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Bad Server/Great Rest. - what to do next time you go?

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Recently had a fabulous meal at a great restaurant. Our server was really bad but did not ruin our evening but really because of us. We happen to be with a couple that we hadn't been with in a while, had lots of conversation to catch up on so his huge lack of attention, lag time in getting to us to get our order, etc. wasn't as big an issue as it would have been had we been with other guests. We had to flag him down for water, refills on drinks, etc. When he finally took our order, it was because I caught his attention and he was kind of "out there" - not ready to take it - his mind was on 200 hundred other things. It was a lousy feeling to think he really didn't get our order (although he did get it right).

You could tell the owner/host was annoyed with this waiter - he even came to our table to ask if we had been greeted yet. We watched a tiff between a waitress and ours. It was as if he had just come from Applebee's or maybe Chili's and out of his element - this was definately a fine dining establishment.

Question: I will definately be going back to this place - one of the best meals I've had in a long time. I don't want this server, ever! What's the best way to handle this? Specifically ask to NOT be seated in his section?

I also gave a nice review on the New England Board on CH and did mention this servers name - I'm now feeling bad about this - Is this wrong?

I did send a nice note to the owner about the wonderful meal and disappointing server.

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  1. Absolutely mention to the host or owner or whoever you speak to when making reservations (if it's a reservation-type establishment) that you do NOT want to be in his section, if he is working that night. If you saw the owner/host being annoyed with this waiter, it's a good probability that he's not long for the job anyway, so you might not have to worry about it.

    1. I think you handled it very well. But, if when you go back, I wouldn't necessarily not ask for the same waiter. If he is still there, its because the owner sees a reason to keep him and may be trying to work him in and bring him up to the standards the restaurant expects. The owner will want to show you that he has corrected the problems and the best way is for the previous waiter to show you that he can give good service. Obviously the owner is aware of potential issues so no fear that it isn't being addressed on his end.

      I wouldn't have mentioned his name in a review however for the same reason I wouldn't not ask for him.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Le Den

        Thanks, yea I'm kind of torn on the mentioning his name in my post but on the same note at least with family friends and business associates I'm well known for my recommendations for both food and great service so if I send someone there and highly recommend it, I would be sooo dissappointed if they get this particular waiter and he ruined their night (and I knew ahead of time). Kind of like withholding important information. It's a toughy. It's like the opposite when you know someone that's phenominal and you send your friends to them - specifically - becuase you know they'll have a great time.

      2. If you can, try to go back sooner versus later. The day of call the resto and ask the manager if he could work you into a section other than XX's. Remind him/her that you had a bad experience. The manager will definitely want to make visit #2 much better and will seat you accordingly.

        I would not have mentioned the waiter's name either, but as i tell the little jfoods, you can;t rewrite history.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          my daughter-in-law went last night, we all told her to make sure she try's not to get this guy but she was uncomfortable (even told her to just say "hey, my folks had this great waitress but I forgot her name" and whatever female they mention, just say "yea, I think that was it" that way she didn't have to feel uncomfortable. She didn't but luckily didn't get him but he had the table next to hers and she told us how he messed up all night. They had a fabulous meal so all went well. It's too bad, he's just not right for this place at all. He dropped an entire tray the night we were there and it must be typical because we continuously watched him walk with things while his head was turned watching another direction. - Can you tell I love to watch how well a restaurant/servers is running - like a well oiled machine sometimes, find it fascinating.

          1. re: jfood

            Well, while the damage may be done for those who've already read the post, you certainly can go back and edit it to remove it for future visitors!

            I see no problem with asking to be seated in another server's area. If he improves enough to be kept on, good for him, but no need to find out for yourself.

          2. There are a couple restaurants we enjoy, but they have servers that we do not like (or maybe they don't like us) so we are very specific in saying that we do not want to be seated in their section. At one place the hostess asked us why not and we told her that he was rude, inattentive, and our food was always lukewarm because he left it too long. Later the manager came over and told us that he was one of the best servers, but he was suffering a case of "burn out" . . . HA! When we gave her specific examples of things he had done she was shocked. The next time we went he was no longer there.