Monday, September 08, 2008

No Large Groups Please

I am often astounded at the response that knitters sometimes* receive when attempting to use a a place a a regular meeting place. The two knitting groups I attend regularly have received responses including bad service (which I recognize is not a knitter problem, but I would hope that regular customers would get slightly better treatment), having the lights dimmed to about cave level, and actually being told to leave since they wanted to change the atmosphere. (In that scenario we were told we could come right back in, but they wanted us to "re-make the decision to be there." Guess what decision we made?)
Now I want to stress, in all of these scenarios we had all ordered and/or purchased food and/or drinks, so we were not just taking up space. And in all scenarios, the place was not packed and there were not others looking for places to sit.
Well, I am here to tell you, that this is not limited to knitters. I also am a member of a women's club that meets about monthly for girl's night dinners and other fun events. About a year ago, we had a gathering at Oya during restaurant week. There were about twenty five women in attendance. It was my first Oya experience, and it was awesome. The food was good, their service was good, and they set aside the large table for us, so we could all be seated together.
I have been to Oya since and had great experiences.
Our club met at Oya again recently, and the first sign of trouble came several weeks prior when the organizers called to make the reservation and were told that large parties could only make a reservation if they agreed to do a private menu that would come to about $50 per head. (Oya offers a standard prixe fixe menu that offers three courses for $28.) Otherwise the largest reservation accommodated would be six.
Now, I respect any restaurants ability to make their policy, but six? Really? What if your family is dining together and you have more than three siblings? Or your siblings have spouses? Again, I don't own to wish to own a restaurant, but it seems to me that eliminating yourself as a special occasion restaurant is, well, limiting.
So, the organizers made four reservations of six, and were assured that attempts would be made for the group to sit together.
When we were seated one table was over near the large table (which sat empty the whole evening). The table I was at (which was for four, not six) was about three tables back from that one and perpendicular to the round table that another six were at (we were close enough to see each other but not to actually converse across the aisle). Then they had what they called the 'overflow table' for the remaining two folks.
When our table discussed the fact that not only was the large table empty but there were several tables near the first table that were empty that they could have seated us at in an attempt to keep us in the same section, the host appeared magically to tell us that they had a large party who had cancelled. And, while it was a little creepy how he appeared, I understand, however, if they had cancelled, I don't understand why we weren't seated there.
Now I do want to say that the food was fabulous, our server was great. But it does seem that Oya doesn't wish to have large parties, so it may not be a good place for our club to eat anymore.

*I am also aware of several places that have been extremely welcoming to knitters - Adega and the Saloon, come to mind.