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Feb 8, 2008 10:15 AM

Do you want to know your server's name? [Moved from Los Angeles Area board]

Just a question to all of you who consistently dine out also to the section of that group that also serves those who go out. Do you really want/need to know your server's name? For me personally, I don't care to know the name of the person serving me, when I waited tables I also never told anyone my name unless they were a regular. My experience has been that the servers that are overbearingly personal generally don't provide the service that I need/want and protect themselves with the unsolicited new level of friendship that they have built with me by telling me their name, what they do etc etc. That's not to say that I don't have servers at the restaurants that I frequent most that I'm friendly with, it's just that they don't leave me hanging with no water and no check. What say you chowhounds?

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  1. Unless I'm a regular, I too am a bit turned off by the name thing but for a different reason. It just seems a bit insincere (at least in NYC).

    1. nope, not interested in knowing their name.

      1. I have no desire at all to know my server's name. Fortunately, the "Hi, I'm Scott and I'll be your waiter tonight" trend seems to have been the subjected to so much ridicule that it's died down, although I think it's still prevalent in chain restaurants.

        I don't go to restaurants to form social relationships with the staff, I go there to eat and to socialize with the people I chose to accompany me. I have a very fond memory though, of going to a restaurant with a large group of friends many years ago. When the hostess seated us, she told us that our waiter Scott (or whatever his name was) would be with us shortly. When our waiter arrived, we went around the table, introduced ourselves, and then chorused: "... and we'll be your customers tonight!" The waiter (who apparently didn't have much of a sense of humor), was completely taken aback. I guess he didn't really want to be pals with all of us. ;-)

        8 Replies
        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          Ruth, that is funny you tell this story because I've always been tempted to do the exact same thing. No single waiter in Germany will tell you their name, regardless of the type of resto you're in (then again, they don't depend on tips). But yeah, when I first moved here I found it pretty ridiculous to the point of annoyance, and had to stop myself several times from saying "hi, I'm >insert name< and I will be eating here tonight." don't want to come off as a total bitch, though, so have held off. Props to you and your table for actually doing that!!!

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            >>My experience has been that the servers that are overbearingly personal generally don't provide the service that I need/want and protect themselves with the unsolicited new level of friendship that they have built with me by telling me their name, what they do etc etc.

            I don't find that. I don't mind the server letting me know his/her name, but will probably promptly forget it. I've never seen a correlation between friendliness and bad service, in fact one of the most outstanding servers who comes to mind in the last year let us know his name and chatted with us.

            If I'm blown away with the level of service, and there have been some instances where I am, and have forgotten the name, I will ask the server to repeat it so I can give a shoutout to him/her, include the name on the feedback cards some restaurants leave, or let the owner/manager know how much I appreciated the good service.

            If it's a restaurant which I frequent, I will often ask to sit in a particular server's area, so it helps to know their name.

            I like humanity in restaurants.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Too funny. The only reason I want to know Scott's name is so I can summon him back to our table if needed.

              1. re: scubadoo97

                Fair enough. At least you won't have to resort to "Hey you"

                1. re: Tay

                  What's wrong with, "Excuse me?"

                  I lived in Paris and ate in plenty of cafes and bistrots and brasseries and never knew my servers' names... "pardon, Monsieur..."

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    There is nothing wrong with it. It's just generic. As discussed in other posting on this thread, some people would prefer to establish some sort of rapport with their Server, some would just as soon not

                    1. re: Tay

                      Understandable. I don't flinch when I'm introduced to the server, but I don't necessarily need to know. I was just responding to the idea that there is "Oh, Scott" and then "Hey, you" and nothing in between. :)

            2. My boss regularly takes us all out for lunch which is really nice. More than 50% of the time, our server is a woman. He always asks them their names and then hits on them all through lunch. It's very uncomfortable because while he never does anything inappropriate at work, we have to watch him do this to servers. Your name is your own business. I don't care what it is. I am there to enjoy a meal, not make a friend. Likewise, when I was a waitress and guys asked me my name, I'd make up a fake one.

              2 Replies
              1. re: southernitalian

                I was just thinking the same thing - why in the world would a server give their real name? I would make one up - a professional name if you will. Too many losers out there to be giving out any potentially personal info!

                1. re: Catskillgirl

                  that's an interesting thought, catskillgirl, though I don't think many managers would allow servers to do that. (though I've never asked, so I can't be sure.)

              2. WOW!
                Talk about cranky posters lol!
                I 'd have to respectfully disagree with all of you. I think it's a nice touch, albeit, perhaps more an automatic, 'This-is-what-I-was-trained-to-say', greeting rather than a sincere, from the heart greeting, but it's really no different than all of us saying:"How are you ?" "Talk to/see you later." or "Have a nice day" to everyone else. We all say that, not as a question.but as a greeting or parting comment. Same with a Server greeting a customer. If a Server just walked over and plunked down the menu's without saying anything, I would find it somewhat abrupt. The Server introducing him/herself is a nice way to begin the interaction. I find Servers seem to respond better if referred to as "Scott" or "Suzie" rather than "Excuse me" If you feel the desire/need to speak with the Mgr/Host, it also allows you to praise/complain about your Server by name.
                I read many posts about rude or indifferent service. I think anything restaurant staff does to build a rapport, however temporary, should be encouraged and lauded.
                All of you: Take a time out in the 'Naughty Chair' :-}

                13 Replies
                1. re: Tay

                  I must agree with Tay. I like a smile and a name. I know that I probably won't ever see that person again unless I return to the restaurant but it makes the interaction more human. I always try to remember the name so that at the end of the meal I can say "thank you, Sally" or "thank you, Ben". To each his own, I guess it's my upbringing and I can't imagine being any other way

                  1. re: Axalady

                    What's wrong with, "Good evening. Can I take your order?". My sisters and I waitressed together in high school and college and if my father knew about the harrassment we put up with both from diners and other employees, there would have been trouble. Keeping my name to myself was one way to maintain some power from those losers.

