“My then-boyfriend (now husband) was looking for a place to take his parents for their respective 50th birthdays, which are close together, so they usually just have one celebration. We’d been to this place before and loved it. Several other relatives were coming too, so we made a reservation for 12.
The trouble started early when we were seated at a table, actually several short tables thrown together, too cramped for our numbers. The tables were pushed so close to the wall, no more than a foot or so away, the larger men in the family all were forced to sit on the other side of the table, and even the smaller people felt cramped. If the place had only had this tightly packed front room in which to seat us, the poor seating would have been understandable, but the restaurant also had a back room large enough to accommodate us, as well as an outdoor area suitable for a party of our size.
What was merely an uncomfortable situation became obnoxious when, after about 15 minutes, the owner approached us and asked if we could all shift down a little so he could take one of the short tables and give it to another group. Since we were already squished and had started eating the bread, enjoying our drinks, and using the place settings, my boyfriend’s father said a polite but firm ‘no.’ The owner started arguing with us, even sitting himself down at the table (in a chair briefly vacated for a bathroom trip) to persuade us to move. He was getting pretty worked up.
Eventually, he stalked away, muttering, ‘I just thought you could help me out.’
After that, my boyfriend’s aunt left the table to talk to the owner, basically telling him we were there for a special occasion and would appreciate it if he didn’t speak rudely to the birthday boy. He wasn’t impressed. He told her if she didn’t like it, we could all leave.
We probably should have taken his advice.
Our poor server tried mightily to salvage the evening, but his boss could be heard muttering things about us under his breath whenever he passed our table. On several occasions, he started in with members of our party about how we could sit more compactly if we would shift how we were sitting mid-meal.
Towards the end of the disaster that was dinner, the owner came over one last time and tried to make peace. He soothingly admitted to my boyfriend’s mother we had all gotten off to a bad start and he may have been at fault – but could not end it like that.
Within 30 seconds of his apology, he followed up with something to the effect of, ‘but if you had just squeezed a bit tighter like I asked you to, we all would have been much happier.’
When it came time for dessert, my boyfriend asked the server if it would be possible for his parents’ desserts to have candles put in them, and if the rest of us could order dessert, too. The server was midway through taking our dessert orders when the owner pulled him away, shaking his head vigorously. The owner came back to tell us that there were simply too many people waiting for tables and he couldn’t serve us dessert.
Furious, we paid and walked out the door. Performing for the group of people waiting to be seated, the owner called after us in a saccharine voice, ‘Have a wonderful evening,’ to which my boyfriend’s father replied, ‘We’ll never have one here again.’
The owner said, ‘Never come back to my restaurant!’ and slammed the door behind us.”