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What do CHers consider GOOD service


As I read threw the boards(as I so love to do...a recent addict) I see so many comments on service, and often I disagree.

I went to rendezvous in Cambridge because I heard the service was great. I was pretty disappointed. Our server was pretty bad. Half glasses of wine, marrying two bottles of wine, non attentive. Just generally disappointed.

I was wondering what is good service in a CHers mind. What are you looking for?

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  1. For me the keys are appropriate and competent with a preference for understated rather then grand. Appropriate and competent are both contextual but applies to a greasy spoon as well as a 5-star place and everything in between.

    In a greasy spoon, appropriate is fast and polite (not mean but no smiles needed...although it doesn't hurt) and competent is getting the order right.

    In a 5-star appropriate means smoothness, ease, pacing and a lack of weirdness or awkwardness and understanding what is being served. Competent is getting all these elements right and getting the order right.

    Understated is not making a big deal out of thing but still gracious but that's personal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ML8000

      I agree with all the points that ML8000 points out, as well as the not being continually pestered with the "is everything okay" questions. If a waiter keeps an eye on the table- I assure you that if something's wrong I'm ready for making eye contact to summon them over, and that should be a seamless process also. There's a delicate line between care and hovering, and a good waiter knows it.

      I also do not need to know the waiter's name. It shouldn't be necessary.

    2. Directing me to the most delicious stuff from the kitchen.

      1. Honestly, just get my order right, bring me a refill and some extra napkins. No need to check on me, just walk near my table frequently in case I have a request. Do this and you're getting 25%.

        1. a polite and efficient host/hostess who sets my expectations appropriately as to when i will be seated, i do not blame the restaurant, server or host if i have to wait for an extended period of time. this is my own fault, i should have made reservations. i like a server who allows me to order everything at once if i have somewhere to go, or lets me linger and talk if i desire. and a server who makes suggestions for what to order, always give my condiments and silverware. thats about all i can think of.....oh and i tip 10% for bad service...and it goes up to 25 for really good. i also leave a thank you not on the bill if the service is great.

          1. When I eat out, it is because I want to be served. Answer my questions pleasantly. Refill my water or coffee. Meet my eye if I glance your way on the off chance I need your attention. Do not patronize me with a hip attitude or avoid me because I'm dining alone. I've made a conscious decision to dine in your establishment. Make me feel welcome, serve me good food, give me a reason to come back. Diner counter or 5star restaurant - give me reasons to tell others about my experience in a world where good service is so rare.

            1. Its pretty simple for me. A server should:

              1) keep my drink full
              2) inform me of the special menu items
              3) be attentive, and dont disappear
              4) be polite
              5) be professional

              Do these things and you get tipped 25% - 30%.

              25 Replies
              1. re: swsidejim

                Ditto on the points from swsidejim.

                In addition:

                6. The patron is always right, the waitperson should not argue with the partron, nor should the owner.
                7. Don't rush the meal. If a patron is still eating an appetizer or a salad, wait until their plate is cleared or ask them if they are done before dropping the entree in front of them.
                8. Smile.
                9. Just be pleasant.
                10. Treat the patron as you would want to be treated if you, the waitperson, were eating there.

                1. re: dolores

                  good additions. I agree with all of them.

                  1. re: dolores

                    Why do people think the customer is always right? I assure you, some guests think they're entitled to some pretty off the wall requests.

                    For example, my restaurant had run out of a popular, cheapie cabernet (Hess Select or J. Lohr or something akin), which a woman had ordered. Instead of accepting the sommelier's apology (aka my apology) and choosing a similarly priced bottle (with a discount, to be courteous), the woman decided she was entitled to a free bottle of Shafer Hillside Select and pitched a fit when I said no. I have many more similar examples of such behavior.

                    I assure you, the customer is DEFINITELY NOT always right.

                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                      agree. that customer certainly seemed unreasonable and was probably downright rude to you. however...using tact and compromise a server should make the customer "feel" that they are always right or at least validated with their concern or objection. i know this is hard (i was a server many, many eons ago)....but it is a standard in the service industry.

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        In any customer service job the "customer is always right", like it or not.

                        I on rare occasions have to deal with unreasonable customers at my job, and would get fired if I didnt take the "customer is always right" attitude when dealing with them.

                        Waiting tables is a customer service job, even thought some servers do not think so.

                          1. re: swsidejim

                            are you serious? Do you really think if the restaurant is out of a $20 bottle, the customer is entitled to a $400 bottle just because they say so?

                            What if the customer demands cheap French's yellow mustard, but none happens to exist in the restaurant, because they grind their own? Should the waiter go grocery shopping?

