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

tooth Feb 8, 2008 10:15 AM

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?

  1. Miss Needle Feb 8, 2008 10:21 AM

    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. s
      swsidejim Feb 8, 2008 10:24 AM

      nope, not interested in knowing their name.

      1. Ruth Lafler Feb 8, 2008 10:30 AM

        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
          linguafood Feb 8, 2008 10:37 AM

          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
            d
            dolores Feb 8, 2008 10:43 AM

            >>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
              scubadoo97 Feb 24, 2008 09:54 AM

              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
                t
                Tay Feb 24, 2008 03:22 PM

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

                1. re: Tay
                  Das Ubergeek Feb 24, 2008 03:58 PM

                  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
                    t
                    Tay Feb 24, 2008 04:12 PM

                    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
                      Das Ubergeek Feb 24, 2008 05:02 PM

                      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. :)

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek
                        t
                        Tay Feb 27, 2008 04:11 PM

                        Gotcha! :-}

            2. southernitalian Feb 8, 2008 10:43 AM

              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
                Catskillgirl Feb 8, 2008 11:06 AM

                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
                  n
                  nc213 Feb 8, 2008 11:35 AM

                  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. t
                Tay Feb 8, 2008 11:19 AM

                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
                  Axalady Feb 8, 2008 11:27 AM

                  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
                    southernitalian Feb 8, 2008 11:30 AM

                    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
                      t
                      Tay Feb 8, 2008 11:50 AM

                      southern
                      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
                        im_nomad Feb 8, 2008 02:39 PM

                        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
                          southernitalian Feb 10, 2008 04:47 AM

                          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
                      tooth Feb 8, 2008 11:36 AM

                      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
                        d
                        dolores Feb 8, 2008 11:38 AM

                        >>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
                        danhole Feb 8, 2008 11:38 AM

                        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
                          a
                          aurora50 Feb 8, 2008 12:07 PM

                          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
                          Suzy Q Feb 8, 2008 03:07 PM

                          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 shirt...no, not that white shirt..."

                          1. re: Tay
                            lynnlato Feb 9, 2008 01:39 PM

                            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
                              t
                              Tay Feb 9, 2008 03:55 PM

                              lynn
                              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
                              Miss Needle Feb 11, 2008 12:31 PM

                              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?"

                            3. jfood Feb 8, 2008 11:42 AM

                              There are very few, if anthing, jfood cares less about the first time at a restaurant than the name of the server. Jfood is fully satisfied with the opening line "Good evening. Is there anything I can bring you from the bar?"

                              As others have stated jfood is there for the company, for the food, for a great evening. Most times the servers are the age of little jfood and jfood treats them with the same respect that he wants from little jfood's customers. If they do tell jfood their name, probably 30% chance jfood will forget or not hear it.

                              But if the server is very good, you can bet a bunch of dough that jfood will make mention to it on the way out to the MOD. And if they are really good and the food makes the jfood power rotation he will ask the name of the server and see if they can sit in their section the next visit. Good servers are worth their weight in gold.

                              1. jgg13 Feb 8, 2008 12:26 PM

                                No, not in the least, and I generally get annoyed when they tell me their name because I really don't care at all.*

                                * This ceases to be true if I start going to a place more frequently and actually develop a bit of a relationship with the workstaff. There are several places where I know the folks' names, but that's a different situation.

                                1. s
                                  soupkitten Feb 8, 2008 12:51 PM

                                  this really does seem like one of those things where the server can't win-- if s/he tells name to the table they'll be annoyed, if s/he omits it another table will think her/him rude.

                                  it comes down either to the rules/training of the establishment, or the server's personal style. i have no problem with it either way, i have other things to do with my brain. though i don't like overly chummy servers on my first 5-10 visits, & sometimes the "hi i'm sheila, and i'll be your server here at the roundup" shtick accompanies other annoying behaviors, what effing ever. when i'm a regular, special rules apply, heck i take hugs, etc.

                                  of course it's great to have had a great meal experience, paid & tipped, and your server returns to the table and says something like "thanks for dining with us this evening, my name is sheila, and if you need anything else at all, ask any member of staff for me and i'll get you whatever you need." i find that to be very professional and personable, great service. the server, of course, adroitly plugs her/his name to you so you can ask for seating in her/his section next time. . .

                                  34 Replies
                                  1. re: soupkitten
                                    m
                                    Missmoo Feb 8, 2008 01:37 PM

                                    As a server I really don't like it when people ask my name. We're in a professional relationship not a personal one and unless we've had some connection that warrants name exchanging (in which case we both introduce ourselves) I find it a bit presumptuous. I know it's not meant that way, so I try not to let it get to me, but I definitely prefer "excuse me, Miss (or Ma'am)"

                                    1. re: Missmoo
                                      kiwiFRUIT Feb 8, 2008 01:47 PM

                                      I don't like to tell people my name when I'm at work. I'm not there to be your friend. If you have a problem with the service or want to speak to a manager, there is usually your server's name or a server code on your bill. In the past I've found that telling customers one's name makes them think you're there only to serve them and it's distracting to have them call your name when you're in the middle of doing something for one of your 8 other tables.

                                      1. re: kiwiFRUIT
                                        Suzy Q Feb 10, 2008 03:35 AM

                                        Wow. What kind of job would you have where you don't have to tell people your name? I agree with lynn - I'm not sure why that's such a factor.

                                        1. re: Suzy Q
                                          h
                                          hilltowner Feb 10, 2008 05:57 PM

                                          kiwi is a server. When she is at work serving people, she doesn't like to give her name. I agree with both her and Missmoo. I've been serving for almost 15 years now,(it works for me, I love it, and the money and hours are good), and I hate it when unknown customers ask me my name. It really skews the power dynamic. What should be a professional relationship turns in to one where the customer treats you in a personal way,(hey Kathy, can we have some ketchup?), but you must remain professional. Not to mention the fact that you may not want to be personal with these perfect strangers. I far far far prefer to be called Miss or Maam, and no, Maam does not offend me in the least. It is a term of respect. Ones first name is not.

                                          1. re: hilltowner
                                            d
                                            dolores Feb 11, 2008 02:09 AM

                                            Why would an intelligent patron think their server is there to provide them something that anyone else nearby could? A patron should know that their original server, whose name I appreciate knowing, can be called upon if there is something wrong with the food, or if the food hasn't arrived for an inordinate amount of time, etc.

                                            'can we have some ketchup'? I doubt patrons reach that level of boorishness.

                                            1. re: hilltowner
                                              Suzy Q Feb 11, 2008 02:55 AM

                                              I'm sorry, but I still have to disagree. In just about every other professional environment in the world, people call one another by their names, and more often than not, their first names. Someone asking you your name "skews the power dynamic"? You've got to be kidding me. The server's job is just that - to serve patrons. If you're that tied up in a power, you're in the wrong line of work.

                                              Here's a thought...perhaps patrons would just like to be courteous and cordial to you instead of using the impersonal "hey you" or "ma'am". You may not find that disrespectful, but others might.

