Violation: Showing up VERY late for a multi-party, table reservation dinner

PRELUDE: To celebrate her 31st birthday, Birthday Girl invites her friends to a white-tablecloth reservation-only restaurant (to give you an idea of how high brow this place is, its owned by a famous TV Chef), with 7pm reservation for Saturday night. We are among 10 people that RSVP.

7PM: We, along with her friend, “Andrea” show up, on time. Birthday Girl informs us that Friend #1 and Girlfriend are “15 minutes away”. She also mentions that Couple #2 is stuck in traffic, and wont be there until 8:00.

I suggest to Birthday Girl that because this is a whitetable-cloth restaurant that operates on reservations only, maybe its best her tardy friends send their regrets, and maybe meet us elsewhere later for a night cap. . . . . . . .

7:10 Friend #10 shows up, in person, to tell Birthday Girl that something came up, and he cannot stay. He showed up in person to show his regrets, and wishes her a happy birthday, and HONORABLY departs.

7:30. Friend #1 and Girlfriend, have not arrived, we decide to take our table and wait for them. Birthday Girls calls Friend #1. “They are on the main road to the restaurant wasn’t” she reports.

7:45. No one else has showed up yet. We are 4 people sitting in a reservation only high class restaurant with 6 empty chairs. Very embarrassing. We order appetisers.

8:00 Appetisers arrive. Still no one else is here.

8:10 Friend #1 arrives, sans Girlfriend. He reports she will be there soon. In other words, he arrives almost an hour after he said he was going to be there with his girlfriend, but shows up without her, almost an hour later. Bullshit.

8:20 Friend #1’s Girlfriend and Her Girlfriend arrive. Friend #1 declares they are NOT going to get an entree, but order appetisers NOW, and then an appetiser as their main course, and then . . DESERT.

Wait a minute----- we just had our appetisers. Now we have to sit and watch you eat? And we have to sit around, and have desert?

8:40 Couple #2 FINALLY arrives. The husband is wearing tasteful AC/DC tee-shirt to this high end eatery. To THEIR credit, they skip the appetiser, and finally we start discussing our main entree.

9:00 We finally order main entrees. Of course, Friend #1 and Girlfriend and Girlfriend #2 order appetisers, which arrives my suspicion about their lateness:

THEY ATE DINNER EARLIER!!! NOW listen, this was a pricey restaurant, and between you and me, I think scheduling a sit down dinner with a large group like this at this type of establishment is nothing but a land-mine, but if you cant afford to eat there, you have 2 choices:

  2. Eat a cheaper dinner elsewhere, BUT BE ON TIME.

I mean, I blew $155 on a meal I could have gotten at Outback for 1/3 the money.

9:50 The main entrees have not arrived. In the meantime, not only did Friend #1 complain about how long he had to wait for his meal, BUT SO DID COUPLE #2! At this point my wife blew up, and made some underhanded remark about “how could you complain about waiting for your meals when you made us and the restaurant wait for 90 minutes?”

I have to admit, she had a point.

10:00 FINALLY, after TWO AND A HALF HOURS WAITING, the entrees arrive.

10:35 The entrees are cleared, and here comes the waiter with the Desert Menu. I am praying, begging, GOD PLEASE HAVE MERCY, let everyone have a change of heart, and let’s skip desert. Even Friend #1 mentions “he wont have desert unless someone else has desert.”

Who pipes up?
Of course, Couple #2.
Mr and Mrs. One Hour and Forty Minutes Late.

The Missus mentions SHE wants desert.

Which means EVERYONE has to have desert.




10:50 Fucking Desert arrives. I don’t have any, because I think grown adults that have to have sweets after a perfectly good meal are children, I opt for coffee instead.

11:10 We are done with desert. Checks, please.

THIS, takes forever. But how can we complain? We took over and held up a table for FOUR FUCKING HOURS!!!

11:35 FINALLY, checks are cleared, and we settle out bills, AND WE CAN ESCAPE!


  1. If it is your birthday, or any other celebration, never EVER suggest a high-priced, white-tablecloth, reservations only restaurant UNLESS the following criteria are met:

A. You only invite Johnny on the spot, on time reliable friends.
B. The friends you invite can actually AFFORD it.
C. If 1 & 2 cant be met, its someone else’s idea, and they are footing the bill!

Otherwise, plan your party AT A SPORTS BAR, IRISH PUB, OR ANOTHER INFORMAL, UNSTRUCTURED SETTING WHERE people can come and go as they please.

  1. If invited to such an occasion, and its too far out of your budget, send regrets, make up a reason if you have too, even offer to meet up later at another establishment after you had alternative dinner elsewhere.

3, If invited to such an occasion, and something comes up at the last minute and you are MORE THAN ONE HOUR LATE, send regrets, even offer to meet up later at another establishment.

  1. IF you DO have the balls the show up late, go with the flow. If appetisers have already been served, make your next course the entree. Buying a round of drinks is never a bad idea, either. DO NOT instigate desert, because most likely, everyone else has been waiting over and hour for your lame ass to show up.