                            There is, by the way, a big difference between "service" and "servant".

                            1. re: cheesemonger

                              I am not specifically talking about the wine issue(the customer was being unreasonable obviously).

                              But in general terms the phrase "the customer is alway right" typically applies, but definitely within reason. There are times when a business has to cut their losses, and tell a customer no, or that they are not welcome anymore. It happens, but to properly train people dealing with customers they should be taught that "the customer is always right".

                              There are black and white areas to this issue, and grey areas. Experience will tell a person, or management how to handle each case. There is no blanket answer.

                              Jessi20's post upthread made the most sense of what I am trying to say.

                              Finally, if a restaurant would give a $400 bottle of wine to replace a $20 bottle they are suckers.

                              1. re: swsidejim


                                My 'customer is always right' focus refers specifically to the arrogance of some restaurants regarding the treatment of their patrons.

                                They're out there, believe it or not.

                                1. re: swsidejim

                                  I agree we would have been "suckers" had we given her the wine.

                                  There's a perfect example of the customer not always being right. Some people want things they simply can't have.

                                  1. re: swsidejim

                                    Let's talk semantics here. The customer can't "always" be right typically and within reason. Either the customer is always right or the customer is right typically and within reason. And there are, sadly, a lot, a lot, a LOT of customers who are neither typcial nor within reason. And they sometimes take the server's time and energy away from the customers who are, in fact, always right. Bad apples. Harumph. (Sorry, had one just this past Friday....)

                                  2. re: cheesemonger

                                    That's funny. It reminds me of a customer I was serving who ordered a Caesar salad. He wanted his to be chopped the opposite way in which we chop the lettuce. Apparently, the way we chop lettuce was too hard for him to skewer with his fork (no one else has ever said anything like this, our salads are very popular, and I eat them all the time as well.) Anyway, the manager had to go over and let him know that all of the romaine was chopped up for the day. The guy actually said, "Well, can you get more?" I think he expected me to walk over to the Bristol Farms next door and buy him a head of lettuce. I basically just let him know that No, I can't get him more lettuce, but let's try the salad and if it's a problem, we'll get something else. He ate the salad and on his way out, told the managers I was great. Of course, I thought he was an unreasonable weirdo, but letting him know that would do no good. You get a lot of people with odd requests, bad manners, rude attitudes, etc. but you have to handle them as though they are perfectly normal and make them feel welcome. Unfortunately, these are often the same people that don't tip very well, but at least I know it wasn't my fault.

                                    1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                                      And yours was a good handling of a potentially contentious situation.

                                      But there are restaurants that don't accede to the most reasonable request and when called on it, not only does the waitperson argue with the customer, but the owner/manager does as well.

                                      They're out there, believe it or not.

                                      1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                                        I'm just happy when my Caesar is chopped! There was a time when all the "nicer" restaurants would give you the heart of the romaine in stalks, and I'm thinking... I'm paying how much to chop my own lettuce?! Can't you even cut it for us?!

                                        I do have a way I cut it at home that works better for me. I hate the letuuce curling up and in LARGE pieces, but I would never tell the restaurant to chop it differently! Wow! I did hear a senior executive ask the restaurant (during this non chopping of lettuce period) to chop his salad though.

                                      2. re: cheesemonger

                                        "The customer is always right" is not a legal principal, it's an attitude that service personnel--not customers--should have. And of course deference to the customer and willingness to accommodate must be subject to reasonable limits.

                                        As someone in a service industry, I see far too many of my peers who have forgotten that they are there for the clients, not the other way around. Gets me more business, but gives us all a bad name.

                                        Just remember--they're income. You're overhead.

                                        1. re: alanbarnes

                                          precisely, some posters are taking the pricipal "the customer is always right" to literally.

                                          How I see it the restaurant needs me more than I need them, especially in Chicago where there are literlly 100's of restaurants to choose from.

                                          1. re: swsidejim


                                            When superlatives like "always" are used, they leave zero room for interpretation, which renders them open to ample speculation and contradiction.

                                            Fortunately, both initial advocates of this strict and unreasonable view have seen that it's not the case. There is no such thing as "always" in any *reasonable* social or professional interaction.

                                            1. re: cheesemonger

                                              No there isn't. Each situation is unique. Most restaurants are quite reasonable.

                                              Fortunately, the unreasonable restaurants see themselves losing customers.

                                              1. re: cheesemonger

                                                its a phrase and a philosophy of providing good customer service, simple as that, and if you decide to not follow it, you perhaps will find youself out of business, or losing unhappy customers hand over foot one day. Good luck to you.

