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Oct 29, 2009 10:45 PM

NYT: "One Hundred Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part 1)"

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  1. You beat me to it. I thought a lot of it was common sense, but it always bear repeating. I thought some of the admonition were repeated.

    1. I thought some of it was just picky or silly. I mean, obviously you want to avoid running into things but sometimes it happens. (33. Do not bang into chairs or tables when passing by. ) And as far as not giving your name, some restaurant management requires that you give your name.

      12 Replies
      1. re: rockandroller1

        At my favorite restaurant (which is a fairly upscale place) the waitstaff always gives their names and they do a good job of establishing a good rapport with the customers. My husband and I feel like we have made a new friend. That translates into a very good tip too.

        1. re: Avalondaughter

          I do not like the frequent, "Hi, I'm Babette. I will be your waitress"... It's too familiar.
          I remember a friend who would always quip, "I'm Bob, and I will be your customer!".
          I like it when they are ready to leave the table to say, "I f you need anything my name is X".

          1. re: Scargod

            Hmm, I really do get what you're saying, but.... :) I think it's like if I go to see a new doctor and she walks into the room and says "Hi, I'm Babette Scargod." I think it's more HOW they do it. I don't WANT to feel like I've made a new friend. So, yes, I see your point.

            1. re: Scargod

              I'm with you--I like when servers state their name in a way that feels genuine, not scripted. "If you need anything, my name is X, " seems more "real" than the phony, "Hi, my name is ____" (what is this, an Eminem video?)!

              This one is also funny!
              <<32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.>>
              The idea of someone WIPING a customer just makes me laugh. I'm sorry. Maybe someday I'll grow up, but apparently, not today. LOL!

              1. re: kattyeyes

                "This one is also funny!
                <<32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.>>"

                LOL. The wiping thing is hilarious. But let me tell you, some servers need to be told how to behave in detail.. A couple of years ago I was at a birthday celebration at a fondue restaurant with a group of women friends. It was a lot of fun, but our server was annoying in more ways than one. Totally phony with his scripted greeting, evey sentence beginning with "Lay-deez", but the worst was when he actually sat down in our booth next to the birthday girl and put his arm around her and started squeezing her. arm repeatedly- I kid you not. It was awkward to say the least. Fortunately, we all had had a lot to drink, so we laughed it off. Our impression was that he was doing it thinking he would get a better tip. What a turn-off. That particular restaurant trains their servers to do a lot of up-selling (which I'm prepared for on the rare occasions that I dine there),, but the shameless and touchy-feely phony shmoozing was out of control. And to me, the patronizing attituude of the male waiter towards us was totally uncalled for.

                1. re: Gigi007

                  Is it really necessary to teach people to deal with those situations? Let's see; one reaction could be, "Sorry, kiddo, you're kinda invading my personal space." That would be my NICE response.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I guess you had to be there to experience the whole thing. It wasn't just the server sitting down next to and squeezing my friend. It was the overall approach and everything I described above.

                    1. re: Gigi007

                      So why not deal with the "whole thing"? I more and more feel that if one isn't part of the solution, then one is part of the problem.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        As I said in my post, it was a birthday celebration. We were having a good time. Sometimes, it's not worth making a to-do about something. We were feeling pretty good after a couple of bottles of champagne and cocktails.

                        And in the context of this discussion, I don't feel we were part of the problem, especially if the server regularly used the approach I described.

                        Good night all.

                        1. re: c oliver

                          I think sometimes one just doesn't want to make it into a big thing (because, as icky as it is, in the long run it really isn't a big thing). Yes, in an ideal world we'd all feel totally comfortable asking the person to stop and not feeling like we were adding down feelings to the party, but in reality that isn't always going to be the way things work.

                2. re: Scargod

                  Hee! I do that. "Hi, I'm Ima! I'll be your customer!"

                  Then, we laugh and get on with the business at hand; i.e., me putting food in my mouth.

                3. re: Avalondaughter

                  Really? Because I don't tip my friends when I go to their place for dinner.

              2. I wonder what single act could simultaneously break the most rules.
                e.g. waiter says "good effin choice, dude" breaks three at once

                13 Replies
                1. re: maple99

                  I'll bring the beers, this sounds like a great drinking game.

                  1. re: maple99

                    add "and what are you dong after dinner?" for 4.

