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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

Who cares?

May 4th, 2009
1:38 pm

Who cares? No one can afford to eat out anymore anyway.

Jerry

May 4th, 2009
1:43 pm

Get a life !!!

Spalding Drive homeowner

May 4th, 2009
1:47 pm

this is stupid…..is ‘mford’ paid for this?

bigedatl

May 4th, 2009
1:58 pm

Dante’s Down the Hatch. Been several years since I have been there, but our tiny table barely held the food, wine glasses, and the pot of boiling hot oil. Oh, it was a little rickety also. We actually discussed if one of us would be doused in oil before the evening ended.

A. Teesman

May 4th, 2009
2:03 pm

They have some good size tables at Cashin’s and Baby Doe’s Matchless Mine.

bbb

May 4th, 2009
2:14 pm

we don’t get to eat out enough to be picky about table size. We are just grateful to be able to afford to eat. Feeling guilty?

dan

May 4th, 2009
2:17 pm

Why would someone feel guilty about eating out, bbb?

Lisa

May 4th, 2009
2:27 pm

There are a lot of people eating out prehaps not where you live “who cares”. In my area i go to, different resturants, there’s
still a wait time of 15 to 30 mins depending on where you go. I don’t care how small the table is as long as i can enjoy my meal.

jimbob

May 4th, 2009
2:27 pm

I remember the old Arby’s near northlake, before it remodeled in the late 1980s, only had a handful of seats with a few really small tables. I’d imagine that all of the old-style Arby’s, with the inverted curved roof, were configured similarly.

Tia

May 4th, 2009
2:34 pm

No restaurant tables aren’t too small.. diners are too fat. There are more obese people today than ever. I feel so sorry for fat people when I see them at a restaurant, people stare and make fun of them. It must be hard to be overweight in society.

lovelyliz

May 4th, 2009
2:42 pm

It’s a marketing gimmick. The smaller the table the larger the meal appears to be and the more people per square foot that can be seated and served. It also keeps customer from getting too comfartable so as to get them out the door quicker. Turnover people! Turnover!

rpm

May 4th, 2009
2:44 pm

??? “I’d but FAB on that list” apparently the screen was too small to proof read

prootwadl

May 4th, 2009
2:46 pm

Tia, if the dishes don’t fit on the table, the issue isn’t the diners. It’s the table.

Cindy Lu

May 4th, 2009
2:55 pm

If the restaurants would not clutter the table with so much stuff; i.e. dessert menus; drink menus; sales flyers, etc. then there might be enough room. I find that I have to place these items on the ledge or floor just so we have ample space to enjoy our meals.

BrokeAsAJoke

May 4th, 2009
2:56 pm

I eat like once a month now. I agree with bbb, I am glad I can afford to eat. When my mom says why dont you come over for dinner tonight, I am like I will be there. I don’t care if it is something I dislike, I will be there eating it and enjoying it. I don’t have the money to go out and eat. Thankfully, I don’t have any children.

Jefferson

May 4th, 2009
2:58 pm

Too close together. I don’t want to hear other chit or chat.

deegee

May 4th, 2009
3:01 pm

LOL! I went to Dairy Queen last night and watched an obese slob prop his belly up on the table after squeezing his corpus maximus between the seat and the table. It was disgusting. He ordered a hamburger, french fries, large coke and a chili dog on the side. Thank goodness for large tables at Dairy Queen or else he might not have had room for his oversized gut and all the food he ordered.

Mugglemikki

May 4th, 2009
3:01 pm

No, our azzes are just to big!

abc

May 4th, 2009
3:02 pm

If I can’t get a table I like, I leave. Maybe it’s too small, maybe it’s poor placement. It happens. It’s not that big a deal; chances are I won’t return, but it’s not as if the restaurants need to be concerned about that — people tend to have very low expectations of them.

We eat out a lot. Including lunch, I probably eat out 10 times per week. The food’s better at home, but we like being able to relax and not have to clean up. There aren’t that many restaurants worth returning to, but among the ones we like are the pizza joint, this 1 Chinese place (man, the chinese joints get the worst health scores!), soup & salad, a breakfast place is hard to find. Nothing fancy, except on special occasions.

Ted Striker

May 4th, 2009
3:03 pm

Meridith Ford Goldman — just balance the plates on your thighs. That ought to be good for a buffet or two.

Bigger is Better

May 4th, 2009
3:03 pm

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

abc

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.

deegee

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.

YES

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?

mattie

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.

John

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.

Noelle

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.

Joel

May 4th, 2009
3:32 pm

No, we are just too big…

mDm

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.

Marlene

May 4th, 2009
3:34 pm

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

Joe

May 4th, 2009
3:36 pm

I agree with the comment on Dante’s. We were sat at a converted Civil War sewing maching table. The table was not even 2 foot in diameter. And of course no way to put your legs under the table. The best part is I got to sit in the main entering area beside the hostess. Thank God! Dante was there to move us to another table.

Sam

May 4th, 2009
3:41 pm

With all that is going on in the world right now, this is all the AJC has to talk about? No wonder the newspapers are in trouble!

atlanta native

May 4th, 2009
3:42 pm

A Teesman – Where is there a Cashin’s? I worked there in the late 70’s early 80’s. Has it been that long since you ate out, or am I missing something?

reservoirDAWG

May 4th, 2009
3:44 pm

It depends on the restaurant.

Joe

May 4th, 2009
3:48 pm

abc,

You are smart with money. Good for you.

booger

May 4th, 2009
3:49 pm

I lived in France for a couple of years. Their largest tables are smaller than our smallest tables yet they turn out better meals and service than almost anyone here. One hint as to why. Their plates are not the size of hubcaps.

A. Teesman

May 4th, 2009
3:56 pm

You’re missing something. Say my name.

A. Teesman

May 4th, 2009
3:56 pm

RBSAtlanta

May 4th, 2009
3:58 pm

My word there’s just a bit of vitriol in this blog (”who cares” this and “get a life” that)! I know it may shock most of you who rampantly complain, but some of us are fortunate enough to not be burdened with multiple kids, mortgages, cars and/or ex-spouses and can still afford a meal out.

Now – with that said – although I LOOOVE 4th and Swift, some of the tables are a bit small in surface area. I don’t really mind them being close together because I’m generally the one with the loudest mouth and have NO problem being heard over multiple conversations. :)

And I TOTALLY agree with the poster that complained about too much accoutrement on the tables. That’s generally only in chain restos BUT, even when in a chain I don’t want to have to balance my meal over a placard or two.

Moerice

May 4th, 2009
4:00 pm

Why do so many people get upset at an article like this? a) it is the dining out section, so it is appropriate. It is not the front page, for crying out loud. b) If it is such a waste of time or space, why comment on it? Doesn’t that mean you actually read the piece, which is the whole point? and c) If you never eat outm for whatever reason, why even ready the article? Who is the real loser?

Mike

May 4th, 2009
4:05 pm

The tables were horribly close together at Pano’s and Paul’s. After one dinner there, the lady at the next table said to us, “it was so nice joining you for dinner.”

Grumpy Young Man

May 4th, 2009
4:07 pm

I like restaurants with small tables – there’s no room for kids! It forces people to leave their kids at home and not subject us to their screeching and screaming, spitting, and diaper smells.

A. Teesman

May 4th, 2009
4:08 pm

Fast food places, D’Lites and Mighty Casey have decent size tables. ‘Round the Corner has some big ones, too.

Kat

May 4th, 2009
4:10 pm

Where is there a Cashin’s Restaurant in Atlanta anymore? I loved Cashin’s at Cumberland.

Noelle

May 4th, 2009
4:12 pm

Grumpy, if only that were true. I’ve been crammed up next to tiny tables with screamy/squirmy small children more than once (and that doesn’t even count the people who are allowed to block the walkway by putting a highchair at the end of a booth). I don’t blame the kids, though; it’s the parents who cause the problems by not parenting.

Grumpy Young Man

May 4th, 2009
4:14 pm

A. Teesman

May 4th, 2009
4:16 pm

People, I’m sorry my humor is too subtle for you. My character A. Teesman = 80s man, a fellow seemingly trapped in 1980s Atlanta injecting himself into a conversation about modern day Atlanta. Get it?

reservoirDAWG

May 4th, 2009
4:19 pm

D’Lites. That place was ahead of it’s time.

Steve

May 4th, 2009
4:20 pm

Tables aren’t getting smaller, but southern Americans continue to get fatter. It’s sad, really.

A. Teesman

May 4th, 2009
4:22 pm

Indeed. The D’Lites I went to was in that shopping center just across from U.S. Bar y Grill along Roswell Road in Sandy Springs.

reservoirDAWG

May 4th, 2009
4:24 pm

We would go to one on Jimmy Carter. It’s funny you mentioned those two spots as they were the only places to eat in Gwinnett County when my family moved there.

A. Teesman

May 4th, 2009
4:26 pm

It’s all different now. My aunt used to live on Hamilton Mill Road and that was out in the boonies. Seems like the ‘burbs go on forever now.

Get It Right

May 4th, 2009
5:01 pm

The Cheescake Factory has very small tables. The only good thing about that is that we were limited in the amount of lousy food we could order.

Tea

May 4th, 2009
5:02 pm

I can live with the small size but when the person next to my two-top is closer than the person across the table I came to be with – well, I draw the line there. Unfortunately, my wife and I are missing out on a lot of good Midtown restaurants because they have this ridiculously cramped line of two-tops against one or two interior walls.

Rose

May 4th, 2009
5:09 pm

Obviously, the “mford” was not talking about a fast food restaurant or a restaurant that seats children at high chairs. Notice the reference to the Ritz Carlton which set the tone for the responses. This is a commentary on fine dining.

Rose

May 4th, 2009
5:14 pm

I forgot to answer the question! I think the tables at Two Urban Licks are pretty small and crammed together.

stinger

May 5th, 2009
2:17 pm

Rose, you forgot to answer the question because you had to take the time to correct people. Just answer the question and shut up.

banquet manager

May 5th, 2009
10:22 pm

I agree with the first guy that left a comment – who cares? Just visit my blog…
So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager? You think being a banquet manager is glamorous? You try dealing with cranky chefs and bitchy waiters all day – and that’s without the nasty customers. Visit my blog and see what it’s REALLY like in this crazy profession.

reservoirDAWG

May 6th, 2009
11:23 am

Why don’t you quit and find a new profession?

Meridith Ford Goldman

May 6th, 2009
1:08 pm

Hey Ted Striker: the only reason I didn’t spam the heck out your tacky comment is because it actually made me laugh out loud.
Thanks for the thoughts, all. Sure, not everyone orders as much food as I do, but I still think we need a little more room on most tables.