                                              1. re: Suzy Q
                                                m
                                                Minnow Feb 11, 2008 07:09 AM

                                                I've never been a server, but I worked retail putting myself through school, and I have to agree about the power dynamic comment. When you are in a service situation, and someone (who is anonymous to you) demands your name, it really does change the dynamic. When I would answer the phones, and the first thing the person asked is "What is your name?" I knew it would be a difficult phone call. Yes, they want your name to identify you--and they want you to KNOW that they can identify you. I'm not at all saying that everyone thinks that way--I agree with Dolores it can be humanizing--but don't discount the power dynamic shift if you haven't experienced it.

                                                1. re: Minnow
                                                  Suzy Q Feb 11, 2008 07:38 AM

                                                  Sorry, but I still don't see it. We'll have to agree to disagree on that one. I just can't fathom how an innocuous situation like dinner equates to a power play.

                                                  1. re: Suzy Q
                                                    southernitalian Feb 11, 2008 08:31 AM

                                                    Would this website exist if dinner were innocuous?

                                                2. re: Suzy Q
                                                  h
                                                  hilltowner Feb 11, 2008 08:30 AM

                                                  Yes, people do call each other by first name in professional environments. The BIG difference here is that the customer knows my name, but I do not know the customers name. And let me tell you from experience; they do not want me to ask their name.

                                                  You are going to have to trust us servers on this one. I can not think of any server I have ever worked with that likes when people ask their name at the beginning of the meal. There is a reason for that. Now, it is an entirely different animal if they ask your name at the end of the meal. Usually this happens if you have developed some kind of rapport and they want to thank you personally. Big difference. Generally, in this case, they will also introduce themselves.

                                                  1. re: hilltowner
                                                    lynnlato Feb 11, 2008 02:46 PM

                                                    I agree, Suzy Q. Well said.

                                                    I was a server for, well, a decade or two, and am still in the industry and I just think it ridiculous to think of this as a power struggle. For those servers that see it that way, I think that perhaps they may have an insecurity issue. I mean otherwise I just don't get it.

                                                    I like it when people want to know me beyond "may I have some ketchup". I think them knowing your name probably helps them be more courteous, not less.

                                                    And I disagree w/ Ruth's (and other's) assertion that in most professional situations folks know each other's names. Not true. There are a whole slew of folks out there working and wearing name tags.

                                                    1. re: lynnlato
                                                      Ruth Lafler Feb 11, 2008 03:27 PM

                                                      The point is that in most business sectors the exchange of names is mutual, not one-sided. Service industries are generally the only ones where servers have names and patrons don't. Whether you want to acknowledge it or not, it is a power dynamic -- the people who serve are being put in a lower position by being called by their first names while the people who are being served are called either by their last names or a courtesy title, unless they specifically give permission to do otherwise. The almost universal use of first names has become so commonplace in the last generation that most people don't think about the underlying significance of be indentified by a first or last name, but it still exists.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                        lynnlato Feb 12, 2008 03:55 PM

                                                        No matter how you wrap it up, I still disagree w/ you, Ruth. Sorry. Ain't democracy grand?

                                                        And speaking of power, I'd say anyone who has control over what goes in your food and ultimately in your mouth - well, I think they are the one's in the position of power. Anyone who fails to recognize that is just plain naive & stupid.

                                                  2. re: Suzy Q
                                                    QueenPeach Feb 15, 2008 10:28 AM

                                                    I definately have to agree with Suzy. Do you think people in higher positions, a CEO of a major company/a manager, for instance doesn't not tell people to call him/her by his name because he wants to maintain power? That is the silliest thing I ever heard. Telling someone your name, whether you are serving them or not just seems to be good manners to me if you're going to be talking to them for a length of time. And I think it would benefit the server to be called by their name rather than being summoned with a "Excuse me! Excuse me waitress in the red shirt!.. can I get some ketchup please?" Doesn't it seem more civil to just call for someone by their name?

                                                    1. re: QueenPeach
                                                      h
                                                      hilltowner Feb 20, 2008 07:42 PM

                                                      Right. Telling someone your name might seem to be good manners if you are going to be talking to them for a length of time. So why don't you, the customer, tell me YOUR name? You are going to be talking to me for a couple of hours. And I am getting a little bit tired of the "professional" analogies. This is a very different situation. I get the feeling that many of you have never worked in a service oriented job, much less one where you were dealing with people for a couple of hours at a time. In the end, my name is part of my identity. There is no reason for you to know it. Excuse me works just fine.

                                                      1. re: hilltowner
                                                        t
                                                        Tay Feb 21, 2008 01:58 AM

                                                        hilltowner ... You say:
                                                        "And I am getting a little bit tired of the "professional" analogies. This is a very different situation".
                                                        But you don't explain what you mean by that. Personally, I have no problem telling a Server my name and, on some occasions have done that. The reason why I don't do it it as a matter of course is b/c the Server is not going to need to attract my attention whereas I may need to attract his/hers.
                                                        Although I have never worked in the service industry, I have great respect for those who do. I consider it a difficult, relatively low paying , physically demanding and mentally stressful profession. I agree, your name is part of your identity, but it's an external part. As someone who 'deals with people for a couple of hours at a time' you should be comfortable with sharing that aspect of your identity. No one would expect you to say "Hi, I'm Scott/Suzie, I'm a 28 yr old, p/t student, divorced with 2 kids, a dog and a mortgage. and I'll be your Server tonight." If you have a problem/concern about sharing your name, then just make one up, but offer some sort of professional connection. Many of your customers will appreciate it.

                                                        1. re: Tay
                                                          Suzy Q Feb 21, 2008 03:30 AM

                                                          As usual, Tay, I agree 110% with you on this topic. I don't understand how a server expects a patron to attract his or her attention if they don't know what to call them, and unless I'm wrong, the server still *is* the appropriate person to ask a question or request an extra fork, etc.

                                                          And hilltowner, as to the "professional" analogies - do you not consider yourself a customer service professional? I would think that most servers would. Like many others, I also have no problem telling a server my name, but I don't see the practical necessity of doing so.

                                                          1. re: Tay
                                                            h
                                                            hilltowner Feb 21, 2008 11:55 AM

                                                            My problem with the "professional" analogies is that I am working and you are not. In an office type professional situation, both of you are working. I just do not buy into the customer needing to know my name in order to attract my attention when they need something. All it takes is a look. Or an "excuse me". Every day I serve people who do not know my name. All of their needs are met.

                                                            And yes, I do very much consider myself a professional and wish more people, servers and customers alike, would adopt this attitude. The problem is many servers, especially young ones do not care about good service because it isn't a "real job". They do not present a professional attitude. This translates to customers who have to endure such clueless servers and therefore have less respect for the profession.

                                                            Also, I am sorry about the harshness of yesterdays rant. I had just gotten off a long, difficult shift and was just a little bit on edge.

                                                            1. re: hilltowner
                                                              Suzy Q Feb 21, 2008 12:10 PM

                                                              So should I just say "hey you"?