                    1. re: southernitalian

                      I'm sorry you and your sister had bad experiences during your days as Servers, but withholding your name to "maintain some power from those losers" sounds like a strange way to maintain control. I also have to wonder about the kind of restaurant management and type of clientele the place attracted. If you were being harrassed by customers and other employees, you should have told your Mgr AND your Dad.
                      I agree that here is nothng wrong with saying, "Good evening. May I take your order?" But saying, "Good evening folks, my name is Scott/ Suzie and I''ll be your Server tonight" just sounds a little nicer.

                      1. re: southernitalian

                        I would imagine that servers would at times be subject to harassment as you put it southern (and i should hope you are no longer in the food industry if you feel that you are mostly serving "losers").

                        I have also been subject to some overly clingy and way too flirty waiters at times too.... and while it is nice to maybe talk about the wine or the food, some brief conversation, a single woman dining alone does not always need constant attention from a male server and sometimes i'd just like to proceed with my meal (aka stop watching me eat or aka you are not my date, go away)...sometimes too when i've been out with a few girlfriends i wonder if they were expecting us to be some wild and crazy gals heading to the local strip joint or something. You may be cute as hell, but we don't need to be "entertained".

                        1. re: im_nomad

                          Obviously by "losers", I meant the older gentlemen that would try to flirt, usually in front of their wives, with a visibly uncomfortable 17 year old. If having a problem with that kind of behavior banishes me from the food industry, then thank God for the advertising industry.

                    2. re: Tay

                      I posted the original question only because as I perused the various discussions on chow-hound I noticed that a few people had cited that the fact that their server hadn't given their name as a most irritating point. I don't think the server is under any obligation to tell me their name, often times when I get great service I ask the server their name to remember to ask for their section the next time I am at that establishment.
                      As to hating friendliness or humanity as dolores seems to suggest, I hate niether, but as a former server and a lifelong diner I recognize that most people when out want to feel like they have some privacy or even perhaps intimacy with those with whom they break bread. An overbearing server mars that experience, one that should remain somewhat intact even in the most casual of settings. Greetings are what grease human interaction, I hope to be greeted more or less sincerely wherever I go but the "hi my name is scott...." template seems a little less sincere than nameless good service.

                      1. re: tooth

                        >>As to hating friendliness or humanity as dolores seems to suggest,

                        I was suggesting no such thing. I said I liked the practice, ignored it if I wanted, used it if I had the occasion, and said I liked the humanity of it.

                      2. re: Tay

                        I agree as well. I want to know their name. If I need something, and they walk by I can say "Molly, could I please get some more ____?" Also if they are really good I want to praise them to the mgmt., and if they are really bad, I want a name to go with it. As far as I know they are making up names, but I don't care, as long as I get a name. I find that using their names gets me better service, not worse.

                        1. re: danhole

                          I agree, danhole. I like to know their names too, they don't have to become your lifelong friend, just a quick mention at the beginning is fine with me. Nametags at more casual places work great, too.
                          This thread reminds me of something that happened a long time ago, when I was eating at the Jolly Roger with my sister. All of a sudden, she looked up and said, "I want cat". Excuse me??? I thought she had gone temporarily insane and wanted a kitty for dessert! But then the waitress came by with the name "Cat" (yes, spelled that way) on her tag, and my sister was able to get her dessert.

                        2. re: Tay

                          Tay, my thoughts exactly. Especially the bit about being able to praise/complain about your server by name. Much more effective than, "Um, that guy, over there, in the white, not that white shirt..."

                          1. re: Tay

                            I agree, Tay. Although I hate the corporate "Hi my name is ___ and I'll be your server" I do like to know their name. Even if it's just printed on my receipt. If they gave stellar service, I can let mgmt know how impressed I was by the service we received from ____. Not to mention, if it was really bad service I can call out the offender by name - ha.

                            I'm a big fan of the name tag. I know, I know all of you are envisioning Mel's Diner-type tags( "Vera" w/ the cute little handkerchief pinned behind). But, think about it, if we all wore name tags there'd be no more embarassing situations of forgetting a person's name. Sorry, I digress.

                            1. re: lynnlato

                              I don't have a problem with name tags, though often a restaurant's lighting might make for staring at the Server's chest... That's brings up a whole 'nother set of issues :-}
                              I think I just like having a friendly interaction with the person who is going to have some influence on my dining experience, not to mention who is also handling my food. It's an accepted fact that people tend to extend themselves more for people they like. I don't care if it's only a fleeting interaction: It's just more pleasant to have a friendly exchange and the easiest way to enter into that sort of environment is some small degree personalization. I'd like to think that it's only one part of good Mgmt training.

                            2. re: Tay

                              I hope don't sound like those cranky posters, but I am bothered by those "how are you" greetings, etc. If you just want to say hi -- well just say "hi." To me, a "how are you" greeting with no intention of receiving a response just seems insincere and canned. I don't fault the waitstaff as it is probably either restaurant/company policy to say these lines. But I am fine with, "Good evening. I'll be your server tonight. May I take your order?"