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what a great server!!!

hi everyone!

just to balance out the threads about bad service experiences, i was hoping to start a thread about good service. i learn alot from reading the guest perspectives on this board and i'm always looking for new "tricks" to wow the people i serve.

so...have you ever had a server who went above and beyond? did a server do something special or signifigant that really made your night? or something small that just made all the difference? or if you're a server- what kinds of neat little extras do you do to impress people?

here's something i did the other day that i felt really good about...

i was serving a large table for brunch- it was grandma's birthday so there was a large "grown-ups" table and a separate table for kids. at the end of the meal one of the guests asked me to pour a bottle of sparkling wine out into 12 glasses so the grownups could have a little toast. "no problem," i said, "and how about if i bring out champagne flutes with gingerale so the kids can be a part of the toast too?"

i swear, the woman looked at me as if i had just revealed the caramilk secret! "what a great idea" she said. it was such a small thing but the kids absolutely loved it.

oh, and you know those tide sticks? i can't tell you how many times i've saved the day
when i whip mine out after a guest gets sauce on his tie, or a drop of wine on her shirt.

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  1. Hi there EMM, I am always up for great service and the small things that make it a memorable experience, here's the thread to where I tried a similiar idea:

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/401878

    I love to surprise customers that I haven't seen in awhile by mentioning what they had last time ("I remember-you had the 2001 Morgan Pinot Noir with the filet, excellent choice."). Or remembering if they have any specific dietary restrictions (no nuts) or modifications (medium rare, dressing on side). I have a great memory for faces-and what they order-and enjoy applying that as a bartender and server. People love to be remembered, same goes with all service industries.

    5 Replies
    1. re: cocktailqueen77

      yeah- i'm horrible with remebering names and details- so i keep a little list sometimes.

      MOST people like to be remembered. there is one regular i can think of who didn't want us to show any sign of recognition- when he came in every time with a different date!!

      nice thread btw- unfortunate though it didn't get more replies.

      1. re: excuse me miss

        Several years ago we went to a concert in Annapolis. We decided to have dinner at a sushi restaurant before the concert (we had lots of time as we had been exploring the town all day) When we entered the restaurant we were told it would be about 30 minutes before there would be a table available. The person at the front desk suggested that we leave our name and walk up the block a few doors and have a drink. When our table was ready they would send someone for us. (the restaurant did not have a bar of their own) We did, and so did they. Very nice touch.

        1. re: excuse me miss

          The "dating customer"-used to have one of those!! We had a regular who was married that would come into the bar all the time (never flirtd or anything-just needed to be social) and loved to be recognized, but when he came in occasionally with his wife didn't want any recognition (when he would make the reservation he would have us make a note of his request too-funny thing is, when he was in the restroom his wife joked to me about how often he came there!! She didn't mind, she thought it was cute!!).

        2. re: cocktailqueen77

          ironically, i have a terrible name/face memory but i could always remember what people drank. came in quite handy as a cocktail server/bartender.

          i know it sounds cheap, but as a customer, to me any little thing free (extra bread to take home, some little something for the kiddle, sample of a nice draft beer) always make my day - particularly when you're a bit of a regular in a certain place.

          1. re: hitachino

            I don't think it sounds cheap. I completely agree with you. A little freebie here and there (when it didn't come from a "dissapointing" factor i.e. something forgotten, or a overdone steak) is always a nice surprise. I like to be on both ends as a customer and a bartender. In the "down times" at the bar I like to experiment with new creations and my customers are usually my guinea pigs. The regulars know what's coming, but the unsuspecting "newbies" always are pleasantly surprised. The owner of the restaurant is also very good at providing apps or nibbles as well, especially when there is someone we don't recognize sitting at the bar.

        3. At our local watering hole (which really is a high end steakhouse), I had a regular wine for years and a higher authority decided to take it off the menu and the bartenders saved all the remaining bottles for me since they knew it was my favorite.

          1. We went to dinner at a restaurant in city about an hour away, that we had never been to before. We emailed ahead of time to let them know we'd be coming and ask a few questions. When we got there we were treated like long-lost friends instead of first-timers, and all through dinner our service was excellent and friendly. When we were leaving, we mentioned we were going to walk around the city a bit. It was looking like it might rain, so one of the servers gave us an umbrella so we wouldn't get wet. This was years ago, but it still sticks in my mind how wonderful they were.

            1. A great neighborhood restaurant near our house in SF has a wonderful staff. The thing I like the best about them, though, is that they all know that my wife can't eat beef or pork and they pay attention. (I know that they keep notes in their computer system, but its clear that each server checks those notes each time we go to eat there.) This takes the form of noting new dishes on the menu that have beef or pork (usually pork in the form of bacon or sausage of some kind) and explaining how they can assemble pieces of those dishes a different way for her. One server did a particularly good job of reminding us that my wife couldn't try one appetizer that I'd ordered (we virtually always share or at least taste everything that hits the table). This sort of attention to something so important really makes us feel well cared for and eager to return.

              1. jfood and mrs jfood walk into our favorite local resto. waiter immediately approaches jfood and whispers in his ear, "we have two orders of the short ribs from last night." Yipee, yippee yippee, sign jfood up.

                while eating the two tables asked the waiter if they too could order the short ribs. But alas, jfood is scratching his belly and a huuuuuge smile on his face.

                1. Last weekend in Boston I took my bf to KO Prime for his birthday dinner (thanks to the Chowhound recs!) and it was great! All I did was mention that it was a birthday dinner on my OpenTable reservation - not expecting too much, maybe a candle in a dessert or something. After we ordered and got settled in with our wine, the server confirmed that we had a "special occasion" to celebrate at the table, and then brought us two complimentary orders of lobster bisque, which was amazing and a total surprise for both of us! Add that to the special birthday dessert, and it made for a really great birthday dinner overall! I know this might be a little different to the other replies because I had put in a special request beforehand, but it still felt nice that the restaurant took care of us so well, without being tacky or over the top (like some places might do with birthdays, haha).

                  1. A few years ago at my then fav local place I had arranged for about 12 professionals to have lunch. Our server came over to the table with the usual Hi my name is....and I'll be your server. In response, one by one, we spontaneously introduced ourselves to her. I'll never forget that when she came back with our drinks, she served them one by one to each of us and addressed us by name...correctly.This raised our already high spirits, and added to the enjoyment of the lunch. Needless to say she received a very nice tip...

                    1. I don't know if some restos forbid it, but a server boxing up my leftovers makes me SO happy. I HATE doing that crap myself. . .

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Covert Ops

                        i'm the opposite - i'd rather box it myself.

                        i don't want someone's dandruff or spittle getting into my doggie box. ;0)

                        1. re: hitachino

                          I never thought of it that way... ewww... it could have gotten in there on the way to us! Anyway, I like to do it myself because I can pick out what I want to take, etc.

                          1. re: hitachino

                            Double ew! Is boxing leftovers different than what comes out on your plate to begin with? If you think that about your leftovers, you have to broaden that to other cleanliness issues going on (which is a whole other topic I'd honestly rather not know about!)

                        2. Our Valentine's dinner at a great local restaurant included some beautiful, bright yellow, thinly sliced, home-pickled beats. I told our waiter how much I like them, and asked some question about them. Sure enough, with our bill came a tupperware container with some beats, and a note from the chef on how to add my own beats to the container to make even more.