                                                              I talk to people in my work all day long who may not be "at work" when I am. However, I am engaging in a business transaction with them, just as a server is engaged in a business transaction with a patron. It's common courtesy to identify yourself to someone in that situation, especially when, as has been mentioned already, I'm handing you my money/CC at the end of the evening.

                                                              I keep thinking of Tay's point toward the bottom of this thread - what about the pure pleasure of a nice social interaction? Giving your name to your patrons is personable, increases efficiency, and IMHO, is just plain good customer service.

                                                              1. re: Suzy Q
                                                                d
                                                                dolores Feb 21, 2008 12:11 PM

                                                                - what about the pure pleasure of a nice social interaction?

                                                                Yes. As I noted previously, the 'humanity' of it all.

                                                                Oh well.

                                                          2. re: hilltowner
                                                            d
                                                            dolores Feb 21, 2008 01:59 AM

                                                            >>So why don't you, the customer, tell me YOUR name?

                                                            Sometimes I and my party do. I have never had a server seem the least bit put off when we do. All the servers who let us know their name and actually converse with us have been very nice.

                                                            And we have tipped them more than 20%.

                                                            1. re: dolores
                                                              h
                                                              hilltowner Feb 21, 2008 12:12 PM

                                                              I don't seem put off either when people ask my name. That would be unprofessional. Look, I didn't mean to create such a stir. It isn't something I rail against. I just do not see the need for customers to know my name right off the bat, and many servers would agree with me. You do not need to know your servers name to get their attention. Of course, thinking about this right now, in reference to my above post regarding uncaring servers, you may have a point. I am VERY attentive to my tables. So many others are not. They may not see the look you give them or the slight raising of the head. So, I see your point. But it still irritates me. Also, this has nothing to do with conversing. I LOVE conversing with my tables.

                                                              1. re: hilltowner
                                                                t
                                                                Tay Feb 22, 2008 09:08 PM

                                                                hilltowner
                                                                I understand and can appreciate what you said about having had a difficult work shift when you responded to the thread.
                                                                I think this is just one of those, 'agree to disagree' sort of threads. I went out to dinner tonight and the Server opened with:

                                                                " Hi I'm Charlie and it will be my pleasure to get your weekend off to a great start. So with that thought would anyone care for something from the bar?"
                                                                He was both funny and charming. We would have left a generous tip just on service alone, but by the end of the meal we really felt that he contributed to the pleasure of the dining experience, so we contributed a bit more towards his MBA.
                                                                Beofre he even took the check and saw the tip, he told us it was a pleasure being our Waiter and that he hoped we would come back again and ask to be seated in his section... Even though we told him we did not require change, he made it a point to come back to our table to thank us again for our generosity.
                                                                I thought about this thread and it made me smile... :-}

                                                                1. re: Tay
                                                                  d
                                                                  dolores Feb 23, 2008 02:07 AM

                                                                  See, that's the kind of servers I usually get -- boy, looking around it seems am I EVER lucky! -- and am so very happy to tip them above and beyond the tiny little norm.

                                                                  Imagine having to deal with the public AND being pleasant. I salute Charlie and all the other servers like him.

                                                                  1. re: dolores
                                                                    t
                                                                    Tay Feb 23, 2008 04:33 AM

                                                                    dolores
                                                                    I have read numerous postings of yours. I'm sure there are issues upon which we disagreee, but your responses are always polite. I'm willing to wager it's your greeting and body language that causes that positive response from your Server rather than any sort of luck.:-} I imagine you probably smile, and say "Hello" and that immediately lets your Server know he/she will have a friendly customer.
                                                                    Just from a common sense perspective, I cannot imagine anyone being curt, unpleasant or even indiffferent to someone who will be handling their food :-}
                                                                    PS: Should I make a repeat visit to that restaurant, I plan on telling Charlie about this discussion thread and about your compliment :-}

                                                                    1. re: Tay
                                                                      d
                                                                      dolores Feb 23, 2008 04:53 AM

                                                                      Thank you Tay for the very nice response.

                                                            2. re: hilltowner
                                                              QueenPeach Feb 21, 2008 11:04 AM

                                                              Hilltowner, I do tell the server my name. If they are kind enough to introduce themselves to me with their name, I do the same. And how can you tire of professional analogies when this is a Profession we are talking about. I am actually in a service oriented job right now. Have been for the last 4 years and although I understand what it can be like to deal with a rude/irate/bad manners customer, it doesn't diminish what it is.. a job. And agreed with Tay, your name is your external identity.. what power is their in that? It's not like you're being asked for your social security number. If you feel like you need more power b/c you're in service, think about all that you can do with that credit card people trust you with when they pay the check.

                                                  3. re: Missmoo
                                                    lynnlato Feb 9, 2008 01:42 PM

                                                    I'm confused - professionals don't give out their name?

                                                    Actually, I don't see what the big deal is either way.

                                                    1. re: lynnlato
                                                      Ruth Lafler Feb 11, 2008 02:15 PM

                                                      As said above, in most business situations people *exchange* names: I call you Lynn, you call me Ruth. One person calling the other by a first name while the other one is required to use "sir" or "ma'am" or "Mr. Jones" is definitely a power play. I once got into a rather heated exchange with a customer service rep who called me "Ruth" (since he had my account info) and when I asked him his name, gave it as "Mr. Jones." You can bet that if a diner asked a server for her name, and she said "my name is Kathy, what's yours?" the patron would not be happy (unless he was trying to hit on her, which is also a power play). Plus, when someone asks a server for her name at the beginning of the meal, you just know its because the patron intends to run her ragged ("Oh Kathy, can I have ...?) or ask for special favors/treatment on the grounds that they're now pals.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                        Suzy Q Feb 11, 2008 02:30 PM

                                                        Ruth said: "Plus, when someone asks a server for her name at the beginning of the meal, you just know its because the patron intends to run her ragged ("Oh Kathy, can I have ...?) or ask for special favors/treatment on the grounds that they're now pals."

                                                        Why on earth do you think that someone NOT knowing your name is going to keep them from treating a server that way? A jerk is a jerk, period. And a courteous customer is just that whether they know your name or not.

                                                        1. re: Suzy Q
                                                          m
                                                          Missmoo Feb 11, 2008 05:19 PM

                                                          It's true that a jerk is a jerk. But unless someone says "I'm Bob, what's your name?" I find it too intimate and it makes me uncomfortable. I really don't like having people say, "Sue can I have more..." I prefer, "Excuse me? May I..." Whichever side of the table I am on I prefer to know my waiter's or my customer's names once we have a more established relationship.

                                                          1. re: Missmoo
                                                            m
                                                            mojoeater Feb 11, 2008 07:06 PM

                                                            This all seems ludicrous to me. I waited tables for over a dozen years, and I always preferred to be called by name. I'd rather you say, "Mojo, may I have some more butter" than "Can you get me some butter, sweetheart" or worse, "Excuse me, miss." Ugh.

