November 5, 2009

"All the folksy crap you did at Applebee's? Drop it."

2 sentences are said to sum up a 100-point list.

66 comments:

Andrea said...

"1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting."

Already I want to barf. Actually, though, in New York that probably means "don't spit on the customer." (I keed, I keed -- I actually thought New Yorkers were quite polite when I visited there several years ago. That was when I still lived in Miami, the rudest city in the world.)

"2. Do not make a singleton feel bad."

Can someone find the person who invented the word "singleton" for unaccompanied person and kill them? Thxsomuch.

"4. If a table is not ready within a reasonable length of time, offer a free drink and/or amuse-bouche."

An "amuse-bouche" sounds dirty.

I have to make fun of this on my blog. So many things...

traditionalguy said...

Good wait staff is hard to find. When you do get good service, then tip well. The only problem we have is waitresses that want to become a part of the family and join in the table talk about their life. Sometimes a young person in college does have an interesting life story going, but that is an exception to the rule. Men do make better waiters.

Balfegor said...

I think the rules are good. The folksy crap is extremely irritating. The one thing I didn't notice -- and perhaps it was there and I just missed it -- was that waiters need to be attentive to the table they're serving. Diners shouldn't have to get up and find a server, once they've been seated. This is so basic that there's only been one or two instances where I and my party have been put in that position, but rare though it is, it's irritating.

Paddy O. said...

In the comments over there someone noted that Steve of Waiter Rant has made a great post replying to these. I looked, and it's true.

Waiter Rant is a thoroughly entertaining book, by the way.

TosaGuy said...

Good wait staff is invisible and anticipates what you want and is ready to bring it as soon as you want it, not a moment before or after.

Wait staff would be better if tips were not automatic.

EDH said...

You do want to express yourself, don't you?

Well, fifteen is the minimum.

Now, it's up to you whether you want to do just the bare minimum.


Flair.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Wait staff would be better if tips were not automatic

They aren't automatic when I'm the customer.

Don't know if this was on the list...but..

Don't tell the patron that the people in the kitchen like the dish when the customer said they don't like it.

True story, my husband swore he would never go out to eat with me again after this.

Went to a large party gathering and ordered tortellini in Alfredo sauce as part of the dinner. The sauce was NOT Alfredo. I've never seen "pink" Alfredo and it was extremely salty. I took one bite and decided I couldn't eat it and was just going to be satisfied with the bread, salad and wine and look forward to dessert, because I didn't want to make a big deal and disturb everyone else's experience. Plus to replace it with something else would mean I would be eating long after everyone was done.

The waitress came up and noticed I wasn't eating it and asked what was wrong. Then she proceeded to argue with me about the dish and tells me that everyone in the kitchen really liked it.

At which point I told her, sort of loudly, that "Everyone in the kitchen could fucking eat it but I wasn't fucking going to because it was shit!!"

So much for decorum. Don't argue with the customer. No tip.

My hubby gave her a tip anyway and really pissed me off.

Robohobo said...

This tells how far the teaching of civility in this society/culture has fallen that a restaurateur needs 100(!) rules for wait staff. Most of this should be intuitive, which is why I say something. I was reading through this and wondering why it had to be elucidated and then the Homer Simpson "Duh'Oh!" moment happened.

Tibore said...

Huh. I was afraid they'd be stuffy and snobbish rules, but every single one of them makes sense. It's a damn good list, I think.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

That story being told.

I really appreciate good wait staff. It has to be one of the most difficult jobs ever and a good waiter/waitress is a jewel and deserves a good tip.

DADvocate said...

Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.

A customer shouldn't have to greet you warmly just to come in and eat.

Balfegor said...

In the comments over there someone noted that Steve of Waiter Rant has made a great post replying to these. I looked, and it's true.

Yes, Waiter Rant Steve seems like just the kind of waiter I abhor. I always give them tips anyhow, though, so I suppose it's my own fault.

traditionalguy said...

This may open the usual can of rascist charges, but waiters that I have talked with say that African Americans diners seldom tip at all, despite usually being the rudest and most demanding of all diners to serve.

AllenS said...

101. Don't laugh at my tooth.

Bissage said...

I fully appreciate that those 100 rules are of general applicability, and that’s fine, but one of my own personal rules, more of a pet peeve, really, is that waiters should stop asking me if they can polish my knob. I mean, it is perfectly professional and acceptable for them to ask once but after I’ve said “No, thank you” that really ought to settle the matter.

jimbino said...

