Choosing The Safest Place To Sit In A Restaurant Or Public Place

Four guidelines when choosing the safest place to sit in a restaurant or other public place:


Situational awareness requires that you SEE what’s going on. Pick a seat where you can see other people to observe their behavior and demeanor. Try not to sit where someone can come up behind you.


Whether choosing a seat at a table, a movie theater, or anywhere with a row of seats, sit close to the aisle. This will allow you to get out quickly and less likely to be become slowed during an emergency situation.


Know where the entrances and exits are, and sit near one of them if possible. This will enable quick egress during an emergency. That said, don’t seat yourself closest to the entrance – which is an immediate point of focus.


If sitting at a restaurant table with a bench style seat or U-shaped seat, sit on the end. When the group is being seated simply allow others to slide in before you and take up the end…


If you quickly visualize an emergency scenario, not only will it help you choose where to sit, but IF an emergency actually takes place you will be less likely to freeze up. You will be more likely to remain relatively calm and make the right decisions. Take a moment to think it through as you enter the establishment. Where applicable request a specific table that seems best to you.

The Law of Self Defense

Here’s a good example how a restaurant full of people froze during a shooting scenario, while two people did the right thing.

Related article with additional opinion:
How To Choose The Best Safest Seat In A Restaurant Or Public Place

Other than not being in a public place at all, what are your suggestions or opinions about the safest place to sit in public places like a restaurant (or other)?


  1. I do these things, but with several recent incidents we never sit close to a window where a car can crash through from parking lot or street due to cars crashing through.

      1. is the thing.with all we have to worry about I don’t really think about seating. More thinking about my accuracy at the range should the need arise

    1. Totally agree because sometimes people hit the gas instead of the brake and crashed through a window

  2. We also follow these quildlines, with one slight variation to sitting near an exit. You don’t want to be the closest one to the exit door. If someone should come through that door armed with bad intentions, you don’t want to be the first one they see. If you are the second closest you have time to act while the perp is hopefully focused on the person nearest them.

  3. My husband has been driving me crazy for the last 20 years doing this, including a few restaurant hostess as well. He always says its worked for the last 20 years why change now.

  4. I also try to sit with my right hip blocked from view of as many people as possible, just in case my CC imprints through my shirt. This is not just for restaurants though.

  5. I always try to sit facing the entrance.
    I also observe where the exits are.
    I always try to identify other patrons who appear to be armed.
    You get to know the signs>

    1. With you on all or these tango , works for me too .Be prepared and ready . Keep your powder dry .

  6. Peanut Gallery, your point of not being the closest to the entrance, made a big point on the news today.

    the incident where fired worker went back in with huge knife and beheaded someone inside, the statement was made…

    “he did not pick anyone in particular. He just picked the closest person to the door”..

    good advice, Peanut Gallery.

  7. My thought on this is it probably isn’t 100% essential where in the building you are located, or what areas of the building you can watch. A lot of good points were brought up here stating the advantages/disadvantages of the different locations (let’s not forget the disgruntled employee scenario coming out of an unexpected part of the building’s employee-only interior while you’re busy watching the other customers and main entrance).

    I think its more important to be watching and listening to people’s behavior and the reactions of those around them. Has the tone and volume of someone’s voice suddenly changed? Is there a person in the crowd that is sitting or standing quietly and seems completely disconnected with what is going on around them? Did someone just walk in wearing dark sunglasses and a jacket with a hood up over his head although it is a warm summer night? When someone is about to get stupid, they usually send some signals first.

    I also think it is very important to be seated in a position where you can get to your feet quickly and start moving. Being seated with your back to the wall and near (or far, whichever you like) from the entrance may do you no good if you are tucked into a booth, or are seated in a chair with arm rests. These will rob you of reaction time.

    Of course, being in a good vantage point is always helpful and I certainly don’t discount that, but it is not always possible so I’ve learned to rely on these other considerations.

  8. EATING AT HOME is a good choice but if we choose to eat out we like to sit facing as many people as possible with our back to wall and always CC.

    1. I hate restaurants due to the number of strangers in the environment. I look at the group composition. This is not a race thing as most families with minor children get a score of zero as in zero threat. It is the groups of adults or teens as in groups of males, a lone guy, a group of two men and one woman that could lead to testosterone competition issues. Old people get a pass. I feel my life spinning out of control so I try to avoid places where control is compromised. Some young girls are just as violent as the boys so even mixed groups of young people are of concern. I also am concerned about food poisoning accidental or otherwise. Too many media reports of staff adding body fluids to the meal, so I skip most restaurants and prefer my own kitchen.

  9. I always try to sit in view of the entrance, near a wall, and take note of exits. Although, when your with family/children these choices become more difficult. Do you need to get everyone out?(1st choice), provide/take cover, stand your ground and fight? Every situation is different. Being with loved ones complicates the actions you must take! You must be alert at all times!

  10. No comments about the pros and cons of ducking under the table if you can’t get to the exit safely?

  11. I have been doing this since I was a teenager. I always walk with my girlfriend/wife to the inside of the road and me closest the danger of the road as well as passing strangers. In a restaurant it falls under the same heading where I will always sit with myself between my family and danger. I try to keep my back to the least dangerous section as I approach my seat but my main concern is my companion(s). I will make every effort to get them to safety in an emergency but I don’t want to have to climb over them to defend them from an attacking lunatic.

    I think the sequence goes like this: first identify the locations of the exits where you are and don’t forget the kitchen in a restaurant. Second take a seat that allows you to be as far away from the main exit but closer to a secondary exit. (the chances are that whoever comes storming into the place hellbent on getting control of the place is going to set themselves up in the middle of the room). And third take a seat that allows yourself to see the rest of the room and so you don’t have to climb over anyone if you have to move in a hurry. (and with this you should play it off as chivalry and not disaster prep). The final step is when you sit down to identify the possible threats or allies on the room. If you do these four things every time that you go out it will become normal practice and you won’t look like the paraprepper in the corner.

  12. Don’t forget the bathroom, if someone is planning harm they could go into the bathroom to prep for their mayhem and come out gunning. Watch the bathrooms!

  13. Very good stuff in this article. I’ve been doing all of these things for years due to my years working in prisons. A thought occurred to me while reading this. Has anybody thought of carrying a laser light on their key ring. The thought would be a blinding distraction when put into a potential assailants eyes giving you time to evade or engage. Could also be helpful in a movie theater situation. Although could make you a target as well. Any thoughts. P.S. love this web site

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