                                    2. re: dolores

                                      disagree STRONGLY with point #6, for the reason (and it's many variants) that invinotheresverde stated. Customers very often want unreasonable things, even things that aren't on the menu, or exist in the restaurant, although cheap cab for Shafer is way past what I've ever seen, I've certainly seen the same sort of thing.

                                      I know this isn't the thread, but there are acceptable customer behaviors also, and being unreasonable, bossy and domineering isn't one of them.

                                      1. re: cheesemonger

                                        I have to add that the more businesses bend over for customers the more they expect their unreasonable demands to be met. Which doesn't mean you have to be rude about not meeting their requests. But I think a business has a right to expect courtesy and reasonableness from their customers.

                                      2. re: dolores

                                        Great thread. I pretty much totally agree with all of the above responses. Most of them really resonate with me. Great answeres, really. I'll add that I want a glass of water when the menus arrive. If I'm not served a glass of water right away, I'll ask for one. I"d like it brought before anything else. I hate waiting for water or drinks after food has arrived. I prefer not to eat anything with out a drink of some sort.

                                        1. re: rednyellow

                                          yeah, this thread is great. as an interesting anecdote lending to this thread:
                                          in my uni days for my first serving job i worked at a particularly questionable "restaurant" (read:booze can) as a bartender. it was the kind of place where the owner would "accidentally" order all the female uniforms too tight. i had a shift manager who had a strong dislike for unruly customers. his usual plan of action was to come running out of the kitchen and scream at them "don't you know you get a helluva lot more with sugar than with shit!!". usually followed by some other choice expletives if the customer continued to give lip.
                                          was actually one of the best jobs of my life...so many good times.

                                        2. re: dolores

                                          I agree with all of these points too! And might I emphasize the importance of keeping my drink full. Usually I'm drinking water at restaurants, but I drink a lot of it and need it to enjoy my meal. I hate when a waiter doesn't realize that.

                                        3. re: swsidejim

                                          And please don't ask me a question (like how's everything) the minute I put the first bite in my mouth. That's a dentist's trick.

                                        4. At a bare minimum, I never want to run out of water or whatever non-alcoholic beverage I am drinking. I don't mind asking for another bottle or glass of wine. But I HATE chasing down a server who has left my meal, asked if I needed anything else, and then forgets to refill my glass after I have asked.

                                          Appropriate knowledge of the menu, and an ability to give me an opinion if asked, regarding one item over another. I hate it when I ask for advice, and the server says 'well, I hate fish, so I'd never order either of those'. Does your boss know you say things like that?

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: jeanmarieok

                                            Would you prefer they lie to you? Personally, I don't eat fish or drink wine, but when my guests ask me about these things, I just let them know what's most popular, which is honest. But, you're right.... tact is always in order.

                                            1. re: jeanmarieok

                                              I also don't see what's wrong with responding honestly; if the server really does hate fish then what would you expect him to do- just choose one dish arbitrarily? Of course as a server you can usually go by what other people have said about the fish (or whatever), but I've had plenty of customers say things like "Oh come on, I don't want to know what's popular, what do YOU like?" And in that case there is nothing you can do but explain, honestly, what you would order. I'm not a big meat eater and rarely order any dish where meat is the main feature (I'll eat pasta and salads and such with meat in them, but not a steak or chicken breast). One of the restaurants I worked at had meat in almost every single item- very few vegetarian options- and I always had a particularly difficult time fielding this question; sometimes when people were particularly insistent I would just pick something off the menu.

                                              Not to say that you shouldn't ask for your server's advice at all, just be aware that taste is an individual matter. The server should know the ingredients and preparation of each dish, but only you know what you like.

                                              1. re: Olallieberry

                                                There's a difference between saying "I don't eat fish; therefore I can't personally recommend between them, but other people say..." and "I don't like fish; you'll get no further information from me regarding them." whether they verbalized the second clause or not.

                                            2. EYE CONTACT. A server who looks at his or her customers while moving around the restaurant will know when something needs attention.

                                              Maybe I'm turning into a curmudgeon, but this seems increasingly rare lately. It's as though these servers have their own schedules, and can therefore walk around with their gaze fixed in the middle distance. For example, everybody in the section gets water glasses refilled at the same time whether they need refills or not, and if you run dry before the next scheduled refill, well, tough.

                                              Asking whether everything is okay is a poor sustitute for paying attention to customers. Servers who make brief eye contact each time they pass a table won't need to ask; they'll already know.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: alanbarnes

                                                " If they say this is my first week doing this, and the entrees average $30+, I'm out of there, or find me someone else."

