Poll

What is the eHell-approved method of dealing with this situation?

Ask politely to share the 4-person table, and hope that they get the hint and move to an available smaller table
45 (17.8%)
Ask politely if they would mind moving from the 4-person table to a smaller available table
13 (5.1%)
Find 2 smaller available tables and push them together, even though this may mean dragging tables across the seating area
110 (43.5%)
Let your dining companions sit down at a smaller table, and watch like a hawk for a bigger table to open up
48 (19%)
Other (explain)
37 (14.6%)

Total Members Voted: 253

Author Topic: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table  (Read 8346 times)

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Zizi-K

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #45 on: June 09, 2014, 11:23:14 AM »
I do think it's rude to take up a four-top when you're by yourself. There's a local diner that my DH and I love to go to, and then have lots of 2-top booths, and a few big booths that can seat 8 (they have a divider so the can also seat parties of 4). We always go for the 2-tops even though it would be more comfortable to have more space, because we know they're busy and want to seat as many customers as they can. I also appreciate that Panera Bread has a notice on their wifi-login that specifically asks customers to be cognizant of party size and table size, especially during the lunch rush.

My vote was to ask to join another table. I don't think its rude to have a "hope" that they other party might move, as long as that hope wasn't expressed. It's not rude to hope that someone will realize they're taking up prime real estate that doesn't fit the size of their party (of one).

TootsNYC

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #46 on: June 09, 2014, 11:29:23 AM »
I don't think there's anything odd about sharing a table and not befriending your tablemates.

Oh, I'm sorry--I wasn't clear. I wasn't miffed about them not befriending us. I was miffed because they asked to sit with us when there were so very many other tables completely available.

But them not being sociable made it even *more* weird that they asked to sit at our table. Which made me more miffed that they had done so.

Because--why did they ask to sit at our table? The only acceptable reason, to me, would have been if they wanted to be social. (which is problematic in itself, since we didn't know them, it wasn't any sort of group tour, etc.)

Instead, they didn't really want to talk with us, but they "invaded our space" anyway. Instead of sitting at any of the many, many other tables.

Yvaine

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #47 on: June 09, 2014, 11:31:12 AM »
I don't think there's anything odd about sharing a table and not befriending your tablemates.

Oh, I'm sorry--I wasn't clear. I wasn't miffed about them not befriending us. I was miffed because they asked to sit with us when there were so very many other tables completely available.

But them not being sociable made it even *more* weird that they asked to sit at our table. Which made me more miffed that they had done so.

Because--why did they ask to sit at our table? The only acceptable reason, to me, would have been if they wanted to be social. (which is problematic in itself, since we didn't know them, it wasn't any sort of group tour, etc.)

Instead, they didn't really want to talk with us, but they "invaded our space" anyway. Instead of sitting at any of the many, many other tables.

Ah, that makes sense, I missed that it was empty. That's odd.

TootsNYC

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #48 on: June 09, 2014, 11:31:57 AM »
Quote
I also would not appreciate being asked to share a table if there were others available and would say no. I hate sharing tables with strangers. It's odd and only done when completely necessary (in my experience).

I had a weird experience once.

We were at a food-court-type place when we were in Hawaii on vacation, and it was nearly empty. There were a lot of big tables, and my family of 4 sat down at a place that was for 8, I think. We may have been the only ones there; if anyone else was there it was 1 party, on the far side of the room.

The next party to come through with their food asked if they could sit at our table.

We were on the spot, so we just nodded. And they sat down. They didn't really make any attempt to be chatty (i.e., if they had intended to join us in all ways, incl. conversationally, in a 'tourists together' sort of thing), or if they did we weren't really welcoming.

I was a little miffed! And it was just so strange.

And it was funny, because when I've been out of NYC, I've been frustrated when my companions won't ask to join someone at a food-court table, but will stand there, or wander all around, rather than just say, "May we take these seats?"

I don't quite get it?  :-\ I think I'd be glad they respected the "imaginary space" and left us be. That's the way it usually works at these food court type places in my experience--you might have to sit with strangers because there's nowhere else, but you kind of pretend you're at separate tables. Or did it only bother you because it was on vacation?

No, it bothered me because they *didn't* have to sit with strangers. They had the entire room to choose from.

And still they asked to sit with us.

In my opinion, even in crowded NYC, you respect the "imaginary space" by sitting at another table if you can. And they could have.

*That* is what made me miffed. I was relieved they didn't try to socialize. (But if they had, it would have been less miffed, because it would have indicated that they wanted to socialize with us somehow, which I'd have taken as a compliment. An awkward one, but a compliment nonetheless.)

shhh its me

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #49 on: June 09, 2014, 11:46:20 AM »
Quote
I also would not appreciate being asked to share a table if there were others available and would say no. I hate sharing tables with strangers. It's odd and only done when completely necessary (in my experience).

