m with everyone else – you shouldn’t assume you can use someone else’s property without asking, and he shouldn’t have been so rude when asking you to leave. I can understand why he got upset. I bet he’s totally fed up of having to move people off his property. Would it be okay for him to come and park in your drive while you’re at work? It’s there, you’re not using it, he’s not damaging anything, you’d never know he’d done it. Maybe he feels the same way about his property you do about yours.

    I’d also like to know in which city it’s acceptable to trespass in this way? Are you sure it’s really accepted by everyone there? Still, his behaviour, while understandable, was over the top.

  • phoenix August 19, 2010, 8:45 am

    The pub owner certainly didn’t need to be so gruff about it, but…well…I would say he was certainly a bit provoked. Small business owners do not like their facilities treated as public property, especially for the customers of a competitor. It’s not just a insurance or liability thing- it’s a point of pride. He was probably inside, getting ready for the day, and looked out and saw some people who, to him, acted like they owned the place. He might have anticipated having to clean up a mess when you left. Or just been a bit irked that they furniture he pays for and maintains and cleans, on property he rents, was being treated as extra seating for a competitor.

    My big problem is, if people were already coming over only to realize the pub was closed, you’re adding to the problem. If folks see someone sitting outside an establishment eating, they assume it’s open and come over. When they realize it’s not, they’re annoyed. People are irrational- if they’re annoyed that a place isn’t open when they thought/wanted it to be, they’re less likely to come back.

    I think you were mistaken to sit there, and even more so to essentially argue, telling him it was okay where you live. He had already let you know it wasn’t okay to do that here, what point is served in telling him that? To him, he heard you arguing, saying you weren’t in the wrong. I know you were just trying to explain your behavior, but the polite thing to do would have been to say “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize” and just move. There’s nothing locals hate more than someone breaking an unwritten rule and then saying, “oh, it’s okay where I come from.” The response, even in their heads, is always “good for you, but it isn’t here!”

    I’m not excusing his behavior, by the way. I just think it’s easy to understand why he wasn’t polite in a situation where he felt provoked. I guess the lesson is, even if you think you’ve been wronged, it’s never correct to be rude in response!

  • Flora August 19, 2010, 8:58 am

    I vote he was rude. Not only for his rude and confrontational way of dealing with you, but I think it’s poor business practice to not communicate that the outdoor tables and chairs aren’t for public use when the pub isn’t open. How difficult would it be to put the chairs upside down on the tables, rope off the area or at least post a sign that says pub customers only?

  • DGS August 19, 2010, 9:03 am

    He was in the right to ask you to move, but he should have gone about it in a more polite fashion. Who knows, you may have chosen to buy food at his pub in the future, and I am sure that you won’t be seen at that place again having been treated like that. He certainly shouldn’t have made fun of your hometown or met politeness with further obnoxiousness. You shouldn’t have sat there, but it sounds like that was due to unintentional lack of awareness on your part rather than to intentional rudeness.

  • Tiffany August 19, 2010, 9:16 am

    Agree with most everyone here, he was wrong to be so rude, though if that happens frequently enough, that may be frustration talking, not that that’s an excuse, but it is a reason.

    Still, I do think you were wrong to sit at his tables, outside or not. They are his tables, his private property. I would go find a park or something, or an actual bench, and sit and eat my food there. City parks and benches are public places, that’s what they’re there for.

  • Shayna August 19, 2010, 9:23 am

    I would never bring food from one establishment into another. As a previous restaurant owner, that is the height of rudeness on the head of the customer. However, if where you’re from it is completely normal and acceptable to do that, then so be it. However, while his rudeness is unjustified, his request for you to move was not.

  • beth August 19, 2010, 9:26 am

    i completely agree with omoizele. tables sitting on a sidewalk should be expected to be used. tables in a very obvious “restaurant only” area, should not. and being rude to potential customers is never a good idea.

    i do, though, think you were rude in going back to the first restaurant to finish your dessert. you had every right to stay and enjoy your dessert when you were first there, but you instead opted to leave. to come back when they were still busy and take a table, which then needs to be completely bussed and reset, to eat three bites of dessert seems a little rude. and what about tip? you took up a servers table, potentially costing them one last table of real diners. even if it was your initial server, s/he had already moved on

  • Tracey August 19, 2010, 9:29 am

    If the place is locked and no one is able to patronize the place AND the tables are not roped off or marked “private”, etc. I see nothing wrong with sitting there in the wide open public! I would bet that this pub owner has dealt with others who peeved him and perhaps left trash and chairs askew.

