We had a great afternoon this past weekend celebrating a friend’s birthday on the Plaza in Kansas City. We’ve done this previously, returning to the Plaza for his birthday for the first time in two years. Following a late lunch, we returned for drinks to the same “upscale” restaurant we visited last time. Notice that our “return” suggests it’s becoming a tradition, spending time on their patio on a beautiful August day.

Mid-afternoon, having already been seated, the waiter informed us that if we didn’t order food, we’d have to move. The reason? Because we’d been seated in an area reserved only for people ordering food. This after the greeter hadn’t inquired about our planned order. (We’ve run into similar situations there before though, with the restaurant refusing to serve its Happy Hour menu on the patio, forcing you inside if you weren’t ordering off the main menu.) When asked, the greeter informed us that if we ordered appetizers, we could stay where we were seated. We elected to order some food, although we’d just eaten, and there’s essentially nothing on the menu (other than dessert) that my wife can eat.

Later, the person that seated us (and had told us to seek him out if we needed anything) came around to ask how things were. I told him matter of factly that everything was fine once we were coerced into ordering food. He expressed surprise that the waiter would have hassled us over this issue mid-afternoon, clearly outside of peak time, when the patio was half full. He ultimately made the waiter come over and apologize, saying he’d been misdirected by the restaurant manager to say something to us originally. Yet at the same time, someone near us was being told the same policy. For our trouble, they comped us a couple of desserts.

The end result was that the restaurant was successful in driving a lot more revenue from our table – that day. Long term, I doubt it will be part of any traditions for us, because the pain of dealing with their elitist crap seating policy tarnishes the view from its patio location.