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May 17, 2005 09:47 AM

Waitering tips?

  • k

Going back to school, I just got hired by a casual Greek restaurant to wait tables (after 5 years break from my previous server position.)

Seeing as how most of us dine out more frequently than the average person, I'm wondering if anyone would like to share their thoughts on service from waitstaff- pet peeves, kudos, standards, etc. Just want to refresh myself before walking into a full house... Thanks in advance.

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  1. This varies by restaurant, but one of my big pet peeves is when the server drops the check on my table while I'm still having dessert.

    If it's a busy night and the restaurant isn't too upscale, I can understand that they need to turn the table over and I can overlook it, but it has happened to us in places where we've spent in the neighborhood of $150 for two people.

    To me, that's pretty tacky.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Ray

      Another pet peeve is servers who insist on offering dessert/coffee while I'm still enjoying my wine. "CAN'T YOU SEE THAT I'M STILL DRINKING MY FREAKIN' WINE?!" I want to cry, but of course, I don't, just cordially but firmly tell them that I'm still drinking my freakin' wine!!!

      1. re: LisaM

        servers can't assume that everyone is like you because not everyone waits to finish their wine before having dessert/coffee. many people will put their wine glass aside and finish it later, which is why the server will *ask* if you are interested in dessert or coffee at that time. if you are not intersted, all you have to do is tell them is that you would prefer to finish your wine first.

        1. re: LisaM

          Glad you called it what it is: a pet peeve. There are others in the world (many of them, in fact) who would be upset were they not offered dessert as soon as their plates were cleared. Some even ask about dessert while the server is clearing: "Do you have a dessert menu?" Wine service - the same thing. Some people want you to pour a full glass for them & think you're "new" if you don't (I'm a sommelier, so I most certainly DO know how to pour wine, thank you very much!!); you can never win. Try not to let pet peeves rule your life!

        2. re: Ray

          Actually my husband gets real antsy when he has to look for the check afterwards. Maybe because he's a smoker?
          When I managed a chain restaurant, servers were instructed to place the check unobtrusively on the table at all times for this reason, they sort of stuck it behind the condiments, your Greek place would probably have similar clientele.

          1. re: coll

            In a chain restaurant, I expect that. In a finer restaurant, dessert should be cleared and then the server should ask if there is anything else they can do. If not, then deliver the check.

            However, if the customer asks for the check at any time, it should be brought.

          2. re: Ray

            Getting the check while I'm still eating bothers me, but nothing irritates me like having to look out for the server after the meal to get the check. When I'm finished, I'm finished, but I still expect decent service to continue as it had during the meal. Making me wait for 10, 15, 20 minutes after I've finished my meal is a sure way to ruin the experience.

            We went to a casual place yesterday and the hubby and kids literally went to the car while I chased down the server.

            Let me tell you what...every minute that server was absent, the tip took a hit.

            1. re: Christina D

              Well, you could have _all_ walked out--I bet that check would have been brought to you in a hurry! :-)

              1. re: Chorus Girl

                >>Getting the check while I'm still eating bothers me, but nothing irritates me like having to look out for the server after the meal to get the check. When I'm finished, I'm finished, but I still expect decent service to continue as it had during the meal. Making me wait for 10, 15, 20 minutes after I've finished my meal is a sure way to ruin the experience.>>

                This is the point that really deserves underlining, in my view. It happens so much with service that is otherwise just fine that all I can think is people are not aware of it. On top of everything else, most times one or both of us wants coffee, an after-dinner drink, a dessert or some combination of these. But after waiting 15 minutes, we skip it figuring to avoid yet another wait. We could have spent a lot more money that the server would be getting a tip on.

          3. Try to keep your cool and maintain courtesy when people want to take their bad attitude out on you. In my opinion, that the toughest part of the job. Just because you're working for tips, some jerks feel like they have to make you bleed for it.

            Also, always always always maintain communication with your tables. If something goes wrong in the kitchen or there are problems, notify your customers and reassure them that you are working to take care of them. (But don't hover or chatter too much. It's a balancing act.)

            Do you read In spite of the caustic inner monologue, the guy seems to have a very good tableside manner.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Kimm

              Oops, that blog can be found via the link provided here.


            2. Never say, as you pick up a check being paid with cash, "Do you want any change back from this?" but rather "I'll be right back with your change."

              2 Replies
              1. re: WLA

                Yes! Thank you, WLA.

                1. re: WLA

                  Agreed; it's extremely poor form to ask if the customer wants change back.

                2. One thing that's always bothered me is waiters who don't make eye contacts. Always make eye contacts with all your tables before you disappear into the kitchen. After you take the order from one table, or after you serve one table, make eye contact with all your other tables.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Peter

                    Yes, this is most important. Don't make your customers holler for you. Always look over your tables, regularly, over and over. Keep those eyes open and watching. That way you can respond to your customers almost instantly and often then the diners will respond favorably at the end of the meal.

                    And don't expect tipping to be fair. The best service will go unrewarded by tightwads, and some people can't recognize good service.

                  2. I recall a list of proven ways to increase your tips, I'll have to try to find it.

                    The ones I remember are: 1) always sign your name on the check, good to also add "Thanks!" If you're a female, a smiley face was recommended too.
                    2) kneel by the table to be on the same level, rather than hovering over the guests. On the other hand, I HATE it when a server sits down with the guests, either at my table or someone elses.

                    I know these sound a little strange, just throwing it out there.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: coll

                      I hate the kneeling, looks to me like the waiter is tired and needs a break and coming over to *my* table means they can finally relax their good manners for some reason...

                      1. re: coll

                        I have to say I totally disagree with these. Maybe in some very casual or family-oriented restaurant, but for a normal or upscale dining experience these seem like juvenile things for a server to do and certainly wouldn't improve the tip I was leaving.

                        Another pet peeve, though, is when a server takes away one diner's empty plate while others are still eating. Plates should be cleared all at once, as soon as *everyone* is done eating.

                        1. re: Lacy

                          I hate the kneeling too; it's annoying.

                          As for when to clear plates, I think some restaurants have different policies about this.

                          Parents love it when you acknowledge their kids.

                          If you're short staffed or having other in-house issues, don't make it the customer's problem. Just apologize for the wait (if there is one) without giving details.

                          Develop a system to remember who ordered what so you don't have to auction off the plates when delivering them to the table.

                          If you're slammed and get a new table, take a moment to acknowledge them and say you'll be right back. Nothing, nothing, nothing irks me more than wondering if any server is assigned to my table.

                          1. re: mw

                            The problem with the plate clearing is that good service dictates that plates not be cleared until everyone is finished. That's so that the slower eaters do not feel rushed. The restaurant I work at, has the policy of not clearing until all are finished, but, you do get guests who think that leaving their empty plate in front of them means you are not doing your job.

                            1. re: LizK

                              Either way... just don't take my plate away before I'm done! If I'm still chewing, I am not done. If there is still food on my plate and I just put my fork down five seconds ago, I am probably not done.

                              Last time we went out, the waitress came over and said, "All done with that?" My mouth was full and I shook my head no. She reached for the plate and I moved it over. "Oh, sorry," she said, "I thought you said yes." If I can't reply to your question because I'm eating, clearly I am NOT DONE.

                              Sorry, more of a rant than a tip!