    He was overly rude, IMO!

  • BusyBee August 19, 2010, 9:30 am

    I agree with most of the other posters–you shouldn’t have sat there in the first place, but his behavior was totally uncalled for. I could almost understand him being a bit brusque to begin with (especially if this happens to him a lot), but for him to go on and mock your hometown and keep berating you after you apologized and were leaving is totally wrong.

  • Katrina August 19, 2010, 9:52 am

    If he did not want people to sit there, the tables and chairs should have been roped off or moved inside. Sitting there is not the norm where I am from, but being rude is not the norm anywhere. If he thought it out, he could have realized that you might come back and remember that there was seating at his place and go straight there next time. Being rude has lost him potential customers.

  • SFG August 19, 2010, 9:57 am

    While I think you were clearly in the wrong (taking food bought one place to another, trespassing, then questioning the owner when found), the owner could have handled it more politely and possibly gained a customer in the future – when he’s open.

  • Anonymous August 19, 2010, 9:59 am

    Bath, I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought it was really weird to go back to the original establishment to finish. At that point, either throw the last bit away, or eat it while strolling (not that difficult if it’s, for instance, cake.)

  • AS August 19, 2010, 10:17 am

    Most people already said it, and I just echo it once again.
    He is within his rights to tell you to move off the property. But when you politely apologised and moved, he needn’t have continued being rude to you and mock your hometown.
    When the question comes to whether you should take the blame or not – in my opinion, you needn’t take any more blame than having committed an honest mistake.

  • jen August 19, 2010, 10:24 am

    It sounds like he was venting, which, after you politely got up to move, is unacceptable. None of the rudeness was okay, but making fun of your hometown would have been the final straw for me. Either way, you only had to deal with him for a minute or two. He has to deal with himself all the time.

  • Kriss August 19, 2010, 10:35 am

    Was the seat on the sidewalk? Or was it obviously on the lawn or patio of the establishment or marked in some way to indicate that the seats were for patrons only?

    I’ve never heard of a business leaving tables and chairs outside (along the sidewalk) when they’re closed unless they obviously didn’t care if they were pinched, vandalized or (gasp) used.

  • kero August 19, 2010, 11:02 am

    He was being very rude, but he was also right. It is his private property and rude to eat “outside” food at another eatery and to assume it is okay to technically trespass. I have never heard it to be acceptable to sit at an establishment where I am not a customer. It is really okay in your hometown? In all restaurants? Your vendors are then really nice or do not care. Or probably not present and since there isn’t an owner to protest against people sitting at their outside tables, you assume it is okay.

    I agree with Phoenix about mentioning where you are from. It translates into “I’m sorry for not knowing, but not sorry for what I did.” Lesson learned, but doesn’t excuse his behavior.

    I find it odd that you take desert outside of the the first restaurant and want to eat it elsewhere. It seems unneccessary to return to the first place and take up a table with just three bites, and on top of that not order anything (well, you paid of the dessert earlier, but you already exited the premises). Kinda rude actually because there are paying customers who are waiting for a table and servers who do not need to worry about an extra table and setup. Was it an ice cream cone? That could be eaten while walking. I can’t think of any other dessert that you can take out since most of the time it has plates/silverware, and CERTAINLY do not remove those off the restaurant’s property!

  • JS August 19, 2010, 11:05 am

    It seems from the original post that the OP knew that the tables belonged to the pub, and weren’t public property. As a result, like most posters, I think she was wrong to sit, and the owner was wrong to be rude.

    And I really don’t think we want to set up the expectation that any tables private businesses set up outside automatically become public property unless they are marked private. If for no other reason, if outdoor seating (with all its costs and risks for the owners) becomes a mandatory donation to the public sector, owners will stop doing it. After all, if owners go through the expense of purchasing and maintaining the seating, but they can’t ensure that the seating will be reserved for their customers (and ultimately generate profit), then there’s no business incentive for them to keep it up.

