Waiters’ top 20 ways to not be a horrible restaurant customer

Ralph DailyA coworker of mine showed me this article in our local newspaper and just had to share it with me and the rest of the staff.  Most of us can relate to it, so I seriously encourage you, as a server, to take a look and realize that you are not alone with these feelings! Most of them are completely normal. Some we agree with, some we don’t, but it’s important for us to feel like there are other people out there going through the exact same thing day after day.

There are so many things that customers do, whether intentionally or not, that really irks us as servers.

If you are going out to a restaurant, please check out these Waiters’ top 20 ways to not be a horrible restaurant customer.

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True Story: An Impossible Demand

This past Sunday, I went in for the lunch shift at the Hot Spot and got a table of 4 people.  They seemed nice enough as I approached them for their drink order, but as time passed I realized that these would be difficult customers to satisfy.  As nice as they were, they were extremely specific (and altogether picky like crazy) about their order and I worried that they may complain about everything from the timing of the service to the quality of the food.

First of all, they wanted their Brazilian Coffees to be hot.  “Put the coffee in the microwave if you have to,” they said.  So that’s what I did.  As much as I hate to nuke things in the microwave, I did what they asked.  The coffee seemed hot enough as I took it out and poured it into a sugar rimmed glass mug.  They didn’t want whipped cream, so I filled it to the top and took it to the table.

I set the coffee down in front of the two people who ordered it.  One of them took a sip right away and said it wasn’t hot enough, so I brought it back to heat it up for a minute and a half.  The coffee was boiling and bubbling, so I told the gentleman to be careful.  He touched the mug and seemed happy with how hot it was.

Then, the woman with the other coffee said (in a very disgusted voice, might I add) “Is there even any alcohol in here?”.  I was a little stunned and told her that I had put the correct amount, but if she wasn’t pleased with it i could get her some more.  “Well, yeah. I mean, there’s no alcohol in here at all.”

I sighed to myself.  Of course there was alcohol.  I’m not going to cheap out on that, but I also can’t make it half alcohol and half coffee (like some people may make at home).  “I’ll get you some more, ma’am.  It won’t be a problem at all,” I reassured her.

Before I could leave and get the alcohol for her, another man at the table told me they were ready to order, so I set down the tray I used to bring the drinks and took out my pad of paper and pen.  Their order was complicated and they were changing things around on the menu to suit their preferences, but I didn’t mind as much since they were the only table in the restaurant.  I also didn’t feel like arguing with them that normally we don’t put ketchup on our burgers.

As soon as I was taking the menus from them and about to walk away from the table, the woman with the coffee said “Excuse me, but is that alcohol coming?”

Cue the crickets.

I didn’t speak for a moment because I was shocked at her question.  I could not believe what she was asking.  How could the alcohol possibly get to the table without me leaving to go order it, let alone get it from the bar.  Did she think I could have sent out a discreet signal to someone to get it right away?  Did she think I could somehow communicate with the bar that she wanted more? How could she possibly think that it could get there if I never even left the table?  It seemed like such a ridiculous question to me.  I guess some people don’t have much common sense in how things work.  It is impossible for me to get something if I haven’t even left the table.  If I could use The Force, I would.  But I can’t.

So I said “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I haven’t even had a chance to leave the table yet, but I’ll get it for you right away.”

“Well, don’t forget it.” She replied.

All I could do was repeat “I’ll get it right away ma’am”.

So I pretty much ran to the bar and prepared it for her and took it to the table.

“How is it?” I asked as she added it to her mug.

“It’s good enough, I guess.” She said.

The rest of the service was pretty much the same way.  Complaints about the soup not being hot enough, the fact that I didn’t bring bread to the table (we only bring bread if the customers ask), asking what we give for free for birthdays and saying a chocolate cake wasn’t good enough, etc.

Every waiter has had customers like this.  And sometimes it’s a little infuriating.  People need to realize that we are only human, we only have two hands, and we are not mind readers.  I really tried my best, and it still didn’t seem good enough.

TIPS FOR CUSTOMERS

Think about what you are asking from a server.  Is your demand physically impossible? If so…then take a moment to maybe rephrase your request.

TIP FOR SERVERS

Try to keep your cool.

