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Jul 6, 2000 06:58 PM

Rude customers?

  • m

I searched the messageboard to see if this topic's been addressed. The subject of rude servers and haughty owners has been debated extensively. But what about rude clientele? One of our favorite neighborhood sushi places, Sushi of Gari, has fabulous sushi. But we don't go as much as we used to because our fellow patrons are often rude and obnoxious. (mostly to the servers, not usually to other patrons). Same with the nearby Haru. Any restaurants out there you avoid because of the crowd? I don't know what's more aggravating...a rude server or a demanding and disrespectful diner. Any thoughts, chowhounders?

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  1. Any thoughts? Only that we should all try to live by the Golden Rule, or Hillel's Maxim, or whatever name you want to give it, and remember to treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve as human beings. Waiters and other restaurant staff have a job to do, but customers also have a responsibility to be decent, try to speak clearly, have a reasonable degree of understanding for less-than-perfect service - to a point, of course - and pay a tip commensurate with common decency + service (yes, we've been through this before, but leaving less than 15% _if the service has been adequate_ is a lousy thing to do, in my opinion).

    I can't say there are any restaurants I avoid because of boorish customers, however. I eat out a lot and very seldom see boorish behavior from either customers or staff. What do you think it is about the restaurants you mentioned that seems to attract boors?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Michael
      Jennifer Goddard

      I've worked in restaurants in Orlando, all over suburban South Florida, and now work PT in one in NE New Jersey. By far, the most BOORISH "guests" I've ever waited on are the "Early Birds" of Boca Raton, FL. They demand the most and tip the least (despite driving --slowly-- to the restaurant in brand new Cadillacs and Lincoln Towncars). From 4-6 p.m. every day, these people make waiting tables a chore worse than being John Rocker's publicist. Otherwise, I've found that younger crowds tend to treat servers with decency even if they don't grasp the 15% gratuity concept. On the rare occasion that I've had an unbearably rude customer, I've found that other guests nearby are helpful in glaring and generally tip better to make up for my suffering.

      If I could change one thing about the restaurant business, I'd require that restaurants pay servers more per hour (current standard is $2.13/hr) because tips are wildly irregular. It's not gambling; it's a JOB. It doesn't matter if you do a better job if your customer is cheap or ignorant (usually both).

      Complicating this are the 2-3 other people relying on the server's tips to also be paid (i.e. the bus boys, bartenders and food runners...who all make more than $2.13/hr, oddly enough). Unfortunately for the servers, most restaurants require that servers tip these others out on a percentage of their SALES and not their actual TIPS. So, if I serve a table $80 worth of food but only get a $4 tip, I still have to tip out the bus boy, food runner and bartender AS IF I'd gotten 15% or $12. So, the next time your server seems a little frustrated, it's safe to assume something like this just happened. It's a needlessly risky business that puts undue pressure on the person who's supposed to make your dining experience a pleasure.

      1. re: Jennifer Goddard

        Just had to make this another post about tipping didn't you! Try and stick to the subject, please.

        1. re: Gini

          FWIW, I thought Jennifer's posting was completely on subject, myself...

          1. re: Jim Leff

            As a veteran of the restaurant business, I work the back of the house. And I have the utmost respect and sympathy for the floor staff.
            And it's mainly because and good majority of customers just don't know how to dine out.
            I think that this behavior is due to lack of training,

            just like an unprofessional waiter.
            People just don't know what is appropriate.
            The publishing mogal that snaps for the waiter and the guy who is under the impression that ordering a waiter around is good restaurant ethics are one in the same.

            Like much of the ill-behavior in this world, it just comes down to a little human appreciation and manners

    2. Hmmm...I don't know why we have observed more boorish behavior at those two establishments than anywhere else. (And I agree that I rarely see it when we dine out. I have just observed it in these two places, for the most part.) Part of it may have to do with the fact that they are both always crowded and some people get testy if they are forced to "wait their turn." But I suspect that a small part of it may have to do with the fact that the servers' first language is Japanese and sometimes are not as fluent in English. Sometimes people will say insulting things about the service (or to the server's face) as though the server can't understand or hear. This is not to say that I have heard any racist remarks's more of a "the world revolves around me and I will complain as often and loudly as need be to get what I want" attitude. Inexcusable and intolerant, of course. I have found the service in both Sushi of Gari and Haru to be accommodating and sweet. Like I said, it's some of the patrons there that we can't stomach. VERY, VERY demanding and sometimes rude.

      1. j
        Judith Hancock

        What about customers who talk too loud? Any thoughts on that? Sometimes, of course, it is the restaurant's fault for placing tables too closely together and many restaurants have poor soundproofing - but some people just talk too loud - way above conversational level.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Judith Hancock

          You know, not too long ago, I was shocked to read that some NYC restaurants are now DESIGNED to be loud. Restaurant owners hire designers who deliberately create spaces where the noise will be amplified so that the room will sound "alive" even when most of the tables are empty (ie: no carpet, no curtains, hard surfaces to bounce sound, etc.).

          Since part of the reason I go out to eat is to have a relaxing, social experience with friends, I can't understand this approach at all. I suppose some people might enjoy eating in a noisy room, but it strikes me as really odd that anyone would want to design a restaurant specifically to be loud.

          None of this is to say that overly loud people aren't rude (although if a large group is celebrating a big event, I think they should be excused for making more than the usual amount of noise), but it doesn't help when restaurants don't use soft materials to absorb sound.

          1. re: Beth

            I just hate excessive noise (usually the overall noise level or loud music) in restaurants. Rather than straining to listen to the people across the table, I tend to zone out in these settings - and avoid the restaurant in the future. Conversations at neighboring tables can be extremely amusing or just plain boring (when we used to do brunch, the quality of overheard conversations was often as important as food quality in our enjoyment!), but no one should have to whisper in a restaurant. The excessively crowded design of many restaurants, putting people on top of one another - is more responsible for verbal intrusions than other patrons' rudeness per se. The one kind of patron noise that is totally indefensible IMO is letting a cell phone ring, or talking on a cell in a restaurant. Lots of people seem to get louder when they start yakking on the phone. But this subject has been chewed to death already here...

            1. re: jen kalb

              I was told many years ago when I began in this business that as the sound level increases and one struggles to hear, the sense of taste decreases and the pace at which one eats, quickens. Both of these would be seen as very positive side effects in lower priced eateries where the food is ho hum and the money comes from fast turns. Any scientists out there know if this is the case?
              What I do know to be true is that on the large commercial chain level,(Houlihans, etc) the chairs sold to these restaurants are tested for comfort time. You want to buy a chair that becomes uncomfortable after 45 minutes to discourage lingering diners and facilitate the almighty TURN!

              1. re: Chris

                I guess I shouldn't be shocked by hearing that restaurants measure the comfort of their chairs, but I am. Call me naive.

                For the record, the kind of places written about in the Times article were upscale, relatively expensive, trendy places, not places like Houlihans.

            2. re: Beth

              Sometimes, you want a quiet restaurant condusive to intimate conversation--and we all know dozens of those places. But sometimes you--or at least I--love the energy of a loud, boisterous restaurant where you know that people are having a great time. That is why there is room for both Verbena and Pastis.