                                                Right, because waiting on tables takes years to learn.

                                                What mistakes would you expect a waiter who has been a waiter for a week to make (that are not made by more experienced waiters)?

                                              2. Depending on the restaurant, I think it is important to let your server know up front what you the customer expect from them for service, rather than accepting what they give you and then complaining.
                                                I like to start out after they come and introduce themselves. Hi this is Jane/John Doe and I'll be you waitress/waitor tonight.
                                                I will then ask them how long have they been working there, or waitressing in general. If they say this is my first week doing this, and the entrees average $30+, I'm out of there, or find me someone else.
                                                Other than that, I let them know how often to check in on my table, what my signal is when I need them, and what I like and dislike. It's a short list, but at least I did my part and let them know what my expectations are, and if they have a problem with anything to let me know before I start ordering.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: Infomaniac

                                                  as a seasoned server, i would be insulted. I take pride in the fact that I am very good at my job. I do not need a customer to lay down the details of a position that I have had 15 + years experience. I get the feeling that you have experienced bad service in the past. That is too bad. But don't damn the rest of us, with bad expectations, before we can show you the talent and skills some of us have.

                                                  1. re: WNCfoodie

                                                    I would be insulted too, WNC. Imagine how this guy talks to his mechanic or his plumber. But then, I don't introduce myself at the outset -- it's always felt too artificial for me -- so maybe he wouldn't get a chance to lay down his rules.

                                                    1. re: WNCfoodie

                                                      I would be insulted too, WNC. In fact, if I were at that table, I'd want to crawl under it.

                                                  2. Having been on both sides of the equation, I essentially want someone efficient and knowledgeable, who will mostly leave me alone. If I have a question about a vineyard, or the food, or preparation, it is a rewarding and comforting feeling to have the server come across as, if not expert, then certainly well-versed. That said, I would probably rather be spending time with my date than the server, so 20-minute diatribes or mini-lectures are not typically appropriate. I went to the Butcher Shop, which I enjoyed, and while the server was exceptionally knowledgeable, he answered a lot of questions I hadn't asked, and at length. Part of my irritation had to do with the fact that yes, I am indeed familiar with the wine and the history, and no, I didn't ask for a real-time recap of its evolution.

                                                    Restraint, not screwing up, and not being obsequious are key. I don't ask for server's names because I don't care. I never liked giving my name, hated the "how long have you worked here" question, and generally stayed as non-specific as possible. It's nopt the most glamorous job, but it has payed a lot of bills, so let's make a deal-- I don't ask you personal questions about your employment history, if you won't ask about mine.
                                                    But yes-- answers when you need them, absence when you don't, and occasional checkbacks so I don't feel like a drunk by seeking you out for that 2nd glass of wine.

                                                    1. I agree with most of the above (except for "the customer's always right" thing -- though if I'm wrong, just be polite and friendly when telling me so, that's all I ask), and the one thing that I would add is just that if there is a delay I understand that the restaurant is busy, and that it's not your fault, all I ask is a "I'll be right with you" and maybe an apology for the delay if it's taking really long. I just want to know that the waiter is aware that I'm there, and am waiting to order/get my drinks/get my food and not to feel as if I sat down and no one is paying attention.

                                                      1. 1)I think that attention is a great thing. Pay it when you can pay nothing else.
                                                        2) If something goes wrong, don't start ignoring our table because you figure your tip is a wash and I'll never darken the doorway again anyway.
                                                        3) I think that the best service sums up to treating me like I belong at that restaurant ... as a patron.

                                                        1. I just got home from an evening out with friends at a local restaurant with an active bar crowd, slick interiors, and some pricey menu items - a place that could consider itself too cool and hip to worry about dinner service to a table of ladies of a certain age. We mentioned to our server that an appetizer portion seemed markedly smaller than we've had in the past. Was a change in serving size made? She didn't know, but would relay our question. The next thing we knew, a new appetizer appeared (a larger portion). We didn't ask for it (and we certainly didn't need another plate of calamari), but there it was, compliments of the manager.Bravo! Let's include the unexpected gesture as part of good service.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: wandasue

                                                            I totally agree that unexpected gestures can be a part of good (even great) service and I'm totally willing to include it in what I think about good service; but, I'd want to stop short of saying they're necessary for good service. If a restaurant meets all of my expectations, then the service will have been very good with no unexpected gestures necessary.

                                                          2. Service should be present as necessary, but otherwise be unobtrusive. Fundamental knowledge of everything served in the restaurant is significant. If I am going to pay $120-$150 after tip for an evening out the server should be competent and take enough pride in their work that they really know the food and drink the restaurant features. If not go work at Chilli's.