The Waitress Confessions

True Story: Mourning Flowers

“Im down…”  she replied. “My husband is dying” 

A few months ago, a regular customer of mine ( a lady of around 60 years old) came to the restaurant to eat.  I didn’t notice her until another waitress asked me “Does she usually take the small order or the regular meal?”  I really had no idea what she was talking about at first.  I quickly finished cleaning my section so I could go over and say hello.

She’s only been coming every Sunday for the past 2-3 weeks, and every time by herself, and always orders a Bloody Caesar (with double vodka) to start.  Last time, she offered to buy me one!  I told her that was really sweet, but we aren’t allowed to drink on the job.  She understood and told me that she was really thankful for the wonderful service.  I was touched.  She said she would come back to see me because I was a really sweet waitress.
Yesterday, however, when I went over to say hello she didn’t seem like herself.

“Hello there! How are you today?” I asked.

She shook her head and played around with a magazine and bouquet of flowers she had on the table.

“I’m…down.” She replied. “My husband is dying…”

I didn’t really know what to say, except  that I was sorry to hear that.  I’ve never really been good at knowing what to say in those types of situations, especially with people I don’t really know.  She proceeded to tell me that she didn’t know what to do.  She was so depressed, even though it had been a long time coming.   The way I see it, no one can ever be fully prepared for that, no matter how long you might know it will happen.

The woman also told me that she had no family around, no friends, and that she was alone.  I told her that I work during the day on weekends and it’s relatively quiet (not too many people at that time), so if she felt up for having a quick bite to eat she could come to the restaurant and we could chat.  She said she would really love that.  She promised to bring me pictures of her grandchildren that live in Toronto.  I said I’d love to see them.

“Enough about this, I don’t want to burden you at all,” she told me.

“It’s not a burden,” I explained.

“I’m so glad I met you!” she said sweetly.  All I could do was smile.

Her waitress came by at that point and we all chatted for a bit.  A few minutes later we passed by the table again to check on her and she told us that she wanted us to have her flowers.  We denied them at first, saying it was too generous and she deserved to have some beautiful flowers around her house.  She explained that she already had too many.

“I’m an old woman!  Don’t argue with me!” she exclaimed as she thrust the bouquet into our hands.

So the other waitress and I accepted and thanked her for her generosity.  She headed home after…I hope that she got home safely.  She seemed pretty down.  I haven’t seen her since, but hope to see her once again to know that she’s okay.  I at least hope that maybe I cheered her up a little bit by lending an ear.  Everyone needs someone to talk to.

The Waitress Confessions

True Story: The Psycho Stalker

One day, back when I was working as a hostess at The Hot Spot, a woman strolled into the restaurant looking rather shifty.  I cheerily greeted her as she came through the front door, but she continued on past the front desk with not so much as a glance in my general direction.  As I hostess, I was used to being ignored by customers and I figured she was just too focused on trying to find someone she was supposed to be meeting for lunch.  Discretely following her, I kept a few paces behind in case she needed my help, that is, until she finally came to a stop behind a nearby table.

“She stood there for a few moments, nervously clutching her purse and eyeing the man sitting in the booth.”

She stood there for a few moments, nervously clutching her purse and eyeing the man sitting in the booth.  His back was facing her and as she ducked up and down to get a better view of the guy, I thought that maybe she was meeting him on a blind date and she was trying to size up the guy before deciding to take a seat or run out of the restaurant before he noticed.   It was weird, however, that the man had only asked for a table for one when he entered the restaurant.

“May I help you?” I asked politely.

She shook her head, so I walked towards the front desk making sure to be a available if she needed a menu or not.

She finally took a deep breath and approached the table, quickly sliding into the booth to face him.  No “Hello!” or “Hey! How are you?”.  They started up in what seemed to be the middle of a conversation they had already been involved in.  And it was quite the heated discussion, if I may say so myself.  The man’s plate arrived to the table and their waiter asked the woman if she’d like anything.  She shook her head and continued to stare at the man who was now picking up his fork and knife to eat.

“The man was trying to shush her, but she wouldn’t have it.”

After about 10 minutes,  I could hear the woman’s voice more and more as the conversation grew more intense.  The man was trying to shush her, but she wouldn’t have it.  He finally had enough and asked the waiter for the bill.  Their server placed it on the table and walked away to give the two of them some space.  Before I knew it, the man was coming up to the front desk asking me to quickly get the waiter because he needed to leave right away.  I got their waiter and the man paid, all the while as the woman stared angrily at him.