I had a weird experience once.

We were at a food-court-type place when we were in Hawaii on vacation, and it was nearly empty. There were a lot of big tables, and my family of 4 sat down at a place that was for 8, I think. We may have been the only ones there; if anyone else was there it was 1 party, on the far side of the room.

The next party to come through with their food asked if they could sit at our table.

We were on the spot, so we just nodded. And they sat down. They didn't really make any attempt to be chatty (i.e., if they had intended to join us in all ways, incl. conversationally, in a 'tourists together' sort of thing), or if they did we weren't really welcoming.

I was a little miffed! And it was just so strange.

And it was funny, because when I've been out of NYC, I've been frustrated when my companions won't ask to join someone at a food-court table, but will stand there, or wander all around, rather than just say, "May we take these seats?"

I don't quite get it?  :-\ I think I'd be glad they respected the "imaginary space" and left us be. That's the way it usually works at these food court type places in my experience--you might have to sit with strangers because there's nowhere else, but you kind of pretend you're at separate tables. Or did it only bother you because it was on vacation?

I think there were lots of empty tables  ?  I would find that weird too.

shhh its me

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #50 on: June 09, 2014, 11:51:18 AM »
I go with dragging an unoccupied chair over to the two top.  I think it's OK to ask to share a table with someone preferably someone who appears to be almost done eating when there is no other option.  If every table is full and there are a couple of tables with single people at a 4 top then it's OK to ask to share, those people have no business expecting to keep a four top all to themselves when the food court is very busy. 

This is at a food court, there really is no expectation of having or keeping a table all to yourself no matter what.  Everyone who buys food at the food court is entitled to a seat at which they can eat that food, even if that means sharing a table.

People who are already seated hopefully would offer people seats so as to avoid them having to ask to share which many people would find very awkward to do.

I don't think this is a given(getting a seat)  The stands will keep selling food even if there are 30 people standing with trays and every chair is taken. 

Harriet Jones

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #51 on: June 09, 2014, 11:55:03 AM »
I don't think there's anything odd about sharing a table and not befriending your tablemates.

I think Toots was baffled by the personal space thing -- the other group was sitting down at an already occupied table when there were plenty of other completely empty tables.

Yvaine

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #52 on: June 09, 2014, 12:03:55 PM »
Quote
I also would not appreciate being asked to share a table if there were others available and would say no. I hate sharing tables with strangers. It's odd and only done when completely necessary (in my experience).

I had a weird experience once.

We were at a food-court-type place when we were in Hawaii on vacation, and it was nearly empty. There were a lot of big tables, and my family of 4 sat down at a place that was for 8, I think. We may have been the only ones there; if anyone else was there it was 1 party, on the far side of the room.

The next party to come through with their food asked if they could sit at our table.

We were on the spot, so we just nodded. And they sat down. They didn't really make any attempt to be chatty (i.e., if they had intended to join us in all ways, incl. conversationally, in a 'tourists together' sort of thing), or if they did we weren't really welcoming.

I was a little miffed! And it was just so strange.

And it was funny, because when I've been out of NYC, I've been frustrated when my companions won't ask to join someone at a food-court table, but will stand there, or wander all around, rather than just say, "May we take these seats?"

I don't quite get it?  :-\ I think I'd be glad they respected the "imaginary space" and left us be. That's the way it usually works at these food court type places in my experience--you might have to sit with strangers because there's nowhere else, but you kind of pretend you're at separate tables. Or did it only bother you because it was on vacation?

I think there were lots of empty tables  ?  I would find that weird too.

I realized that later, see post above.

Aquamarine

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #53 on: June 09, 2014, 12:30:23 PM »
Quote
I also would not appreciate being asked to share a table if there were others available and would say no. I hate sharing tables with strangers. It's odd and only done when completely necessary (in my experience).

I had a weird experience once.

We were at a food-court-type place when we were in Hawaii on vacation, and it was nearly empty. There were a lot of big tables, and my family of 4 sat down at a place that was for 8, I think. We may have been the only ones there; if anyone else was there it was 1 party, on the far side of the room.

The next party to come through with their food asked if they could sit at our table.

We were on the spot, so we just nodded. And they sat down. They didn't really make any attempt to be chatty (i.e., if they had intended to join us in all ways, incl. conversationally, in a 'tourists together' sort of thing), or if they did we weren't really welcoming.

I was a little miffed! And it was just so strange.

