Choosing Safest Place to Sit in a Public Place

Here are several guidelines when choosing the safest place to sit when it comes to your personal security. Maybe in a restaurant, or any other public place where you need to choose a seat.

Why does it matter? We’re living through a period in time filled with real threats. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to a restaurant, a public meeting of some sort, church, or wherever else. The fact is that there are some very bad people out there. If you are unlucky enough to be caught in a place where one or more of them begin to cause trouble (or worse), you better have thought out a basic plan ahead of time. Do it for your own safety and security.

Tip: Whenever you enter a place, take a moment and plan. Look for other exits. Did you know that most everyone, when panicked, will leave by whatever entrance they came in? It’s fact…

Ideally (but not always possible) you may consider the following places to sit for better personal safety and security.


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 be 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 main entrance – which is an immediate point of focus (and where most people will flock to while trying to get out). Remember that the kitchen has an exit too.


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 upon entrance, 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.

A few more thoughts on your situational awareness for better safety and security in these environments:

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 ‘loco’, 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 might 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.

This is not being unreasonable. Rather, it’s common sense during these uncertain times.

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

[ Read: Correct Decisions From Situational Awareness ]

Another related article that I wrote since the original publication of this one:

[ Read: How To Choose The Best Safest Seat In A Restaurant Or Public Place ]

A very good and informative read if you happen to carry… Also very eye opening and extremely important information form the perspective on an attorney (self defense).

The Law of Self Defense

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

      2. – On October 16, 1991, 35-year-old George Hennard, an unemployed former merchant seaman, drove a blue 1987 Ford Ranger pickup truck through the plate-glass front window of a Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, shot and killed 23 people and injured 27 more. It happens. I was there earlier that evening.

        – Papa S.

        1. – On October 16, 1991, 35-year-old George Hennard, an unemployed former merchant seaman, drove a blue 1987 Ford Ranger pickup truck through the plate-glass front window of a Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, Texas, shot and killed 23 people and injured 27 more. It happens. I was there earlier that day for lunch.

          – Papa S.

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

  2. We also follow these guidelines, 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. I also prefer to sit where I can see my vehicle in the parking lot.

  7. I always pick a chair that gives me the best view to the front door.

  8. 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.

  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. This is just my thoughts.

    If I am so worried about being attacked at dinner I’m not going out. I use situational awareness at all times but I’m not going to start my evening with my family by trying to figure out when I walk in a building who is coming to kill me or who I may have to kill. Kinda puts a little damper on the fun for me. Sit with your back to a wall… sure. Watch who comes in… always. Start running scenarios about some worse case situation… not gonna happen. I think the old saying was “don’t borrow trouble”

    1. poorman
      I’m not that worried about someone trying to kill me. I just don’t like the crowds, or most of the overpriced food.

      As “Old Remus” said, “Stay away from crowds,” So, I do as much as possible. Hate someone walking close behind me, can’t stand that.

      1. SMG

        Right there with you on crowds and people to close behind me (gives me chills thinking about it)

    1. Nobody really,,
      We do have one spot that we like to get takeout from once in a while though

  14. WAY higher probability of getting very sick or dying from a restaurant that has dirty/bad kitchen sanitation/Old food. As a former food salesman, look for dirty restrooms, grubby exteriors, or just messy interiors are all clues to dirty kitchens and bad habits. Stay away from “specials” as this is usually old food they are trying to get rid of. In my sales area, Mexican restaurants were usually consistently some of the cleanest. Restaurants that were popular with the older folks were some of the worst. If the place has dirty bathrooms (not just some towels on the floor but like it just hasn’t been cleaned well daily-you can tell) LEAVE NOW!

  15. I do try to watch for certain people that walk in a place, fiddle around with some merchandise in an uninterested manner, leave and come back it. This makes me edgy and ready. I reposition, put my hand on my little pistol and usually walk out. I will pick my battles and if I can help it, will not allow them to pick me. I never open carry.

