Rules at Café Besalu?

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This topic contains 45 replies, has 27 voices, and was last updated by  Dweezil 6 years, 5 months ago.

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    Is there a rule at Café Besalu (that half the patrons are not aware of) where you must have your food before sitting at a table? – or were we unwittingly in an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm?”

    Recently, I sat at a free table while my husband waited in line. I was accosted by two couples: the first of them finished in line and plopped down at my table without permission (edging me off onto the booth). The woman in the other couple (on the other side of me) called me rude for taking a table before I had my food (added detail: she and her husband had finished eating and were reading the newspaper). There were other people doing the same as us. Unfortunately, I didn’t have my fightin’ skills ready at the whip on that drowsy Sunday morning…for pete’s sakes.

    Feedback is appreciated before returning to the bakery battlefield.



    Normally it’s crowded and can be hard to get a table, but I am not aware of any rules beyond standard politeness. Unfortunately for us Ballarites, Yelp just posted their “Best of Seattle” restaurants with Paseo at number 1 and Besalu at number 2.

    Those of us that would prefer to keep these gems to ourselves are going to have to deal with foodies and hipsters coming from other neighborhoods and swelling the lines at these already crowded places.



    For me this comes under standard politeness, no posted rules needed. Since you are not waiting your turn after people who arrived before you, I would classify it as cutting in line. I will say, it’s not unique to Besalu.



    Ombudswoman – I was unaware of any such rules. However, in other casual cafes, I’ve had a similar thing happen to me. If I’ve grabbed seating while my companion gets in line to order, I’ve had my right to sit there challenged. But they just seemed mad that I was sitting at a table without having food/beverage in front of me, as opposed to my breaking the rules.

    I guess you can just be glad you weren’t dealing with them AFTER they’d exceeded their caffeine and/or sugar needs for the day. Still, it’s too bad that they were jerks to you.



    Yes, this is an unwritten rule. Sometimes the employees enforce, other times the patrons need to do the enforcing.

    In essence, the cafe is very, very busy. If everyone standing in line were to grab a table, folks ahead of them who already have their food would have nowhere to sit. But, if everyone waits until they have food/beverage before sitting at a table, it almost always works out that a table becomes available by the time they get their order. This is partially because it takes such a long time to get the food/coffee.

    Anyway, don’t take a table until you have your food (or your other is in the process of ordering it at the counter). And if it’s crowded, this is not the place to hang out for an hour chatting. Eat/drink and move on.



    It’s a rule. I have been going to Besalu at least once a week since 2001 — during the first full year the cafe was open. This has always been an source of conflict to my recollection and the policy has always been the same: you don’t earn the privileges of a customer simply by standing in line. You have the right to an inside seat on a space available basis and to reasonably linger once you have purchased food and/or coffee. The front counter staff will enforce the policy when it is brought to their attention.

    When a person in front of you waited their turn in line and buys their food or coffee, they have a right to enjoy the cafe and when they finish paying and turn around with a plate and cup they are planning to eat in. If people behind them in line have put their things down (or sat) at the last remaining table(s) is it fair that the person in front (who has already bought something) is put in the position of having to outside to eat or having to go back to the counter and get a to-go bag and cup? It is a matter of common sense and common courtesy.

    If you get up to the front and all of the tables are filled by people who have purchased coffee and/or pastries you have four options: 1) get your food to go, 2) sit at an outside table, 3) wait to see if someone is finishing momentarily (but the space is really too small to do that for more than a minute or two feasible) or 4) ask someone if you can join them. I have done option 1 on many occasions but you would be surprised how open people can be to #4 if you just ask nicely. I will sit outside in season infrequently.



    I think at any restaurant where there is a line and very few tables, it’s courteous to not take a seat until you have your food. Otherwise, people further up in line are going to get their food and have no where to sit. It’s also courteous to leave as soon as you’re done so people who just got their food have somewhere to sit.

    The Besalu staff might be the slowest, most inefficient crew I’ve ever encountered which surprises me because they are frequently busy. But maybe they are moving inefficiently on purpose like a metered on ramp to the highway.



    I would say the rude person in the above scenario is the one who called the patron rude for sitting down “too early” *gasp!*. They were already sitting (and done eating), what is it to them? Yeesh.



    What KS said. It may not be a rule, but it’s just common courtesy not to snag yourself a table ahead of other people who are waiting in line if it’s busy and there’s a shortage of tables. You are in essence butting in line. That’s rude.