                                                            1. re: mojoeater
                                                              d
                                                              dolores Feb 12, 2008 01:13 AM

                                                              >>This all seems ludicrous to me. I waited tables for over a dozen years, and I always preferred to be called by name.

                                                              True, mojoeater. I find it curious that it's even an issue, but there you go.

                                                              1. re: mojoeater
                                                                m
                                                                Missmoo Feb 12, 2008 08:20 AM

                                                                It's funny how diffferent our reactions can be!

                                                  4. The Dairy Queen Feb 8, 2008 01:03 PM

                                                    You bet I do. That way, should I need to call back later to speak to the manager to complain about and/or heap praise on that person, I can say I know who waited on me. Or, if I haven't seen my server in a half hour, I can grab a random staffperson and say, "Where is NAME_OF_SERVER? I haven't seen her in a half an hour."

                                                    ~TDQ

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                      a
                                                      aurora50 Feb 8, 2008 01:28 PM

                                                      This thread just made me think of another twist - when servers not only introduce themselves, but then if they have a change of shifts, they then come and explain "the situation", THEN introduce the new person!!!! ("This is so-and-so, I'm going to be ending my shift, just ask so-and-so if you need anything...")
                                                      To me, THAT's when it really becomes overkill. GRRRRRR.

                                                      1. re: aurora50
                                                        t
                                                        Tay Feb 9, 2008 06:32 AM

                                                        aurora50
                                                        That's not called "overkill"... . It's called courtesy.

                                                        1. re: Tay
                                                          Suzy Q Feb 9, 2008 07:03 AM

                                                          Agreed, Tay - much better than just not ever seeing your server again and wondering if they were the victim of some unfortunate kitchen accident.

                                                          1. re: Suzy Q
                                                            t
                                                            Tay Feb 9, 2008 07:12 AM

                                                            SUqy Q
                                                            ...
                                                            Lol... Well put. I would actually be a little annoyed if my Server just 'disappeared' without so much as a word. Sometimes, especially at lunch when I know morning/afternoon shifts often change, if we are lingering over coffee and conversation, if I'm made aware that our Server is going offf duty , I'll ask for the check and pay it to insure that the correct person reaps the benefit of their efforts. Not all restaurants pool their tips.

                                                      2. re: The Dairy Queen
                                                        southernitalian Feb 10, 2008 04:50 AM

                                                        Are y'all eating at restaurants that have so many hundreds of servers that you can't describe them to management? I don't get it.

                                                        1. re: southernitalian
                                                          t
                                                          Tay Feb 10, 2008 10:44 AM

                                                          southern
                                                          Of course not, but I also don't want to get into a descriptive/20 questions dialogue with Mgmt. It's a lot more courteous and discreet to refer to the Server by name than to stand in the front of the restaurant, often in front of other patrons, and start describing or, worse, pointing to him/her.
                                                          You're right: I'm afraid you don't get it :-}

                                                      3. g
                                                        gloriousfood Feb 8, 2008 01:46 PM

                                                        You know what, I never thought about it and won't be thinking about it. I've never noticed any correlation between the kind of service I get and servers who do or don't introduce themselves. As long as the service, food, and company all add up, it's a good night out in my book.

                                                        1. im_nomad Feb 8, 2008 02:31 PM

                                                          I don't mind it....however what i don't get is the trend in some chain type restaurants where the server writes their name on the brown paper that covers the table, sometimes in crayon at that........

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: im_nomad
                                                            southernitalian Feb 10, 2008 04:52 AM

                                                            If I ever went to a restaurant and that happened, I'd pick up another crayon and write "Sorry, we need to go".

                                                            1. re: im_nomad
                                                              t
                                                              Tay Feb 10, 2008 10:55 AM

                                                              If it's part of the restaurant's "gimmick/theme" then it's usually known about ahead of time. It wouldn't be a deal breaker for me,and I certainly wouldn't take offense., but if it really is bothersome to you then just don't patronize the place.

                                                              1. re: im_nomad
                                                                lynnlato Feb 14, 2008 05:16 AM

                                                                I once worked at a restaurant that was a new concept and we were the "opening team". They had us write our names on beer coasters and toss them on the table when we greeted the guests. It was one of the corniest things I've ever done. Interestingly, this concept was owned by the same folks who started the first Dean & DeLuca franchise.

                                                                Soon after I vowed to steer clear of corporate concept restaurants.

                                                              2. s
                                                                smartie Feb 8, 2008 02:33 PM

                                                                I couldn't care less about a server's name any more than the name of the customer service rep at the utility company, bank, any phone marketing person, store assistant etc etc.

                                                                Unless we are regulars at a certain restaurant and specifically want that server every time we go.

                                                                4 Replies
                                                                1. re: smartie
                                                                  t
                                                                  Tay Feb 9, 2008 06:52 AM

                                                                  smartie
                                                                  "Unless we are regulars at a certain restaurant and specifically want that server every time we go".

                                                                  The first step in building any kind of rapport in becoming a 'regular' is to know the name of the Server you liked so on future visits, you can ask to be seated in that person's section. Same with any other businesses You soon find that problems are addressed/resolved more quickly if you ask for a specific person with whom you have established some sort of relationship, no matter how temporary.

                                                                  1. re: Tay
                                                                    Sam Fujisaka Feb 10, 2008 07:57 PM

                                                                    Your best ever

                                                                    1. re: Tay
                                                                      j
                                                                      Janet from Richmond Feb 11, 2008 06:34 AM

                                                                      I agree completely with this. People who call me at work often ask my name. And if they call back and refer to me by name, I'm impressed and yes it's a step towards being a regular. I can't imagine "not wanting to know someone's name". Geesh.

                                                                      1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                        lynnlato Feb 11, 2008 02:47 PM

                                                                        Right!

                                                                  2. Veggo Feb 8, 2008 03:12 PM

                                                                    I prefer "I'm John. May I take your drink orders?" I can figure out the server part. I'm not there looking for a bail bondsman or a backhoe operator. And not for last night, nor for tomorrow.
                                                                    But, in seriousness, it's 100% that I will remember his/her name, and use it, rather than calling out "hey, waiter!" It's a 1 or 2 hour session of people interaction that is best accomplished with acknowledgment and respect from the start.

                                                                    1. d
                                                                      Deborah Feb 8, 2008 05:59 PM

                                                                      I can't remember ever being in a high end restaurant where the waiter or waitress introduced themselves. Without knowing names I have received friendly, efficient and excellent service.

                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Deborah
                                                                        t
                                                                        Tay Feb 9, 2008 06:37 AM

                                                                        Interesting. I cannot recall dining in a high end restaurant where the Server didn't introduce him/herself. Maybe different cities, produce different training.
                                                                        I too have received friendly, efficient , excellent service without knowing the Server's name. I just think it's a nice touch and certainly not something that would annoy me.

                                                                        1. re: Tay
                                                                          j
                                                                          Janet from Richmond Feb 11, 2008 06:34 AM

                                                                          Ditto here.

