It happened last night -- a Baltimore dining story
At 8:45 last night, in one of Baltimore's fanciest restaurants, a woman with 8:30 reservations for a group of 10 asked the maitre d' when her party would be seated. He pointed out her table, and said it would be quickly reset as soon as the party then occupying it left. According to the employee, who told me this story, the seated party truly was in its finishing-up stages.
This employee also told me that he customarily goes into make-happy mode at about the 25-minute mark -- buying drinks for the waiting party, offering the seated party a nightcap if they relocate to the bar, a follow-up round of appetizers for the delayed party. That kind of thing.
But it didn't happen that way last night. The waiting woman entered the dining room, walked directly over to the party, and instructed them to vacate, pronto. The table was hers now, she told them.
Naturally, the table holders, who were within minutes of actually leaving, decided to squat for another 20 minutes. Not relevant to the story, but still funny -- the seated party's host was a sitting member in the Maryland House of Delegates.