                    1. re: maple99

                      Josh comes to the couple's table, stumbles over the woman's purse and jostles the table... He smells like he just had a few tokes of skunk-weed.
                      Hey, dude and dudettes, I'm Josh and I'll be your worst nightmare! Juuussst kidding! Babe you look ubber delicious. Could you do me a tiny flavor and move that luggage over so I won't trip over it next time? Are you taking a trip or fixing to have a sleep-over?
                      You don't want tap water do you? No sireee you don't! How about a cold and refreshing bottle of Perrier or San Pellegrino?
                      A white wine? A bubbly one? There's bubbly ones? I don't know. Perhaps somebody else in the back drinks that stuff. I'm a Coor's Lite man, myself. Never got the hang of wine. I'll see if I can round up somebody for you on that item.
                      Can I up-sell you to one of our specials that I will now rattle off? He spits them out in one breath like they were burning his mouth. May I suggest the Brer Rabbit Flambeau? I tell all the women to get it. It's my all-time fav! At the price, which would be gauche for me to mention, you will be making one hell of a frickin' choice and you'll impress everyone in the room when it comes out on fire. Way cool, babe; excellent choice!
                      How's it prepared? I don't know, but don't you worry your sweet, pretty, little head. You will love it.
                      No, cutie-pie, I can't substitute baby greens with pinto beans. I could however sub for this dork you are with. Just kidding...just kidding..... (big grin)
                      Dude! (nudging the guy) Where did you pick up this hot babe? (Wink, wink at her.) She knows how to order! What do you want? You're going to outdo her aren't you?
                      Oh gosh, look at that water glass! Let me wipe that off with my apron.
                      How am I doin' so far guys and gals? (interrupting) Remember my name is Josh. I aim to please so a tip I'll sees... and I ain't a-joshin'! I will be right back with some special goodies just for you.
                      What was that wine you wanted, once again cutie-pie?
                      I see the table's a rockin. Well, have fun with that. I won't come a-nockin' if the table is a-rockin! (ha-ha, wink-wink, nudge-nudge)

                      1. re: Scargod

                        I think Josh broke 37 rules. And somehow we all feel like we have met this guy.

                        1. re: Veggo

                          Yeah, at Balabosta in Berkeley, CA in 1976. Almost not an exaggeration.

                        2. re: Scargod

                          You forgot when he head butted the bottle of wine to break it and then give them the lable attached to the broken glass.

                          Awesome dude-a-roo.

                          1. re: jfood

                            You're right, that would have been mega-awesome!!
                            I was trying to work within the premise of "one encounter" as alluded to by maple99.

                            1. re: Scargod

                              We'll have more fun when the 51-100 list is issued. Presumably it will include singing & farting waiters.

                              1. re: Veggo

                                You may or may not have missed the one about the chef who farted in the customer's face (deleted thread) because the customer complained about the meal. As much as this is funny, it's not funny that this kind of crap happens in real life to the degree someone felt the need to write a list at an attempt to ensure it didn't happen at his restaurant. Toodle-oo. Or should that be toot-a-loo...dear god!

                                1. re: kattyeyes

                                  Good point. But Bob always says "Signs do not apply to illiterates." We were driving home yesterday, along a very narrow, two lane road, no shoulder on either side (mountain on one side, cliff on the other) and there was a sign "NO PARKING." Duh.

                          2. re: Scargod

                            HI-larious, Scargod. Yeah, I've met this guy. The overly chatty kind who looks like he just rolled out of bed, tells lame jokes, and WINKS (ugh). Winking is particularly annoying (I guess it reminds me of Sarah Palin... :)).

                            1. re: Scargod

                              Like others here, I've actually met "Josh" -- it was in Duluth, Minnesota (no offense, Duluth).

                              Scargod, you are a funny, funny guy -- and ever so spot-on!

                              1. re: Scargod

                                nicely done!! I call for a story that breaks all 100 when Part 2 comes out!

                            2. I love #23, giving the guest the wine bottle label -- is that a common practice? I don't know much about wine at all, and I have trouble remembering wines that I've enjoyed in restaurants, always mean to write them down and then forget, so I'd really appreciate this.

                              I often ask servers what they like on the menu, and I don't think I mind having them mention their favorites, if it doesn't seem like upselling -- is that gauche of me?

                              19 Replies
                              1. re: mselectra

                                My eyes lit on #23 too, mostly because in decades of dining out it's never once happened to me, even if I praise the wine mightily. The only way I get the label is if they give me the part-empty bottle to take home in the doggie bag.

                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  My FiL has saved a bunch of labels from special dinners he's had out. I had never seen such a thing before, but obviously if you ask them to do it, there is a way. And if the customer asks, I figure it isn't a huge mistake on the waitstaff's part.

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    That's because it's a huge pain in the ass.

                                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                                      So why not just rinse the bottle out and hand over the bottle?