“She had that You’re Dead To Me look  that Lily sometimes has on How I Met Your Mother.”

He walked out of the restaurant, saying a quick thank you, as the woman stayed behind still sitting in the booth.  As I walked by, I was a little scared.  She had that You’re Dead To Me look  that Lily sometimes has on How I Met Your Mother.  She was fuming, then suddenly she was up and running out of the restaurant.   I went to the front desk to look out the window into the parking lot and saw her yelling at him as he was opening the door to his car.  She continued to run towards him and then threw herself between him and the driver’s side door, slamming the door shut and preventing him from getting in.

“She tried to hold on for dear life he attempted to exit the car by the passenger side.”

The man then calmly walked around the car to the passenger side door and unlocked it and slid into the seat.  The woman pulled the door open on her side and as the man climbed into the driver’s seat, she threw herself onto him, her legs dangling out of the car. He tried desperately to push her off, but she’d wedged her legs into the door of the car that there was no way he was getting her off of him.  She tried to hold on for dear life he attempted to exit the car by the passenger side.

Meanwhile, people walking by were starting to watch the scene unfolding before them as the man finally freed himself from her grasp. He ran out of the car and started heading back towards the restaurant.  I quickly ran to be behind the front desk so he wouldn’t notice me watching the craziness of what was happening outside.  I saw the woman getting out of the car and slamming the driver’s door as the man asked me to (very politely might I add) to call him a cab.  So I did.

He waited in the front lobby as the woman paced around outside waiting for him to come out.  She had finally had enough of waiting and stormed into the restaurant and took a seat right next to him.  I mean, she literally made sure that the whole side of her body was touching his.  And then she just glared at him as he blankly stared ahead.  She talked, he didn’t.

I finally saw the cab pull up to the front door so I told the man that his cab had arrived.  He thanked me and got up to leave.   The woman shouted at him to not go, but he wouldn’t listen.  As he climbed into the cab with her yelling at him, she did the same thing as when he was trying to get into his own car.  She threw herself onto him, making sure to dangle her legs out of the car so that the driver could not drive away.   After 5 minutes, I could tell the cab driver was starting to get extremely angry.  He yelled at them to both get out and drove away, never looking back.

“He attempted to get back into his car, but she was a complete maniac and was one step ahead of him the whole time.”

By this time, the man was finally starting to yell. I could see him yelling at her to get away from him.  He attempted to get back into his car, but she was a complete maniac and was one step ahead of him the whole time.  I saw him trying to push her away from the car door and then suddenly he was off running.

“He had somehow grabbed her own set of keys and was running to her car.”

He had somehow grabbed her own set of keys and was running to her car.She chased after him and caught up to him before he could figure out which key was for her car and a screaming match began. All the while he was trying to fake her out by running back to his car and quickly spinning around to run back to hers.  Finally, he gave up trying and it was a wave of screaming and crying from the girl.  She tried to wrestle her keys away from him, but he held on with all his might and then he did something that made me think …

“Did he really just do that?”

I even asked it out loud to the two other waiters who had joined me to watch the crazy show in the parking lot.  We were shocked.  The man had thrown her keys into the middle of a busy street and made a run for it as she watched where they landed.  She stared with her mouth hanging open as she realized what he’d done.

“She ran right into the middle, grabbed her keys like a football player running drills, and made a mad dash for his car.”

He ran as if running for his life and you could see the split-second-decision-making the woman was doing.  Keys or The Guy?  Keys or The Guy?  She decided to make a run for her keys as the man jumped into this car.  At that moment, no cars were driving down the road so she ran right into the middle, grabbed her keys like a football player running drills, and made a mad dash for his car.  She was too late as he pulled out of his parking spot and headed towards the exit.  She tried to run out in front of his car, but he had already pulled ahead of her before she had a chance to  pretty much throw herself onto his moving vehicle.

She bolted towards her own car, got in to the driver’s seat and drove off like the dickens, heading in the same direction he did.

