Why you sit where you sit

There's nothing worse than when a walk-in table wants to eat here and I have to tell them we don't have any tables, even when they can see some empty ones. Or when we only have two tables seated and one of them wants to move and I can't let them. It's always a bummer, but it's the drawback of having a small restaurant: the invisible tyranny of the seating chart.

Take a look at this thing. It's our seating chart by the time we get done with it at the end of the evening. I never knew so much of my time would be spent figuring out who's sitting where. It occupies my brain all day long. It eats at me and wakes me up in the middle of the night. Because it is my cruel lord and master. And it is the answer to the constant question: why do you sit where you sit at Dirt Candy?

The true riddle of the sphinx: why am

I sitting here instead of over there?

Let's pretend. You come in at 6pm and you're a two top, and you're sitting by the bathroom. There is literally no one else in the restaurant and you ask to move. I say no and give a weak smile that says, "Please don't hurt me. It's the 9:30 table you have to blame." Here's why:

Everything in the restaurant is based on tables that are booked and that can't move: a six top (which takes up most of the banquette) or even a four top (which has to go at either end of the banquette). I schedule in those tables and then, each night, I try to arrange the dining room around them. And since I seat the dining room three times, tables wind up falling into slots. So a 5:30 table will be reseated at 7:30 and 9:30. A 6pm table will be reseated at 8pm and 10pm.

Back to the game of make believe: you want to move your 6pm table and I've just said "no" (very nicely!) and you're hurt and confused. But consider: you're in the 6/8/10 slot, so you have to stay on the tables that will turn over at those intervals. I can't give you tables with the interval of 6:30/8:30/10:30 and I can't give you tables with intervals of 5:30/7:30/9:30 or else I'll lose a seating. But can't you move over to the wall? No, because those are held for three tops and I've almost always got three tops coming in for them. If I sit a three top on the banquette, they take up four seats (two tables for two pushed together) and if I've got a big party coming in later (and very often I do) then I can't take up two tables for three people and lose that seat. I need to have that seat free for later.

Your head? Is it exploding yet?

Often I'll sit a table and they'll be confused by why they can't move to another location in a nearly-empty dining room. What they often don't notice is that as they eat the dining room fills up around them, tables clicking into place like a game of Tetris. I make mistakes, things don't always work as planned, and I get cancellations. Once a table cancels I'm screwed because I have to plan the dining room as if everyone's going to show up. A table cancels and all that planning goes out the window. That 6pm table could have moved, we didn't need to keep all our two tops on the banquette, the 5:45 table didn't have to sit by the door.

Oh look, the 6:30 table just arrived.

So just realize that there's a method to the madness, and if you want your head to hurt I'm always happy to describe the situation to you. And if you cancel? Then realize that you may very well be evil and now the entire dining room probably hates you.