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Service for "regulars" vs everyone else

Recent trip to Cape Cod and my DH and I went to a casual cafe for lunch. It wasn't listed in any of the food guidebooks but we were in a tiny town, it was way past lunchtime and we were starving. I guess I should have known better.

The cafe had 10 tables (5 were already filled) being served by 2 women. I gathered that the older waitress was the owner and/or manager as she was ordering the younger woman around.

A few minutes after we were seated, the table next to us was filled by a couple who were obviously regulars since they greeted both women by their first names. This meant there were now 7 filled tables. The older waitress stopped at their table and proceeded to have an extended conversation with them. Meanwhile, we were waiting for someone to bring us menus. The younger women finally brought them and after further waiting/flagging down the younger waitress, we eventually got our order in. Unfortunately, this was the level of service (or should I say level of non service) for the entire meal.

The older waitress was constantly stopping by the table where the regulars were sitting - asking if they wanted more water, jumping to get them extra cutlery, plates, chatting to them - while mostly ignoring the other tables, including us. At the end of the meal, she came by with the check and said "oh sorry, I feel like I ignored you " I just stared at her. Duh! What do you think? ?

Am I correct to be irked by the fact the regulars received stellar service while I did not? Or is that to be expected because they are repeat customers?

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  1. If you're just looking to vent, then say so. Otherwise, why are you even asking? But I'll answer. Yes and yes.

    1. Yes, you have a right to feel irked and an outsider. Then again, you don't know the relationship of the party being fawned over by the older waitress. They may be long time friends outside the restaurant or they may just be long time customers.

      I've been on the receiving end of good service at some places because I'm a regular or in some places a very good tipper and it's obvious the waitress is jumping through hoops for me. Then some places I'm just a customer and I see regulars being given the royal treatment.

      1. You said it was a casual cafe and not in any of the guide books, so you have to figure their bread and butter is going to be locals. You also said it was a tiny town and they depend on those regulars to pay their bills.

        Don't take it so hard. Yes, you're an outsider there.

        1. You have a right to feel irked and it is good you understand the regular versus one-timer that can happen. Being a one trick pony at a restaurant supported by regulars is something that occurs and when on the receiving end it is troubling. On the other side of the coin, when you spend lotys of money and numerous visits you deserve some extra TLC. So jfood does not have a problem with making sure your regulars are treated as family. But in fairness there is a minimum of service that is expected. But since you did not mention any guffaws it appears you received good service, just not the service the others received.

          But it is not just regulars. Jfood ate solo last night at a great local reestaurant for the first time. There were two 8-tops and several other tables with 3 servers. They completely ignored jfood so he did not even have a server. The bartender needed to come around the bar to describe the specials, take his order, and perform all the server duties. He did his best but this was his second focus. Jfood had the minimum service so it was not that big a deal, but definitely different from the lartger tables around him that were fawned over. He enjoyed the food and gave the bartender a nice tip for stepping up for the absentee servers.

          So as c oliver stated yes and yes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: jfood

            **But in fairness there is a minimum of service that is expected. But since you did not mention any guffaws it appears you received good service, just not the service the others received.**

            Well, it's good that people weren't laughing at them!

            I agree that there's a minimum of service -- and courtesy -- that is expected. But people who spend money at a business on a regular basis do *earn* extra attention.

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Yup RL and that is the point jfood was making. Sorry if unclear

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