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As Requested....From a Waiter's Perspective...

  • d

1.) If you’re really unhappy with the table you’re being seated at that’s one thing. If you simply feel like choosing whichever table you’d like the most that’s quite another. There’s a fair amount of planning that goes into making the night run smoothly and by demanding a certain table (thereby potentially sticking a server with more than he/she can handle at that time) you’re slowing it all down.
2.) When I come over to offer you bottled or tap water please don’t blurt out “Vodka Tonic” or whatever it is you’d like to drink. I asked you a question, please answer it and then we’ll move on to cocktails.
3.) The eye contact thing goes both ways. If you’re looking into your menu and muttering your order a.) I can’t hear you and b) I’m a human being.
4.) If you’re in a party greater than two and you’re ready to order, the other people at your table may not be. It reeeaaally hurts to have to stand there waiting for everyone to read the menu while I can see the rest of my station going down in flames behind me.
5.) Please read the wine list. We have certain beers and certain wines. Neglecting to read the list under the assumption that we have Amstel Light or Pinot Grigio just puts me in the same situation as #4
6.) Again, eye contact is an amazing thing. I am constantly surveying the room so if you simply make eye contact with me, I’ll know that you want something. However, if you’re deeply engrossed in a conversation for 20 minutes I’m not going to come over and interrupt you so don’t wave wildly at me when you finally surface for air and want to order. I wish that I could always be there at the exact moment that you want something but it’s not always possible. I do not, however, leave the floor for more than 30 seconds during service so, I can assure you that I will be with you as soon as physically possible.
7.) Please bring something along to occupy your kids. And if they can’t sit relatively quietly in their seat at a table for more than the amount of time it takes you to eat a meal then they’re not ready to be at a restaurant.
8.) If I’ve given you a check presenter (those little black books) and you’ve put either cash or a credit card inside, make sure it’s sticking out a little bit so that I can be sure it’s there. It’s really uncomfortable for everyone if I pick it up with nothing inside...I feel like I’m rushing you/you feel rushed.
9.) I have never understood what compels people to do this but if I’m at another table I am clearly occupied which means you cannot tap me on the shoulder or say “excuse me” or use any other means of getting my attention at that particular moment.
10.) If there is no one left in the restaurant it is time for you to leave as well. I have actually been asked the question, “Am I holding you up?”. Do you know how much strength it takes for me to lie in that situation? Common courtesy goes a looooong way.

So I suppose that's my top ten. Most of them would actually increase the efficiency of service and some are just gripes.

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  1. Thanks for your post, Davis.

    I saw myself in #6.

    1. You come across as a very professional waiter who would make my dining experience a good one!

      (I suspect you are unlikely to be so engrossed in your own private conversation during service that I couldn't get your attention without whomping a body part.)

        1. I read the top 10 and feel for you. My father-in-law epitomizes the worst in all of them. I actually started having a visceral reaction as I read your list.
          It is so embarassing to go out to dinner with him (he always treats, though, so what can you do), and my husband and I always feel like apologizing to the waiter at the end. We try to minimize issues by intervening and letting the waiter know that, actually, we are not all ready to order.
          Does it help in the slightest to have a few members of the party apologize and show empathy?

          6 Replies
          1. re: ScarletB

            Of course it does. It can actually become kind of charmingly crazy as long as the rest of the members of the party are indeed empathetic and make sure that an appropriate tip is left behind.

            1. re: Davis

              Oh Thank God! Because my dad calls every server "Buddy" and I find that rude. He's also a tapper/grabber (lightly).But, I always try to give looks of apology in attempts to compensate. At least he's a really nice guy, a little bit of "good ol' boy" but he means well.

              And my MIL is the crazy one who can NEVER decide what she wants to order. She always wants to be last, asks a million questions about every dish, hems and haws and then, generally, still is not happy with her selection. It's painful to partake in.

              As for #1, if I have a preference in seating, I ask, "May we sit ________?" An easy way to figure it out and it pretty much always comes with an explanation if we can't, for example, that section's server is at capacity, or that section is closed, reserved, etc.

              I think that I may do #2, I'm not sure. I always get water, but I may say, "I'll have water with no ice and may I have a glass of the chardonnay, also." Do you find that innappropriate? I just figure that it's an extra trip if you bring me my glass of water and then have to go back to the bar to get the drinks.

              In defense of ordering beer/wine. I find it increasingly common that the beer/wine list is "hidden" or on a separate card that I may have not noticed. Perhaps, the host(ess) should point it out more prominently. Not your fault.

              Thank you, thank you, thank you for #6. I always find it awkward when the server arrives at the table when I'm in the middle of a conversation. The server has the choices to 1) interrupt or 2) wait until there's a natural break in the conversation/anecdote. It can be uncomfortable either way.

              Thanks so much Davis! I can imagine that it would be a pleasure to dine with you as our server.

              1. re: geg5150

                Actually, in reference to #2, that's very thoughtful of you. I just get annoyed when I'm saying "good everning, would you prefer bottled water or ice water?" and the guest shouts their cocktail order at me as if I were a drive thru window. Because then I just have to repeat my initial question...I don't know, it just sets me off.

                1. re: Davis

                  Or when you say, "hello how are you tonight?"

                  And invariably someone says, "gimme a ______ !"

                  I once served a nationally known advice/etiquette columnist, and that's how her party ordered.

                    1. re: budlit

                      You know, I say please and thank you or some facsimile thereof and it works...

                      But when said person comes in and doesn't do that...what are we supposed to believe?

          2. How nice. I am glad of your instructions, and only plead guilty on sometimes not putting my credit card sticking out a little so you can see it (I will remember in future). You remind me of how pleasant and civilized good service can be, and that common sense and common courtesy are still valued in many circles.