During a very difficult service on a cold January evening years ago, we found ourselves very short of dining tables in the warmth and cosiness of our Dining Room. The next morning I set about rearranging the tables to create more space. Through trial and error, we managed to accommodate 72 covers where only 56 could sit previously. As I stood back to admire the row of romantic looking tables-for-two along the window (overlooking the waterfall), I recounted to the waiters a situation I was reminded of during a Lunch at The Savoy Hotel’s iconic River Room...
.... On arrival, my host shook hands with the Manager on reception and passed him a rather substantial tip while politely requesting a table by one of the main windows. Gracefully accepting the generous incentive, the Manager glanced at his diary and loudly announced as if to an old friend “Aahh Mr. Cooper; long time no see.” This was quite amusing as he had never been before. Swiftly we were lead into the famous dining room where the ritual was repeated with our Head Waiter. Graciously he promptly offered a chair at one of the highly-coveted window tables and proclaimed; “Mr. Cooper... your usual table!”
Later that evening as I stood surveying our readiness for service, I watched two very tall Australian tourists who had obviously wandered in for the first time out of curiosity and couldn’t decide whether to stay or move on. Immediately they were greeted enthusiastically by one of my smallest waiters; “Namaste Gentlemen... Long time no see!”
Humoured by his remark they browsed the menu and ventured in further to have a look around. With seating for 300 covers available, the wily waiter urged them to just enjoy a beer at any table of their choosing... in the garden... in the bar... in the dining room.... or perhaps on the terrace. Eventually they relented and chose - quite randomly - a table outside on the terrace.
“Aahh,” he said pulling out a chair for them, “your usual table.”
(And over the next three nights of their vacation, it was.)