Tuesday, May 31, 2011

If I still owned a restaurant...

I was having lunch recently with "the girls" at a pretty pricey and fairly new place in Memphis which will go unnamed. If I still owned a restaurant (and you know I used to) here are two things I would tell the servers, which apparently were not told to our server.

First, we had a "funny" waiter. He thought he was SO cute. Lots of jokey comments about what we ordered, both wine-wise and food-wise. Frequent interruptions to reinforce how cute he was, often in the middle of a conversation.

Of the four of us, three ordered a glass of wine, all different. None of us got the right wine, the one we ordered. Now in fairness they were all white, but ya' know? We took sips, looked at each other, identified what we thought we got, and passed it to the right person. When we mentioned it to him, he made a joke about it, not an apology.

Expensive main-course type salads came with one very thin slice of un-toasted Pullman bread with the crusts cut off, slightly stale. We asked for a roll each instead. His comment: "Really? Everyone else likes that bread."

We were half-finished with our salads and he asked if we were ready to order dessert. Duh. No, not yet. And excuse me sir, but we are having some serious talk here. Please do not interrupt us again. And we really don't care what you think about the topic.

If I owned a restaurant, the server would be much more sensitive both to the type of folks he is serving, and to the tone of the conversation. And in any case would not consider himself part of the conversation! Polite, yes. Attentive, yes. But almost invisible unless he was needed.

And secondly, but absolutely not confined to this restaurant--this is common practice but NOT in my restaurant. Nobody's plate gets taken away until everyone is finished (unless, of course someone asks for it to be taken away). I eat very slowly and, okay, sure, I talk a lot. I'm almost always the last one finished. I feel a little self-conscious to be the only one at the table with a plate in front of me. So I don't always finish my lunch or dinner out with a group. You wouldn't do that to guests in your home, why would you do that in a restaurant?

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

I agree whole-heartedly and I have a very unpopular opinion about the cause.
Of course, it can be passed off to inadequate experience, lack of training from management, and lack of interviewing skills from management but, I think the cause goes a lot deeper. It is basically a result of "automatic" tipping. A tip is of course a major portion of a servers wages but, it is also something that is given to reflect the quality of the services rendered. I normally am happy to go along and give good tips but, there are occasions when 2 cents is appropriate! If servers understand that their lively hood depends on their service then they will likely take it upon themselves to learn the skills and techniques needed for the job. That or they will move on to a less demanding occupation.

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IMC said...

I couldn't agree more! I love to dine out whether alone or with friends, I hate it when the staff becomes part of my experience...of which I rarely invite. Food and company and relaxing are three small things we need for balanced lives and health....unfortunately, so many people are so ill-mannered and riddled with bad table manners they simply do not know any better. Your wait person is a product of such!