Service of Obstreperous Guests: What To Do

November 15th, 2021

Categories: Anger, Entertaining, Guns, Restaurant

‘Tis the season–there will soon be lots of entertaining going on especially for the vaccinated. Are we ready?

No surprise the subject of guests who cause discomfort came up with friends I saw last week. I reminisced with one about an incident that happened at his dinner table a few years back. We could laugh about the eccentricity now but it made him anxious at the time. My friend and his wife were welcoming a couple to town. The new neighbor put a loaded gun next to his plate. “Is the gun loaded?” he asked. It was. He requested his guest put it in his jacket in the hall. The man argued he never went anywhere without his gun but eventually relented.

Another friend was hosting a dinner party and a last minute guest she didn’t know–a pal asked if he could bring him–wondered if it was OK if he smoked pot and offered the others to join him. Before anyone answered she said she didn’t allow smoking in her home. [Tenants in my apartment house sign an agreement that there is no smoking period–even on our balconies or in front of the building.]

She also told us about an in law of a buddy who arrived at her home badly inebriated. That visitor held hostage the conversation with her angry rants and nobody could get in a word.

I recall a restaurant review many years ago–I’ve written about it before–in which the critic loved the food, service and ambiance but interspersed with her compliments she quoted the boisterous and vicious argument of a couple seated nearby. The restaurant did not receive the stars it should have, she wrote, because the Maitre D’ should have told the couple to keep it civil or leave.

A bunch of friends addressed the restaurateur’s challenge. Some felt the noisy couple should be asked to go and one, who had witnessed a similarly loud fight, felt that she should have been compensated for a free meal as nothing was done to quiet the couple.

The hostess in the instances above asked me “What would you do about a trouble-making, quarrelsome or out of control guest?” a question which I ask you. Should a restaurant manager evict unruly patrons–including shrieking children–in the interest of the comfort of others while at risk of losing a loyal customer or facing a nasty confrontation?



Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

15 Responses to “Service of Obstreperous Guests: What To Do”

  1. Martha T Takayama Said:

    You present terribly uncomfortable scenarios. All of us have encountered variations of some or all of them. I find it even as I am older very hard to decide how to deal with them. I do think I might have asked the gentleman with gun to leave, however I don’t really know how a restaurant owner should or can handle an obstreperous guest. If there seems a possibility of any physical combat then I think you need to try to ask them to leave. But what is the next step? An intimidating house person or a call to the police?

    It all makes me shudder.

    As for screaming children, one would hope that the parent or parents would take one or all aside and remove them from the table. A friend who has tired of demanding screaming young children having tantrums at her house has decided to not let the mother visit with them any more.

    Maybe I am not remembering realistically, but I think our collective social behavior in general has taken a turn for the worse especially as a consequence of TFG!

  2. TC Said:

    Well, at least first confront those “obstreperous guests” with strong statement as manager of their obnoxious behavior and then a warming if they do not desist, a call to authorities for disturbing the peace.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Martha,

    I find parents with young children are often oblivious of others. They don’t realize that some of the other patrons in the restaurant are taking an infrequent and welcome break from their kids.

    If you can muster it, I suspect gentle humor might help in the dinner party instance but I think I’d be paralyzed and no clever words would come to mind. The worst of it is that the dinner party giver has gone to trouble to prepare for the event and one person can toss a grenade into the whole thing and spoil it.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    TC,

    I’ve heard that if inebriation is the cause for disruption in the extreme, the sight of a uniform snaps sense back into the offending person, much like a bucket of ice. If a conversation turns nasty because of disagreement, a clever introduction of another subject can help defuse the dynamic. Both are hard to do.

  5. Deborah Wright Said:

    These are challenging situations for sure. I think the manager of the restaurant should have gone to the couple and asked politely to quiet down or they would have to leave. It isn’t fair to the other diners who perhaps are celebrating a birthday or anniversary to have their time interrupted. As far as children go, they really should not be taken to restaurants that are formal and geared to adults. We took our young children out for dinner, but it would be restaurants that welcomed children. It also teacher them how to behave in public. When my son was a newborn, my in-laws insisted that we go to lunch at a local diner. When the baby started screaming, I left immediately and sat in the car with him while the family finished the meal. It is very disturbing to see parents on a Friday night have little ones out for pizza or hamburgers and everyone is on a device, even the two-year old! Zero family interaction or bonding! With everyone on a phone or other device, parents miss the opportunity to show their offspring how to have acceptable behavior in public.