    1. Though I support someone’s right to open carry, I never open carry in public. For the same reason I keep my money out of sight and not hanging out of the top of my shirt pocket. It makes you a target for any bad guy as they will most likely put you down first and it also exposes you have a firearm to be taken.

      A few weeks ago I was standing in line at the grocery store behind a man that was open carrying in a retention holster. While he had his hand on the shopping cart or unloading it I could have easily pulled his weapon and he wouldn’t know it until its too late. Somethings are better left to wonder and concealment works in your favor not the bad guys.

    2. One of the hardest things, at least for me, to get used to as a young officer was being stared at everywhere you went in uniform no matter where you were or what the circumstances. Walk into a restaurant…every head looking up, eyes following every move you made.

      Most everybody here knows I am a strong advocate of the second amendment. I’m not against open carry, but I’ve never advocated it. I hear some folks talk about being “the grey man” then later speak of how they open carry in public. I guess, should open carry become the norm, one’s “greyness” might increase, but I myself still wouldn’t.

      I carry concealed 24/7. I assume that a good number of my fellow shoppers when I’m at Wally’s are too. Doesn’t bother me. In fact, I’m glad that I have the company. I don’t need or want the attention that comes with open carrying in town.

      Since my state passed constitutional and open carry awhile back, I’ve seen one man open carry on one occasion in town. I see it quite often out here in the country (boonies) where I live, normally friends and neighbors going down the roads on their 4-wheelers and side x sides and it doesn’t raise an eyebrow….time and location makes a big difference.

      1. I try to take the grey thing as far as possible even to the point of making sure everything i wear is just run o the mill work clothes. No camo anything and no militaryish anything. Completely forgettable.

        1. Kula,

          Most deer hunters are big on wearing camo, even argue over which camo pattern is best. Camo has even become a fashion statement fr many who will put on fresh camo for trips to the stores.

          As an experiment, I once dressed in all gray sweats and hit the woods to hunt deer…still hunting, moving stealthily through the woods…more time just standing still than moving…scanning for deer as I went. Spotted four does about fifty yards away munching on leaves and buds. I was able to approach them to within less than 15 yards before they became aware of my presence, but even then they failed to figure out I was a danger (I was hunting into the wind). I took the youngest doe with a round patched ball out of the .45 caliber percussion Kentucky Long Rifle I had built from a kit.

          Since then, I rarely wear camo when hunting. That said, I guess that when it involves humans hunting humans, camo is probably a good thing.

        2. Dennis,
          I think it was on WRSA a meme
          The best camo pattern is sit down and shut up!
          Your grandfather hunted in a red plaid coat.

  16. I think grey is the best color to use for concealment, regardless of the situation, or location, or why you need to be harder to see…or notice.

    I remember being engaged in a war game in mountainous terrain. I was really trying hard to see signs of the enemy, up and down hill, as I moved along a fire road, hugging the cut side, thinking I was “seeing everything.” Then, an enemy soldier moved his hand to scratch his nose, and it was as if he had just magically appeared out of thin air, standing in front of a huge tree, his entire body in full sight. The soldier wasn’t even trying to hide, just leaning against the tree, resting. He was in a dull grey uniform and hat, but all of his gear was black leather. To me, he had been absolutely invisible…until he moved. Even though he was only 20 yards away.

    Once I noticed the guy, I could not believe I didn’t “see” him before, as he was so damned obvious!

    Wearing Dove Grey hues allows one to do so in every environment and not look like someone to keep an eye on….whether you are in an urban, or rural, setting.

    I will never forget the heart attack I almost had, during that war game, when the invisible soldier scratched his nose!

  17. – When I was about sixteen or so, little brother and I went out at the end of deer bowhunting season. What I hadn’t paid attention was it was the beginning of dove season. We were on public land near the house, but far enough away we had taken my old car to get there before dawn. I very vividly remember the guy walking by me close enough I could have reached over and taken his 870 out of his hands. I was not wearing camo, just a green and brown plaid shirt and an old pair of khaki pants. As soon as he was out of sight, I whistled little brother up from where he was sitting at the base of a tree just like I had been, and we departed the area.

    – Papa S.

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