And it was funny, because when I've been out of NYC, I've been frustrated when my companions won't ask to join someone at a food-court table, but will stand there, or wander all around, rather than just say, "May we take these seats?"

I don't quite get it?  :-\ I think I'd be glad they respected the "imaginary space" and left us be. That's the way it usually works at these food court type places in my experience--you might have to sit with strangers because there's nowhere else, but you kind of pretend you're at separate tables. Or did it only bother you because it was on vacation?

I think it bothered because there were many open empty tables to sit at.  I would have told the people to sit at one of the empty tables.  I am not going to share a table with strangers when there is absolutely no need to do so.  I think was those people did was rude, creepy and intrusive.
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EMuir

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #54 on: June 09, 2014, 01:48:49 PM »
I would sit at a four-top by myself for security reasons.  Where do you put your purse at a two-top? If in the seat across from me or on the table, it's easily grabbed.  I don't want to put it on a dirty food court floor out of sight.  Slinging it over my chair means it is out of sight. If it is on the seat beside me I can comfortably keep my arm through the strap and keep it in sight.

miranova

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #55 on: June 09, 2014, 01:49:52 PM »
I guess I'm the only one who thinks it is rude for one person to take a 4 top when there are many 2 tops available?  I eat alone frequently and would never take a 4 top during a busy time when a larger party might need it.  Having said that, if I were in your situation I would put my kids at a 2 top and look for a 3rd chair to squeeze into the table with them.  I would not ask anyone to move nor would I ask to share a table. 

I am so confused by some of the responses.  It's rude to hover?  What exactly are you supposed to do when you have 3 trays of food and nowhere to put it?

Regarding the bolded, if it's super busy, it could be that there were no two-tops available at the time the single person arrived, so it came down to taking a four-top or nothing.



That's why I specifically said "when there are many 2 tops available". 

Of course it goes without saying that if there are no 2 tops available, you have to just sit somewhere.

Right. But my point is that you can't judge if someone else was rude unless you saw them take a four-top when twos were available. You can't just assume that because twos are available now, they were available when the other person sat down.


I don't pretend to know which people had another option and which ones didn't.  I am talking about a general principle, not making assumptions about any one particular person I see sitting at a 4 top.  In general, I think it is far more considerate to take a 2 top when you are alone than to take a 4 top.  If I was in the OP's situation I wouldn't make any assumptions about any particular person, and it wouldn't change what I did at that point.  I would still take a 2 top, sit my children and their food down, and look for either a 3rd chair or another 2 top to push over.  Even if I saw a single person deliberately choose a 4 top while I was in line, my response would be the same.  Me privately thinking they could have been more considerate isn't going to change what I do about it, it's just a private thought.

perpetua

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #56 on: June 09, 2014, 02:03:42 PM »
I would sit at a four-top by myself for security reasons.  Where do you put your purse at a two-top? If in the seat across from me or on the table, it's easily grabbed.  I don't want to put it on a dirty food court floor out of sight.  Slinging it over my chair means it is out of sight. If it is on the seat beside me I can comfortably keep my arm through the strap and keep it in sight.

I understand the desire to do that, but if someone needed to sit down to eat their food, would you move it?

KenveeB

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #57 on: June 09, 2014, 02:09:57 PM »
All else being equal, a single person should sit at the 2-top and a party of three should sit at a 4-top. But as PPs have said, there are so many circumstances it would be okay that it's hard to just say that a given person sitting at a 4-top is being rude.

Another option is that you can usually ask for food court orders to-go, which means you'll get it in bags instead of trays. That (1) makes it easier to set things up at a smaller table than if you have trays and (2) allows you to wander off to a bench or something if there aren't tables available.

Erich L-ster

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #58 on: June 09, 2014, 03:04:37 PM »
I can't believe there are 5 people here who think it's alright to ask a person who was there first and is in the process of eating their meal to pack up and move to another table.

Tea Drinker

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Re: Etiquette of Asking for a Bigger Table
« Reply #59 on: June 09, 2014, 04:22:09 PM »
Either rearrange the furniture (and yes, chairs are easier to move than tables) or ask "is this seat taken?" and be prepared to eat with that stranger.

In this case, being prepared to eat with the stranger means respecting their personal space/that they got there first and are entitled to at least a quarter of the time, but not ignoring them if they start a conversation. Depending on my mood, if I tell someone that yes, the other seat is available, I might want to just dive back into my book or focus on my soup, or I might be in a mood to chat. I would be miffed if someone asked to sit at my table, ignored my overtures about the weather or activities in the area, and chatted with their companions. That would feel like an invasion in a way that neither sitting quietly nor including me in conversation would.

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