  6. lucrezia Said:

    Years ago, there was a Kosher deli in town, with a frequent loud mouthed and drunken visitor, who in a German accent, touted his love for all things Jewish. He became a part of the scenery, and the eatery didn’t suffer from his presence.

    This is an exception. When the squalling brat and family are politely and firmly ushered to the door, the establishment stands to gain more profits than losses in future customers.

    The same arithmetic applies in private homes. Who wants their clothes ruined by a sloppy drunk?

    In short, throw them out. They won’t be missed.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Deb,

    I remember a coffee shop near where my sister lived that had an electric train that traveled back and forth on the counter. My nephews, when little, were mesmerized. Children loved the place and clearly it was a restaurant that encouraged families to bring their children.

    What a shame that entire families stare at their devices these days. Explains a lot.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    While everyone in a house with an out of control guest would like her or him gone, having this happen is the trick. The perfect words don’t come easily.

  9. lucrezia Said:

    There are no perfect words. There’s a choice. Either that guest ruins your party, or is made to leave. Sure it sounds mean, but there are no rewards, only consequences for leniency in this situation.

  10. Stephanie Schley Said:

    Stephanie on Facebook: When I take kids and grands to a restaurant if a kiddo is misbehaving I always take them outside !

  11. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Stephanie,

    Makes sense to me but you may be in the minority according to my statistically insignificant observations. Instead of changing the scene with a walk outside I’ve seen children hold parents and other siblings and family members hostage with their bad behavior. Some pundit must be guiding them to allow this to happen. Doesn’t augur well for playing well with others either in daycare, school or at their future jobs.

  12. Cathy C Said:

    Cathy on Facebook: I once had a dinner party guest who can’t eat gluten. I created a gluten-free menu and made my first gluten-free cake, which ended up being a bigger deal than I expected. She refused the dessert made especially for her. Last time we ever ate a meal with her.

  13. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Cathy,

    It is impossible to please or accommodate everyone. Even in a small family, one person hates chocolate and it’s the favorite of three others so what birthday cake or dessert do you make? One person dislikes ham and turkey yet you must feed a crowd and on and on. My middle name should be guilt because I fear, when making a menu choice/decision, that someone will feel that I deliberately disregarded their druthers.

    But here you went to great effort to please the person with a dietary restriction and she passes on dessert? She might have asked to take home a piece explaining that she’d so enjoyed the rest of dinner that she’d not saved room for this extraordinary cake. And she should have mentioned your effort a few times throughout dinner and afterwards. Her loss: I hear you’re an extraordinary cook!

  14. Cathy C Said:

    Cathy on Facebook: This is a difficult person to start with and my current relationship with her is nonexistent for many reasons. I keep a book of people’s dietary issues and preferences. We have friends with serious allergies, who observe Jewish dietary laws, etc. I don’t mind accommodating and people are generally appreciative of being asked. I wish at points in the past people had asked me. I can’t eat lamb and the smell makes me sick. How many times have I walked into a dinner party to smell it! My other hobbyhorse is kids/young people you take out to dinner who order the m ost expensive item on the menu, don’t finish it and don’t even say thanks!

  15. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Cathy,

    I always ask if a person is allergic to anything. That gives them the chance to mention foods they don’t care for. I was planning to write a post sometime about trying to appeal to everyone’s preferences and requirements.

    One friend who ate like a bird asked me to change the menu for a major event we’d invited her to. I didn’t. She ate so few things [she was far too thin and feared getting fat] that there was no point. There was always enough choice of things she would eat….I felt it was a power thing with her.

    As for kids ordering the most expensive thing on the menu, don’t get me started. It drives me nuts. It gives me indigestion just thinking about them. And parents don’t do their kids a favor not addressing the subject when they are alone with their children.

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