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Ageist service problems -- paranoia or shared experience?

So, my SO and I are 24 and 23 years old, respectively. We like to go out for meals every week or two, and we dress nicely for the occasion. Not rabble rousers, we don't go into places and make a scene or drink excessively. We were both raised well with more than adequate instruction in table manners and proper tipping . . .

Despite our friendly manner and best intentions (we aren't the types to get in a snit and treat our servers with anything but patience and smiles), we often seem to get apathetic, disappearing-act-style, or even ill-tempered service. Recent example in my review of Imperial Tea House on the SF Bay Area board.

I'm just wondering if anybody else has this experience. So, 20-something Chowhounders, or those who experienced this phenomenon while my age, please speak up if you can commiserate!

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  1. I have four years on you and unfortunately completely relate to your experience. I have to constantly fight the urge to over-tip just to "prove myself to them" - whatever that means...This has prompted me to search for more ethnic restaurants. I have discovered wonderful food, and less pretentous people so the net gain is still in my favor :)

    1. Not just in restaurants, we have walked out of car dealerships and jewelry stores when they bypassed us to wait on older customers who came in after us. Then I developed two silver streaks in my otherwise brown hair - problem solved! (note - I am still only 30; we go grey early on my mom's side...)

      3 Replies
      1. re: Cowprintrabbit

        I don't know if it is an age thing or just rotten attitude by clerks and wait staff. We are in our 60's, and there have been times we have had to almost cause a scene just to get waited on, get our bill, whatever. We have tried to order and given up and left because of awful service.

        Some days you get good service and some days you don't. I think when we were in our 20's service was better. It was a different time, things were more formal, the dining experience was just different, I am talking about upscale restuarants. Waiters did not introduce themselves and chat, they were there for you to have a lovely meal. They did their job amd you felt pampered.

        If they are ignoring you for seniors, they are dumber than a red brick. You are working and probably have a nice income. At least it is a steady income. Lots of seniors have lost most of their retirements from the crazy stock market.

        1. re: Janet

          FWIW, people in their 50's have the highest income and have accumulated the most wealth. Do you people think you get better service than other age groups? Just wondering.

          When I was 19, eating at a nice place but not exactly fine dining, the host brought my Visa charge form. Unsolicited, he instructed me as to where I need to sign. Not so bad yet. Guess what he did next? He pointed out another line and said "And this is where you put the tip!" I told him on the spot he's lucky he's not my waiter, because were he so, he'd be getting nada.

          1. re: Leonardo

            I've gotten bad service in my 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. I think it depends on the server.

            I've gotten bad service because I'm a woman, and some waitresses will only be nice to men (because generally men tip better when the waitress is wearing a tight low-cut outfit). But then, I've had great service from such waitresses, too, so I think generalizing doesn't work.

      2. I've had this problem - especially out with my husband - too many times to count. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy for servers - treat us poorly expecting a bad tip and you are going to get what you expect. We tip well and are courteous, but we know that this just won't change some.

        1. Operagirl, I have one big suggestion that I have learned from my parents that has helped over the years: Always make a reservation. And when calling, get the person's name who answers and note it. Even if it is a place that doesn't take reservations, make a call, tell them when you are thinking of coming and how crowded it probably will be, and get a name. Having a reservation, and mentioning the name (which often is the host or hostess who will be greeting and seating you, or obviously an employee who recognizes the coworker), gives you instant cache and credibility.

          5 Replies
          1. re: nosh

            I think that MAY help, but at my restaurant, for example, the girl taking reservations is just that- the reservationist. She has no clout, isn't even there at night and is basically a secretary. So in this case, if you bring up speaking to so-and-so, you'd just look like you were trying to name-drop. We all know how silly people who do that look.

            1. re: invinotheresverde

              Agreed, or even worse--it may get the person who you talked to in trouble if you make it sound as if they told you they may be able to get you in more quickly. If a place doesn't take reservations, leave it at that. It will make you look foolish and entitled if you push the subject.