Food service in America is the best in the world. I appreciated it even more after reading Orwell's Down and out in Paris and London and experiencing the non-service in much of Europe and the non-service, non-food in the old Commie countries.

The three things that annoy me most about restaurant service are the tendency to seat singles at less-desirable tables, to whisk off unfinished food and drink of a single who's merely gone to the bathroom, and to refill diner's wineglasses without asking permission. The last is really annoying! My momma taught me that folks always have the right to control their alcohol intake and surely resent the restaurant's attempt to push overpriced lousy wine.

Tibore said...

"So much for decorum. Don't argue with the customer. No tip.

Quoted for TRUTH!!!

I recall one night when a buddy and I decided to do a guys night out because significant others were out of town; Steakhouse, bar, dude movies. I'll foreshadow this by saying this restaurant is now closed, but at the time we thought it was still one of the decent steakhouses in town. The waiter screwed up the dessert order and told my friend no, that was what he ordered. But as bad as that was, it could be easily forgiven as just a knee jerk reaction. You know: "Oh, I'm sorry, I must have screwed up. Let me fix this for you." But no. He didn't turn around and admit to the mistake, he chose to continue to insist that was what my friend ordered.

I got real still when that happened. My buddy was well able to handle himself, so he didn't need my help, but I was absolutely aghast that the waiter not only thought to challenge him, especially with me sitting right there ready to confirm what my friend had ordered, but chose to stand his ground over it. That was absolutely, positively unacceptible.

My friend never went there again. I came close to doing the same, but decided to try it one more time when I heard that management had changed. Nope. Service was actually worse, it had become openly apathetic. That was the utterly last time I even thought about going there, and yes, I never, ever recommended it to anyone after that. Shame, too, because before that, they were a genuinely good restaurant. But they went badly downhill. And that visit was my first sign that this was happening.

Never, ever argue with the customer. It was bad enough to disagree, worse yet to carry the disagreement with an air of "I'm correcting you". That's not the way to serve a customer. Serving your clientel involves more than handing them plates full of food.

Balfegor said...

Food service in America is the best in the world. I appreciated it even more after reading Orwell's Down and out in Paris and London and experiencing the non-service in much of Europe and the non-service, non-food in the old Commie countries.

Parisians = the worst. I actually haven't had any bad experiences dining Paris, but that's probably because I'm always eating at cheap places and really, what kind of service do you expect when you're just ordering a cheap crepe? But my father once had a waiter rip the menu right out of his hands when another customer entered the restaurant.

As far as service in other countries, just like in the US, it depends. I've had fantastic service in Japan -- better than anything I've ever had in the US. But I've also had service that was not so good.

class-factotum said...

Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically

How about don't recite them at all? How about have them written and attached to the menu, along with the prices? I don't want to listen to a speech. I might already have looked at your menu online and know what I want. I might not want a detailed description of everything that is in every dish you serve.

And I don't care what your name is, whether or not I might need you.

Robert Cook said...

Automatic tips, or "service charges," actually, are management's idea, and the service staff typically are not in favor of them.

It allows the restaurant to document for tax purposes that their staff is making at least the minimum wage.

Freeman Hunt said...

Maybe there's another way to sum up the list:

Be a poltergeist.

Things should appear and disappear, but it should otherwise seem as though you are not there at all.

former law student said...

One of jaltcoh's links says the standard tip is now 20%.

Just when did the standard tip go from 15% to 20%?

And which national body regulates the standard tip? As food prices go up, so do tips. Thus tips keep up with inflation.

Iapetus said...

103. Do not address customers as "guys." If you greet my wife and me with the all too familiar "guys" I will feel less generous when it comes to tipping. No one gave you permission to call us "guys" so don't overdo the friendliness bit.

LordSomber said...

This Buschel guy sounds like he's reading a list out of some textbook, written by someone who has "studied" about restaurants for years without ever having worked in one.
Maybe he should get a Red Lobster franchise instead. Or become a Community Organiser.

k*thy said...

I'm going to share this list with my husband - he put himself through college waiting tables(at a now defunct dinner theater in Madison). He still works in food service and good customer service is his mantra. When we go out to eat, he's always working - watching the wait staff. I've suggested that when he retires, he should consult to restaurants and their wait staffs.

knox said...

At which point I told her, sort of loudly, that "Everyone in the kitchen could fucking eat it but I wasn't fucking going to because it was shit!!"

LMAO

Balfegor said...

