Lois Vidaver: Coats are the losers when eateries remodel - The Buffalo News

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Lois Vidaver: Coats are the losers when eateries remodel

With fall here and winter coming, here’s the dilemma: Where do we put our coats? For those of us who like a meal out, that is a very timely question.

Last year I was disappointed to discover that when our favorite breakfast restaurant altered its space, they remodeled the coat rack out of existence. Eating there once a month with a group of friends, we used that rack so much that we often brought in our own hangers when we realized the management ran short. It also had a rack above for our hats and scarves, which, when the winter winds blow, many of us wear.

We live and work, after all, in Buffalo. You know, the land of the arctic breezes, where snow flies in the air and ice forms underfoot and people actually wear COATS?

One day, after the remodeling, when four of us were comfortably seated in one of their booths, I realized that there was no room left for my outer jacket. I waved a server down. “Where can I put my coat?” I asked. He began looking for an alternative.

“Put it on the chair across from me,” the man sitting at the next table suggested. “It will make me feel like my Mary is sitting there,” he added, wistfully. The server, relieved, complied and I thanked the man for his thoughtfulness. I said a silent prayer for him and his missing companion.

Speaking to the manager later, we pointed out the spot where the coat rack used to be. In that spot now is a picture. Could he not replace it with the rack? Well, no, said he, “corporate” insisted on the new decor.

The next restaurant we went to also did not have a place for coats. After we were seated in our for-two-only booth (a cozy size), I realized the only place for my coat to fit might be under the seat on the floor. I looked under the seat. No space. Again, I called over the server, “Where can I put my coat?” I asked. He transferred it to a four-seater.

We were crammed into a two-seater; my coat was sprawled comfortably in a four-seater. This did not add up, so we shoved my coat into a corner and joined it for a much more comfortable meal.

The last restaurant experience was breakfast (of course!) in a pancake house. It, too, has been remodeled (restaurants, let’s face it, do very well in Western New York) and again, the coat rack, the roomiest one we have ever encountered, had disappeared.

The manager explained that it made way for a mural depicting the farmstead of the restaurant’s founder. Is the artwork of rolling farm lands really more important than the comfort of its customers? This place has installed hooks on the end of the booths. Perhaps they will work, perhaps not.

Somehow, they may prove inadequate for the long wool coat I wear for after-church brunches.

What to do? One solution is simply not to frequent these restaurants. But that’s not possible because it’s hard to find one that has coat closets anymore. Should we start signing petitions, because certainly other people are not wild about sitting in restaurants wearing their cold, clammy outer clothing, are they?

Maybe the answer is to get a bigger booth or table than we need just to pile on our coats, scarves and hats. Yes, that is the solution, now that I think about it. When the server asks, “How many?” I will say, “There are four people and four coats but the coats can double up. Six seats, please.”

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