First off, I hold no opinions that I looked like someone with money last night. I had no idea the place was supposed to be upscale, I was wearing black pants, dress boots, and a stripy long sleeved shirt. I went to Sambuca to meet someone for a birthday party there. The friends I went with were still dressed for the wedding, so they fit the atmosphere a bit better than I did.
We arrived, met the birthday girl, and were seated at a table upstairs overlooking the stage in fairly nice seats. The leather-bound menus came out, I looked over them, and there were only 2 things a vegetarian could eat (should have guessed it at the leather bound menu bit). I asked the waiter if there was anything vegetarian on the menu other than a salad and a couple of side issues and he listed off a few things that could be special ordered, but I said I'd be easy and just get a salad for now and start off with a coke. My companions, stil a bit full on wedding foods, ordered a sampler.
The people on the other side of the table all ordered somethng, and we set about to the get party started.
A random man came over to the table, I guess he was the manager there, and informed the guy who had ordered the least (and was also dressed the nicest) that those tables on a Saturday night with a band playing had a $27 minimum per person. He was off before we got the story, and the birthday girl went to talk to the waiter and ask him what the deal was with why her guests were being hassled.
The waiter refused to talk to her for a good few minutes with her standing next to him at the order station. When that came out at the table a few minutes later, another one of her guests went and blocked the waiter in to where he had to talk to us after he had refused to make eye contact with anyone at the table for minutes and several trips, to force him to give us the check to date because we were going to leave. One person was given a check and the guy ran off with several others at the table just leaving cash. I wasn't angry at the waiter, so I left the money for my coke and went to find him and said
"Hey man, we're out of here, think your manager chased us off because he thought he wasn't going to make money on us... the salad I had ordered, are you going to have any problem canceling it?"
His response indicated that it hadn't even been put in as an order. I said aight, gotcha and left. Definately knew where I was not wanted. I think the table had been reclaimed before we even got to the door.
$27 - now, here's the thing... my guess is in drink sales alone to us, well, one or two people would have been a bit behind on that, but the table would have made up for it. The waiter was in line for a decent tip - perhaps not Sambuca-good, but not enough to treat us like we didn't matter. I wasn't being cheap on the food, they just don't cater to vegetarians. Of all the people there I think I'm the only one at the table who looked like they didn't belong, everyone else was dressed nicely. And had we suddenly not been thrown into have the waiter refuse to talk to us, we would have been able to work things out.
We walked out, went next door to Ru-Sans, and as I am told, more than made up for our missed birthday dinner at Sumbuca.
I guess at this point in the narative I should probably reveal the twist that gives the slap in the face to their economic assumptions of the table, but nah, that would be fighting snobbery on its own grounds.. short of it is we were treated badly at a birthday party there. And if you're going to attempt to impose a random fee or minimum, as pretty much any state law requires, put it in writing somewhere, and also don't go passive-agressive avoider when someone tries to just question you about it.
If they had just talked to anyone after the table had some questions - um, we might still have left, who knows... but we would have left not knowing that they just wanted us gone so they could fill the space with bodies with $ signs tattooed prominantly on their ass.