The whole day, the staff talked about what must have happened.  Some thought that it was his mistress and he’d just called it off and she couldn’t let it go.  Some thought it was his wife of girlfriend who was checking up on him to see if he was cheating on her.  Some thought it was some Psycho Stalker.  Whatever it was, it was one of the weirdest moments I’ve ever witnessed at work.

The Waitress Confessions

True Story: Why I Don’t Mind Serving a Table With Kids


Kids In Restaurants:  A Server’s Point of View

A lot of waiters think “Oh no!” when a family with kids is seated at a table in their section.  Other guests often complain that the children are too loud.  Some think that children should be left at home with a babysitter when parents wish to dine out.

I think there might be too much of a grey area there and that people are too harsh when it comes to whether or not children should be allowed in certain places like restaurants, museums, etc.

Being a waitress at a restaurant, I think it’s wonderful when parents bring their kids, teach them how to order their own food and say “thank you” and “please”. It’s important to learn these things early on in life.  I also have to admit that 85% of the kids that come into the Hot Spot are very well behaved.  Their parents know when their child is capable of behaving themselves in public areas.

Now that’s an interesting word.  

Public.  What is a public area?  Dictionary.com defines it as “open to all persons”.  What is a kid/child?  Dictionary.com defines them as “a person between birth and full growth; a baby or infant”.  Therefore, if museums and restaurants are open to all persons, children should be welcome as well.

Why I Don’t Mind Serving a Table With Kids

To be honest, one of my best memories as a waitress was when a family of 4 (mother, father, 3 year old boy and baby) came to eat at the restaurant.  The table was in another waiter’s section, but when it came time to serve the desserts he needed a bit of help taking the order.  I went up to the table and informed the little boy that he had ice cream included with his meal.  His eyes lit up when he asked politely for chocolate on top.  ”Excellent choice!” I said, I rung up his order in the computer.  I quickly went to get the small bowl of ice cream and when getting to the table I said “Here you go!”.

“What’s yaw name?” the little boy asked, unable to pronounce the letter R.

“Carrie!” I replied. (name changed)

“Cawwie?” he asked.

“Yes. Carrie.”

He paused.  Looked at the ice cream I had brought to him and then back at me.

“I love you, Cawwie!”

That comment pretty much brought tears to my eyes.  It was the best tip I ever got and it made my week.  I still think about it to this day and hope I remember it for years to come. Whenever kids are seated in my section, I hope they will be as wonderful as that little boy.

There’s just a few little problems…

The problem that I see as a waitress is when parents let their children run around screaming in the restaurant and are too involved in their “adult” conversation to keep an eye on them. Not only is it disruptive to other guests, but very dangerous as well.  It boggles my mind that they don’t see that waiters are running around with hot plates, trays full of drinks, and carrying orders that come with steak knives. It makes me incredibly nervous to see young children running around the restaurant because I’m so afraid that they’ll get hurt.

Do parents know how easily their child could get hurt?  I can’t stress this point enough.  I’ve seen waiters on a busy Saturday night coming full speed around a corner and walk right into a little child (all the while trying not to drop hot coffee on them).  There are many restaurants that have play areas for children and I think it’s such a wonderful idea.  A restaurant like that would be a lot of fun for kids and it provides a safe environment for them to play in!  They won’t have to be bored sitting at a table waiting for their food to arrive or run around in a dangerous area.

Another problem I see as a waitress is other customers telling  a family’s child to behave themselves.  This really upsets me.  Children automatically have a higher voice because they have not fully developed yet.  So, when they are talking excitedly about something they are passionate about, their voices get a little louder and also maybe a little higher in pitch.  While I understand it may be “annoying” to certain people, it is not a reason to turn around and shout out “Would you please keep your child quiet!”  It is a public place, after all, and there are many ways to avoid sitting in an area near children.    A good way to avoid any could-be-fussy children is to ask your waiter to change tables or ask to sit in the bar area.  That is a choice you’re allowed to make.  Insulting a family is not.

The Problem With Parents (sometimes)

Here’s a story about another problem I’ve encountered while working in a restaurant.  I’ve found that sometimes parents expect the staff to watch their children.  This baffles me.  One day while working as a hostess I was standing in the front lobby and a woman came in with her baby in a car seat (the portable ones you can carry around).  I brought her to her table, since she was waiting for her friend to arrive.