  • Wink-n-Smile August 19, 2010, 11:36 am

    I agree with beth that you should not have returned to the original restaurant to eat your dessert, after they had already bussed your table, and it was so busy. You gave up your right to a table there when you first left.

    By the time you returned, having eaten much of your dessert at the pub, you had three bites left? You should have, at that point, simply stood to eat, and threw away your containers in the nearest trash receptacle.

    I understand why the pub owner was upset – he’d have to at the very least wipe down the tables, and check the area for trash and spills. If you had spilled, he might have to wipe the chairs, or deal with an upset, sticky customer later on. In fact, that has probably already happened to him. Also, as has been pointed out, there could be liability issues, or licensing issues, or just the fact that it confuses other people who want to come in, and get upset when they find it close. “But THEY’RE eating here! Why can’t we?”

    However, much as he had the right to expect people to not sit at his tables when they were not paying customers of his establishment, he should not have been rude about it. A simple, “I’m sorry. We’re closed and I can’t allow you to sit there,” would have been sufficient.

    So, in future, please do not sit at a restaurant’s tables unless you are a paying customer. Either use a public bench or stand. If you MUST sit, sit on the curb, if necessary, but please respect the private property. There may very well be strong reasons for them not to allow you to use the tables when they’re closed, even if the owners are friendly and would like to be able to allow it.

    And if you ever own a restaurant, make sure your outdoor tables are blocked off with a fence or rope or something, the chairs are on the tables when not in use, and there is a sign posted. If, for some reason, you cannot, or may not, put up a fence, rope off the area, or put the chairs on the table, you can at least mark the tables as “Reserved.” They’re reserved for paying customers, who will be seated there when the restaurant is open, and not before. If someone does sit there, you can simply say, “I’m sorry. These tables are reserved.” Cheap and easy fix, though not as effective as a fence.

  • Laurie August 19, 2010, 11:49 am

    I don’t see a problem with them sitting there. If the owner doesn’t want people sitting at those tables when the pub isn’t open, then he should bring them inside or rope them off somehow.

  • Hanna August 19, 2010, 12:01 pm

    I do think he was provoked. Unlike some other posters, I think private property should be always assumed to be for paying customers unless otherwise indicated. I don’t really like signs telling people what not to do, and I think the onus is on the public to assume they are not welcome to use it unless otherwise indicated.

    He was obviously rude for berating your hometown, but if you said something along the lines of “well, in my city they let us do it!” It’s not a surprise he would reply “Well that place is ridiculous then”. Because it almost sounds as if you were criticizing his town by telling him how lovely and different it is in your own.

    I am wondering how it is that you know all property owners welcome the public to use their tables and chairs if they are closed while you are doing so. How can one be sure they are even aware this is happening?

  • EEP August 19, 2010, 12:10 pm

    If he didn’t want his tables and chairs to be used as public property – he shouldn’t have left them in public. As far as liability goes, it may be a bit more complicated that some people think. (I worked years for a national property-casualty insurer.) There’s such as thing as “attractive nuisances” (swimming pools, anyone?), and also he has a certain (probably legal) responsiblity to mark his property and/or establish hindrances to public use. Some insurers probably would recognize that a member of the public would assume the area was available for public use, or would assume such use in the absense of any restrictions or communication (signs) otherwise. Aside from any legal responsibilities to do so, there’s the common sense obligation. If you set out tables and chairs in a public place, when your business is closed (hence, at that time he wasn’t in competition with anyone), guess what’s going to happen? And if he thought the magic property fairy was going to throw out some golden dust to create an invisible forcefield, he should have gotten angry at the fairy, not you.

  • Xtina August 19, 2010, 1:09 pm

    This is one of those situations where the “technical” answer isn’t really correct. So–technically, the pub owner was in the right to request that random people don’t sit at his tables, although he was needlessly, unspeakably rude in his actions (and he is certainly not making any new customers acting like that).

    However, I think that’s just one of the expected dangers of having the kind of establishment where you put furniture outside. Unless it is roped off or there are signs stating that it’s only for patrons at any hour of the day, then it’s only natural that people will probably treat it as public property. Here’s that word again–technically, people should not sit there even if there is not a sign, but about 97% of the time, people do and the establishment owners don’t mind as long as the sitters don’t leave a mess.