              1. re: pollymerase

                Oh, come on... I never suggested that anyone, much less a young diner, act snooty and behave haughtily. I merely proposed that any diner will usually be treated better if they take the trouble to make a reservation rather than just walk in, even if they call on their cell on their way to the restaurant. And I never advocated lying about being promised favors.

                When one demonstrates some forethought and commitment by calling first rather than simply walking in, I think it is probable that he or she will be treated better. When one shows some consideration and respect by having a quick conversation and remembering a name, it is likely that he or she will cultivate a more positive interaction.

                The servers who post on this board often comment about being able to size up customers from first glance. I invite their comments about patrons making reservations and treating employees with dignity.

                1. re: nosh

                  I understand that you aren't advocating that people should act snotty, I'm simply say that these actions, even with perfectly good intentions, could be mistaken for arrogant behavior. Name-droppers (regardless of the location, business, or profession) are usually only respected by fellow name-droppers. If you made arrangements for a special menu or event, then by all means you should notify the front desk, but to name names makes it appear that you think you are better than the other 10 tables waiting to eat.

                  I also never said you advocated lying to make it appear that you were promised a favor--and that is my exact point. Simply by saying, 'I called earlier and spoke to Jessica, I'd like to put my name on the list', could very well sound to a manager or another employee that Jessica indicated you could move to the top of the list or provide you some other favor. You obviously had only good intentions, but it could very well be interpreted quite differently from management.

                  Don't get me wrong, I'm not discouraging anyone from building a rapport with their favorite restaurants, but you need to go about it in a non-obtrusive way.

                  1. re: pollymerase

                    Getting the name of the person you speak with when making a reservation has been a good thing more than once over the years when somehow my name can't be "found" on the list. At that point whomever I am talking to will say "Who did you speak with?" and when I come up with a name that they recognize, they now know I am most likely not trying to "game" the system by claiming a reservation I did not make.

          2. I'm 25 now...last year i had a horrible service experience at Bacchus in Milwaukee. It did seem like most of the other diners were older and getting better service. It was probably the only time i've really felt like i was treated differently from the people around me in a restaurant. At least the food was good, though...they can't discriminate by age with that!

            1. Great post! And some of the responses are right in line with what I was thinking as I read through. Ageism works both ways! I am older than a lot of my gaming friends, and most of my friends are male. We never ask for separate checks and the bill is almost always presented to me, the older woman. Every once in awhile we get someone more savvy and he or she places the bill in the middle of the table. I'm amused just typing this now thinking about my younger friend John, he has a habit of overtipping shamelessly so they should want him to be picking up the tab, which he often does. And then there is also sexism. When I got out with a female friend, unless it is a place where they know me, we often get poorer service because it is true that in the industry females have a reputation for tipping less. Whether that reputation is deserved or not I'm not touching with a ten foot pole. But I tip nicely. Just not as nicely as John. And what about being ma'am ed? This usually happens to me in coffee places like Saxby's here in the North East. Some servers have a way of snapping out ma'am that cracks like a whip, a mockery of the gentle southern good manners I experienced in North Carolina. I have never seen a guy been called sir in that nasty insulting tone of voice. Thanks for an insightful post and I think you are not paranoid at all. I believe you are being treated worse at some places because of your age.

              1. I wa right at 21 when some of us went to dinner. I was the youngest, with one couple about eight years older. When I metioned to the waitress that my steak was tough she said I was "cutting it wrong". In the first place it was a strip or t-bone, not flank or skirt steak, and secondly, she insulted my intelligence and never addressed the issue. I was young and too flabergasted to say no, you're wrong. She was much older than me...

                1. I am the same age but extremely tall (one would think that would make me seem older) and younger looking than I really am, and I can totally relate. I get id'd at every restaurant (even with my mother) which is fine and a must, but a few servers have completely disregarded me when reading specials etc. As if to say I am too young so why would I ever pay or leave a god tip? I'd say maybe it is all in my head, but even my own mother pointed out how odd it is.

                  1. OG, I read your post on the SF board. I have no doubt age played into things...as well as a busy holiday weekend at a popular tourist destination.

                    That said, have you considered human nature here...maybe you look younger then your 20s (a good thing over time) and that the wait staff might not have responded due to how busy the place was, plus younger people tend not to tip as well and/or order as much.

