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April 9, 2018

Restaurant complaints? Chef Ramsay has found one or two things to grumble about in Kitchen Nightmares. What are your pet peeves when dining out? Pic: Kitchen Nightmares.

Tables too close together tops the list of Scottish diners’ most common restaurant complaints.

From dirty glasses to over-attentive staff, there are plenty of things which grind our gears when it comes to dining out.

However, according to a survey, tables which are too close together are the worst offender.

We asked 500 dining customers about their most common restaurant complaints and almost 80% of those surveyed selected tables too close together as their pet peeve.

One even commented that of all the possible restaurant complaints, tables too close together are a 'disaster'.

Restaurant complaints: tables too close

Certainly nobody wants to do much in the way of squeezing out of the way when navigating a route to the bathrooms.

Equally, it is not much fun being forced to listen in to someone else's conversation. Unless, of course, they just happen to be a famous horse trainer with a sure-fire tip for the Grand National.

The trend for packing in diners has a number of causes. Obviously, there are sound financial reasons. Restaurateurs would rather be able to seat 50 paying customers than 30.

However, it is not just about the money. The restaurant scene has changed beyond recognition in the last few decades.

Over the last thirty or so years, there has also been a democratisation of dining habits. It is almost unthinkable now but, for most people, until well into the Eighties, dining out was usually reserved for special occasions.

Around about the start of the Nineties, eating out started to become a lot less formal. Heavy cutlery, starched white tablecloths and a snooty sommelier began to look very outdated.

Customers wanted restaurants that provided more of a fast paced, lively, sociable experience. Placing tables more closely together was part of that.

Sociable dining

Ronnie Somerville, founder of, said: 'Restaurant tables placed close together can contribute to a buzzy, sociable dining experience, and can even result in diners making a new friend at the table beside them as they chat over a glass of wine.'

'However, it seems Scottish restaurant goers prefer their personal space. Maybe they want to focus on their food instead of being distracted by the conversation at the table beside them. Or maybe they simply feel they’ve got enough friends.'

While personal space is paramount for diners, there are plenty of annoyances.

Unruly children in a restaurant and charging for extras were also among the most common restaurant complaints with, respectively, 62% and 54% of participants picking them.

Using fancy words to describe a dish riled a mere 11% of diners. Which may come as a surprise to anyone who has scratched their heads over words such as 'ballotine' or 'smashed'.

Two stats underlined that serving staff have a difficult job which involves a careful balancing act in more ways than one.

Under-attentive waiting staff would push the buttons of 63% of people surveyed. Overly attentive waiting staff topped the list of restaurant complaints for 36% of respondents.

Dining pet peeves from most annoying to least

Tables too close together

Dirty glass

Unruly children in a restaurant

Under attentive waiting staff

Charging for extras

Waiting staff taking your plate away before you finished

Over attentive waiting staff

Fancy words on menu to describe food