La Satira News Service
Patrons waiting for a table at busy restaurants may soon have a new ally, if one restaurant’s new policy works out.
The Ticking Clock, the trendy new bistro at 13th and Main, is trying a novel solution to the problem of restaurant congestion. Starting Tuesday evening, patrons will find a surcharge on their bills for the amount of time they spend at their tables.
“The question of how long guests stay at a table is a sticky one for restaurant managers,” said Aldous Winfield, the owner of The Ticking Clock. “You don’t want your customers to feel rushed when they choose to eat in your restaurant. On the other hand, when the queue stretches out the door and it’s clear the people at table 27 aren’t going to order anything else, there’s the risk that your revenues may start trending in the wrong direction.”
The solution, according to Mr. Winfield, presents a compromise. If customers wish to linger and talk, they are free to do so–in a manner of speaking–and the restaurant gets partial compensation for any lost revenue. “We feel this is a more civilized approach to patron turnover than the usual method: making the restaurant so loud that it’s impossible to hold a conversation and patrons get a headache if they stay too long.”
Reaction to the move has been mixed.
“I can’t believe they’re trying to charge us just for the privilege of occupying one of their tables,” said Penny C. Wise, a first-time client, in response to news. “This is the last time I come here–I don’t care how long it takes to get a table at the other restaurants.”
“I suppose it makes sense,” said Unger E. Pallitt, a frequent customer of the bistro. “We meter the parking to make sure people don’t camp out in the prime spots all day. Why not the tables?”
This is not to say that the restaurant has nothing to offer those conscious of the cost of time. “We are always happy for patrons to order online,” said Mr. Winfield of The Ticking Clock. “That way as soon as they’re seated we can start their orders. That’s especially helpful on our ‘Repondez’ Seafood Plate. It’s always good to call ahead for that, anyway.”
If successful, the trial may be extended to Mr. Winfield’s other restaurant venture, The Nose and Grindstone, a lunch counter primarily serving downtown office workers.