A couple of minutes went by and she came back with the baby in a hurry, placed the car seat on the floor next to me and yelled out “I’ll be right back!”.  Before I could say anything ….she just left her baby on the floor next to me.  I saw her run out in the parking lot and then lost sight of her.  My heart was racing.  Is she ever coming back?  This woman just left her baby on the floor with a complete stranger (a 19 year old stranger on top of it!).  I couldn’t seat other customers coming in because I had to watch this woman’s baby.  I waited for 11 minutes before she finally came back in saying “Thanks!” and went back to sit at the table as if nothing was wrong.  I was in shock.  First of all, the staff are not babysitters.  Second, what are you doing leaving your child with a stranger?  That is not okay by any means. Not only is it unfair to the child (to place them in the care of a stranger), but also unfair to put responsibility like that on a staff member.

 So, how about I turn it around and ask if certain adults should be allowed in restaurants?

I’ve seen a quiet family with four young children have to move to a different table because a group of 4 adults (all grown men) were stumbling around stupidly drunk and swearing like sailors.  I’ve seen a man throw a chair across the room in anger.  I’ve seen a woman stalking a man and yelling at him in front of the whole restaurant for not paying any attention to her. I’ve seen a teenage girl throw a glass at another girl’s face for just looking at her boyfriend.

I’ve seen a lady grab her little boy and carry him by one arm (body dangling), shove him into a bathroom stall and start slapping him silly (I intruded of course).  Then, carry him out of the bathroom the same way, out of the restaurant, and literally throw him into the backseat of a car and drive off like the dickens.

I’ve seen hurtful breakups, fits of anger, and loud arguments.  How does that type of behavior sound to you?  Pretty pathetic, I’d say.  If you’re so keen on worrying about children’s behavior, I’d say take a look at the way some adults handle themselves in public places.  That is all unacceptable behavior if you ask me.

What it really comes down to…

I believe if children are well behaved then it’s actually no problem at all. If they throw tantrums and scream at the top of their lungs, maybe a fancy restaurant isn’t the place to be. But, children are people too.  They deserve to be treated with respect.

Folks, we all have to learn to live together. No discrimination. People have families, families deserve a chance to go out to eat as well, and kids need to eat. Just like couples deserve to have a wonderful, quiet date-night. Of course, there are times and places for things.  You shouldn’t go to eat at McDonald’s if you’re expecting a quiet night out, just like you shouldn’t go to an expensive 5-star restaurant if you know your child is prone to tantrums.  It wouldn’t make sense to make those types of decisions.

Lastly, please be nice to children.

They are wonderful little human beings. Some are capable of behaving themselves in public, some are not.  Some children like to sit at the table with their parents and some love to run around and make new friends.  Adjust yourself accordingly and let kids be kids in areas where they are able to be themselves.

And if you are on an outing or eating in a restaurant remember that it is, in fact, a public area.  All types of people will “misbehave”.  Adults and children alike.  You can bet on that.

The Waitress Confessions

Waiters: Spoil Your Customers

Simon Pierce restaurant
Photo by sfadden

Whenever I go out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it seems as if a good amount of  servers  don’t really care about taking care of their tables.  I often see other guests being ignored when lifting their hand to get the waiter’s attention and scanning the dining room impatiently waiting to pay.  It really surprises me because taking care of your tables should be easy – like second nature.

There are many little things that you can do to spoil your customers:

1.  Make eye contact

It seems silly really, but if you’re walking around the restaurant with blinders on, you won’t notice when one of your guests is trying to grab your attention.  As a customer, it must be extremely annoying when a waiter doesn’t acknowledge you.  Even if you’re in the middle of bringing plates to another table, scan your section.  If someone raises their hand, the least you can do is nod to let them know you’ll be going around to see them.

2. Refill water glasses / Ask if they would like another drink

Don’t wait for their water glass to be completely empty before refilling it.  Of course, you don’t want to top it off after only a couple of sips, but if the glass is half empty, top it off with some fresh water before they have a chance to finish it all.  Some people drink a lot of water, so try your best to accommodate them.

When drinks/beverages are down to 1/4 of the glass, ask if they’d like another.  I’m not saying offer it on the house or anything of the sorts, but if a customer stops eating and is looking everywhere for you to order another drink, it’s a waste of time.  Think of it, you’ll be satisfying your customers needs before they even realize it and up selling.