                                                                          1. re: Tay
                                                                            Suzy Q Feb 11, 2008 07:41 AM

                                                                            I think you may be on to something there. I live in the South, and it would be bizarre to not have a server introduce him or herself. But then again, I also start conversations with people in the grocery store checkout, the security line at the airport, etc. I've found people generally less receptive to this in some parts of the country.

                                                                            1. re: Suzy Q
                                                                              j
                                                                              Janet from Richmond Feb 11, 2008 07:44 AM

                                                                              I'm from the South too and we are generally friendlier and more engaging than is "normal" in other regions. I remember being in NYC and a friend asked me why I told the bartender to "have a good evening" when we left a bar.

                                                                              1. re: Janet from Richmond
                                                                                Ruth Lafler Feb 11, 2008 02:26 PM

                                                                                Yeah, but isn't it also traditional in the South to be friendly and smiley to your face and then rip you behind your back? Fake friendliness I don't need.

                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                  Suzy Q Feb 12, 2008 12:40 PM

                                                                                  Hmm. No, I haven't noticed that limited to any particular place, Ruth. Rudeness and ill behavior seem to find a way to transcend regional boundaries.

                                                                              2. re: Suzy Q
                                                                                jgg13 Feb 11, 2008 08:00 AM

                                                                                That's a good point. Regional variations on this sort of thing can be huge. In the Boston area, people are often looked at as having something wrong with them if they're striking up conversations w/ strangers. In other parts of the country that's common practice. It is always interesting being with southern friends/family up here as they'll just start talking to whomever and never seem to realize that the other person really doesn't want to talk to them. :)

                                                                                1. re: jgg13
                                                                                  t
                                                                                  Tay Feb 11, 2008 09:00 PM

                                                                                  Yes... It's a regional thing. I 've always noticed that when I spend time in Sarasota FL, people will ask how I am...And wait for a response! Once I realized it was a sincere inquiry I found it to be very thoughtful. Here, in NYC, it's definitely used more as a greeting.
                                                                                  As for the comment above:
                                                                                  "i'sn't it also traditional in the South to be friendly and smiley to your face and then rip you behind your back?".
                                                                                  Utter nonsense... I've spent a good deal of time down South and there didn't seem to be any more insincere individuals there than any other part of the country.

                                                                                  1. re: Tay
                                                                                    Miss Needle Feb 11, 2008 09:20 PM

                                                                                    It's definitely a regional thing. I was in Bonita Springs/Fort Myers last week and thought that everybody was really friendly. Pretty refreshing!

                                                                                    DH is in Pittsburgh on business. When speaking to him, he talked about how nice everybody was here as well.

                                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle
                                                                                      t
                                                                                      tom porc Feb 13, 2008 12:24 AM

                                                                                      Since when did ppl become so rude by not greeting others whether professionally or casually?
                                                                                      Can we find the strength to acknowledge our neighbors and fellow man?

                                                                          2. s
                                                                            Sinicle Feb 8, 2008 06:01 PM

                                                                            I do not need to know their name anymore than I need to know their favorite dish....often I am told both

                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Sinicle
                                                                              l
                                                                              Leonardo Feb 9, 2008 10:03 AM

                                                                              I agree about having no need of knowing their name or favorite dish.
                                                                              There's a high chance that our tastes are diametrically opposed. Why should I care what they like, or that they approve of my order ("Excellent choice...that's my favorite too!")
                                                                              I'm not blaming the server either. It's usually policy, meaning I won't be going there again.

                                                                              1. re: Leonardo
                                                                                Suzy Q Feb 9, 2008 10:21 AM

                                                                                Leonardo, that seems like a pretty harsh reason to not patronize a restaurant. What if you happen to actually like the food?

                                                                            2. j
                                                                              jlafler Feb 8, 2008 09:08 PM

                                                                              I'm agnostic on this one. I don't need to know the server's name (if I can't track them down when I need them, I can flag down another server and they will know who is supposed to be serving my table without my giving the name). But it doesn't bother me, either. I figure that when servers say canned-sounding things, it's probably restaurant policy and not their fault.

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: jlafler
                                                                                b
                                                                                bubbles4me Feb 9, 2008 06:44 AM

                                                                                I'm in the "don't care either way" camp. My problem is I am usually so focused on the menu that I don't even remember my server's name any way!

                                                                              2. Azizeh Barjesteh Feb 9, 2008 01:24 PM

                                                                                I can't remember names to save my life. So, if they tell me, I'll forget anyway.

                                                                                As a server, I don't volunteer my name. I have an unusual name and every single time I tell people, they ask about it's origins, what it means, why I was named that. I actually am known by a nickname that's unusual too, and I've just gotten to the point of lying when they ask if that's my real name. Yes, it is. And no, it doesn't mean anything. My family history isn't anyone's business. Not that I am secretive, but when you're busy and trying to help 2-3 other tables out, you don't have time to talk about delivery room stories.

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh
                                                                                  t
                                                                                  Tay Feb 9, 2008 04:08 PM

                                                                                  Azizeh
                                                                                  I can understand your point and your right to privacy. When I was in college, I had a friend with a very unique name, who waited tables p/t to make a little extra spending money. Rather than get into the whole "Where did that name come from?" scenario, she just chose a generic, but cute "work name" and would introduce herself by that name. Win win....

                                                                                2. scuzzo Feb 10, 2008 01:09 PM

                                                                                  I want to know. Serving me food is somewhat of an intimate thing. A server is someone who is caring for me, and I want to care back. Isn't it nice to feel cared for?

                                                                                  I ate out with my father two days ago, and we had a server, Brian, at the Hungry Hunter in Ventura. What a spectacular waiter he was! He made a good meal a great experience. What he added was a personal touch, and real sense that he cared that my father and I felt well cared for. We had prime rib, and the horseradish cup on the side of the plate had spilled a bit onto the meat, and he wanted to make sure that my Dad did, indeed enjoy horseradish, or he would've replaced the meat. One of the many little things he did that spoke volumes.

                                                                                  11 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: scuzzo
                                                                                    t
                                                                                    Tay Feb 10, 2008 01:41 PM

                                                                                    My point exactly. For as long as you are dining and he/she is serving, the Diner and the Server are in an interaction of sorts. For many people, it's all about the food PERIOD. For me, it's a combination of (hopefully) great food, and courteous, efficient and (also hopefully) friendly service. I have a better evening and the Server feels not only appreciated and respected, but reaps the more tangible reward of a better tip... I cannot imagine why anyone would not want that.

                                                                                    1. re: Tay
                                                                                      linguafood Feb 10, 2008 01:49 PM

                                                                                      Tay, I agree with all that you say, but still don't find it necessary to know the server's name to enjoy above described great service. He won't ask mine, nor would I volunteer it...so the whole 'interaction' is not played on even ground. Why pretend.

