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I sat at the table, ordered the pizza. While it was being prepared, I decided to go to the bathroom for a short visit. An employee came (the griller) and while I was in the middle of my business, he informed me that the pizza was served.

I left the bathroom and told him ok thank you, but his behavior suggested that I should be at the table by the time the pizza arrived. He talked to me like saying "dude what are you doing, you should be at your seat by now". Just like an air attendant would speak to you, if he would find you in the WC when the aircraft prepares for landing.

I am not interested in complaining or anything. I tried to justify his behavior as you occupy a table, but are not consuming your food ASAP, thus it might take longer for me to seat the next customer.

Should I be seated when my food arrives (assuming that my theory stands about the "eat your food ASAP"), or was this case just a random phenomenon, an outlier?

  • 1
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Willeke Jul 25 '18 at 15:46
  • That's quite weird. A more professional waiter would probably have kept your pizza warm in the kitchen for a couple of minutes while you weren't there. Keeping pizza warm for a few minutes before serving it is not unusual: that's what many places do when there's a large group (say, 12 people), so that they can serve everyone at the same time --- 12 pizzas won't fit in their oven. – Federico Poloni Sep 23 '18 at 9:57
  • That what answers seems to support too @FedericoPoloni, thank you for the comment. – gsamaras Sep 23 '18 at 11:24
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The only logical explaination is that he was simply suggesting you to hurry up, because the pizza was getting cold and you wouldn't taste it in its best moment (when the mozzarella is still hot). Service in Italy is generally great, so what I would think is that he was doing me a favour.

Actually there's also the possibility that he was stressing you to finish your meal fast to make space for other guests, which could be the case if you were in the bathroom for a long time, but only in this case, otherwise it would be poor service.

In conclusion, if you are doing your business in the bathroom, waiters don't normally come knocking "hey you have to drop everything and begin to eat", so no you're not expected to stay at your table when the food arrives if you're in the bathroom.

  • Or they waiter was busy serving the tables and he just did not want to engage in small talk. Also, people people walking around the corridors (which are usually as narrow as possible to fit as many customers as possible) are always a nuisance, but unless the OP was loitering a lot I would be surprised if that was the cause. – SJuan76 Jul 23 '18 at 12:37
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    Italian restaurants almost never try to hurry you through your meal, it would be quite rude in Italy. – DJClayworth Jul 23 '18 at 13:30
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    @Fattie, your comments are of a kind that should be posted as an answer, which allows others to down vote as well as up vote. If you keep posting this kind of comments you might experience deletion, certainly when you do serial comments on a single question or answer. – Willeke Jul 23 '18 at 14:51
  • "Actually there's also the possibility that he was stressing you to finish your meal fast to make space for other guests." Your statement may have more reason than you think. I have eaten in Rome, where standing along the "standing bar" is less expensive than sitting down at a table, especially at peak hours. – Ken Graham Jul 24 '18 at 12:58
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In my opinion you should be seated when your food arrives, especially if you are alone at the table. But it seems strange that they will come looking for you in the toilet. How long where you in there?

I would not want my food to be served without me being there and most restaurants (> fast food category) I know, would wait with serving until I am back, and keep the food warm in the meantime.

The reasons for wanting you at the table could be:

  • So you can check if the food is okay (actually what you ordered)
  • So you can be sure nobody tampered with it in the meantime (it is the waiters responsible until you get it, so he cannot just leave it unattended)
  • So the food is warm and fresh.
  • To make sure you did not left suddenly

P.S: I am from central Europe.

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I find it very weird. I would never expect restaurant's staff to talk to me in that situation, not in a McDonald nor in a Michelin 3-star restaurant ; except maybe if I stayed there more than 20 minutes, and they started to worry about whether I am alive.

It seems impolite to me and I have never encountered this situation in any restaurant, nor in Italy nor in France...

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    And an Italian would make sure to visit the bathroom well before the dish/pizza was due to be served. :) – Mari-Lou A Jul 23 '18 at 15:41
  • @Mari-LouA I hear that but it is not the staff's job to educate you, and they do not know what you are doing there. If I want to come to a great italian restaurant, let my pizza get cold, smell it and then drink one, nobody should blink an eye imo. Even if it is stupid. – NanoPish Jul 23 '18 at 15:44
  • I'm agreeing with your answer... I've never heard of any waiter hounding a customer because they weren't seated. – Mari-Lou A Jul 23 '18 at 15:46
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    My wife was told off (super politely) in a 3* Michelin for not being present when the Souffle was served. – PeterI Jul 23 '18 at 17:32
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    "except maybe if I stayed there more than 20 minutes, and they started to worry about whether I am alive." Or you're drunk and they're kicking you out. Not that that's ever happened to me, of course. – Kevin Jul 24 '18 at 13:28
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Another reason could be for self-insurance/coverage. What if someone decided to steal a slice of pizza, or the entire pizza, as you're in there? Would you believe the waiters when they would tell you "your pizza was already served"? Just another possible option.

  • Yes I would to be honest. But let's cover all possibilities here! ;) – gsamaras Jul 23 '18 at 23:49
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You could have left through the bathroom window because you saw someone from the wrong mafia family enter in which case there would have been no point in preparing more parts of your order.

More seriously: I don't know the restaurant's topology but it may simply have been the case that he was not sure just where you went and checked the bathroom. It would have been creepy to just peep and then silently close the door again, so he told you that your dish was ready as a sort-of explanation of him looking.

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The only reason that the waiter had to chase you in the toilet is because he was looking for his money. As far as the waiter is concerned, you placed your order and ran; and they want to know if they have to bin the food and maybe call the police.

I don't believe for a moment that the waiter really cares if you eat the pizza hot or cold - especially given how long meals last for, it's always cold by the time you get to the end.

If you're alone, and leaving your table, taking your bags & coat (and laptop etc etc) after ordering and plan to return, tell the waiter you'll be back in a short while. Just imagine that once making your order, the food is on the table; and a table where there's no customer sitting means it's time to clean up the table.

  • I had left my non-important stuff in the table. The WC was in antidiametric to the door. But in a different restaurant, your opinion might apply, +1 – gsamaras Jul 25 '18 at 8:15

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