                                                            4 Replies
                                                            1. re: GastronautMN

                                                              I worked at a Chili's when I first started serving, and we were required to know the food, what ingredients were in each dish and how they were prepared, as well as the drinks. I don't know if all my coworkers had everything memorized but I certainly did, and that is in fact where I learned most of the serving skills that helped me get jobs at higher-end restaurants. Serving tables is serving tables, and those who want to be good at it will put in the effort to learn even if it is just at a chain restaurant.

                                                              1. re: Olallieberry

                                                                I worked at Chili's as well--one of my first serving jobs and one of the toughest to get. We had something like seven or eight written tests on the menu, the kitchen, and the drinks. We also had more cleaning to do than in any other restaurant I've ever worked in, resulting in the the cleanest foh and boh I've ever seen.

                                                              2. re: GastronautMN

                                                                Some of the better, more efficient, more knowledgable servers I've had have been at places like Chili's and Applebee's. I'm not making claims about the quality of service at chain restaurants overall, simply noting that good workers who take pride in their work can be found all over and good service can be found in virtually restaurant, just as awful service can be found anywhere.

                                                                1. re: ccbweb

                                                                  Agreed -- I was trained at a TGI Friday's, and while I've certainly moved up in the world, I have to say their training was impeccable. I use their techniques and adhere to their service ideals still, 15 years later and eons away foodwise, and I can honestly, confidently say I'm an excellent server.

                                                              3. Perhaps we can expand the question a bit and allow others in by asking how we can be better customers?

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: robgm

                                                                  1. Please don't expect me to take your order while you chit-chat on your cell phone;it makes for a tough situtation for all parties involved. I'm damned if I do & I'm damned if I don't!

                                                                  2. I'm not a mind reader; albeit an intuitive individual, I can't guess what you meant to tell me or I should assume. Please ask questions. Neither party is safe to assume anything!

                                                                  3. We do make mistakes & when I do sincerely aplogize, please try to be understanding. I already feel like crap for making the mistake, no need to add insult to injury.

                                                                  4. Please come out to eat as often as possible to actually enjoy the experience.
                                                                  Afterall, that's what food is for! If you are responsible for your own unhappiness, please stay in, order take-out & watch a movie. Don't piss on my happy parade : )

                                                                  5. (add on to #2) If you have an allergy to shellfish & you order a burger. You still need to tell me you have an allergy! Again, don't assume. I sure don't.

                                                                  6. Please acknowledge me when I do my check back. If you do ignore me, don't be a d*#k when you flag me down as if I've been ignoring you.

                                                                  7. Please read the menu & again, ask questions. I don't know what you don't know! It's not my fault if you order something that you don't like simply because I didn't assume you needed me to play storytime with the menu for you.

                                                                  8. Please try to be polite. Just try. It would make all the world of difference.

                                                                  9. Do not ask me to make your drink a strong one. I pour them all the same & I already pour heavy handed. If you'd like more booze, please be prepared to pay for it. Don't be offended when I offer up this option.

                                                                  10. Try to help me help you. My job is to guide you in your dining experience as little or as much is required by you. This is so you will enjoy yourself. Please allow me to act accordingly. Let me serve you & serve you well. Just allow me to do my job & you do yours---be my dining guest!

                                                                  That's it for now...

                                                                  Who wants to take a punch first? ; )

                                                                  1. re: dbug31

                                                                    dbug31 - I think that this is a great list! Any diner who isn't doing these things already was raised without manners.

                                                                    1. re: gini

                                                                      Thank you gini, much appreciated!

                                                                    2. re: dbug31

                                                                      Ah, dbug, would that I could print that list into a sign and wear it as a sandwich board while I serve. Might get in the way, but it'd be worth it.

                                                                      1. re: ctscorp

                                                                        Thank you ctscorp!

                                                                        Further, I don't mind & quite often enjoy going out of the way for my guest, as I would like a server to do for me, but I just can't tolerate the rudeness & oblivion that people live in. Yuck!