                                                                                      1. re: linguafood
                                                                                        t
                                                                                        Tay Feb 10, 2008 02:42 PM

                                                                                        linguafood
                                                                                        It's not that I find it necessary, I just think it's a pleasant way to begin.
                                                                                        the 2-3 hr (if you don't like 'interaction') exchange between the Server and the people at my table. Your Server won't ask your name b/c in the dining scenario, he/she is the 'Serve'r and you, the 'Patron'. Of course I don't know your professional circumstances but I'm reasonably certain in your business dealings when you are on the 'providing end' of services being rendered, as with a physician, broker, lawyer, tradesperson, it is you who extends yourself to make the initial introduction. As for, 'even ground' that may be truefor many but for me I don't find the effort to build a rapport with the Server to be one of pretense. .

                                                                                        1. re: Tay
                                                                                          scuzzo Feb 10, 2008 05:56 PM

                                                                                          It's about choosing to show respect. I'm sure many servers feel "less than" in many situations. As a patron, I can CHOOSE to not let that be the message I send. We don't need to be friends', exchange phone numbers and find out favorite movies, but it can be respectful and pleasant. I've been in many service positions and those who choose to show a bit of real, honest-to-goodness caring really stand apart from the rest. I'm not telling you that you need to do it, just why I do it.

                                                                                          1. re: Tay
                                                                                            linguafood Feb 10, 2008 06:06 PM

                                                                                            I suppose I should emphasize that my first post on this thread was regarding the overly cheerful "hi my name is soandso and I'll be your server tonight" at any random eatery, where it means nothing and is in no way an indication that the service will be more pleasant, or personable than if they hadn't "introduced" themselves. Pointing out the fact that they'll be serving me is simply redundant. Ah, who knows, maybe I'm just a prickly Prussian. Whatevs.

                                                                                        2. re: Tay
                                                                                          d
                                                                                          dolores Feb 10, 2008 02:51 PM

                                                                                          I agree Tay. As noted, if I want to talk about the server later and recommend his/her station in a restaurant I particularly liked, or ask to sit in that server's station the next time I go to the restaurant, I'll need the person's name.

                                                                                          Like other issues that matter to me in a restaurant that don't matter to others, knowing a server's name is neither offputting or the end of the world.I like the sharing of humanity between someone who is providing me a service for a short period of time.

                                                                                          1. re: Tay
                                                                                            southernitalian Feb 11, 2008 04:59 AM

                                                                                            But see Tay, what you're not seeing is that there are some real creeps out there. I posted a few things that happened to me as a server and they were removed. I'm going to be generous here and underestimate but I'll say that one in 20 diners is just plain creepy and weird and I can assure you, you would not want them to know your name. Waiting tables at times can be borderline scary, Even at very nice restaurants. Especially when alcohol is involved.

                                                                                          2. re: scuzzo
                                                                                            Ruth Lafler Feb 11, 2008 02:21 PM

                                                                                            So, scuzzo, is this intimacy a two-way street? When he told you his name, did you tell him yours? Because if you didn't, well then basically you were asking him to perform a service you consider to be intimate with someone who was not willing to be equally intimate with him. Same with all you people who think it's friendly and that you wouldn't want to be served by someone whose name you didn't know. Do you tell them your name? If not, why don't the same rules of friendliness apply to the patron?

                                                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                              s
                                                                                              soupkitten Feb 11, 2008 05:34 PM

                                                                                              very recently my dh and i had a very nice meal at a new restaurant where we had a great rapport with our server, who was very professional, an "old pro." he didn't volunteer his name at the beginning of the meal, just did his job expertly, but we had nice verbal exchanges throughout the course of the evening. at the end of the meal and after the bill was paid he returned to the table and we asked some more questions about the restaurant, this & that, and he introduced himself by his first name. i immediately introduced myself by my first name, extended my hand for a shake, and then indicated dh across the table "and this is *dh's first name.*" we all shook hands and bantered for several minutes more before dh and i left for the evening. poof. we'll ask to be sat in his section forever-- we get the service, he gets the tips, the restaurant gets our patronage, our recs, and our guests we bring there. sometimes "insidership" or "regularship" is easily achieved. people say that folks in the service industry can sniff each other out, as if we have some sort of sixth sense, but really it's just an interaction between people who appreciate each other's work and who don't pull power relationships.

                                                                                              i would never, never ask for a server's name without also offering my own to "level the table." when a server offers her/his name at the end of a meal or after serving me several times (we have some sort of working relationship), i *always* immediately offer my name and introduce others with me. when the server says their name as part of a shpiel at the beginning of a meal it's meaningless and they don't get my name. extra points for creepiness go to the server who returns my credit card, saying, "thanks, soupkitten," when they've never introduced themselves. names are definitely part of the power dynamic. when i started bartending, i changed the way i signed my name so that i couldn't be tracked/stalked by my last name (signing off on deliveries, orders etc), but my first name was common knowledge to all my regular customers. i still get flagged down in the grocery store, random parking lot, etc. by customers who know my first name, whom i haven't served in over a decade. since i don't necessarily remember them, it does get creepy. i did work with two women who had "work names" that were different from their real names. both were very shady characters. both stole from the establishment & their co-workers, both were fired. co-workers who had done hard prison time, by contrast, used their own names and were honest.

                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                Ruth Lafler Feb 11, 2008 05:50 PM

                                                                                                I think we're in accord, soupkitten: you object to the meaningless announcement of the name at the beginning of the meal, but when you do feel like you've built a real relationship by the end, you have a mutual exchange names.

                                                                                                One thing no one has mentioned (at least, that I've seen), is that in many restaurants your so-called waiter is only one part of a team that serves you (food runners, bussers, etc.). It doesn't do a whole lot of good to know the name of your server if after he takes your order you don't see him again until it's time to order dessert or after-dinner beverages.

                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler
                                                                                                  s
                                                                                                  soupkitten Feb 11, 2008 06:44 PM

                                                                                                  yup, we agree on most points. i did want to say that when a server offers her/his name as a genuine gesture of friendliness, after a nice meal & interaction, it's good of the customers to give names too so as not to have the awkward inequality hanging between people. mostly i wanted to chime in that names can sometimes be meaningless and sometimes be very meaningful, that customers should try to be aware & not inadvertently dehumanize their server, my usual "don't be a jerk" schtick, & i wanted to give an example of a great server giving his name out as part of a whole evening of excellent service. with my own experiences i wanted to hint that for those who freely use their own names (give up anonymity), there are sometimes unforeseen, longterm consequences that are mainly positive but can be uncomfortable, creepy, or weird--for starters.

                                                                                                  my response to your insightful post, Ruth, was not meant to argue with you-- your post prompted me to try to articulate my opinion.

                                                                                                  i do think that there is a variation in attitudes about the formality/friendliness of the server/patron relationship throughout regions, urban/rural, etc. but that really good servers are the same in every region, country, area, and economy, and that the barriers between people can be easily bridged-- call me dumb if you want.