3. Learn regular customer’s likes and dislikes

If you have a good memory, this tip will really come in handy.  If you’ve been in a certain restaurant long enough, you start to get to know the regular customers that come in and out of the restaurant on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.  Learn what they like and dislike.  If you notice that they always pick out the mushrooms from their pasta and you know it’s possible to make the dish without the mushrooms, suggest to the customer that next time they can order it without mushrooms.  Better yet, then next time you serve them try to remember to order the pasta without it.  It will surprise them.

For example, I served a couple once and they ordered the chicken.  I remembered them saying they loved it, so the next time they came, I remembered and asked “Will we be having the chicken this evening?”.  They smiled and said “How did you remember that?”.  I just smiled and made a lame joke, but they laughed and looked impressed.  Then I noticed that they ordered the same bottle of wine as last time.  I added that to my memory so that when they next time they came, I asked them right away if they’d like to start with that bottle of wine.  They were speechless and said that from now on they were going to ask to be served by me.  Honestly, it’s a win-win situation.  Learn your customer’s likes and dislikes.

4. Serve at the customer’s pace

I can’t count the amount of times I’ve gone out to a restaurant only to have the waitress run up to me and ask if I want anything to drink before I even have a chance to sit down.  That’s just annoying (“Can I at least sit down and look at the menu first?”).  Timing can be difficult, especially since there are some people who know right away that they want a beer immediately (you know – it’s been a hard day).  But at least give people a chance to sit.  You’ll notice that guests who want a drink asap will settle in much faster than a couple dining in your restaurant for the first time.

Do not rush customers who are taking their time eating.  Especially in a group, people will eat slowly while talking and enjoying their night out, so go at their pace.  Instead of rushing appetizers, give your customers a chance to sip at their wine a bit or enjoy those few first sips of an ice cold beer.

When it comes to the bill, invite them to take their time so they don’t feel like you’re trying to rush them out the door.  I understand needing to turn over your tables and that’s how you make your money, but most people won’t stay that long after receiving the bill unless they’re really chatting up a storm.  That can be a problem when it comes to making money, but there’s nothing you can do to change that without obviously trying to kick them out (which is inappropriate).  It’s annoying, but it happens.  Don’t rush your guests.

5. Think of the little things

All the little things you can do to make your customer’s experience even better than they expected is a bonus.  For example, let’s say you have a salad and the guest has 3 salad dressings to choose from.  They seem unsure of which one to choose, worried that they may not like it, so why not try suggesting putting it on the side of the salad so that in case they don’t like it, they can change it.  It’s a simple solution really and the guest will really appreciate the effort.  All the little things like that add up and make for a happy customer.

Waiters, really make an effort to spoil your customers rotten.  Give them the service they deserve and treat them with respect.  They’ll definitely come back wanting more…and even ask to be served by you.

The Waitress Confessions

True Story: The Horrible Hostess

[Hostess job description at The Hot Spot:  answering the phone, greeting and seating guests, bussing tables, and saying “Goodbye” to guests]

About a week ago, I was getting into work and had just put on my apron and was heading into the Front of the House when I saw the morning hostess rolling cutlery for the day.  For the sake of this post, let’s call her Cher.

The problem: she was blasting her own music from the bar’s radio at top volume and singing and dancing along with the song.  None of her Opening Tasks were done and she had her cellphone next to her and was texting.

The rules: First of all, cellphone are prohibited in the Front of the House at all times.  Waiters, bartenders, and hostesses are to keep them in the staff rooms.  Secondly, the restaurant was opening in 5 minutes and she seemed completely unaware of that fact and seeing as how she’s in charge of unlocking the front door, it didn’t seem like she was going to do that any time soon.  Also, the radio in the bar is for bartender use only, so not only was she breaking that rule, but also the volume level should be kept to a minimum so as not to bother other employees and customers seated nearby.

The story: The Ass. Manager was MIA so I assume she was taking advantage of the fact that our boss wasn’t there and was taking some time to do whatever she wanted before he came in to work.  So, I took it upon myself to walk into the bar and turn off the radio.

“Hey!” she said.  “I was listening to that.”

