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May 7, 2007 10:21 PM

Okay. What's RIGHT with restaurant service?

I don't eat out very much, but from reading recent posts, I may not want to. A lot of server-trashing goes on ( and in many cases, I think, deservedly). But we rarely talk about GOOD service.

It seems to me that a lot of CH poster are servers, and may want some input to what the dining public appreciates. POSITIVES wanted.

I'll start: Crown Prince (my son) is just finishing the first year of college. While collecting dorm room boxes, we suggested a restaurant meal to cap the night. Crown Prince chose. Restaurant: Great place for food, no real ambience, most entrees <$10. While being seated, my son said, we'd like "that" table, and we got it, no problem. We had exquisitely attentive, but not hovering, service. Water glasses refilled, teapot checked for level and temp (Chinese restaurant), plates cleared in an appropriate manner. At ordering, the server looked at CP and said " Sesame Chicken, right?" (Clearly, my son is a regular, but I know him to be rather - em - frugal. More than 15% is not landing on the table - he's not paying for the attention) Meal was wonderful. Service was wonderful.

Upon paying, the manager said something to effect of "see you soon" to my son. Now, this is a kid for whom $6.95 is a spendy eat-out meal. But he was treated like anyone who was ordering a $22 plate. So were we.

Upon quizzing (I'm the mom of teens - I cannot help but 'quiz') CP about the treatment he/we received, he replied that it is always such, and that's why he patronizes the restaurant . We concurred, as the service was spot-on. It was rewarded, BTW, in our tip. Mom and Dad were paying. :)

Servers, managers, owners, bussers: what you do for a living IS noticed, and even the lowliest (my son with his budget) notice it. He keeps coming back, and he is hauling his parents along. And the next time the parents have an opportunity to go out, we will go to that restaurant. I salute any server who remembers their regulars, any owner who makes people feel welcomed, and anyone who busses a table and is cheerful doing so. It makes the dining experience welcoming. It makes us keep coming back when we can.

So: what is RIGHT in your world of dining out? Let's give a shout-out to those who are very often trashed on this board. What do you love regarding service? Let's ditch the negativity for a moment or two and talk about what's great, service-wise. I realize I am not talking about $500 meals and white tablecloth experiences. I'd love to hear some "everyday-ish" good experiences.

PS: Restaurant was Shuang Cheng in Dinkytown, MSP, Midwest board.

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  1. My wife and I find that the vast majority of service we get in restaurants is decent enough to excellent. Very rarely are we really put off and those times tend to take place in rather spendier restaurants where certain things just shouldn't be happening (still water being repeatedly poured into sparkling water for which we're paying, food being served at wildly different times). Those times are few and far between though. We love our favorite Vietnamese place where our tab is never more than $20 but the service is attentive and enthusiastic. We love our local neighborhood bistro where they remember that my wife can't eat pork and remind us not to share my dish if its got pork in it.

    We enjoy eating out quite a bit and a lot of that has to do wtih the wonderful people who make those experiences happen.

    1. We recently went to a typical NJ diner and our waitress was an older woman from Scotland. I know this because she told us a lot about herself. Even though she was very tired she was extremely friendly and attentive. They work long 12 hour shifts at that diner. We asked for something not on the menu (moussaka) and she immed went to the cook to see if they could make it. They could. She asked what kind of bread would we like as we both chose greek dishes. I couldnt decide quickly so she said she bring all varieties to us which turned out to be 5 kinds. Dessert was another hard choice. She brought us a few different things and we chose those we wanted. Never rushed and she treated us like family. In fact, we talked and chatted like family. I left her a big tip that probably amounts to 35%.