                                                                                          3. b
                                                                                            Bite Me Feb 10, 2008 01:58 PM

                                                                                            Yes, I like to know the servers' names. We eat at all the same places - we're regulars. We like to ask to be in their sections when we make a reservation - or we know whose section to avoid. And, it's nicer to use a name sometimes when asking for something too. If the name isn't told to me, that's okay, too.

                                                                                            1. PeterL Feb 10, 2008 06:27 PM

                                                                                              I don't care one way or the other. if they give it, fine, it don't bother me. If they don't that's fine too.

                                                                                              It's when they ask me for my name that freaks me out.

                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: PeterL
                                                                                                scuzzo Feb 10, 2008 07:38 PM

                                                                                                Yea, they shouldn't ask your name, unless there's a specific reason...

                                                                                                1. re: PeterL
                                                                                                  jgg13 Feb 11, 2008 08:01 AM

                                                                                                  On a vaguely related note ... this isn't really a recent trend, but when you're putting your name in for a table - now they ask for your first name. "Jim, party of 5!". That's a lot less distinguishing in many cases than one's last name. I always assumed this shift was to make things seem more casual/personable.

                                                                                                2. Sam Fujisaka Feb 10, 2008 08:02 PM

                                                                                                  Curious that this, "Good evening, my name is Jason and I'll be yor server tonight..." only happens in the US.

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka
                                                                                                    Das Ubergeek Feb 14, 2008 10:10 AM

                                                                                                    Sure, because in Paris and Barcelona and Hong Kong they just come up to the table -- eventually -- and cock an eyebrow at you.

                                                                                                  2. switters Feb 10, 2008 08:58 PM

                                                                                                    i'm a server in a fairly casual, non-chain restaurant, and i never introduce myself to customers by name. the servers i've seen and know who do that are often compelled to do so by a misguided belief that their own self-perceived charm will lend a special something to the diners' experience. all too often though, its taken the wrong way, either as unwanted flirtation or just plain intrusion on what should be an almost entirely private experience. thats not to say that there should be no rapport between servers and their customers, but its been my experience that customers who want to know their servers name will always ask. the best service is always attentive yet unobtrusive, and a good server can always intuitively tell when a customer wants to step outside the confines of their meal and engage in conversation. otherwise, just do your job and let them enjoy some good food and good company.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: switters
                                                                                                      m
                                                                                                      Muskrat Feb 10, 2008 09:28 PM

                                                                                                      If I had a problem or a question, I'd rather ask someone to find "Bob" than "My waiter -- you know, the guy with the black hair and glasses."

                                                                                                    2. Veggo Feb 11, 2008 08:27 AM

                                                                                                      I only have one dog in this fight, but I find it disquieting that so many people feel they live in such a dark and furtive world that sharing their identities is to be avoided. It's jaded and saddening.
                                                                                                      When I joined Chowhound 14 months ago, I was upfront with my name and address and even though I have my detractors, I have had nothing but positive responses and developed a few friendships I value. On or off the job, I find it the most rewarding way to go. (Even though I'm now off the job!)

                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                      1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                        Suzy Q Feb 11, 2008 09:21 AM

                                                                                                        Very well-put, Veggo.

                                                                                                      2. f
                                                                                                        feelinpeckish Feb 11, 2008 11:33 AM

                                                                                                        I don't care to know any waiter's name. It is irrelavant to the job. Further I have never listened closely enough even remember any of the names. Nuff said!

                                                                                                        1. t
                                                                                                          thewood Feb 11, 2008 09:41 PM

                                                                                                          Are you kidding me? I've been quietly lurking for a little while now, but I just can't keep quiet about this one.

                                                                                                          Repeat after me, folks: Hospitality

                                                                                                          Perhaps I came to the wrong place, with my beliefs that dining is about more than only the food.

                                                                                                          Good food, good wine, and good company.

                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: thewood
                                                                                                            d
                                                                                                            dolores Feb 13, 2008 01:17 AM

                                                                                                            Nope, thewood, you're absolutely right. I have lots of deal breakers in restaurants, but friendly servers who share their names and engage in conversation is not one of them. It isn't one of the horriblest things of 'my' dining experience, and I'm thankful for that.

                                                                                                            1. re: dolores
                                                                                                              Servorg Feb 13, 2008 05:19 AM

                                                                                                              I have definitely gained even greater respect for what wait staff have to go through in trying to satisfy / not alienate the dining public after seeing the breadth and width of opinions expressed in threads like this one. Whew, talk about tip toeing through your unmarked minefield!

                                                                                                          2. speyerer Feb 12, 2008 08:25 AM

                                                                                                            I don't care what his/her name is. Just don't address me and my wife (both in our mid 60s) as "you guys". What happened to "sir" or "madam"?

                                                                                                            Oh yeah, I also do not like the waiter who chooses to take a seat at my table to take an order. We have left a restaurant when this has happened. If he wants to sit with us he can pick up the tab.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: speyerer
                                                                                                              im_nomad Feb 12, 2008 12:29 PM

                                                                                                              cripes....i've never seen this happen. I like a friendly server, but over the top and lets face it, fake familiarity, is another thing... Besides some of us have personal space issues.... GIT !! lol.

                                                                                                            2. r
                                                                                                              Rob83 Feb 13, 2008 02:44 PM

                                                                                                              Who really cares? Does the sever telling their name start your night off wrong? Will any of you adjust your tip because you are turned off by someone giving you their name? Is this of such importance in your life as to have a discussion on it? I will never be able to get this past 2 minutes of my life back...but I felt compelled to ask all of you. Probably the same type of people that do not say hello to anyone while walking down the street, or want anyone else to do the same. You are only on this planet for a limited time....Be nice to people, and let people be nice to you!

                                                                                                              1. r
                                                                                                                Rob83 Feb 14, 2008 08:44 AM

                                                                                                                I guess it must also bother you when you call somewhere for a carry out order, and they answer "Thank you for calling ______, this is _____ may I help you?

                                                                                                                Amusing that 1- no one has responded to my non-conformist reply, and 2-You people that complain about this would then turn around and think a server is rude for not having a nice greeting and introduction for you at the table. How is a server to win. Again, don't sweat the small stuff---enjoy your meal out, and tip according to service not according to what YOU think they should do.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Rob83
                                                                                                                  danhole Feb 15, 2008 07:48 AM

                                                                                                                  Rob,

                                                                                                                  You sound a bit grumpy about this topic. If you read all the post you can see that many of us do not mind hearing the servers introduction/greeting. If they do it, fine. If they don't, fine. But it doesn't offend me one way or another. I don't think it is overbearing, as the OP stated, to say "Hello, my name is ____ and I will be your server." Sitting at the table while taking my order, giving me a run down of how their day has been, or being overly chatty while I am ready to order, all of those things are a bit overbearing. If I like the food there, I would go back but not sit in their section.