“Well, the restaurant is opening in 2 minutes so we need to turn on the regular restaurant radio and unlock the front door.” I explained.

“Oh….yeah. I forgot.”

Nice.  Way to do your job properly.

So throughout the day, other employees strolled in and started to work.  As soon as on of the bartenders, Lancelot, came in, the hostess left the front desk, went to the bar to chat with her back to the door, and continued on as if what she was doing was okay.  It was a Sunday so there weren’t too many tables at that time, but I knew customers would start coming in at around 1:00 pm.    At that moment, I noticed a couple walk through the door and glanced over to Cher chatting up a storm with the bartender, completely unaware of the fact that two people were now looking around for a hostess to seat them.  I waited to see what she would do.  She never even looked towards the front once.

“There are people in the front.”  I told her.

She dropped what she was doing and went to the front to seat them, only to come back and continue gabbing away.  Then four people came through the door and Cher still didn’t notice them.

“Hey, Cher!” I yelled at her. ” Get to the front, there are people there!”

This continued on like this for another…oh let’s say 4 times until I started having to answer the phone for her because she was too distracted to hear it ringing. I finally went up to her and said “Cher, I’m tired of doing your job for you.  Stay in the front and do your job.”  That lasted for all but 15 minutes.

Imagine you’re a waitress, in the middle of taking and order and have to say “Excuse me one moment” to your table so you can answer the phone for a hostess who is doing nothing that talking all day.  It’s infuriating.  You could say “Just don’t answer the phone”, but if the boss calls and no one answers, everyone is responsible for not answering.

If the hostess can’t answer the phone, then the manager does (if there is a manager present).  If the manager can’t answer the phone, then a waiter answers.  If they’re all busy, then someone in the kitchen has to answer.  With a limited number of staff on Sunday lunches, it’s a very short list of people able to answer the phone. Plus, with one cook in the kitchen, he can’t just drop everything and answer the phone while in the middle of cooking 6 table’s food, now can he?

How terrible will it look to customers if their waitress runs off to answer the phone in a middle of an order?  Well, I can tell you now it looks completely unprofessional, especially with the hostess standing there yapping instead of doing her job.

What I thought about doing:  Honestly, I thought that a way to get her to stay in front was to get my cellphone and force her to stay in front by continuously calling the restaurant, but with the amount of tables I had there was no time for doing something like that, but I have to admit that schemes like that did cross my mind (doesn’t everyone think like that from time to time?).  It would have been sneaky and a little bit evil, but may have taught her a lesson.

The solution: So, what did I do?  I told The Boss.  Yeah, I know.  I felt like a snitch, but seriously…enough is enough.  He was extremely unimpressed.  They took her off the schedule for Sunday lunches and put a competent, hardworking hostess who will do her job and do it well.

The importance of a hostess: This kind of “I don’t care about my work” attitude should not be taken lightly, because the first impression a customer gets is when they are greeted by a hostess.  There’s nothing worse than walking into a restaurant and having to wait for 15 minutes while staring at a sign that says “Please wait to be seated” thinking How much longer do we have to wait?  The hostess’ priority is The Door and any employee who can not understand that should be given the boot.

The Waitress Confessions

Restaurant Terms:

Front of the House – the front end of the restaurant, the dining room and bar where the customers are served and wait staff, bartenders,  and dining room managers mostly work.

Opening Tasks –  A list of tasks that need to be accomplished before the restaurant opens for the day.

Remember to Tip Your Waitress: a Guide to a Better Dining Experience

Nowadays, there are such amazing varieties of restaurants you can eat at.  Whether it’s for a business meeting, family get together, or a hot date the choices are endless.  Anywhere from French cuisine to Fast Food!  There are a lot of factors that make your experience at a certain locale either good…or bad.  Music, ambiance, cleanliness, decor, seating, food quality, food portions, etc.  The list goes on and on.  But all of that means nothing if the service is terrible, right?

I think we can all agree that the most important factor, besides good food, is having a good waiter or waitress, right?  No matter how much you love that cozy little breakfast place, you wouldn’t go back if the waiters didn’t even bother to refill you coffee.  What a pain!  As customers, we do deserve to be treated with respect and served politely.

