Restaurant Seating

Photo by Don LaVange.

You’re traveling by yourself and you’ve just entered a busy café or restaurant and found the perfect little alcove by a window. You settle into your seat, but then realize you need to go to the counter to place your order. Or perhaps you get up to use the restroom. When you return, you’re dismayed to find a group of patrons has discovered your abandoned table and is making themselves at home. You could try to tell them they’re in your seat, but you don’t speak the language, so, disappointed, you resign yourself to finding another spot.

If you’ve ever traveled alone – or even just taken a lunch break by yourself – you understand the perils of leaving your seat unattended while you take care of something else. All too often, you find the waiters, thinking you’ve left, have cleared the table, or someone else has claimed your spot.

So without a dining companion to guard your table, how can you stake your claim?

Here are a couple of ideas:

1. Tip your chair up against the table. This way, a potential spot-stealer will notice the seat has been disturbed and will hopefully reconsider sitting there.

2. Muss up the cutlery and unfold the napkin. No one wants to use a potentially dirty fork.

3. Order a drink and leave it at the table while you go about your other business. I don’t advise doing this at a bar where someone might spike your drink, but one would imagine the risks are pretty low on a Tuesday afternoon at a coffee shop.

4. Leave a magazine or book on the table. Note that newspapers won’t always work as patrons often leave those behind when they’re done.

5. Leave your jacket on the chair. Assuming, of course, that it’s not like Chanel or something.

These are a few of the techniques that have worked for me, although I must admit, I’m often hesitant to leave personal belongings at the table, especially if it’s a bustling place where anyone could walk off with my stuff! I’m always trying to figure out a better way around this dilemma, so leave a comment with your thoughts on how best to safeguard your seat!