    Yes, it is an unspoken “rule.” Look at it this way. If most people go in as couples or groups and snagged tables before their turn at the counter, a single person would never get to sit down.


    great idea

    isn’t the real problem that this is an “unwritten rule”?

    there are plenty of places where one person grabbing a table is the norm. pretty much every bar I have ever been in.

    maybe besalu should put up a sign? I only take-out from this place and find it a bit over-rated honestly.

    write it down already!



    Oops, it appears we might have been impolite. We’ll keep this mores in mind the next time we go out.


    Allison W

    I avoid doing that in busy places for the reasons outlined above. I wish people wouldn’t do it at El Camion. That said, it’s not the biggest crime ever.

    When I still downhill skiied on a regular basis, I was dating a guy whose kid had ski school, so we were at Crystal Mountain on the weekends a lot. What killed me is the parents (who I assume didn’t ski themselves) who would camp out all day in the lodge holding seats for their kids who were in lessons. Trying to reason with them was hopeless, even if you told them you’d be long gone before little Billy finished his lesson. One of the many strikes against lift-serviced skiing.



    Easy peasy solution to the Crystal Mt thing…eat in the bar.



    It is not just Besalu, not just Ballard, Seattle or WA. It is always rude to expect that people who were in line ahead of you, and have their food, eat standing up or wait for a table while you sit and wait for your turn to order food.

    I have often sat down at a table when someone is just sitting, not yet eating– at Besalu and in cafes on this coast and on the east coast.

    In Europe, you would have been expected to welcome me.



    Marigold: I equate telling someone they are being rude as the same as honking when they cut me off, or perhaps asking someone to stop smoking in a public place. Direct, sure. But not rude.

    No one likes to be told they’re doing something wrong, of course, and there are better and worse ways to do it, but it is not inherently rude or inappropriate.

    All those who complain about people being too passive-aggressive should rejoice that there are still people willing to approach someone and say what’s on their mind. (bonus points for doing so politely)

    Confidential to Smartsy: you’re welcome at my table!



    Grace is it’s own reward.



    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. I tend to agree with Great Idea, since (a little in our defense) we noticed about half the patrons sat at a table while another waited in line – so you felt as though if you didn’t sit pre-emptively, you’re losing out. Then you have the people in line giving the squatters the stink-eye, and they have no idea why. Then there are those getting everything to-go, so they don’t care about a table…

    My husband is actually Northern European, where they inhabit empty tables anywhere at any point and lounge there for four hours with one cup of coffee, so he was very surprised this was a rule. He even mentioned since the owners are European, they probably couldn’t care less about someone grabbing a table. (And I hate to say it, but he wouldn’t want you sitting as his table either, nor even approaching him. Quelle American! :) – which he’s getting used to and secretly loves.)

    All right, well – it’s not like this is a Ukraine/Russia situation, after all. Thanks, all! – see you at Besalu!

    PS: Anyone have a less-chaotic bakery/coffee shop suggestion?



    But this causes other problems. Like people who run in to grab a place in line while someone else parks the car, who then jumps ahead in line. If those in the party who show up later and, to be fair, must wait behind you, then does the person in their party who is ahead of you have to wait for his friends to finish ordering before they can grab a table?

    When it comes to seat yourself etiquette and waiting in line to order, I would rather have one person in line order for the whole party, instead of 4 in a group ordering individually. The line would move faster and people would be seated quicker. What you have now is a long line and lots of empty tables, versus short lines and full tables, I prefer the latter as waiting to order is more frustrating than waiting for a table.



    Has anyone been to Red Mill on the Ridge lately or Lil’s Woody’s? This doesn’t seem to be a problem at these joints. SOP as far as I can see.



    SOP? really? can’t we live without RULES and procedures and just be gracious with a smothering of common sense?

    Thanks GAM and you are always welcome to sit with me–and Lillie!

    Actually, anyone with their food/beverage and without a table is alway welcome to share my table.



    Smartsy that’s the door to communism, you communist!!!! Its attitudes like yours that encourage bear wrestling manly men like Putin to come in occupy all the seats and not by pastry!



    Ha, buy!



    LOL. The sniveling of overgrown children, (neo ballardites) never fails to amuse.


    great idea

    I love a good snivel, so maybe I will stop in soon.

    This whole thing could be resolved if the management would impose economic sanctions on customers who try to grab a seat w/o ordering first, say double-priced croissants.

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