Things That Piss Me Off at Restaurants: Baby Tables
Promptly at 4 pm yesterday, Marieta and I entered an Italian restaurant in Las Vegas.
“Do you have a reservation?” we were asked.
The restaurant was graveyard empty.
Fortunately, the seating host was able to squeeze us in. Lucky us.
Next, the host attempted to seat us — a party of two — at the table shown in the photo above. A baby table. The table had the surface area about the size of a checkerboard. And that’s where the host wanted to seat us. In an empty restaurant.
I should have walked out.
Listen, I get it. Empathy is one of my greatest virtues. I totally understand the need to maximize precious space in cramped areas and when it’s really busy. Had we shown up for dinner at 7 pm when the restaurant is normally crowded, we’d have accepted the baby table — with no complaints.
But why the hell would someone attempt to place us at the smallest table in a completely vacant restaurant with a 98-seat capacity (according to the fire code notice hanging on the wall)? Don’t these idiots have any common sense? No, the reasoning couldn’t have been expectation business would pick up later. We were finished with our meals within an hour and during the entire time only about a dozen people walked in. Fortunately, the host didn’t try to seat anyone on my lap.
Like I said before — lucky us.
When I used to travel a lot around the country, I often dined out alone. That happened all the time. There’s a punchline in there somewhere, so be my guest. I was almost always seated at a baby table, which was fine by me. Baby tables, also known in the trade as “two-tops,” were ideal for a single customer. I always had just enough room to eat my meal, drink my beverages, and have ample space to work on a laptop or tablet. Baby tables are perfect for solo diners. Or maybe two kids eating a happy meal.
But they’re too goddamned small for a normal-sized couple! Especially in an empty restaurant!
Let’s do a detailed analysis, shall we? The table surface looks to be about 2 x 3 feet. There’s a big bread basket, a butter dish, two side plates, two glasses of water, and two cocktails. Then, there are condiments — consisting of salt and pepper shakers, a cheese canister, plus a small candle. That’s 12 items, not counting the silverware. That’s before a single food item has been ordered. Now, add an appetizer or two, perhaps a salad, and we’ve exceeded full capacity. When two main entrees and side dishes arrive — forget it. Dinner plates are even bigger. It’s impossible! That tabletop ends up looking like an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Pacific during the evacuation of South Vietnam. Instead of pushing helicopters off the side, we end up sacrificing the bread basket.
Annoyed, I told the host rudely that we weren’t sitting there. Simple as that. This was non-negotiable. I wanted to make a very clear impression that we weren’t going to be shoehorned into some fucking closet. In an Italian restaurant, the squeaky wheel gets the olive oil. We also seemed to get served a lot faster. Who knows, maybe they wanted to get rid of us.
So, we ended up seated where we should have been all along, at a square four-top with ample space. That way, we could spread out a little. Enjoy our drinks without sticking my elbow in the butter dish. My wife could set her purse on an extra chair, instead of the fucking floor. Imagine that. This was what I call “customer service.”
Anyone in the restaurant business, be warned. Don’t try to sit me at a baby table — ever! I’m a grown man. Not a fucking infant, even though I do act like a baby sometimes.