Things should appear and disappear, but it should otherwise seem as though you are not there at all.

Be Jeeves. But less mouthy.

John Lynch said...

Wow, what a lot of effort to expend on something that matters very little.

Either you get good food in a timely matter, or not. Who cares about the rest?

David said...

"Do not disappear."

This is a good procedure for all relationships, from the transient one of waitstaff-customer to the enduring one of marriage.

David said...

Wash and groom yourself before going to work.

Amazing how many don't get this one.

Shanna said...

Did they mention the most basic of all? Don’t bring out food for some of the guests, unless it’s ready for all of them? This seems to be happening more often lately, one person gets their food, the other is waiting. And good manners dictate that you wait for your friends to get their food before you start eating (although a lot of people don’t seem to follow that anymore).

I'll my own personal one. Don't ask me if I liked something unless your prepared to do something about it, because I generally won't say anything unless you ask, but if you ask and it was bad? I better be getting something free.

knox said...

Either you get good food in a timely matter, or not. Who cares about the rest?

Oh, posh. If you're thirsty and they never refill your water? That's not a big deal? Or you need ketchup/more napkins/a new fork/whatever and you don't see them for 10 minutes?


My personal peeve is when a waiter is too invasive. Checking in too often and trying to be overly chit-chatty. bleh.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

My personal peeve is when a waiter is too invasive.

Or too attentive.

Just when I get my breakfast coffee perfectly sugared and creamed.....wham....they fill up the cup, if you don't stop them in time. If you put your hand over the cup to say 'stop' you run the risk of having hot coffee poured over the back of your hand. Sometimes you have to spend most of the breakfast trying to watch out for the waiter, fend them off and guard your cup.


Also, it never fails. Just as we have a big mouthful of food, the waiter/ess asked....how is everything going. The answer is ...."mmmmmffffnnnn" with a head nod.

MadisonMan said...

My wife and I joke that we become Mr. and Mrs. Invisible at some restaurants. Berghoff's in Chicago was the worst. I don't know where the waiter went -- must've gone to Racine for kringle of something. Maybe the cook was penalizing him for something. It was laughably bad -- we waited 10 minutes just to get menus and 20 to give our order. I don't know why we didn't leave -- it would've saved time.

I can't stand saccharine waiters. Just the facts please. And I tip well if you're good.

Theo Boehm said...

the difference between a restaurant and a brothel is the appetite

John Lynch said...

Notice that everyone wants different, often contradictory things from wait staff.

Ever worked in a restaurant?

I really don't care much about service, as long as I get what I order and it isn't bad. If I need something bad enough, I take the revolutionary step of getting up and finding someone to ask. I've even, gasp, gotten my own napkins. Waiters are human beings doing a job. Being wait staff sucks, and I sympathize. I was a delivery driver instead.

For some reason the 19th century servant culture survived in restaurants. There are all these unspoken rules that everyone takes very seriously. They seem to exist to make everyone miserable.

I tip very well. If the service is good, I come back. If it's really terrible (this happened once or twice), I tip well and don't come back. Anything else, it seems to me, is petty and annoying and makes going out to eat a power struggle rather than a meal.

jalanco said...

63. Never blame the chef or the busboy or the hostess or the weather for anything that goes wrong. Just make it right.

This made me think of Obama.

JackOfClubs said...

17 & 75 Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course.

This makes little sense to me. If I am finished, I don't particularly need to keep staring at the empty plate while others keep munching. Perhaps this is intended to avoid embarassing the slow eaters, but I have never known that to be a problem. The less clutter on the table the better.

85 Never bring a check until someone asks for it.

This is ridiculous. It is annoying to have to ask for the check. The check can be discreetly left on the edge of the table, without disrupting conversation, once you are sure there are no further orders. Waiting to be asked may needlessly delay guests with other places to go.

I also disagree with the first half of 7. I usually want to know the name of my server, but I agree that getting too cute or familiar is annoying.

Bissage said...

For some reason the 19th century servant culture survived in restaurants.

And a truly refined gentleman of impeccable breeding and stature can be readily identified by his talent for “Insulting the Waiter.” (Scroll down.)

wv = olera. Some kind of butter substitute?

Iapetus said...

104. And don't keep trying to pour my wife's cold beer unless you're prepared to lose an arm. She'll pour it herself when she is good and ready, thank you very much.

traditionalguy said...

The pleasant customer gets more service than the arrogant customer everytime. The waiters have a hard job to do well. When they do it well, then leave tips of 5 or 10 dollars even for lunches when the 20% is less. At fine dining the 20% is owed on the food portion, if not on the wine which can be expensive at times.