                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                        Every state/county has differing alcohol laws. Some places will let you leave with the bottle and some won't.

                                        I always put the information into my phone.

                                      2. re: invinotheresverde

                                        It does seem like the whole effort of steaming off the label would be a lot of work (and of a different quality of effort than the other rules on the list) -- that's one reason I wondered if this was a common practice in higher end places (where I don't usually go). But would be an awfully nice gesture and memento of the meal. Interesting that almost no one has experienced this, wonder where the rules's author came up with the idea.

                                        I must get in the habit of putting in my phone, as well.

                                        1. re: mselectra

                                          If it's not busy, it's no big deal, but on a Saturday night (when you're already in the weeds), you simply don't have the time.

                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                            I just recently saw a pressure-sensitive plastic that's being offered to restaurants in Restaurant Hospitality magazine. Apparently, one places this sticky tape on the label, pulls, and the label surface comes off -- intact -- with the tape and can be stuck to a piece of bond paper and given to the customer. Now, we'll have to see how many high-end places embrace this technology.

                                            I don't collect wine labels; I just take notes. It just seems to me that there were more restaurants steaming labels for customers years ago than there are now. I recall eating in a few fine dining restaurants in New York and Connecticut where they'd present the diner with the label for any bottle that cost more than, say, $75.

                                            Now, again, I'd like to see how long the author of the list insists that his servers steam labels, even on Saturday nights. At many places it's just not practical, unless there's a kitchen staffer the servers can hand the bottles to for de-labeling.

                                            1. re: shaogo

                                              that's a really old-school and east-coast centric customer service thing. not that it isn't a nice thing to do if there is nothing better to do. . . but i just don't think this type of thing is common or expected anymore, most places. it went out with the little matchboxes with the customer's name printed on them (taken from the res book each evening).

                                              i think many customers nowadays would say they don't want to schlep something like that around, that they had all the info in their blackberry, etc.

                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                The more I think about it, the more it *does* seem that the wine-label-retrieval thing is as dated as restaurants that use lacquered wine labels as "wallpaper" in their restrooms or wine cellar.

                                                That being said, what's wrong with a few old-school frills?

                                                1. re: shaogo

                                                  i do like the schmaltzy old-school frills, too. there is a steakhouse in town that does the matchbox thing and i love it!

                                              2. re: shaogo

                                                Oh, come now. Surely you've heard of family businesses. This is just the kind of thing a kid in the back of the restaurant could learn to do on the weekend. ;) And I say this is as a (former) kid of two generations' worth of familly businesses--not hinting at any sort of impropriety. Most other kids that grew up that way would say the same--and it was fun most of the time. Not that I steamed wine bottle labels...I washed dishes, tended bar, rang up purchases. It builds character. :)

                                                1. re: shaogo

                                                  I like this idea. I might use it at home. I can't tell you the times I've gone into the liquor store and said, "It's from Spain and it has an orange label with a splash of purple in the middle. It's a hearty red. Doh! I don't see it!"
                                                  Then again, I could just take a quick picture with my handy-dandy pocket camera and take that to the store.

                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                    Retro will return someday. I have a friend whose wet bar nook is lacquered with wine labels, as shaogo phrased it, and it's interesting. I never drank so much or so well, but if I had known in my early years how many speeding tickets I was destined to accumulate, probably about 40, I would have saved them to at least lacquer a vanity. Lexington Virginia is the Chateau Margeaux of speeding tickets, very pricey. But Booneville Missouri is the D' Yquem.

                                            1. re: youngho

                                              And both Daniel and Eleven Madison Park did it for us (unrequested, might I add) recently.

                                              1. re: a213b

                                                Huh, because about a year ago I ate at EMP and they did not. Perhaps I wasn't effusive enough. (I also don't think I care too much, because DAMN the food was amazing, but that's a topic for the Manhattan board.)

                                                I've taken empties home here in California, but never just the label.

                                                1. re: a213b

                                                  Yes, sorry, I didn't mention that Babbo did it unrequested. It's really a nice touch.

                                            2. re: mselectra

                                              jfood saw #23 and thought it was a great idea. jfood has never seen that before but nothing like good customer service

                                            3. Aren't some of the actions listed, such as seating incomplete parties, or food substitutions, among others, up to discretion of the Owners and Management, and often decided in advance? I'm not attempting to argue that the list isn't (overall) correct, just that the restaurant staff may not have any control over some of Mr. Bushel's items.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: blackoak

                                                Ignore my previous post. I just reread the list - I originally skipped over the intro - and didn't realize that the list is for the restaurant that Mr. Bushel is opening, so he can empower his staff to do whatever he thinks is important.