                                                                        I think it should be mandatory that the public take a course in serving. Maybe for I dunno, a 1-2 month period. That should be enough to do it...
                                                                        it could change the world. : ) (haha)

                                                                        1. re: dbug31

                                                                          I don't think a lot of customers get that there are servers who do it because we love it. I mean, sure, there's money -- but I could make a fine living in my day job if I chose to. The fact is, I thrive on the ability to deliver gorgeous food and wine to people, and to talk about food if they want to, and just to generally contribute to their enjoyment. People talk about us like we're all money-hungry idiots who are in the industry because we can't do anything else. For god's sake, I'm a PhD candidate, and I'll probably keep serving, by choice, once I've gotten my doctorate.
                                                                          It not only takes skills, it takes a level of passion and integrity to be good -- and I'm not sure some of the grumps out there can ever learn that, no matter how long the service course! ;)

                                                                          1. re: ctscorp

                                                                            ctscorp, I would hope there weren't too many people in the world like the guy who laid down the law to his server in advance. Then again, you would know that better than I.

                                                                            Question -- what IS the percentage of people with common courtesy towards servers in restaurants or diners? I can't imagine a tougher job than dealing with the public all day, and so act accordingly. Conversely, I also expect to be treated the same way.

                                                                            I am usually rewarded accordingly, but am still appalled at places that seem to think they are doing ME a favor by allowing me to eat there.

                                                                  2. * Greet our table with a smile, no matter how busy you are. I can tell that you are stretched, but it's not my problem.
                                                                    * Tell me the specials with the prices. Or if I ask, answer me politely with a smile, not making me feel like I should feel cheap.
                                                                    * Refill our drinks often enough... at least before it is totally empty (imagine spicy foods, almost choking, no water)
                                                                    * Smile when we all say "just water." We're feelin' bad already but don't want the extra calories or the caffeine (if it's at night).
                                                                    * Bring us more bread, sauce, etc., but let us know the reason for the delay (I'll bring you more bread very soon; we're baking a new batch) rather than keeping us guessing (did she forget, should we ask again, should we wait till she walks by one more time).
                                                                    * Take our orders; feel free to repeat if you can't hear us.
                                                                    * Check on us after we get our food. Sometimes something is wrong and we're debating whether to say anything (it's a cultural thing - hard to get passed), but if you ask and fix it, we'll be very happy (and tip more).
                                                                    * Give us the check when we ask for it, and get us our change quickly afterwards - sometimes it's 20-30 minutes from the time I say, "check please" to the time we're able to get up and walk out.

                                                                    Most importantly, keep refilling my iced tea, ensure that there is always ice and lemon. I always tip more because of this. The best line I love to hear is "let me refresh your iced tea" and bring out a brand new one. <sigh>

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: boltnut55

                                                                      --When I specifically request, after having been rushed on the first visit, NOT to be rushed, don't bring me my entree while I still have my salad fork in my mouth.

                                                                      --Don't dismiss my resultant dismay, server and manager/owner.


                                                                      --Fulfill a seemingly simple request, like mine for an extra napkin. I 'know' I have one on on my lap, I merely like a second.

                                                                      --Dining out is meant to be enjoyable, please help me to enjoy my dining out. Thank you all.

                                                                    2. I was ready to stop reading at ML8000's post, which pretty accurately sums up my own feelings.

                                                                      But I kept reading, and having worked both sides of this aisle, I find myself a little annoyed with the level of entitlement some people appear to feel in restaurants. There's a segment of the dining populace that uses a situation in which they feel they have power over someone as an excuse to be behave as less than decent human beings.

                                                                      Hounds who feel that the "customer is always right" should spend some time on http://waiterrant.net/ , a blog which recounts the scandalous behavior one professional waiter experiences in his work. He's a hilarious, scabrous writer who documents a lot of bad public conduct all around: in the kitchen, on the floor, at the tables, at the bar, on the sidewalk out front, even in the bathrooms.

                                                                      If you haven't walked a mile in a waiter's moccasins yourself, this might give you a little more empathy for the plight of the typical industry worker. The author does a great job of debunking myths like "the customer is always right", and has a lot of useful pointers on how diners can maximize their pleasure and satisfaction in a variety of restaurant settings and situations. He has a book coming out soon, too. I recommend it to all my friends who are serious about dining out.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                        "But I kept reading, and having worked both sides of this aisle, I find myself a little annoyed with the level of entitlement some people appear to feel in restaurants. There's a segment of the dining populace that uses a situation in which they feel they have power over someone as an excuse to be behave as less than decent human beings."

                                                                        I really agree with this comment. In all the years I've been dining out in both cheapo and expensive restaurants I can't remember ever having truly bad service. Yet, I am constantly amazed by rampant customer rudeness and the seeming dehumanization of restaurant wait staff. A couple of months ago I went out with a group for a casual birthday celebration and one of the diners was already making a list of lame excuses in order to deduct money from the final tip. What bothered me the most is that he was efficient, friendly, and very competent and there was no reason whatsoever for this other person’s attitude.