    I’d probably avoid it in the future, OP, unless you’ve been given permission to do so. Less trouble for everyone concerned.

  • Gloria Shiner August 19, 2010, 1:34 pm

    I don’t see the big etiquette issue here. It’s more of an annoyance and possibly an interpretation. So, you sat where you shouldn’t have, and the proprietor wasn’t as polite as he could have been. Maybe the two cancel each other out.

    Just a question: what would you have done if a) the pub had been open, or b) the pub hadn’t been there, or c) the pub didn’t have outside tables?

  • Jenna August 19, 2010, 2:32 pm

    I think both were rude but the OP more so. Just because my front porch isn’t roped off doesn’t mean I want people using my porch swing. Private property is just that, private. This restaurant is private property and it was closed. When asked to leave the OP should have quickly apologized and left instead of keeping the conversation going.

  • Enna August 19, 2010, 3:29 pm

    He should’ve politely asked you to move. Bit strange you didn’t finish your desert in the first restuant. Saying “where I’m from it’s okay” was rude. However he was rude too but he should have said “well this is local pratcie, to be fair you aren’t in your home town.”

    Whether the seats should’ve been used is a trickey matter and could be argured either way. If it was a pride thing it is still strange to be so rude. Easy to put out signs saying “these tables are resevred for paying customers ony” or if it was insurance the man should’ve been more light hearted about it “I’m insured up to the eyeballs please could you move somewhere else?”

    If he didn’t want anyone to sit there and the place was shut he should either put the chairs inside or rope them off to make it clear they weren’t for public use. Normally if there place is shut or not busy most cafe owners don’t mind: as it could attract more custom.

    When I was at uni at the theatre had a cafe and it used to get busy – there were signs saying “as it often gets busy the tables are reserved for paying customers and we request that you do not study here”. Simple. Make it clear. Wonder why a cafe was shut during lunch time?

  • Jamesy August 19, 2010, 3:45 pm

    Thank you, Gloria Shiner, for posing the best three-part question of the day.
    Also, a nod to those who said it was well within the OP’s rights to finish her dessert at the restaurant, despite the crowd. You tried to do a nice thing by freeing up a table, but ultimately undid your “good deed” by returning in the end. I’m shocked they let you back in.

  • Amber August 19, 2010, 3:55 pm

    If the tables were roped off or behind a fence or if the chairs were up on the table then you were being selfish to use someone’s property without permission.
    If they were just tables and chairs on a sidewalk then you were on city property and only the city could rightfully demand you leave.
    You put a sitting place out in a public area it’s going to get used, get over it.

  • shay August 19, 2010, 4:34 pm

    I think that a lot of you are assuming that the table were on the sidewalk and i wuld like to point out that the OP never said that they were on the sidwalk just that they were outside which leads me to believe that she did have to go to a private area to sit down. I think that if the table was on the sidewalk that would ahve been the first thing that she pointed out . I really beleive that her and her fried sat there because it was a beuatiful day out and the wanted to sit outside because she alsaid at the first resturant that there was barely anywhere to sit not that there were no seats

  • Kelly August 19, 2010, 5:07 pm

    Gotta agree with Amber. My town has several restaurants with table on the sidewalks. Some restaurants choose to bring in their tables or put the chairs upside-down on the tables when closed. Others just leave them out and I witness them being used all the time. Not a big deal.

  • Gina August 19, 2010, 5:34 pm

    What so many people don’t seem to understand is that businesses are not “PUBLIC”. There is no “public area” – businesses are private property just as our homes are. If I had a bench on my front lawn I would be upset if people were using it. Restaurant tables are not ‘out in public’ just because they are outdoors. If there were, say, on the other side of the sidewalk near the road, then right-of-way may come into question, but it is still probably obvious as to whether or not the city has put them there, or if they are the property of the establishment that owns the real estate. As a business owner it has always bothered me that so many people think our businesses are “Public Property”. Whether it is being expected to have a public bathroom, or that people think it is within their rights to park in my parking lot — these things drive me crazy. I’ve had people argue with me about my parking lot being ‘public’. It is as public as parking in someone’s driveway.

