Last month, while planning a big family dinner in New York, we were asked to sign a contract with the restaurant. Not only did we have to agree to pay a fairly large chunk of change if we bailed on the reservation for any reason, but we also had to accept a fairly small (microscopic, really) choice of menu items. We were — and are — of two minds.
On one hand, we can absolutely see the logic: No one wants to prep for a large party at dinner and then get stood up. We’ve worked in restaurants and know just how disappointing and financially painful that can be. On the other hand, we think it’s a little (or maybe a lot) unfair. After all, don’t we take a big chance every time we eat at a restaurant?
When we really think about it, any number of instances come to mind where we paid a hefty sum for what should have been a truly wonderful dinner. But it wasn’t. Maybe we had to wait quite a while, despite having made a reservation — and been on time for it. Maybe the server was slightly surly, or the sommelier particularly patronizing. Maybe they were out of the one dish (or several) we so, so wanted. Maybe the food simply wasn’t that great.
We still paid the bill. We had no contract saying the restaurateur would repay US for our lost evening (not to mention the cash).
Have you ever signed a contract with a restaurant? Would you? Do they make sense to you, or do they just make you want to scream? Restaurant contracts: love ’em or hate ’em?
We’d love to hear your comments.