                                                                      2. We eat out regularly at all types of restaurants. I consider good service at any of them to be quick recognition that I've been seated, attentive service without being overly familiar, honest suggestions if I ask for them, and not having to track the server down for water, more bread, another glass of wine or the check.

                                                                        1. Sorry guys, but jfood just spent a couple of hours on an airplane, and this was better than the pretzels and coffee. The first list is a basic process map for a clean service. The second list is a brain dump of things jfood has witnessed over the years. He agrees with some, disagrees with some, but in the end every custo will have many of these on their respective lists.

                                                                          List 1 – The Service Process:
                                                                          1. Be polite (this goes both ways)
                                                                          2. Make sure we have menus
                                                                          3. Ask the table for their drinkorders.
                                                                          4. When drinks arrive, at least glance over to make sure that the runner brought everything and correctly
                                                                          5. If wine is ordered by the bottle and someone tells you that they are not drinking, please remove the glass. Jfood can not tell you how many times he has told the waiter on the first pour he is not drinking and then another staff member tries to fill ‘er up. Jfood normally just turns the glass upside down.
                                                                          6. See if the breadbasket arrived and is in order. When it looks empty have the bread person, or you, bring more.
                                                                          7. Here’s a pet peeve. If you see everyone looking at the menus, now is the time to come over and let us know if there are any specials not on the menu. Jfood always finds it bad form to allow the table to look through, discuss choices and then arrive and say “Oh by the way the chef has several specials this evening.” How special are they if you arrive at the party late. Better yet convince management to print them for our review. Verbal specials are inconsiderate, but many threads on that.
                                                                          8. After reciting the specials and answering any questions, ask if we need time. Do not just stand there with pencil in hand and stare. It’s your resto and you that developed this verbal presentation and delay in presenting; let the custom have some time to process the additional information. If we took 10 minutes to review and discuss pre-special, assume we might want to discuss the specials before ordering.
                                                                          9. Do not tell everyone “excellent choice”. Sounds like a rote response and “sucking up”. Just say “thank you” and “is there anything else.”
                                                                          10. Make sure when courses arrive any additional at-table items are brought over, i.e. that pepper, cheese, etc and ask if any of these are required. Likewise, make sure that everything is there. Do not ask “how is everything?” at this point since no one has tasted anything yet.
                                                                          11. Arrive back after everyone has eaten a few bites to check-in.
                                                                          12. Here’s a tricky one. Needing to decide if this table is a “clear as finished” or “clear when everyone is finished.” No right answer but after the first person is finished, approach and ask which way the table wishes to precede. Do not have the busser do this since half the time they do not understand the difference.
                                                                          13. Allow the plate and utensils to rest a moment before removing plates. Jfood actually had a busser pull the plate away from him as he was placing the last bite in his mouth.
                                                                          14. Once the appetizers are cleared, then fire the entrée. Having the entrees arrive as the app plates are being removed forces jfood to send it back and ask that they arrive in 20 minutes. It’s not a race, it’s a dining experience.
                                                                          15. When the entrees arrive, perform the same do-loop as the apps.
                                                                          16. Ask about dessert/coffee/post-dinner drinks and bring menus.
                                                                          17. Perform same do-loop for the desserts as you did for the apps and entrees.
                                                                          18. When asked, bring bill in a timely manner and collect/charge and return quickly.
                                                                          19. Do not stand there after the charge is rung and the custom needs to input the tip.
                                                                          20. When you pick up the presenter after the custom has signed, do not open and look inside in front of the custo. Jfood understands that you are probably checking that it was signed and the custo has his card, but the custom will think you a checking the size of the tip. Just a head’s up from the custom side.
                                                                          21. Thank the custo.

                                                                          List 2 – Each custo will have some of these on his Must-Have list, others will have on their Nice-To-Have list and others, may not have at all.

