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Are Restaurant Tables Too Small?

Perhaps it’s because as a dining critic I tend to order lots of varied things from a restaurant’s menu, but I’m noticing a trend. Dining tables are just too small.

Waiters can’t begin to fit four appetizers, much less that many entrees, on most of the tables I dine on. The evening becomes a little like watching the Keystone Cops when it’s time for clearing.

The most egregious offender? Hal’s on Old Ivy — the tables are the size of a matchbox, and there’s no way the space between them passes the fire code. I actually had a waiter there stack one of my dishes between the other two, like a pyramid.

The most spacious tables? Hmmm … I’d but FAB on that list, as well as the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead and Quinones at Bacchanalia. And for it’s size, Tamarind Thai has relatively large table space.

Who’s got the smallest table space in town?

60 comments Add your comment


May 4th, 2009
3:34 pm

Who cares. Get a life. Just give me a restaurants with no kids!


May 4th, 2009
3:32 pm

The size of the tables shouldn’t matter as long as you have ample seating. Unfortunately, restaurants are trying to pack as many people in their establishments without waiting so patrons won’t go elsewhere. In today’s economic times, those who can afford to dine out will experience less wait time and/or flexible reservations. Additionally, walk-ins with available seating at peak times will be the norm.


May 4th, 2009
3:32 pm

No, we are just too big…


May 4th, 2009
3:28 pm

Yes, most restaurant tables are too small and too close together, and it has nothing to do with the size of the diners. It’s about not having enough room on the tabletop for your plates and drinks, especially considering the huge portion sizes and oversized plates used at many restaurants.

Tables are tiny because restaurants are trying to cram in as many tables as possible. More tables means more diners, which means more money. Plus, with the spaces so cramped, no one wants to hang around, and fast turnaround means the restaurant can serve more diners and make even MORE money.

We get around all that by trying to get a booth whenever possible. The tabletops are usually bigger, and there’s no one crammed up right next to you. Plus, the seats are usually cushioned, so they’re more comfortable to start with.


May 4th, 2009
3:26 pm

Heck, if you think the tables are small in Atlanta, come across the pond for a visit. The wife and I are living abroad for a year while I study at a University in England. The tables when we eat out are tiny! Worse, though, is the English tendency to sit you right next to an occupied table — even when you’re the only two occupied tables in the place!

I, for one, welcome the large Atlanta tables when I return.


May 4th, 2009
3:23 pm

I will put up with smaller tables if I have to, but I won’t return to a restaurant where the tables are very close together. When I’m out to dinner with my spouse or friends, I am not interested in sharing anyone’s conversation.


May 4th, 2009
3:19 pm

Of course they are. They are done that way so the owners can cram more people
into one space. If you get a meal/plate of any size you will find that it is hard
to manage cutting your meat. But who really cares besides me?


May 4th, 2009
3:08 pm

Seriously though, how many people order 4 appetizers and entrees? The tables are smaller so that they can push them together for large parties or leave them solo for parties of one or 2. It’s about turnover. Your server should be able to stage your order so that it doesn’t pile up on the table. Of course, this is the U.S. where dining out is a more like a sprint than a marathon.


May 4th, 2009
3:05 pm

Ha! We eat out a lot, but it’s a rule to never enter a burger joint, nor the Awful House, or any of the disgusting food specialties. Yuck. I’d rather cook and clean up.

When my kids were small I get them Happy Meals and throw away the ‘food’. All they wanted was the toy, anyway.

Bigger is Better

May 4th, 2009
3:03 pm

not only are tables getting smaller , but both are too. Check out any Waffle House