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Restaurants in New York City are enforcing strict time limits on tables, causing dissatisfaction among some customers who feel rushed. With space and staff constraints amid COVID-19, many restaurants are continuing the practice despite shrinking profits. Visitors are upset, especially as some struggle to eat multi-course meals in the allotted time frame. While reservations, usually via OpenTable or the restaurant’s website, have specific time restrictions, some restaurants are allowing more dining time if customers are planning to order more food. However, many remain outraged by the lack of hospitality and personal attention from the establishment.
NYC restaurants set time limit for guests
A few weeks ago, Christina Izzo, 33, was hanging out with a couple of friends at Ye’s Apothecary, a Sichuan bar-restaurant that opened in New York’s Chinatown in 2022. They wanted to order more food (the restaurant offers a menu of small meals from $12 to $15), but they were told that this was not possible: the clock was ticking, and the 90 minutes allotted for their reservation was almost up. What is this restriction and why introduce it, said the New York Post.
“It was like a bodyguard taking you out of a club after a fight,” Izzo said.
Faced with space and staff constraints in the midst of COVID-19, restaurants have imposed strict time limits on tables. Now, faced with shrinking profits and the need to turn things around quickly, many hotspots continue this practice. Visitors who just want to have a fun and casual lunch with friends are not too happy.
“I need to argue with them if I want to spend more money at their establishment,” Izzo said.
She recently had a similar experience at Torrisi Bar & Restaurant, a new lively location on Mulberry Street.
When they sat down, the waiter warned them that they only had 90 minutes.
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They were given more time only when Izzo used her media connections and said she planned to order a lot of food from the menu of expensive Italian-American dishes, including linguine with clams ($29) and chicken alla grilla ($39).
Time limits got “out of hand,” Izzo said, noting that often three people just can’t handle a multi-course meal in an hour and a half.
Marielle Rivera Hauck, a 35-year-old advertising woman, is also outraged by the restrictions.
She recently dined with a group of eight at Quality Italian in Midtown and was shocked when the group was asked to vacate a table and end the evening at the bar.
“It was an experience that never happened to me in all the time I dined in New York,” she said.
The complimentary drinks “softened the blow,” Rivera Hawk said. A few weeks later, she returned to Quality Italian, known for its $76 chicken pizza.
But the same thing happened again, and this time she was less understanding.
“I thought, wait, this is actually some kind of mess,” Rivera said.
Reservations at the restaurant can be found on OpenTable, which states that the restaurant has only 90 minutes for dinner for two people, two hours for dinner for up to six people, and two and a half hours for large groups.
Andrew Righi, chief executive of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, said the time limits represent a compromise. On the one hand, he is sympathetic to the fact that restaurants must “create a turnover of guests in order to keep their doors open,” but beyond that there is a need for hospitality.
“We’ll see how long this policy stays in place,” he said.
Such restrictions are not only in fashionable places.
Miriam Loor and her partner were in a hurry for a recent dinner at Cafe Luxembourg, a 40-year-old establishment on the Upper West Side.
They were looking forward to a good meal out, but before they could sit down they were forced to order.
Then their appetizers arrived before their bottle of wine.
“I was very disappointed,” Loor said.
She has no plans to return to the establishment.
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