It's bad enough to be all dressed up with nowhere to go, let alone be all dressed up for a date who’s a no-show.
It could be the woman in the corner booth whose Lemon Drop tastes more bitter with every glance at her watch. Or perhaps it's the man at the bar who loosens his tie with every check of his iPhone. Either way, not only is this a sticky situation for the person on the receiving end, it’s a potentially stickier situation for the restaurant staff witnessing it firsthand.
"It’s definitely a potentially awkward moment for the guest when they realize that their date is not coming, either while waiting at the table or at the bar,” says Sam Lipp, General Manager of New York's Union Square Café.
"It can seem like an obligatory order to get a drink while waiting for a date to arrive, and we know it might not be wanted once the diner realizes their companion is not coming. Through reading body language, we are usually able to figure this out and will tell the guest it’s on us."
In fact, most front-of-house employees we spoke to, including maître d’ Allen Stafford of Elsewhere Restaurant in New York City, agreed a bit of liquid courage can help heal a bruised ego.
“I generally encourage them to order something to drink. As their companion becomes later, I encourage them to have a bite if they'd like to stay. Surely their companion will understand, given how long they've waited." says Stafford.
"I keep the check printed for a quick exit, and I generally buy them a glass of wine if they have had one."
Along with the good spirits, others say you just have to make the best of a bad situation.
“Face it, people do what they want to do, and if he knew that he had a date with $1 million cash that Friday night, there’s not a chance in hell he’d leave it sitting along at a restaurant drinking a glass of Merlot,” Sucks and the City blogger Joanne Kimes writes in her book Dating Sucks: What to Do When Your Love Life Makes You Miserable.
“But the most important lesson learned is that, even if you are stood up, you can still enjoy the pleasure of your own company. Movies are still entertaining, food still tastes delicious and wine is just as soothing.”
When a recent date decided not to show up, Matt Kirouac of Chicago embraced that point of view and didn't turn his evening into a pity party. He stayed and ate, referring to the braised pork with vanilla mashed sweet potatoes as his "substitute friend for the evening."
"The last thing I want is to seem to pity them. I try to make dinner for one a lovely adventure. I try to make sure to engage them in conversation, as a bartender would, so they don't feel alone," agrees Stafford.
"And if the companion really does arrive after they have gone, I say, 'Oh, that person was here, but left. With someone much better looking than you.' Okay, not really - but once I offered to say so."
And just because you were stood up doesn't mean you should stand down from the prospect of romance, as Gina Pogol of Reno, Nevada, learned.
Pogol had the misfortune of being stood up on New Year's at a local Mexican restaurant in nearby Incline Village, Nevada. When she informed her waitress what had happened, the waitress invited Gina to join her and some friends at a party after their shift.
Gina obliged, and met her current husband there - they've been together 15 years.
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