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Sun, March 24

Restaurant patrons can take low road

Several years ago I wrote a column which critiqued Prescott restaurants.

Well, that column stirred up a hornet's nest. One irate letter writer even said: "I don't think that guy ever did work for the Southern California Restaurant Association. Who does he think he is, criticizing this and criticizing that?"

Ok. Restaurant customers aren't perfect either. So now I'm going to say some things about patrons' habits that gripe me. And, by the way, I was on the staff of the SCRA for more than 10 years.

People who are rude to restaurant employees are hardly worth mentioning. They're probably rude to everybody else, too, including their husbands or wives. Maybe even their dog. Of course, this is never acceptable behavior.

Did you ever see someone in a restaurant run into an old friend seated at a table and stop to visit … and they visit and visit. They talk and they talk, in loud animated conversation, standing practically on top of their friend's table. And all the while their friend's dinner gets cold. Just stop and say hello and tell them you'll call them sometime. Your friends will appreciate your brevity, and so will I if I'm at the next table.

Then there are the people who insist on talking on their cell phone and having their phone ring while they're in a restaurant. Pagers are bad, too, as is any electronic device that makes normally rude people unbearably so.

Have you ever been in a nice restaurant when a group at a nearby table, and sometimes not even so close by, gets too much to drink and with each round they get louder and louder? It's mandatory that a cackling woman be in that group and everything strikes her funny. Pretty soon all you can hear is that group and the laugh-crazed lady in particular.

And don't forget, it's not good form to take a very young child to a nice restaurant. Take the dear little thing to a coffee shop and get a baby sitter the next time you want a romantic evening out.

Finally, and I now proceed where angels fear to tread, I want to say something about men wearing hats while seated in a good restaurant. Yes, we may as well say it: cowboy hats. Really, guys, don't you think that's rather camp? And if cowboy hats are bad, sports caps are worse. But even worse than just plain sports caps are people who wear caps with the bill in the back. Even in Prescott that's as bad as it gets.

(John Schwartz is a longtime area resident and a freelance writer.)


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