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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Service du jour

This article was of some interest to me, given that I work in the food service industry. I don't wait--I host--but of course I work closely with both customers and servers, and have ample opportunity to observe what people would consider to be "good" and "bad" restaurant experiences.

However, the article seems to focus mainly on the relationship between customer and server, forgetting that there are other factors needed to ensure a pleasant dining experience. Given that, I decided to add some things.

1. The customer is not always right. Sometimes the customer is dead wrong (see #3, 4). Sometimes the server/host/busser/manager is perfectly entitled to choke said customer into submission, although one rarely takes this opportunity (pesky job security).

2. It's almost never the server's fault. Really the only time it IS the server's fault is if they, personally, screw up your order--as in, they write down/deliver a Mushroom Cheeseburger instead of a Turkey-Pastrami Melt. If your food is cold or takes forever in getting to you, it's more than likely the kitchen's fault.

3. The manager can do nothing if the restaurant doesn't serve breakfast all day and you feel like French toast. The decision to serve breakfast until whenever is not even the general manager's to make, and once the kitchen closes a certain section, why should they reopen it simply because your brat wants an egg sandwich? Make him one yourself, bitch. Or go to Denny's.

4. When the host tells you to sit somewhere, sit there. Don't point to an empty booth and say, "That booth's empty. Why can't I sit there?" The host generally has good reasons for seating you in a certain spot. If you demand a booth when she wants to give you a table, she'll probably seat you in the booth directly adjacent to the bathroom.

5. Don't whine at the prospect of a fifteen-minute wait. It's not that long, really. Go to the Cheesecake Factory and wait for an hour, then come to my restaurant and be grateful for fifteen minutes. Also, it's not the hostess's fault that the restaurant is full; she can't exactly tell people to leave so that you can sit down.

6. If you want to people-watch while you're eating, eat outside. Duh? The laziness of people confronted with the lack of outside wait staff is incredible. Don't say, "Oh, if there's no service outside I'll eat inside" and then proceed to whine when there doesn't happen to be a window seat available.

7. Don't camp. Order your food, eat your food, pay the check, leave: this is the proper order of restaurant dining. Sitting and talking at your table for nigh on three hours is not a permissible guilty pleasure; it's rude. The longer you sit, the fewer tables there are available in the restaurant and the less money your server makes.

8. TIP, DAMMIT. If you can afford to pay eight dollars for a sandwich, you can afford to leave a decent tip. Ever wonder why apparently all servers smoke, and smoke a lot? $2 on a six-person bill will do that to a person.

This all seems fairly petty, but when you get right down to it, restaurants are a luxury, not a necessity; I think America has forgotten this. As such, give and take is required on both sides--it's senseless to blame a "bad" dining experience on one person. I mean, hey...you could've cooked your own meal, and it probably would have been better anyway.
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