These are saved!
Elaine: No, these are saved.
Man: All of them? C’mon, you can’t take *four* seats.
Elaine: What, is that a rule?Seinfeld, "The Movie"
I know there is no hard and fast rule on saving seats. I hate doing it, I tell people that you have got to show up early or on time, or you fend for yourself. In most situations, one seat is what I save and that’s it — movies and bars especially.
Gregory and I went to Merkado last Friday for our usual nachos and cocktails. Instead of meeting him on the metro and walking from U St, I took the bus there because I know that sometimes there are difficulties getting seats at the bar. Their happy hour starts at 4, and the only place their specials are good is at the bar. When I got there, the bar was packed, as expected, but there was one seat available. I checked with the woman seated next to it and she said that it was taken, then her friend corrected her that it was not because they could “spread out the other way.” There were coats and bags on the other stools so I assumed that their friends were actually there. Silly, silly me. This couple was expecting “at least 5 more people”, I know this because another group approached them to ask if they could swap spots because their group was expecting “a bunch of people” too. By the time Gregory arrived, to no available seats, neither of these groups’ bunches had shown up, so it just looked really stupid, and made these people seem horribly rude. Additionally, people came in to try to enjoy Happy Hour, but when turned away from what looked like available seats, they left. One couple even told the hostess, “No, we wanted to come for Happy Hour, but all those seats are being saved,” before they headed out.
Gregory and I didn’t stay past a drink because there’s no way to enjoy drinks and food when you have to stand the whole time. But the worst part was in all the time we were there, the group next to us was just being territorial and not even sitting down!
People: Don’t save seats if you’re not going to use them. Don’t assume that anything entitles you to take up more space than your bony ass is normally alloted. Tell your friends first come, first served, and just live with it. As I always say, think of someone other than yourself once in a while.
Bars/Restaurants: If you offer a good happy hour special, which Merkado does, make sure you have room for people to attend and enjoy it. Don’t restrict the specials solely to the bar area without offering up some tables as well. And just plain tell your patrons that seats are for asses, not purses, coats and briefcases.
I don’t enjoy a lot of group happy hours anymore due to one thing and another, but in the future I’ll make sure to do it where the specials actually extend to a point that’s more than 5 inches away from the actual bar area itself.