Balfegor said...

For some reason the 19th century servant culture survived in restaurants. There are all these unspoken rules that everyone takes very seriously.

Yes, we do. For most people -- most Americans, at least -- restaurants and hotels are some of the only places where they can expect to be treated with the deference and consideration a man might expect of his servants. That's why the wait staff get tips, the same way one tips maids and drivers.

Diners have every right to complain when the service is poor, disrespectful, inconsiderate, or simply doesn't match up to their idea of what proper service is, whether it's a fine restaurant at $200+ a plate, or the local Denny's. Obviously, you're not going to get crabwalking and averted eyes in a Denny's, so there's a limit to what you can expect. But that list of 100 things to remember seems emininently reasonable to me for most restaurants, other than those whose main selling point is the annoying, extroverted staff. Hooters or whatever.

traditionalguy said...

The local Outback Steakhouse is a good choice for a quick meal when we are tired. A steak for me and salmon for her. They seem to have a continual Happy Birthday song fest going on every few minutes. It is fun to see the others happy for a moment, but the roaming wait staff of singers must get tired of it.

former law student said...

Berghoff's in Chicago was the worst.

What year was that? They used to have a very professional wait staff who had been there for generations. Things changed a bit when the kids took over. Then the kids shut it down so they could get rid of the professional staff who had been there for generations.

Alex said...

traditionalguy said...

This may open the usual can of rascist charges, but waiters that I have talked with say that African Americans diners seldom tip at all, despite usually being the rudest and most demanding of all diners to serve.


Racist pig. Repent!

MadisonMan said...

The Berghoff story was in the 80s. (!)

Alex said...

BTW, plz do not sing the happy birthday song. Nobody gives a shit about my birthday except my mom and she doesn't sing that either.

john said...

14.5 Never ask "How is everything so far?"

That's like fingernails scraping on a black board.

Scrutineer said...

If a guest goes gaga over a particular dish, get the recipe for him or her.

Restaurants give out recipes? I just assumed they jealously protect their inventions.

Pogo said...

Samuel Johnson:
"At the inn where we stopped he was exceedingly dissatisfied with some roast mutton we had for dinner. ... He scolded the waiter, saying, "It is as bad as bad can be: it is ill-fed, ill-killed, ill-kept, and ill-drest."

knox said...

John Lynch,

I see where you're coming from, but I actually have been a waitress, and it's not hard.

I only had one really bad customer. He was a tightwad. Kept asking for "half a glass" of Coke, so he didn't have to pay for his 2nd refill, ordered an appetizer for his entree, and just kept asking for more and more and more bread to fill him up. And left a crappy tip, after running me around all over the place. (All of this in front of his date.)

But I do think that it's not imperious to expect a waiter to check back to make sure everything's OK after the entrees arrive, and to keep an eye on the drinks.

knox said...

other than those whose main selling point is the annoying, extroverted staff. Hooters or whatever.

oh you must mean this type of place.

Marcia said...

Jack of Clubs said, among other things:

"85 Never bring a check until someone asks for it.

This is ridiculous. It is annoying to have to ask for the check. The check can be discreetly left on the edge of the table, without disrupting conversation, once you are sure there are no further orders. Waiting to be asked may needlessly delay guests with other places to go."

I agree completely. I don't understand why 85 would even seem like a good idea.

Shanna said...

This may open the usual can of rascist charges, but waiters that I have talked with say that African Americans diners seldom tip at all, despite usually being the rudest and most demanding of all diners to serve.

I have heard that said of pentacostals (our area has a gigantic pentacostal church). And young people.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Things that irritate me at restaurants:

A wait person who addresses my wife and I as "guys", as in "How are you guys tonight?"

A wait person who says "Good choice, that's my favorite!" when I state my order. After the next person in the party orders, I usually ask the wait person "Oh, that dish isn't your favorite. Is there something wrong with it?"

A wait person who asks "Do you have any questions?" I usually answer "What is the fastest land mammal?" Or "Did they run the big collider in Europe yesterday?"

A wait person who addresses me as 'young man', as in "There you go,young man" when placing a plate in front to me . This is a habit young people have when they speak with people 50 or older. Instant tip killer.

I'm crabby, I know.

Paddy O. said...

"I have heard that said of pentacostals"

Christians in general. And I hear this from good friends who have been waiters who are very strong Christians.

