What I love about good service
It has been depressing to read some of these threads that completely bash servers and the industry as a whole. I have been in this business for nearly nine years and have seen (almost) it all, but never have I seen such comments that make me feel like what we do will never be good enough. I understand that some service warrants visits to management, and lower tips. But anyhow....
I want to see what other people value as good service. Not just water refilling, but what makes your dining experience wonderful and special. Something small but memorable that made you feel like you were the only diners in the establishment. Or something big!! Happy thoughts!!
Here are a couple of mine:
We drove four and a half hours to go to a special restaurant (will not mention the name but it has a impeccable reputation in the Bay Area) for my boyfriends b-day. When we arrived to the restaurant the servers chatted nicely about the weather and eventually we mentioned our long trek. Moments later, the owner came over and thanked us for traveling such a ways to dine at his establishment. It was so wonderful to be recognized as a customer, and to see the owner take the time to thank us. In addition, the service and food were spectacular.
My BF and I order lunch to go a couple times a month from a certain Mediterranean rest. We are creatures of habit, so most of the time our order is the same. My BF calls it in and after the second time the gal on the receiving end recognized his voice (plus he begins every order the same way) and repeated our complete order before he could finish. Even the modifications and extra garlic sauce!! From then on she always knew it was us just by his voice. I thought it was wonderful that she remembered and cared about our order.
What are your happy thoughts?
I love it when a server looks directly at me and smiles. Amazing what a smile and eye contact can do.
I was at a Chinese restaurant recently, it was my first time there. My waitress, who spoke broken English, took the time to patiently go over the Chinese menu with me, telling me what was in things, asking what I liked and making recommendations along the way. It made the meal special and she was so pleasant and sweet the whole time. We left her a huge tip.
Went to a restaurant once with the family for my birthday. The waitress heard in passing that it was my birthday and brought over a large piece of cake for me, and then didn't charge us for it.
I had a friend who was sick for a while. Before he got sick, he and I used to order Chinese food from the same place, delivery, on a frequent basis. When they hadn't gotten an order from him for a few weeks, they became concerned and called him to see if he was ok.
There's a local Mexican family-owned restaurant here. The daughter, who works the counter, is always so pleasant. She will always explain dishes or ingredients to me, without acting annoyed. As a matter of fact, she's happy to help.
Again, a smile, eye contact, and just being pleasant make for great meals. Perhaps I'm easily pleased!
What really make the chowing experience special for me are chowhoundish and knowledgeable waitstaff who take pride in directing people to the best stuff on the menu and who can tell you why they personally like a dish.
Service makes a place for me. Even if the food is so-so, I might go back if the service is great. Here are some things that make a normal evening great:
Know me: If I'm a regular, smile, say hi, and even better, know my name. I went to a place I hadn't been to in 4 years (moved away) and when they saw me come in they came over and greeted me like I was a long-lost friend. I will always recommend the place.
Recommend the best you have to offer: Tell me what you eat and I will probably enjoy my meal more. Don't recommend what's on special unless it is the best.
Treat me as you would like to be treated: If it's casual, have no fear of being friendly. If it's formal, be professional and make sure i like how things are going.
The other night when my wife and I went to the one place in town where we can really be conisdered regulars at this point (we've only lived here for about 9 months :) ) the waiter came over and the first thing he said was "I'll be right back to talk to you about drinks, but I wanted to let you know that we've only got one order of the scallop special left, would you like me to hold it for you?"
I was thinking how much better an experience that creates than just doing the normal course of things which would have been come over, take drink orders, go get those, come back to find out about wine and appetizers, etc etc by which time he's likely saying "First, let me tell you what we're out of tonight."
So, that adapting to the course of events for the night and not following a script...I like that about good service. It plays out in a lot of ways.
I appreciate it when a waiter will suggest that I not order a dish (because another would go better with my meal, it hasn't been well received that evening, if I'm undecided between 2 options, etc.). I like it when they don't complain when I don't take their suggestion
I love it when a waiter tells me the dessert specials and/or shows the dessert menu at the beginning of the meal so I know if I need to save room
I love it when a waiter doesn't bat an eye at my sometimes unusual requests (just a plate of mashed potatoes, 2 desserts and a 3rd to take home, etc.)
When I was a child (even now sometimes) I loved it when a waiter showed me the same respect as an adult. My worst dining experience was when I was about 8 @ a B&B in Scotland. I was always a curious eater so for breakfast one morning I ordered black sausage, something that I had read about in a book and seemed interesting to me. I only ate one bite of it, but finished everything else. The next morning I ordered kippers, something that I loved. The waitress refused to give them to me because she said that I was a child who wasted food and that she didn't want me to waste the fish. It didn't matter what my parents and I said, she wouldn't budge.
And like others said, eye contact and a smile