                                                                          1. No spilling. Really not open for interpretation.
                                                                          2. Do not upsell. Jfood does not care if the manager makes you do it. This thread is for the custom expectations
                                                                          3. Be honest. If the custo orders something that the kitchen runs out of, return to the table explain that the kitchen ran out of the braised hawk and bring a menu back. Do not stand there and wait but ask if the custo would need a few minutes. People like jfood plan the app/entrée together, so if the first choice was quail soup and braised hawk, number 2 might be foie gras and lamb kabobs. He may not want the quail soup with the lamb kabobs.
                                                                          4. “I’m sorry for leaning” is perfectly acceptable to get everyone their dishes, except if it’s because you are trying to save steps by not walking around the table.
                                                                          5. “The plate is very hot”. For many that a first sign that the dish has been in the warming oven too long. If it’s a little warm, say “the plate may be too warm to touch.” Too hot to touch (and jfood always checks) is a red flag for ut-oh.
                                                                          6. Listen VERY carefully when the custom states he has an allergy. And immediately tell the custom that you will inform the kitchen. If you are unsure if the lamb has kumquats in it, tell the custom you will check with the kitchen. The downside is REALLY bad.
                                                                          7. Do not complain about another table. The custom will assume that you will tell the other table about you. The custom is not there the mediate or listen to your problems
                                                                          8. Make sure utensils are present for all courses when presented
                                                                          9. Do not be absent for the whole meal and be gushy near the end, consistency is important
                                                                          10. Custo does not care how busy you are. Sorry, but a fact of life. The only table the custom cares about is the one at which he is seated. If other tables are causing you an issue, ask the MOD for help. It’s your tip on the line, so own the service
                                                                          11. Make sure your staff is doing their jobs. They are a reflection on you and your tip may suffer if they do not perform to your standards.
                                                                          12. If people are ordering wine by the glass, approach when the current glass is almost empty to inquire about another. Do not take the first glass if it is not empty when bringing number 2 unless you have permission from the custo. Likewise do not mix glasses of different wines. Only jfood can do that that at his house, and he has only done that once. Oh boy did he get some “looks”.
                                                                          13. Make sure the food is correct upon delivery or better yet, make sure it’s correct before it’s delivered. If someone orders sauce on the side and it arrives on top of the dish, it may be a kitchen mistake, but it should not have been delivered. It would also be nice if the runner knows who ordered which dish and it is advisable to assist when they bring them. It always bothers jfood when the dishes are delivered and then they go through the musical chairs routine.
                                                                          14. Do not sit at my table (never happened to jfood, but has read about it on threads)
                                                                          15. Make sure you charge the table for what the table ordered. Jfood has seen phantom meals mysteriously appear on the bill. A corollary, make sure you give jfood the check for his table. Jfood does not want table 23 when he is sitting at 24.
                                                                          16. Do not assume that if jfood orders a bottle of SP, that this is now a license to bring another 5 bottles at $10 per. You do not do the same for the single malt ordered at the beginning of the meal, why do it for the $10 water.
                                                                          17. Please do not constantly bump into chairs and tell the runners likewise. Jfood cannot tell you how many jolts he has taken. Of particular concern when eating soup. Jfood likes to eat soup, not wear it.
                                                                          18. Do not argue with the custom. If he says the halibut is overcooked, assume it is and duke it out in the kitchen. The server will ALWAYS loose this discussion, no matter how right he is. Again, just another fact of life.
                                                                          19. If the kitchen takes back a meal and is only going to MV it, assume you are screwed. The custom will figure it out and it will be your fault. Remember you are the advocate for the custom and when the kitchen screws up once, you have a chance to fix, if they screw up twice, it will probably cost you the tip. Again, it’s not fair, but a fact of life.
                                                                          20. The custo is always right in their own minds, you gotta deal with it. They order lamb, you bring lamb and they tell you they ordered beef. What can you do, it’s a loosing argument.
                                                                          21. No touching, (this includes the custom not touching the server). And a corollary, please keep your eyes above the neck

                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                            "5. “The plate is very hot”. For many that a first sign that the dish has been in the warming oven too long. If it’s a little warm, say “the plate may be too warm to touch.” Too hot to touch (and jfood always checks) is a red flag for ut-oh."

                                                                            Actually, jfood, not always the case. Some restaurants keep their plates on the hot line--empty plates sitting under the heat lamps so that hot food goes out on hot plates. Depending on how long they've been sitting there or how far away the plates are from the lamps, sometimes you'll get a very hot plate and the food has not been under a heat lamp or sitting in a warming oven.

                                                                            Furthermore, when a server says, "this plate is hot," half the time a guest then tries to touch it. Often the guest will then burn himself and complain. You can't say warm, because you can't take a chance of getting blamed for the ensuing burn.

                                                                            "21. No touching, (this includes the custom not touching the server). And a corollary, please keep your eyes above the neck"--oh if only that rule worked both ways.

                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                              jfood, re: 20 They order lamb you bring lamb and they say they ordered beef. I can't tell you the pleasure when the custo's dining partner chimes in with "no honey you did actually order the lamb."

                                                                            2. I'm easy: Just don't DISAPPEAR for long stretches, either when I need another drink or when I want the check. That includes the classic walk-by-and-avoid-any-possible-eye-contact move.

                                                                              1. There when you need them, gone when you don't.