                    This isn't an excuse for poor service but you might ask professional wait staffers what they think about younger people tipping. As shocking and wrong it might be...wait staffers play the odds too when it relates to their livelihood.

                    I know it's no consolation but as you get older you do get better service but perhaps because youth no longer serves you and wait staffs everywhere decide to humor you.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: ML8000

                      I too experienced this in the past. I was always quite young looking (although that seems to be changing quickly now) and many times my ex and I were completely ignored in favor of more mature looking people. I started to be proactive with retail staff and that helped. In a restaurant I would make a point to ask a question which indicated a higher level of knowledge, indicate past visits or ask specifically for a reasonable request in a friendly, yet confidant manner. Many times this helped. Sometimes you just have a poor server.

                      Now I'm at the point where at some venues it becomes obvious that I am lacking in coolness, and so get ignored in a new way....although often those places are stronger on style than substance, so they get weeded out of the rotation quickly.

                      If only we could all be dealt respectfully on an individual basis!

                      1. re: meatn3

                        "I started to be proactive... and that helped." I really like this response. I think this is what it's all about!

                        I very recently turned thirty (yes, I died a little inside that day) and have a baby face. I get carded no matter where I go. I've never experienced ageist treatment because I'm confident and interact with the waiter. I know quite a bit about alcohol, wine and food, and I ask the "right" questions. I think the waiter can tell right off the bat that I'm an experienced diner. This inevitably leads to a higher level of service than most people my age might receive.

                        Perhaps young people aren't treated as fairly because they give off the presence of being unconfident and "out of place"? If you feel intimidated, that's how you come off. I'm not sure about this- just posting a thought.

                    2. As is my answer to many things....it depends. If I go to an "in" place on Miami Beach where I tend to be older than the crowd, I perceive I am treated less well. If I go to an early bird special with significantly more older seniors, I am treated better. In a Chinese restaurant in LA catering to native Chinese, I may be treated worse. In some cases, younger looking patrons MAY be treated less well. I believe some of this is my perception. Some may be reality. At a South Carolina BBQ joint, I noticed all the servers and none of the patrons were African American. I might have been tipped off by the racist literature I noted in the gift shop of the restaurant. As an obvious Yankee I was tolerated but uncomfortable. I did leave after I noted all of this. Anyway, as I was saying the answer is, it depends. Nonetheless, a good attitude goes a long way and and being a PITA will get you worse service.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Sinicle

                        what is a PITA please? Can't seem to figure it out.

                      2. http://allprowaiter.blogspot.com/

                        Instead of just thinking of your experience you should think of the server's experience. More than half of them must be unhappy and frustrated because they don't earn enough. They may feel trapped in the job and not know how or when they can make more money

                        Read a few waiter's blogs and you will find a rage. With much of it justified by the customer behavior. You are unfairly being dumped on because the waiter/waitress has been burned too many times by the lousy, cheap and insulting customers. Until I read a few blogs I had no idea how boorish many customers are.... And the waiter is at their mercy for tips. How would you like to be in such a position?

                        Want to have some fun?
                        Tip the waiter at the beginning of the meal or as the appetizers are being served
                        Tip him 15% and tell him treat us right and I'll give another 5%
                        I've done it quite a few times- But tipped 20% right off the bat

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: gafferx

                          Sounds like bribery to me.

                          I want my waiter to be efficient, helpful, and out of the way. I don't want an obsequious toady hanging around me all evening, hoping to please me into the "extra" 5%.

                          If service is good,I'll tip accordingly. If service is poor, I'll tip the bare minimum and have a quiet word with the manager. If I'm perceived as too old, or that don't fit in with the "decor" of the restaurant, and am treated accordingly, I won't return to that restaurant. My money spends anywhere, and I prefer to support the places that seem genuinely happy to have my business.

                          1. re: Missyme

                            What do you think tip anxiety is? You would have it too if you were a server. Why not eliminate it at the beginning of the meal.... I do this at select places

                            1. re: gafferx

                              How do you know how much to tip if you haven't ordered yet? My math skills are solid, but I doubt I could add up the aperitifs, appetizers, salads, bottle of white, entrees, bottle of red, cheese/dessert, port, coffee, etc. at the beginning of the meal.

                              Also, how do you know how many bottles of wine, etc. will be ordered?
                              Or, will everyone have both a salad and an appetizer, etc.? Sounds a bit unreliable to me.

                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                You cannot do it in the situation you describe. But it can be done in less complicated places. You go to a Chinese restaurant with wife and two children. This is pretty straightforward. Do the math and give the server the tip early in the meal.

                                A seasoned server profiles customers and if he feels they're going to rip him on the tip he won't exert himself

                                1. re: gafferx

                                  "A seasoned server profiles customers and if he feels they're going to rip him on the tip he won't exert himself"

                                  Eh. I've served bottles of Heitz Martha's Vineyard to a dude in sweatpants. You never know.

                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                    Other servers don't have such a sunny attitude. You must have met a few that profile. I read some waiter's blogs and they hate being ripped off by boorish patrons.

                                    A patron that runs him ragged then leaves an insulting tip

                                  2. re: gafferx

                                    It seems to me that any server who profiles is just creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Of course someone is going to tip poorly if she's been labeled a cheapskate and treated accordingly. I tend to take blogs with a grain of salt because most people use them as a means to rant. Since when do sunny/happy posts get a lot of readers? They tend to be boring.

                                    1. re: gafferx

                                      (grrr this page reloaded i hope i can be as eloquent the 2nd time through.....)

                                      that is the biggest load of crap. i do not need to pretip a server to get good service. a server needs to do their job. period. not exerting yourself based on your prejudices is a self fulfilling prophecy. you don't exert, you don't get the good tip. don't pat yourself on the back for predicting an outcome you yourself caused. that is not a seasoned server, it is a piss poor one

                                      here in NYC the top tier places know they need to treat the guy in the ripped jeans as well as the guy in the armani suit. the jeans may well be a billionaire CEO and the armani might be a cheaped ass slug with a nice suit. It is only the places that have pretensions for top tier that are snooty and judgemental. and often that is the very thing that keeps them from making the leap.

                                      1. re: thew

                                        What made me say "WTH?" with gafferx's initial post was the statement "Want to have some fun?" like the entire situation is a *game* to him. It says "Treat me right - you'll get more. Treat me like shit, you'll get nothing except what I've already given you." Yes, I know people tip a concierge or maitre'd, but to do so in a restaurant situation with a waiter prior to actual food service just seems wrong.

                                        It's extremely condescending to the patron right off the bat, as it implies crappy service right away. And as a waitperson, it would probably piss me off. The job of a good waitperson is to treat everyone well - as they would like to be treated. Being pre-tipped just smacks of self-righteous entitlement from the patron of the restaurant without allowing the waitperson to do their job as they would do it.

                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          Due to the internet you misunderstand me. I have never been a waiter but I have been in another business that is tip dependent. How about you Linda? Ever waited or depended on tips?

                                          Actually I just fork over the entire tip near the beginning. Not in increments. And I only do this in certain places and I do it to relieve the waiter's tip anxiety. And I tip in cash. Do you?

                                          Last night I was out with a woman and midway through the meal I asked for the check. I loathe deserts (they are sugary junk) and we were skipping them. I paid the waiter, gave him his nice cash tip and told him we would be there another half hour. Not hogging a table in that busy place.

                                          My modus operandi is very considerate of the wait staff

                                          1. re: gafferx

                                            I have spent a number of years waiting tables. This was done to me a couple of times. While it may not be the way you have done it, these people presented the tip as enticement to be treated "right".

                                            Whatever I do, I take pride in trying to deliver the best of my ability. I also am very democratic in my treatment of others. I don't prejudge - each table is a clean slate until the handwriting starts to appear, then I may change my serving style. Even with a change in style, they still are getting very good service. So the times the tip was given at the start did feel insulting to me. It felt like they thought I would only preform well if bribed. That insinuates that I am not enough of a professional to do my job on principal and do it well.

                                            So regardless of your intention, if you had been my table, that would have created a poor start. But, you wouldn't have known I was annoyed, because a good server keeps that stuff from creeping into service.

                                            1. re: meatn3

                                              Your take is very noble and completely legit. I have never annoyed a waiter this way but maybe I did not know it. Aside from you and me, just look how the simple act of eating out gets invested with emotions and feelings of being neglected, looked down upon for being a younger diner. Allegations of being disrespected

                                              1. re: gafferx

                                                There are so many sides to anything - it is amazing we get on as well as we do! I'm usually pretty easy going, but for some reason those people did get to me a little. Perhaps ruffled my pride? Perhaps their delivery? Not sure...You don't seem like that is your intent, but I did want to illustrate one of the myriad of ways it could be construed!

                                                As these boards show, put a subject out there and there will be as many view points as there are hounds!

                                                Each of us will step on someones toes inadvertently - the best we can do is to try to be aware and be prepared to make amends when possible. You know what they say about good intentions... ;-D

                                                1. re: gafferx

                                                  Hmmmm. As a person who has worked in service, I'd say that such a move strikes me as an aggressive power play, and indicates I can be bought and that as long as you pay, I will do what you say. As a patron, if my dining companion did that, I'd spend the rest of my time apologising to the entire FOH.

                                                  As for your claims that the internet causes the misunderstandings ('Due to the Internet, you misunderstand me'), I'm afraid that's not the case. a site like this may rely on written communication, where confusion can occur due to lack of clarity on the writer's part or a presumption of tone. However, the failure to communicate clearly rests on the humans involved, I'd point out, for instance, that your language carries some interesting meaning here:

                                                  You write 'I have never annoyed a waiter this way...' No. You have never knowingly annoyed a waiter. This phrasing is much like the one that holds readers and the Internet responsible for not understanding your meaning,

                                                  You pre-tip, although how you manage this without knowing your total is a bit puzzling. The type of restaurant that you specify ('Chinese restaurant'?) does not answer the question and it also raises some more troubling issues you likely do not intend. You feel that pre-tipping is nice. Other people disagree that such a gesture is, no matter how much you believe it. It's not that they are misunderstanding you. They don't agree with you.

                                                  1. re: Lizard

                                                    I think "Want to have some fun" is also a type of phrasing that will lead to misunderstanding or people taking offense. To me that implies that servers are sub-human beings primed for manipulation. I also think that when a custom is a certain way, it can offend people or make them uncomfortable to change the custom. If I were a female server and a male diner told me to "treat him right" and I'd get more money, I am not sure how I'd take it. It would probably make me extremely uncomfortable, however.

                                              2. re: gafferx

                                                No gaffer, I've never waited tables nor depended on tips. Nor did I misunderstand you, based on your "want to have fun?" statement.

                                                By tipping ahead of time - at the beginning of the meal - it's still bribing the staff to treat you better - as Lizard said, it's a power play on your part. Their job is to serve ALL of their tables with the same respect and promptness as they can.

                                                You may not have knowingly offended the waitperson to whom you did this, but without them saying "oh I *loved* that he pre-tipped me!", you have no idea. But you don't know if they liked it or were completely offended at the assumption that their service was going to suck right from the get-go and you were essentially bribing them to treat you better than anyone else they were waiting on.

                                2. I think I'm probably in the minority. I really haven't encountered this at all. My first upscale restaurant experience was at the age of 20 taking my much younger sister to Aureole in NYC. Perhaps I've been lucky to go to the right places. While I've had bad service from time to time, I don't think it was age-related. Sorry you have to encounter these incidents.

                                  1. Unfortunately, it does happen with regularity. Since an experience at the Plumed Horse, I no longer allow myself to be bullied by age-discrimination. My money is just as green and just as valuable as the supposed Silver Foxes' dining along the window. If that particular business doesn't believe that, then I am happy to prove there are other places (local to them) that do.

                                    I was once treated poorly because of perceived age. We chose to leave without placing more than our drink order because our server thought we weren't "monied." We went up the street to a competitor, had a STUNNING meal, and on the way back through town, SWMBO asked me to pull over. She took the receipt into the host, asked to talk to the manager, and showed them both what we'd spent that night (including tip), then walked back out without another word.

                                    As my grandfather used to say, "I don't _need_ anyone to take my money from me. I earned it, so will they."

                                    16 Replies
                                    1. re: The Ranger

                                      She took the receipt into the host, asked to talk to the manager, and showed them both what we'd spent that night (including tip), then walked back out without another word.
                                      Reminiscent of Julia Roberts' character in "Pretty Woman" on Rodeo Drive - "You work on commission, right? I was in here yesterday and you wouldn't wait on me? Big mistake. BIG mistake." :-)

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        One of her colleagues recommended it so it might've come from the movie. I can't say for sure but was very pleased at how it was presented...

                                        1. re: The Ranger

                                          Jfood thinks you and the restaurant both won, but you came off looking worse than they did. And your return proved their point of treating you as you perceived they did.

                                          What you "perceived" they did was a perception, what you did was uncalled for.

                                          sorry. you probably hurt it for the next group in your age group as well.

                                          1. re: jfood

                                            but you came off looking worse than they did.
                                            jfood, while I understand your point, if a high-end restaurant treats The Ranger like this, it most probably treats others that age the same way. It's like that shampoo commercial - they tell two people, and THEY tell two people...and so on, and so on, and so on. And if The Ranger tells others of the way a restaurant treats younger patrons, perhaps word will get out, and that restaurant will learn it shouldn't treat younger people that way on *their* perception that young people can't afford their restaurant or will tip poorly.

                                            1. re: LindaWhit

                                              absolutely. Ranger has not given any information on causality that it was age so who knows (a) if there was any bad actions or (b) whether it was ageist. but the actions of "so there" is a bad respresentation of an actual and premeditated bad action.

                                              Yes Ranger may tell people about the restaurant's perceived slight, nothing can change the shampoo commercial scenario. But likewise the restaurant and the servers will tell their colleagues and the actions of Ranger will also go through the restaurant circuit.

                                              Remember there are two sides to every story and then what really happened. Ranger was going to tell others about her perceived slight in any event but her return and the actions thereafter now allowed the restaurant to have an equally unfortunate story to pass along.

                                              1. re: jfood

                                                No matter what anyone's impression may be of what TR and companion did by going into the restaurant in which they felt offended and silently showing them what they spent elsewhere, if the restaurant took away from this encounter that they ought to continue to treat young diners with less than hospitable service then they REALLY missed the point of this little piece of performance art.

                                                1. re: Servorg

                                                  Unfortunately correct. once people start fighting to see who can lower the bar, others get hit by flying you know what.

                                                  As jfood has stated to little jfoods, when something like this happens, walk away, hold your head high, never stoop to their level and never get caught in a sewer fight.

                                                2. re: jfood

                                                  Have told everyone I know, and even those I don't, about it at every opportunity. Of those that came back and said they chose to visit the restaurant anyway, came away very unimpressed. <shrug> I know neither SWMBO nor I would miss them if they vacated the premise.

                                              2. re: jfood

                                                I was dressed in a 3-piece, charcoal gray, suit, Red Wings, and no "bling" or scents draped about. SWMBO was dressed in an ankle-length dress, deemed acceptable for evening-wear; again no excess jewelry or scents imposing on anyone. Our dress was very conservative and semi-formal, given the restaurant; the occasion was a significant anniversary. When I called to make reservation, I was treated fine. When we walked in, the hostess looked at us both, never once confirming our reservations, and proceeded to walk us right past an empty dining room to the kitchen entrance. When I balked about being seated at a booth outside the kitchen door that would receive every swinging bang as it opened, the hostess snicked and told us that was it. We could take it or leave it. I chose to turn and leave but my wife was much more cool about it; she asked to speak to the gm. The general manager "reviewed the reservation book" and seated us at a deuce in the main dining room. The server then proceeded to ignore us. After the fifth walk-bye, approx. I0 minutes, I asked if we could order drinks. He sent someone out to take our order and that was the last we saw him again. The drinks came, we finished them and waited for someone to take our order. I simply looked over and we both got up, went to the hostess' station and paid for what we drank and went down the street to a competitor.

                                                Things that make you go, "Hmmm:" During that whole time, six tables were seated, all in the 60+ demographic. Most were dressed for Sizzler (jeans and t-shirts) while one couple was dressed Business Casual (polo shirt and Dockers). The waiter fawned all over those tables.

                                                The evening was so much improved by our experience at the impromptu place, we made it our go-to place. We never had a bad meal there.

                                                I don't believe SWMBO did anything to affect the next couple in our age group. I firmly believe the restaurant did not want a younger crowd because they might actually have to change. I also do not believe in putting my tail between my legs and cowering away like a beaten cur. Treat me equally and know my money's green, too, or receive like actions.

                                                jfood perceives the world isn't better by creating change but by simply accepting the status quo. I don't. I am very active in creating change.

                                                1. re: The Ranger

                                                  Based on what you've written, Ranger, the restaurant's actions throughout the time you were there were completely and totally out of line. They made a preconceived judgment about you and SWMBO without knowing who you are or how you might act and what types of food/wine you might order or what the final tab might have been. This was no "perceived slight" as jfood said - it seems deliberate on all employees' part, except, it seems, the GM. First the hostess, then the waiter. Why the GM allowed that kind of service is beyond me.

                                                  Good on you for walking...and I still say good on SWMBO for showing the GM what they had lost in service that night. Would be curious as to what types of reviews this restaurant gets elsewhere (or even here on CH), should you wish to reveal the name/location.

                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                    I've provided the name but it might've gotten buried; Plumed Horse, Saratoga. At one point a Michilin destination.

                                                    1. re: The Ranger

                                                      So where did you end up getting the good service?

                                                  2. re: The Ranger

                                                    so you made a reservation; arrived; were seated at a lousy table (jfood hates that as well); no help from hostess (rare that they do); manager called and reseated; ordered drinks; noticed you were not taken care of as you desired; left.

                                                    If you believe that is the proper reaction, go for it but jfood would not jump to the conclusion of ageist.

                                                    And wrt the last paragraph, jfood believes change includes the arranging the first walkathon for Meals on wheels, bringing potable water to a country that had none; bring a non-profit institution back from the brink of bankruptcy in the evenings; and starting a company to fight auto-immune diseases. Now that's change

                                                    1. re: The Ranger

                                                      steel toed work boots with a 3 piece suit? you're an architect or something?

                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                        Or something... :-)

                                                        Several pairs of my shoes are RW; no boots yet, though.

                                                        ObFood: Salmon fillet baked in filo and served with dill sauce.

                                            2. As a former waiter, I must admit what anyone who has waited tables knows: age, sex, and race all have prominent places in the minds of all waiters, as do class, dress, and grooming. It's human nature, surely, but also the accumulated experience associated with the job.

                                              Even the most open-hearted and non-judgmental person cannot help but learn the tipping tendencies of various sub-groups of the American populace. It's just basic sociology, really. Having said that, most, if not all, the waiters I ever knew would never in a million years behave in a truly prejudicial way towards anyone, whatever their nature. But it might make the difference between adequate service and excellent service. And, of course, a lot would depend upon how busy the restaurant is, as waiters in a busy restaurant are always going to play an insidious and highly stressful game of "aportion the resources" in their over-worked brains. The near-terror of a busy Friday night can tax one's nerves to the extreme, and if a given table is occupied by a contingent generally known to tip poorly, they will often become the default "2nd priority".

                                              But be sure, the various "bad tipper" groups cover a wide range of social and economic backgrounds. There's only one social/economic group (among dozens) that is known among waiters to be routinely generous with their tips, and I'll just leave it at that. I'm already skirting the edge of acceptability, and I do not like dabbling about on edges of any kind....

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                I wanted to be clear, as this is obviously a sensitive subject. There is no excuse for arbitrarily prejudicial behavior in this world, though it is all too common. But there is a brutal reality to waiting tables that takes over when a restaurant is busy.

                                                I met some of the most friendly and lovely souls when I waited tables. It's a prerequisite for the job, really. No one who who harbors intolerance or a tendency for knee-jerk judgements in their hearts will last too long in your average full-service restaurant. No competent waiter makes a habit of mistreating customers. There is simply a certain set of data to be processed in any business, and demographics are as key a data point in the restaurant business as there can be.

                                                And lets not get started in this thread about all the gross indignities and vicious disservices done to waiters, indiscriminately, by so many awful customers. Lessons get learned in the crucible of "the weeds".....

                                                1. re: uptown jimmy

                                                  It seems totally reasonable to say the street runs in both directions for customers and waiters in regards to social conditioning and good or bad behavior.

                                                  Since you mention, "only one social/economic group (among dozens) that is known among waiters to be routinely generous with their tips," ...you have to spill man. Besides former servers (which you can't spot on the face of it) I've always heard it was the middle-aged solo guy diners or expense accounters.

                                                  1. re: ML8000

                                                    I gotta be honest: I'm really uncomfortable discussing such things in a more specific way, and and the answer is pretty obvious, I think. BTW, it's a slightly more general category I was thinking of, though in a more finely diced discussion I think you may be correct. The sort of restaurant you are indirectly discussing is one of the few categories of dining I never worked in, though I've had some darned good meals at a few of them.

                                                    There are so many historical factors that fuel people's behavior in any given situation. Like I said, I never detected any real, deep-seated "isms" among my fellow waiters, just a general, industry-wide acknowledgment of what you could expect from different social and economic groups, both in terms of tips and general treatment. And I do maintain that most experienced waiters would never, ever fail to give good service to anyone, under any circumstances. Waiters in general are a sociable sort, but also tend towards perfectionism, and if they can do so, they will give the best service possible. But the debble is in the details, as it were, and waiting is nothing BUT details. There are some extremely complex equations being balanced in the head of a busy waiter, and every table gets continually reassigned a priority level every few seconds. The potential reward any particular table represents is ALWAYS one of the more highly-ranked factors, but that might have as much to do with their general behavior as their socio-economic identity. The amount of data being sifted by a busy waiter moment to moment is simply staggering.

                                                    One of the less-offensive truths, in general, is that Europeans are amongst the worst tippers an American waiter can encounter, or at least they used to be. I think they have a different system across the Pond, and they did not, for a long time, seem to realize that waiters in America rely entirely upon tips for their income. More than once I got tipped a few dollars on very expensive meals. The feeling that sort of thing gives a waiter is difficult to describe, as the anger and shame and frustration are compounded exponentially by the fact that you have bills to pay, and that you just spent a significant portion of the last several hours basically working as a slave, ie, without compensation. I think they call that emotion "impotent rage".

                                                    But the OP is absolutely correct to assume that their age MIGHT be a factor in their receiving bad service, especially at certain types of restaurants and under certain circumstances. And the typical waiter would be absolutely correct in their knowledge that the typical young person is simply not going to tip as well as the typical older person. It's just a fact. Having said that, there's no excuse for bad service, and I encourage ALL restaurant customers to politely stand up for themselves when dining out. If it's more expensive than fast food, then you deserve good food and good service. I've walked out of a few restaurants in my time.... ; )

                                              2. I'm a female in my mid-twenties who dines alone often and, unfortunately, I can generalize about my service experiences without feeling uncomfortable: I receive bad service until I prove myself with my behaviour and tipping.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: NovoCuisine

                                                  I'm the same- female, mid-twenties, frequently dines alone. When I'm alone, I find that I get consistently good service at either upscale or "hole in the wall" type places, and consistently bad service at mid-range restaurants. I also see this when I'm out with my same-age friends. When I'm out with older people (parents, colleagues, etc.) I find that mid-range restaurants give us the best service and cheap or super-expensive restaurants tend to give us the brush-off. I am absolutely, 100% positive that I am an easygoing, accommodating, understanding patron who dresses appropriately, makes reservations, doesn't mind waiting, etc., and I only dine with similar people. It's not us. It's the restaurant.

                                                2. Call ahead and make a reservation.