The Golden Table

Last night Channel 4 aired their “Secrets of the Restaurant Trade” and one of the secrets they revealed was “The Golden Table” in restaurants.

Restarant table setting

The documentary states that every restaurant has a “golden table” where they will seat their best looking customers as this will entice more customers to come in. The idea is that this special table is in a prominent  place in the restaurant where the people sitting there can be seen by the other diners. Celebrity Chef Simon Rimmer who is one of the hosts of the programme says “A restaurant’s clientele give off a certain message about the place. Good-looking customers attract more people and make you more cash, so you sit them where they can be seen.

The programme then carried out an experiment to prove this by having two glamorous models enter three different top end restaurants to get a table. They were then followed by another of the show presenters Adam Pearson who suffers from neurofibromatosis which has left his face covered in non cancerous tumours with another diner. In each of the examples the cameras did not follow the models or presenters in to the restaurant, so it was difficult to see where the golden tables actually were.

In the first restaurant the two models were seated in the middle of the restaurant by a food display, whilst Adam and his partner were seated in the corner. Were the models seated at the golden table for this restaurant?

In the second restaurant the two models entered a restaurant that was relatively quiet and they were able to choose their own table – they chose to sit by the window. When Adam and his partner entered the restaurant they were kept waiting for 6 minutes, they left and then were persuaded to return by the producer. When they re-entered they were seated at the back of the restaurant. As the restaurant was so quiet it would have been interesting to see what would have happened if they had requested to sit in the window.

In the third restaurant this was very busy and there were no tables available – the two models were sat at the bar. Is sitting at the bar really a golden table? As soon as they left Adam and his partner entered and they were turned away as the restaurant was full.

Not the most scientific of experiments. The usual practice is to fill a restaurant by seating diners in the window first so the restaurant looks busy from the outside. The golden table may well be a window table although this all depends on the layout of the restaurant. However the point they were trying to prove is that good looking customers get preferential treatment over other customers. Are restaurants really this discriminatory? Unfortunately the hospitality industry has never been very good at inclusion. It used to be that the staff were recruited on their looks, rather than their abilities, and now this programme is saying that restaurants select their diners on their looks too – has the hospitality industry really got this vain?