It’s a problem, however, when people start to treat their waiters like their own personal servant.  I’ve seen it many times, a gentleman snapping their fingers angrily at a waitress instead of politely saying “Excuse me, Miss?”, a woman calling out to a waiter while he’s in the middle of taking another guest’s food order, customers ignoring waiters when they ask questions like “Would anyone like some more coffee?”.

A little friendliness from yourself (as a guest in the restaurant) can go a long way.

Here are a few tips on how to treat your waiter with kindness and respect.

TIP # 1

Learn your waiter’s name.  It’s encouraging for waiters to hear their name from their guests.  It lets them know that you respect them (ex: Thank you, Jessica) and it also makes your dining experience all the better.  You’ll know who your waitress is and be able to get his or her attention better when they are walking by your table.  If you say “Excuse me, Michael” as they pass, hearing their name will definitely grab their attention!

TIP # 2

Smile.  Many experienced servers can tell in the first greeting whether their guests are happy, nervous, angry, frustrated, etc.  If you don’t smile at them, they may pick up on some bad vibes coming from the table and limit themselves to basic monotone service, anxious about upsetting you more.  Smiling will let them know that you are open to hearing what they have to say (whether it’s about the evening specials or the daily desserts) and in the end your server will feel relaxed and give you an even better service.

TIP # 3

Be understanding.  Waiters are first and foremost people and what do people do?  They make mistakes.  It happens.  They order your steak Medium-Well instead of Medium-Rare (they sound pretty close in a crowded, loud dining hall on a Saturday night).  They forget your refill of Pepsi.  They order a small beer instead of a large.  I’m sure it’s happened to you and trust me, it will happen again.  The thing to remember is that people make mistakes.  Now, I’m not saying that if your server makes 10 mistakes in a night that you should be 100% okay with it, but maybe that waiter just went through a divorce and has other things on their mind, maybe it’s just “one of those days” for them, or maybe their car broke down on their way to work.  You never know what could be going on in their lives that could be affecting their work.  It’s good to try to give them the benefit of the doubt.  The only problem with that is that there actually are waiters out there who really just don’t care.  You do have to watch out for that.  But if you have a waitress who’s smiling and you can tell is doing her best to satisfy her guests, if she forgets to bring you bread …try to be understanding.

TIP # 4

Be polite Say “Thank You” and “Please” when addressing your server.  They are there to help you, and if you are getting good service then it’s important to let them know you appreciate it.

TIP # 5

Compliment them!  If you just dined at a restaurant and had the BEST service you’ve ever had at that restaurant, or even any other restaurant you’ve been to, let them know!  Don’t be afraid to tell them.  You may notice they suddenly feel shy or even surprised.  Many people don’t open up enough to let people know they are doing a good job.  Hearing that from guests will give good servers a reason to stay that way.

TIP # 6

Leave a good tip.  If you go to the same restaurant every other day, every other week, or every other month and the staff recognizes you, it means that you appreciate the staff, quality, and food the restaurant has to offer.  It means that they must be treating you well!  Make sure that you let them know that you appreciate their hospitality.  When it comes to paying the bill, be sure to calculate your tip correctly.  There are many apps for your phone that are designed for calculating tips.  You can always ask your server to add on the correct percentage.  The average tip should be 15% of the bill and an excellent tip for excellent service should be more if you really want to show your appreciation.  Money isn’t everything, but you must remember that your servers are making under minimum wage and rely a lot on their tips as their income.

TIP # 7

Ask for your favorite server.  When returning to a restaurant that you love, learn the names of each waiter you’ve had and ask the hostess/host in the front to be seated with your favorite server.  If there’s one in particular that you trust to make your dinning experience a pleasant one, ask for them.  They will feel ecstatic to know that they remember you.  A bonus in asking for the same waiter/waitress every time is that they get to know your likes and dislikes and should know them by heart.  If you order a beer to start every time you sit down and you ask for the same server every time, they may already order one for you so that it arrives as you sit at your table. They may give you something on the house.  If there’s a problem with your meal, they will try their hardest to right it because you are now a regular customer.  There are major advantages to asking for your favorite server.

All these tips can really help you with your dining experiences.  Remember to recognize the difference between those servers who just think of serving as another job and  those who do it because they love it!  You’ll notice a huge difference.  Be kind, understanding, and treat them with respect and they should do the same!

The Waitress Confessions