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Diatribe: Too Much Stuff On A Restaurant’s Table.

04/23/2012

crowded tabletopGrowing up, my mother always kept a centerpiece on our kitchen table.  She didn’t like the look of an empty table when it wasn’t in use and thought it was nice to have something pretty taking up the space in the middle.  Over the years she displayed various artificial flower arrangements and seasonal decorations but my favorite was “the goose”.  I remember that it was a stuffed animal-like decoration that had a bean bag (or something … maybe a brick) inside of it as an anchor weight.  When it was time to set the table, we would often throw the goose on the floor in the corner of the room to get ready for our meal.  It was important to us that we could see each other, and have room for all of our dishes, so we could enjoy a conversation with our meal.

I think tables in restaurants have far to many unnecessary things on them.  Sometimes, once we’re shown to a table, we’ll find that it’s cluttered with a drink menu booklet, a dessert menu, a flip chart advertising special items, salt and pepper shakers, ketchup and sauce bottles, a bucket of peanuts, a bud vase, sugar packets, sweetener packets, creamer, butter and a burning candle.

I understand why this is done but it annoys me to no end.  Sure, if I’m forced to look at pictures of delectable desserts as I enjoy my meal, odds are better that the restaurant will actually sell one to me before I leave.  Most of these advertisements are intended to be “outside” the regular menu.

If we’re not ordering coffee, we won’t need sugar and creamer.  If we’re not ordering a steak, we won’t need any steak sauce.  I think that ketchup, salt and pepper and other condiments should be brought to the table only upon request.  There’s often not enough room for the dishes upon which the food is served to be placed comfortably at each place setting.

Family and friends who eat out with me often are rarely surprised when I set things on the floor beside me to move them out of the way.  If there’s something on the table that’s so tall I can’t see the person with whom I’m talking, it will remove it every time. Perhaps it’s my “throw the goose” instincts that kick in.

Are you annoyed by all the stuff on the tables?

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14 Comments
  1. It sure wouldn’t hurt if the tables were bigger. And how about those plates. Almost everything is in a plate with a huge rim. Many times that rim is well over in inch wide. We were out the other day and both the dinner plate and the salad plate had such rims. As to the condiments and coffee fixin’s I can see how it would be much more labor intensive to bring each of those items out when needed.
    But I vote for bigger tables first and smaller specialty menus.

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  2. @Sue: if the tables were bigger there would be fewer tables; fewer tables equal less revenue. The wide rims on restaurant dishes are there to keep the server’s fingers out of the food while carrying the plates.
    If I eat at a restaurant that has all sorts of extra “menus” on the table, the moment I sit done, I close them all and then set them behind the salt and pepper. It gives me a little more room.

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  3. I move the stuff on restaurant tables all the time. Some of the stuff is so distracting, and clutters up the table horribly.

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  4. wcdameron permalink

    As long as there is alcohol and food on the table, I am rarely annoyed. 🙂

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  5. Its like yu need to say you have one more person just to have a “seat” for all this junk LOL

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  6. Interesting how the things we did when we were little are important when we grow up. I guess those brain pattern get formed and they become par tof who we are. One of the nicest compliments my son ever gave me was that he cannot stand a kitchen that isn’t really clean because our kitchen was always that way when he was growing up! What a nice compliment that was! 🙂

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  7. I agree with you, I don’t like a cluttered table but at the same time I hate to have to ask for things, so we need some kind of happy medium. Good to know the reason for the extra wide rims on the plates, thanks for the info.

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  8. Anonymous permalink

    While I don’t like a cluttered table, if you take the stuff off the of the table and set it on the floor, you are doing a great disservice to the restaurant and to subsequent guests. Floors are for feet, not stuff that will go back onto someone else’s table. Besides, to do that is WAY more tacky than just asking to have it removed.

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  9. My dining room table growing up was more of a bucket to put things on. We were a TV Dinner Tray kind of family.

    I still have those trays. I can’t really eat off of them because I don’t own a chair and my couch is too low. They’re mostly used to place mail and my broken CO2 detector. I think there’s also a dog’s bandana on them. What a sad decline those poor trays have been on.

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