Picture this, a reunion lunch on a Monday in Manhattan. A woman and her husband are meeting her mother after several months absence. They are meeting for a late lunch and so do not make a reservation. The restaurant is open straight through till dinner and is usually easy to get into after 1pm. The couple arrives first and are greeted by three hosts at the front door. The restaurant is clearing out after the lunch rush and while not empty, is certainly nowhere near full. The couple lets the hosts know that they are waiting for her mother, she's Japanese, and then settle down at an outside table to peruse the menu and wait, and wait, and wait. The woman calls her mother's cell phone repeatedly but there is no answer. Several people check in with the table and they politely decline to order food as they are still waiting for the third member of their party. An hour later they are slightly peeved, getting concerned, and starving. They order food for themselves and their absent family member in the hopes that she will eventually arrive. Another hour later they have finished their food and are contemplating going by her apartment, as there's still no answer at home or on the cell phone, to make sure everything is okay. They ask for a check and he makes a quick bathroom run. As he returns from the bathroom he sees the absent family member finishing up a solitary lunch at the bar. She is cranky and concerned and frustrated with her afternoon. Upon her slightly late arrival, she checked in at the host stand looking for her daughter and son in law and was told they must not be there yet. Somehow during the two-plus hours that they were there, no one from the hosts to the server to the sommelier/manager type person, who served wine and commiserated about the possible causes for the delay, made the connection between the solo woman at the bar looking for a couple and the couple on the patio waiting for a lady. Nobody was actually at fault, per se, still three afternoons were basically ruined by circumstances. This just reinforces my belief in the importance of pro-active customer service. Yes, they all should have looked for each other a bit harder and she forgot her cell phone, but it was almost comical to see the light bulbs going off over people's heads as they saw the two groups find each other. (She was sitting almost beside the host stand.) Sometimes the obvious is not so easy to find.