                                                                                                                  I am a friendly person from Texas, that smiles and is nice without stabbing anyone in the back, as someone else suggested southerners do. People often approach me to ask a question, or just say something nice, and I respond in a nice manner. And I do speak to others in an elevator, LOL! So, I don't really get the OP's post. Servers are working hard for your pleasure, and I appreciate it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: danhole
                                                                                                                    d
                                                                                                                    dolores Feb 15, 2008 08:13 AM

                                                                                                                    >>I am a friendly person from Texas, that smiles and is nice without stabbing anyone in the back, as someone else suggested southerners do.

                                                                                                                    What a lovely sentiment, danhole. I try to do the same, when allowed to. It's surprising how many people don't respond when greeted.

                                                                                                                    Oh, and I think most Southerners are lovely people.

                                                                                                                    1. re: dolores
                                                                                                                      danhole Feb 15, 2008 08:32 AM

                                                                                                                      Thanks Dolores. My grandma used to tell me that "pretty is what pretty does", her point being that if you were the prettiest person in the world, but you weren't nice, then you weren't really pretty! Not that I'm that pretty, but I act in a "pretty" way. And especially to people who are serving me, be it waiters, hair dressers or store clerks.

                                                                                                                2. Das Ubergeek Feb 14, 2008 10:15 AM

                                                                                                                  I actually just posted about something tangential to this -- we had a fancy dinner last night at Napa Rose, the Californian restaurant at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel.

                                                                                                                  There was no introduction of the waiter, but every single person -- this is a Disney property, after all -- was wearing a big white-and-blue nametag. I know Disney's a first-name organisation but it just felt wrong to call out, "Excuse me, Isidro, could you please send Scott over?"

                                                                                                                  1. linguafood Feb 15, 2008 10:23 AM

                                                                                                                    So, last night's Valentine's dinner was a nice experience -- overall good food, friendly service... yes, the waiter introduced himself by name, indicating that, yes, he'd be "our server tonight".

                                                                                                                    For the rest of the evening, his questions then were phrased: "have we made our selection?" "are we done with this?" "will we be having dessert?"

                                                                                                                    I've only heard this kind of talk in hospitals, as in "how are we feeling today?", and I found it UTTERLY ridiculous. Did it ruin my experience? Absolutely not. Did I tip the server less because of it? Of course not. But can I point out that this is one of the weirdest ways of communicating with your guests? We? WE?

                                                                                                                    See, I can comment on other people's (in this case waitstaff) behaviour without having to go on and on and on about it. It's amusing, but I will absolutely not lose sleep over it. As said, the server was very nice, he got his 20% tip, and that was that.

                                                                                                                    1. p
                                                                                                                      Pincus Feb 15, 2008 11:39 AM

                                                                                                                      Not really. If I ever do find out a server's name, it's because of an organic process where I am a regular in the place and get to know and like the server because we hit it off. Not because the server is running some script to try and maximize their tips and thinks that me knowing their name will add an extra 5% to their total at the end.

                                                                                                                      7 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Pincus
                                                                                                                        QueenPeach Feb 15, 2008 11:47 AM

                                                                                                                        Maybe them telling you their name isn't so they can get more tip. Maybe they tell you just in case you're could be the type of customer that would like to know. That would let the diner decide if they just want to wave at their server for their attention vs. using their name. It's not always about money.

                                                                                                                        1. re: QueenPeach
                                                                                                                          p
                                                                                                                          Pincus Feb 19, 2008 07:18 AM

                                                                                                                          I have grown bitter and cynical, haven't I? :)

                                                                                                                          Yes, to be fair (to you as well soupkitten), there is an attitude from the server you can usually catch which is the difference between being given their name as part of a script and being given their name as part of a campaign to suck money from your pocket. My initial analysis uses the following parameters:

                                                                                                                          - number of teeth displayed
                                                                                                                          - sing song quality of voice
                                                                                                                          - overuse of the word "perfect"

                                                                                                                          It's not a science yet, but I hope to refine it with more research.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Pincus
                                                                                                                            t
                                                                                                                            Tay Feb 20, 2008 10:09 AM

                                                                                                                            Pincus
                                                                                                                            "I have grown bitter and cynical, haven't I? :)"
                                                                                                                            You might want to add jaded and caustic to that self assessment.
                                                                                                                            kidding...Sort of. :-}
                                                                                                                            Waiting tables is a physically demanding, mentally exhausting profession. Any pleasant outreach on the part of waitstaff, whether sincere or scripted should be met with the same, whether sincere or scripted. Remember: It might start off as "preprogrammed" but it may end as genuine sincerity on both sides of the table. That's a 'win win' scenario,

                                                                                                                            1. re: Tay
                                                                                                                              s
                                                                                                                              soupkitten Feb 20, 2008 10:52 AM

                                                                                                                              great point, Tay-- that does happen all the time, when people try to be pleasant, doesn't it!?

                                                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten
                                                                                                                                t
                                                                                                                                Tay Feb 24, 2008 08:46 AM

                                                                                                                                soupkitten (I so love your screen)
                                                                                                                                For the most part, it really does work that way It's just common sense. It's hard to be unpleasant to someone who is being pleasant to you. I see that all the time. I always smile at people and I find that about 95% of the time, the smile is returned and the verbal exchange that follows is almost always positive. I don't care whose "job" it is to begin the exchange. I just start off on a positive note and invariably it works in my favor.

                                                                                                                            2. re: Pincus
                                                                                                                              QueenPeach Feb 21, 2008 10:59 AM

                                                                                                                              I do understand where you are coming from Pincus. I guess I'm just more of the "glass is half full" kinda gal. I probably get screwed over more than I know because of it. =(

                                                                                                                          2. re: Pincus
                                                                                                                            s
                                                                                                                            soupkitten Feb 15, 2008 11:50 AM

                                                                                                                            i just have to say that servers who recite the "hi my name is" script aren't ime doing it because they think it's part of some formula to up the percentage of their tips, it's because they were trained to do this at some point, or it's the "script" provided by the mgmt, that everyone is instructed to greet their tables this way.

                                                                                                                            servers also generally have to say something by way of greetings to tables when they approach them. ime, "my name is ___" is sometimes the only thing that no customer can ever argue with. heck i had a guy who was evidently having a *very* bad day bite my head off once:
                                                                                                                            sk: "good evening,"
                                                                                                                            patron: "what the &^*( is so *^&*ing good about it??!?"

                                                                                                                          3. fayehess Feb 23, 2008 05:18 AM

                                                                                                                            No way. Not one way.

                                                                                                                            1. p
                                                                                                                              phan1 Feb 25, 2008 08:06 PM

                                                                                                                              The only thing that gets me is when waiters have the impecable timing of asking how things are right when I put a big spoon-ful of food in my mouth. I've got to quickly chug it down and say "I'm OK". I HATE that! And I think they do it on purpose too! I would.... hehe

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: phan1
                                                                                                                                Servorg Feb 26, 2008 04:04 AM

                                                                                                                                Hand signs work well in this situation. Thumbs up, keep on going all is well, (or if I want to use a different sign the old circle of thumb and forefinger with the other fingers up next to them signaling OK! also seems to work). Open palm and fingers facing wait person, stop until I finish chewing because I need something.

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