      Another recent experience was in a chain (Houlihan's) where I ordered the crabcakes which the runner brought out but it came with rice and french fries. I thought that strange for a seafood to have 2 starches. Exactly 4 seconds after the runner left the waitress came running over and said it should have come with rice and broccoli and doesnt know how that happened. I said I got someone else's plate who subbed out the broccoli for fries. (How could anyone not like broccoli is beyond me) She asked if I wanted the broccoli and I said yes. She returned 10 seconds later with a large plate of hot crisp steamed broccoli. Perfect. She was very attentive. She immed spotted a problem and immed corrected it. No distractions, no taking another order, no delivering someones drinks until we were happy with our entrees. And she did this cheerfully. Great personality very infectious. Brought us water refills without asking! (gasp!) When the manager came over to ask how things were. I briefly explained my initial entree mix up but that our waitress was quick to correct and she was terrific overall. I mentioned her by name. (I'm afraid he then made a beeline to the runner who misdelivered) Also, as the Mrs was having dessert I noticed the coupon I had expired the day before. I asked our waitress if the manager would still honor it and she said yes noone looks at the dates. 5 minutes later another manager comes over with my expired coupon to thank us for our repeated business. (I initially thought he was going to say no to the coupon) I explained again how wonderful our server was and that we had a nice time. I didnt know which manager was the bigger kahuna so I relayed everything again. She rounded up to the nearest quarter with my change. Nice. Tip was at least 30%.

      1. "It seems to me that a lot of CH poster are servers, and may want some input to what the dining public appreciates."

        Hear, hear! I would love for this board to make me a better server, rather than making me think everyone on CH hates all waitstaff. Will definitely be following this thread.

        3 Replies
          1. re: ctscorp

            Having waited tables all through college, I think it is honestly the hardest job I ever had. However, it taught me about time management, multi-tasking, team work, being cordial (even if you don't feel like it), and how to laugh when you are totally "in the weeds".
            For me, I love a server who will give honest feedback about dishes (c'mon you know what is good) and clues me in to things that are particularly fresh that day.
            As for customer service, attitude will get you everywhere. The service does not have to be 100% perfect, but a smile and a desire to make things right will take youa long way.
            Oddly enough, some of the most consistently pleasant service I receive is at Chic-fil-a! They are always so friendly.

          2. re: jnstarla

            I am continuously impressed by youthful servers in nice restaurants who demonstrate in-depth knowledge of food and beverage, way beyond dilettante level. I wonder how they acquired all this knowledge so early in life, when it seems it would require half a lifetime of travel and experiences. Always a nice surprise, and I leave a little smarter.

          3. I like the bartenders, and owner of a restaurant I go to every Friday night for some drinks, and sometimes some carry-out. Once I sit down the bartender typically has my cold pint of Budweiser, and my shot of Cabo Anejo tequila on the way.

            The owner also stops by, and we chat some White Sox baseball, hunting, and about his plans for a planned outdoor area with a tiki bar, and volleyball pits.

            If a server/bartender/owner remembers me, and better yet remembers what I like to drink, or eat it is appreciated.

            1. Love this topic! Thanks for the opportunity to share the good stuff.

              Working my way up the food ladder...

              McDonald's - I know it's not really a service restaurant but there is one near me where all the teenage employees have been taught to say "have a nice day" and actually appear to mean it. It really does brighten my day.

              Bonefish Grill – Upon being seated, I was asked if I had ever been to the restaurant before and when I said no, my waitress suddenly became the restaurant’s greatest cheerleader. In addition to walking me through the menu she mentioned the most popular items and later in the meal was happy to take time to discuss the preparation of my braised cabbage.

              Oakley's Bistro (local independent restaurant in Indianapolis) - When we entered we were asked if we wanted to be seated near the window and we said yes. The next group that came in also said yes but when they came to the table next to us, they realized it was colder than they anticipated. The waitress asked if they would like to be moved and they said yes please. After she got them resettled, she returned to our table and apologized for not returning sooner. She explained what happened but of course we had seen the entire thing and no explanation was really necessary and certainly not an apology. She gets points for good service at both tables.

              Pier 66 (Seattle WA) –After being seated, my co-worker and I were not acknowledged by any server. After about 5 minutes (which seems much longer than it really is), a server came by and said she was not our server but our server would be along soon. About three minutes later she came back and said “I don't whose table this is but it is mine now.” She brought us a complementary appetizer, did not charge us for my glass of wine (co-worker is a water drinker), and at the end of a meal said that there had been some attacks on women in the area and since we were women alone and walking, she was going to draw us a map to get back to our hotel and wanted us to follow it exactly. Now that's service!

              Thank you for letting me share just some of my good service experiences.