In the F&B world where seats are scarce and non-paying customers are an opportunity cost, eateries face the challenge of managing patrons and incoming reservations, especially during peak periods such as weekends.
One cafe in Westgate tried to strike that delicate balance of ensuring that all paying patrons are treated fairly, but a complaint has since been posted to Facebook on Dec. 6 about how the business went about it.According to the post, the customer, a mother with a baby, was allegedly asked to finish up her beverage quickly and leave the cafe.
Being asked to make space for incoming reservations
According to the Facebook post by Shu Ern Yeo, she wrote that she was taking up two seats at an eight-seat table with her baby, while another diner was sitting alone at the other end of the same table at Style by Style Vibes Cafe.
Yeo said that a staff member then approached her to ask if she is ordering lunch.
Yeo replied that she had already ordered a drink.
According to Yeo, the staff member, who is apparently the cafe owner, then told her that she must order some food in order to occupy two seats.
Seeing that the cafe still appeared rather empty, Yeo said that she would move away if there were more people coming in.
However, Yeo wrote that the owner allegedly got irritated and told her that it is the “company policy" and that "they had the right to ask me to move as they are running a business and have to pay rent”.
Yeo added that she tried to accommodate the demand and occupy one seat as she wanted to attend to her fussing child, but the owner continued to "harass" her and repeated the point on his "company policy".
Yeo later managed to finish feeding her child as her husband came back and took over to speak to the owner.
She added that she felt that she was "singled out" as there were other customers who took up more than one seat, despite having only drinks on their table.
Moreover, Yeo also claimed to be a regular customer who visited the cafe on a weekly basis.
In her account, she also described the owner's attitude as "condescending" and "rude" in the communication process.
Cafe "saddened" by Yeo's feedback, company policy has been well-received
Style by Style Vibes Cafe left a comment on Yeo's post four hours later at around 8:50pm.
The cafe wrote that they were "saddened" by Yeo's feedback and that she came in during their peak hour at around 12:15pm when they were expecting customers who had made reservations, beside walk-in patrons.
The cafe responded to Yeo's version of events and said that she had ignored their question about whether she was having lunch at the cafe.
They recalled Yeo's response to be: "Can't you see I am feeding my baby … get out of my way until I finished", as well as " There are so many seats around that nobody is sitting..."
The cafe admitted that they asked Yeo to occupy just one seat as they were expecting more customers coming in.
When the cafe owner explained the cafe's policy to Yeo's husband, he appeared understanding and remarked that they hope to be treated fairly, which the owner agreed and shared that they appreciate every customer who patronised the cafe.
The cafe expressed appreciation towards Yeo's support, but added that different F&B outlets have their respective seating policies to manage a crowd.
These measures include how some will have their customers wait for their seats to be assigned before entering the shop, while others may set a limit to dining time.
The cafe's policy allows customers to choose their seats, but during peak hours, the cafe will have to manage the seating arrangement with the incoming ones in mind.
The comment also mentioned that the customers have no qualms with the way they manage seating arrangement so far.
Here's the full response from Style by Style Vibes Cafe: