Dear Locally Owned Wilmington Restaurant,
We are your customers. We like to eat in your establishment. We like the feeling of contributing to the local economy, supporting our friends in their endeavors, and eating food that doesn't come frozen off a truck that we can get in Anywhere, USA.
We also understand that because you are a locally owned place, you may, from time to time, close your doors to the public to have some kind of celebration for your staff, or have a wedding reception or a bat mitzvah, or some other private event to which we are not invited.
But since you ARE a public restaurant, and since we DO feel like a part of your community, please do not degrade us by making us walk into your place of business, expecting a warm welcome and a good meal, to be greeted instead by laughing, happy people, who tell us "Oh, sorry. This is a private party."
Do you not understand how that makes us feel? We are no longer customers. We have stumbled through the front door of someone's private home, where we are not welcome. It makes us feel embarrassed.
We would much rather get to the door to see a large sign that says "We're sorry! We're closed for a private party. Please join us tomorrow night for dinner, when we will resume regular service." Don't make us walk into your gathering to be laughed at by the in-crowd, who are there enjoying the dinner in which we wish someone had included us.
We know it's not your intention, but it's the effect. Tonight, we walked into one of our regular haunts, and were greeted by "Oh! Sorry! This is a private party!" That is the second place we've experienced this. We haven't returned to the first place it occurred, and we likely won't return to the second. You have probably just lost our business forever. Not because your service was bad, or your food wasn't good, but because you hurt our feelings and made us feel insignificant and unwelcome.
All of which could have been avoided with simple signage taped to the front door.