I have a question and a comment for The Professionals:
I sometimes eat at restaurants at slow times such as mid-afternoon. It may be a really late lunch or an early dinner, but typically the dining room is almost empty. If there is another person or couple already seated, the host will ALWAYS seat me in the adjacent table in the chair closest to them! Why is this? I had this happen recently in Los Alamos, NM while traveling. I stopped at a restaurant that had three distinct dining areas. The host took me into one area that was empty except for a family of four (two small children) and showed me the table immediately adjacent to them, so that I would be sitting two feet away from fidgeting youngsters in an otherwise empty room. I asked for another table.
I already know the answer and that is that it makes the server's job easier to have customers close together, but it is a very uncomfortable experience. I know it is uncomfortable for others too as I will see a couple having an intimate conversation in the deserted dining room and then all of the sudden a stranger (me) is seated in their laps and all conversation either halts or moves on to trivial matters. It's also awkward to ask for another table because the seated people feel insulted that you don't want to sit near them (and relieved at the same time that you aren't).
My comment to The Professionals is to not to follow this practice. You don't have to put people in far corners like prize fighters but a little space between patrons until the room fills up would be much appreciated.