    I agree with other posters that maybe having a seat and finishing your dessert isn’t a huge deal if the establishment wasn’t open, but when confronted by the owner I would have apologized and left rather than try to defend my actions.

  • pearly August 19, 2010, 6:18 pm

    Surprised at some comments that says that if there are no signs, then it is fair game to sit. The OP did not mention if it were roped off, chairs flipped on the table, or what not. There are some restaurants/pubs that have outside seating before you get to the door, and usually it is surrounded by small fence/flower pots/etc. I think it’s common courtesy to not sit in any private property!! Why do we need signs?

    And why go back to the first restaurant??

  • Elizabeth Bunting August 19, 2010, 6:35 pm

    Rudeness is bad for business. If he had been polite about it, perhaps he would have gained a new customer when he was open. He could have said “Sorry, I can’t allow you to sit there while the restaurant is closed because of (insurance, liability, etc.) but hope you will come back when we are open.

    In my city, which is a small one, we are encouraged to be polite to tourists because they bring a lot of money into our economy. It isn’t that unusual for different cities to have different rules about where and when you may sit on private property.

  • Rebecca August 19, 2010, 7:54 pm

    I would not think it’s OK to sit on the patio of a closed restaurant or pub. But there was no reason for him to be so rude about it. He could have just come out and said in a friendly tone, “Oh hi there, this patio is actually closed so I will need to ask you to move. Thanks!”

    I guess he’s lost one potential customer, even when he is open!!

  • Monica August 19, 2010, 8:12 pm

    It is hard for me to believe this many people honestly think their ignorance of how things work entitles them to trespass at will. Hanna and Jenna seem to be the only ones with some common sense on this issue.

    In most cities in the United States, sidewalk cafes are not public property for the public to use at will. They are public property being leased to a private establishment with privately owned tables and chairs. For example, check out the New York City Sidewalk Café Application online. It’s over 35 pages long (lots of paperwork). It also appears to cost around $10,000 US just to apply for the permit (lots of money). Then, depending on the size and location of your restaurant and the amount of sidewalk you want, it can cost up to $18,200 US per YEAR for rights to use that space (lots more money). This is on top of the cost of extra liability and other insurances the city requires you carry in order to have the sidewalk café space.

    How many of you would spend that much money on something and then be all jolly and nice about it when the gazillionth rude entitled selfish person sat on your property without asking? -(the OP may have been very nice and honestly mistaken-but the restaurant owner won’t see this from his viewpoint)-

    Maybe that restaurant owner was literally having the worst day of his life and the trespassing OP and his/her friend were the cherry on top.

    If I came and sat on your porch when you were having the worst day of your life and then told you sitting on neighbor’s porches without permission was “just fine where I come from”- insinuating that the way you do it is wrong, why on earth would I expect you to be nice about telling me to get lost?

    Can I sit on your beach towel while you’re in the ocean at a public beach because you left it in public with no signs?

    Can I take your bicycle for a spin when you leave it on the public bike rack outside the store and forget to lock it up?

    Saying the restaurant owner “needs to have signs and ropes” is the same mentality that is letting lawyers and insurance companies take over the world. That’s saying “Oh, I can’t think logically for myself, someone needs to hold my hand the whole way or I’m not to blame for what happens.”

    So yes, the OP should have just said I’m sorry and left without explaining how it’s done back home and yes, the owner could and should have been nicer about telling them to leave. However, the comments here saying sitting at tables that obviously belonged to a restaurant that was closed was totally okay because there were no ropes or signs is just silly. This isn’t just etiquette; this is the decline of personal responsibility and accountability to the point you are breaking laws (like trespassing).

  • Sharon August 19, 2010, 8:54 pm

    I guess it varies as to whether this would be acceptable not just from city to city but, from business to business as well. It would not bother me to open my business and find to people sitting and enjoying a table at my establishment. I would probably go up and tell them that I was sorry we weren’t open to serve them earlier, and then ask them if there was anything we could get for them. If not, oh well, at least I made an impression of friendliness and professionalism.
    Who knows why this man acted so nasty??? Maybe he had a toothache, maybe you were the third people this week to be out at one of his tables eating when he opened up, maybe people have been trashing his outside area before he opens?
    If I were you I would be glad that you found out that he was a jerk BEFORE you spent any money at his establishment. And, now he will never get any of your money. Had he handled it my way, who knows, maybe you would have bought a drink and come back for dinner later or for lunch the next day.
    He did himself more harm than he did to anyone else.