Which is weird. I guess church going Christians have just been habituated in being served by people with paltry recompense, who have to jump through just the right hoops or they'll go to the buffet/church next door without a second thought.

I tend to tip well, and always a little better if there's an indication of my faith. Can't make up for all the bad behavior but can do my part.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

"This may open the usual can of rascist charges, but waiters that I have talked with say that African Americans diners seldom tip at all, despite usually being the rudest and most demanding of all diners to serve."

I served through college, and this was well known where I worked. Possibly my all time worst foot-in-the mouth moment was when I was debating whether or not to add a service charge to a large table of blacks (contrary to what Robert Cook said, it's usually at the server's discretion- some people just don't tip, or give 2 dollars for any sized bill. When you're trying to actually live on tips, you can't spend an hour or 2 at risk of getting nothing through no fault of your own).

Anyhow, I chatted with one of my co-workers weighing whether I should or not I should, listing off the reasons why maybe I should I added, "and, they're black." At that moment, I glanced down at her hand resting on the counter and remembered, damn!, she was also black.

I apologized like crazy, but she just laughed it off. I'm pretty sure that she knew where I was coming from.

And, as Shanna said, churchy people and young people are also terrible, as are nurses and teachers.

lyssalovelyredhead said...

"I guess church going Christians have just been habituated in being served by people with paltry recompense, who have to jump through just the right hoops or they'll go to the buffet/church next door without a second thought."

The absolutely worst thing, which happened not infrequently, was when we got a platry tip tucked into a Jack Chick-style tract. (there's one that even looks like a 5 dollar bill folded up. assholes.)
Definitely not helping the cause there.

John Lynch said...

Black people and Indians never tipped well. No exaggeration, I never got a good tip from a person of color.

My fellow delivery driver, now sadly deceased, said it had something to do with 400 years of oppression. I figure he's right about that. Some kind of payback, I guess.

The absolute worst, though, were doctors and lawyers. I usually had to wait while they talked on the phone or wrote a check. And the tip was usually terrible.

The best tippers were hairdressers and bartenders. I reciprocate when I get a haircut or a drink.

John Lynch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lockestep said...

When we dine out, we tend to go to expensive spots where the meal is our destination for the evening. The prices are high, but that reflects the quality and the low table turn. We go out to spend a quiet evening together, not with Eric or Candy, who will be our server this evening.
I expect someone who knows the dishes and the wine list, and who can answer my questions about the above. After that, I would expect little interaction other than an occasional query to assure we have all we need. I really don't want to chat each time the water is filled, or the wine is topped off.
Thankfully we do have a few spots locally where the service meets expectations. And we do exceed expectations with the tip when we get good service.

WV: bislogi. An Italian dessert.

traditionalguy said...

The restaurants and retail stores in Destin, Florida tell stories about the Canadian snow birds who always wanted the free or half price offers and never tipped. They seemed to feel that eating nearly for free was a game. That makes sense for elderly fixed income couples and singles, but these were just middle age welfare cases spending the winter where it is warmer. Life is tough without a job. The restaurants and the Country Clubs in Atlanta are finding that the 9.99 hot sandwiches or burgers with a side dish are still selling along with fries and chips, but the 23.00 to 32.00 usual entres are not being ordered. IMO Christians who do not tip well are denying their faith.

Penny said...

Nearly everyone figures out a way to go out to eat once in a while. Poor people included.

Customers are getting fussier, and both fine food restaurants and fast food joints are figuring out creative ways to get their share of the dollars from those who judge the experience based on this thing they subjectively call "value".

Restaurant wars are a wonderful thing for consumers.

prairie wind said...

When a bunch of us from work went out to lunch, one guy was always the first to leave. He would toss some cash on the table before leaving to run one errand or another before heading back to the office. Didn't take long to realize that he was barely covering the cost of his meal, let alone tax and tip. And now I learn that he did this because he was black! All along, I thought it was because he was an ass.

Shanna said...

Did someone say nurses are supposed to be bad tippers? Now I know why when we ordered chinese food at my old work, we never had enough money left over for a tip. Too many nurses!

E.M. Davis said...

"So much for decorum. Don't argue with the customer. No tip."

I believe it's better to leave a tiny tip if dissatisfied with the service that no tip at all. Why? Because when there's no tip there's always the possibility that one has forgotten to leave one,

I once gave a waitress (ahem, server) a .10 tip because she brought the wrong dish and told me to "eat it anyways ... it's almost the same thing."