  2. If you are the late one, don’t complain about the slow service. These restaurants work on reservations, and plan around them If your cause the whole party to be late, is disrupts the entire restaurants flow.

Bottom line, the good news is Birthday Girl has a good time, despite the ignorant, rude, inconsiderate, and arrogant behaviour of her friends. But be rest assured, thanks to the events of tonight, the next time someone suggests a whitetablecloth dinner party, we are staying far, far away!

Dear Og, what a bunch of degenerates! Reminds me of my own family.

Some people have absolutely no respect whatsoever for other people’s time. And the worst thing is that if you had gone ahead with your scheduled dinner (yeah, I know, with a mostly-empty table) the ones that showed up late would have been pissed off.

You won’t see that much lameness on this weekend’s Jerry Lewis Telethon.

As a chronically early person, I absolutely hate late arrivals who do so just, well, just because. My husband and I missed a wedding because we’d agreed to go with our always-late friends and the other guy just HAD to stop and buy something stupid and unnecessary from the drug store enroute to picking us up. Oh yeah, and he was supposed to be videotaping the wedding… but I digress.

I also don’t get those who accept an invitation knowing full well they don’t intend to show. What’s so horrid about saying “Thanks for inviting me, but I regret that I won’t be able to make it.” Lots classier than just not showing up, or having something “come up” at the last second. Yeah, right.

Frankly, I’d give late arrivals 15 minutes, then start ordering. Who cares if they get angry? I’d also add them to the list of “people I won’t be inviting again” - life’s too short to deal with the inconsiderate.

My mother still holds a grudge against her father, and rightly so. He was driving her to her wedding, and decided that RIGHT NOW was the perfect time to get an oil change. Fortunately, he was persuaded otherwise.

I’d give 30, maybe 45 if they called ahead and gave a specific time for arrival… but yeah, at some point you go ahead with dinner and late arrivals can just suck it.

In Spain, less than 15’ late doesn’t count. There’s even a paragraph in our General Worker’s Law saying so: a worker can’t be written up for a count of lateness if it’s less than 15’ (for repeated counts of it, yes).

But anybody who’s more than 15’ late to a meal knows that everybody else will have tucked in. Not may: will.

Making hungry people wait for any reason short of incoming babies or heart attacks is just rude, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s at Grandma’s, MickeyD’s or a five star hotel.

You know, at least some of the problems you describe could have been solved if people still knew how to host their own gatherings. Inviting people to celebrate your birthday by buying themselves dinner at a restaurant of your choosing is kind of ridiculous right from the start.

Of course, I can see why one wouldn’t want to necessarily go to the expense of buying dinner for one’s friends when one’s friends are apparently ill-mannered boors who don’t know how to decline an invitation they can’t afford or show up on time or not lie to their friends.

God you are an ass. At least you won’t have any problems with your friends at your birthday, because you probably don’t have any.

I disagree. It’s rude for a person to say, ‘You are all invited to my birthday party, which you’re paying for, by the way, and it’s going to be at this expensive restaurant I want to go to, but wouldn’t go to if I had to pay for the meal myself.’

The way I work it is that my friends/coworkers tell me they’d like to take me for lunch/dinner. They ask where I want to go, and I offer a few choices. I work in Seattle, where I’ve noticed a lot of people don’t like foods that are ‘different’. For some of my coworkers, anything stronger than black pepper is ‘hot’. Others won’t eat raw fish. Since a birthday party/luncheon/dinner is a social event, it would be rude of me to insist on going someplace I like knowing that others won’t; and opting for an expensive place is similarly rude. If my friends or coworkers want to take me to an expensive place, then that’s up to them. It’s not up to me to tell them how much they should pay for my gift.

She’s right though, and this is one of the reasons for that rule of etiquette. Because if you expect your guests to pick up their own tab, you are going to have guests who only want appetizers and desserts - because they want to spend time with you and don’t want to be embarrassed by a limited budget. Making this sort of dinner really awkward for everyone else. I’m guessing the final couple was sort of hoping you’d be ordering desserts when they showed up - getting them out of paying for expensive entrees. Since you waited for them, they now felt obligated to order entrees.

Personally, I would have - lets see, seven - around 10:00 as soon as I’d finished my entree (which I suppose would have been 10:15 three-ish hours for a meal of this kind is expected), asked for my portion of the bill, thanked everyone for a lovely time trying my best to sound sincere, but pleaded an early morning the next morning. If someone feels that they can be an hour and 40 minutes late to dinner, I don’t feel guilty at all leaving at a reasonable time.

There’s nothing wrong with going to a nice place for a birthday or other event. To bring it up yourself, yeah, that’s nervy. My gang of friends, however, has a tradition of going to nice (not high-high end, but nice) restaurants for celebrations, and the gang asks the Celebrant to choose the venue. I once invited a friend who wasn’t part of this regular group and she couldn’t afford it. I understood completely and she and I did something else another time.

As for people showing up late … I’m surprised the restaurant seated you at 7. Most of the nicer restaurants around here won’t seat you until the entire party is in the building. That said, if 15 or 20 minutes pass, I think going ahead and ordering and proceeding with the evening is absolutely the way to go. If people come late, they can pick up the meal in progress.

