Solo customer denied seat at popular chain restaurant

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25th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) A recent incident at a popular restaurant chain has caused a stir on social media after a customer was refused a seat at the establishment. The incident occurred during afternoon tea time when the customer, dining alone, noticed that the restaurant was not particularly busy. Seeing several empty seats, the customer decided to occupy a booth. However, the staff member on duty intervened, stating that a single person was not allowed to occupy a booth and refused to accommodate the customer. Frustrated, the customer expressed disappointment, stating, “I haven’t even eaten and I already feel indigestion,” and vowed never to patronise the establishment again.

The incident was shared by the disgruntled customer on a local Facebook group on Monday (20th May). In the post, the customer vented about the unpleasant experience during afternoon tea and expressed frustration by saying, “I won’t support them anymore. I feel indignant.” According to the customer’s account, there were only a few customers in the restaurant at the time, and numerous empty seats were available. The customer believed that during afternoon tea, with only a few customers present and plenty of vacant seats, it was reasonable to occupy a booth for a comfortable dining experience.

However, the customer’s plans were thwarted by a female staff member who promptly objected to the customer taking a booth seat, citing the restaurant’s policy that prohibited single individuals from occupying booths. The customer argued, “It’s not a busy period, and there are no other customers. Why can’t I sit here?” Nevertheless, the staff member reiterated the rule. The customer expressed their dissatisfaction, sarcastically remarking, “It seems like you’re doing great business nowadays,” before deciding to leave the restaurant. The customer added, “The staff didn’t seem to care whether I would eat there or not.”

A photograph accompanying the post showed a row of empty double-seater tables in the middle, with vacant booth seats on either side. One staff member was seen arranging takeout bags on one of the booth tables.

The post generated a significant discussion among netizens, with some sharing similar experiences and expressing support for the customer’s decision to leave. Comments such as “I’ve experienced the same thing in that place. I left before they finished speaking,” “Definitely leave, don’t support them,” and “You did the right thing! I would have walked out too,” flooded the comment section. However, others offered a different perspective, suggesting that the staff member’s actions may have been due to concerns about future groups of four customers needing booth seats and the potential inconvenience caused by rearranging tables. One commenter stated, “When it’s time to switch tables, it always causes a commotion,” while another remarked, “If everyone starts occupying four-person tables alone for extended periods, I won’t have enough time during my lunch break to wait in line.”

Some speculated that the seating policy might be a requirement imposed by the company rather than a personal decision made by the staff member. One commenter suggested, “It seems like a company policy,” while another added, “Even if it’s a company rule, the staff member could have handled it differently. No need to make a fuss.” The customer responded, “That’s why I didn’t argue with the staff member; I simply chose not to support them.” Others believed that proper explanation from the staff member would likely have led to customer compliance, with one commenter noting, “If customers hear a reasonable explanation, even if the table is changed, they would be satisfied.”