  • etimodnar August 19, 2010, 10:23 pm

    I think the owner was quite rude! Particularly as he continued “to tell us of his displeasure”. The OP was fine to move, but him going on and on about it suggested that he required she justify her actions – which she did and then he used it to mock her.

    He was in the wrong for being so rude. But why didn’t you just take a stroll while you finished your dessert instead of sitting at the pub, or going back inside?

  • MeganAmy August 19, 2010, 10:43 pm

    I agree that OP and friend shouldn’t have tried to eat the meal at the pub’s outdoor tables. I agree that the businessowner was definitely not enticing them to return as paying customers with his attitude. But I didn’t think that it was that big of a deal that they returned to the original retaurant.

    My impression of the restaurant where they bought their dessert was that it was not a place with servers who come to your table. Perhaps it was more of a cafe or something similar to McDonald’s where you buy your food and if you plan to eat there, you get it on a tray and if you plan to leave, it’s called “to go” as OP stated.

    So, they were still “customers” when they returned. That meal had been purchased there. And if they left crumbs on a table when they were done eating, someone would have had to clean up after them whether they had stayed there from the beginning or after they returned, either way. If someone buys food at a restaurant like this, but has to run across the street to put change in the parking meter, and then returns, are they not supposed to eat there because they walked out the door for a short while after purchasing the food?

    I agree that for only a few bites left, they didn’t have to be seated. However, we don’t know OP or friend’s health issues. Maybe strolling and eating are hard to do together. For example, if one uses a cane or has to drag and oxygen tank.

  • Tanz August 19, 2010, 11:10 pm

    I don’t understand why people would think they could sit there unless there were signs directing them not to; are people really so dense as to not understand the concept of someone else’s property?

    That said, the landlord/publican was horribly rude.

  • Laura August 19, 2010, 11:55 pm

    Thanks, Monica, for actually doing some research. I too used to live in NYC (33 w. 3rd, for those who would ask), and a person just didn’t do that. Everyone can sit around saying, “Well it’s my OPINION that you can sit there b/c blah blah blah….” but a person need only refer to the local ordinance.
    In the town where I currently live, just as Monica mentioned, permits have to be filled, and the tables (while technically on the sidewalks) are under the awnings of the business who supply them. If the business isn’t open, one doesn’t sit there. Period.
    My front yard boarders a public street. That doesn’t mean that people are allowed to come on my front lawn and camp out if I’m not there.

  • Allison August 20, 2010, 1:39 am

    I had a similar situation earlier this year. Me and my best friend were having a regular saturday morning exercise and we used to meet up near a large mall that would open some of its food store at about 8am, an hour earlier than the rest of the mall. It is relatively dead in the shops besides maybe 4 or so people buying coffees.
    So me and my friend go to a coffee place, get our coffees, go to the bakery get a cheesymite scroll, and go over to the seated areas and sit down. We are the ONLY customers in there at this point in time now. Someone, presumably the manager came up to us about a minute later and said told us in no uncertain terms that we couldnt eat at her tables unless we were eating her food. I said to her “But there is nobody here, does it really matter?”
    Her response was “my girls shouldnt have to clean up your mess”, at this point is she is hovering over us with her arms on her hips being very overbearing, so we get up and I say “you know you could have just asked us to make sure we cleaned up after ourselves, which I would have done anyway”, which is true, I never leave rubbish on tables, i think it is rude and its also a little bit of OCD, i hate messy tables.

    But we walked off and sat at the next seat over which wasnt in her “area”. I jsut couldnt believe that she would be that snotty. We would have been happy to move, and we were essentially, its her rules, her “area”, but it was the way she went about it that infuriated me, there is never any need to be that rude, no matter what your mood.
    So, OP, where I do believe he was in his right to ask you to leave, even though, i would have let you stay if I were the owner/manager, he could have gone about it with a little more tact and a little less jerk.

  • Lily August 20, 2010, 8:49 am

    Monica, your comment was a bit insulting. You basically called everyone here ignorant even though the vast majority of people are saying the OP should not have sat at the pub.