To the OP: Obviously you prefer chain restaurants and casual joints where Quantity for Price Paid is a priority. Don’t look down on other people because they have different standards or can appreciate other types of establishments. That’s called reverse snobbery and it’s just as unattractive as the regular kind. You may have dressed properly for the event, unlike Mr. AC/DC, but your disrespect for the type of venue is just as bad as his.

And for heaven’s sake, why the hate on dessert. You don’t care for it? Fine. But again, looking down and judging people who do? THAT is childish. You don’t want it, you don’t want to stay any later? Where was the chain forcing you to remain in your chair?

So, I feel your pain about the people who didn’t show and arrived shamefully late … but the fact that the dinner was held up time and again for these people is the on-time group’s fault. And the rest of your beefs about what and where other people choose to eat are out of line.

I hate being late to social functions, and do everything I can to ensure I arrive early.

My wife is the opposite. If she’s supposed to arrive at 7:00, she shows up at 7:30. If she’s supposed to arrive at 7:30, she shows up at 8:00. If she’s supposed to arrive at 8:00, she shows up at 8:30.

So now, whenever we have to go somewhere, I am forced to lie about the intended arrival time. If, for example, we must arrive someplace by 7:00, I tell her we must arrive by 6:30.

Birthday Girl’s friends sound like douchebags.

(BTW it’s “dessert”.)

Isn’t 31 a little old to have a clown at one’s birthday party?

I don’t think that’s what he’s saying: he’s saying that, human nature being what it is, don’t have this sort of party (everyone meet me at the place, pay for your own, diverse group of friends who don’t all know each other very well and so there isn’t a group understanding of the procedures/expectations) at the type of establishment where timing really matters: do it somewhere where things can be handled. People are going to be late, or lost, or have plans change. The ideal here is attractive: all my friends get together at a nice place for dinner and eat together–but the reality is that its really hard to pull that off.

I’ll have to look at my OP, but I don’t recall where I “bashed” fancy restaurants, though yes, I am more of a beef and brew sort. As for this restaurant, if you must know, I felt the bread was dry, the French Onion soup was just OK, the Strip Steak no better than Outback, and the green beans tasted like they came out of a can. They undercooked my wife’s steak (and because we just wanted to get the hell out of there, she just ate it). This place was in a casino and they did everything with the decor to make it look like it was in a tacky casino, and the hostess dressed like she was a hostess at Denny’s.

About the only thing that I was over-impressed by was the professionalism of the staff. For the amount of money, hype and celebrity name being lent to the place I was hugely disappointed. I don’t necessarily mind “overpaying” for food at a “famous” restaurant, but then, the experience had better be something special, or the food had better knock me off my seat, preferably both. This place was absolutely neither.

Mmmmmmm . . . OK I am in danger of hijacking my own thread, but yes I have to admit I hate when people order desert, but I’ll be honest, if I had not already been sitting in this fucking place for 3 HOURS, and if the person who initiated the dessert wasn’t 90 minutes late, I would not have brought up my personal hatred for this course.

Then again, if everyone showed up ON TIME, there wouldn’t be this thread in the first place. If you want to debate the merits or lack thereof of having “dessert” maybe you can challenge me on another thread.

As for why we didn’t leave, my wife and I were looking forward to a night cap with Birthday Girl at an Irish pub next door, which in hindsight, would have been a much better choice for the entire event.

In that case, I say AC/DC man committed no foul.

Oh, nonsense. My daughter is on a soccer team that plays all over the state, every weekend through fall. These kids need their parents to drive them, and every week every single one of them shows up on time. Movie theaters are full of people, including groups, in time for the start of the film. Next weekend, stadiums across the country are going to be full with 70,000 people at kickoff.

It is easy to get people to show up on time, if they want to be. It sounds like the OP’s friends didn’t really want to be there, or they’re a bunch of irresponsible jerks. Showing up an hour and a half late for a dinner with reservations? Have these people ever been out to eat in something other than a sports bar before?

Right–people show up for something they really want to do, like play soccer. This sounds like something that the birthday girl really wanted to do and other people were humoring her. It’s selfish and rude, to be sure, but it’s also fairly predictable. This is, in my experience, very common with these sorts of events–when you have a bunch of people that don’t know each other particularly well and are all connected to the person in the center. No one feels any huge obligation to be there/be prompt because 1) they will only disappoint one person (the organizer) if they don’t show 2) they figure other people will be there, so it’s not big deal if they aren’t/are late and 3) they aren’t that eager, anyway, because it means making small talk with strangers. Basically, no one feels like an essential element to the evening, so they are comfortable canceling.

Now, the dynamic is totally different with a group of people that all know each other and are comfortable with each other. For one thing, if you cancel you have to explain yourself to everyone; if others are also canceling, you will hear about it and be more reluctant to cancel yourself. People also remember if you’ve canceled before, and comment. For another, you are probably looking forward to seeing more than just the main person. Finally, a group of mutual friends usually make arrangements to do things everyone is willing to tolerate. People have a defined place/role in the group, so they show up.