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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.

                                              2. I want to know my servers name, my father always asks if they don't say it. If he likes the place and likes the server, he will ask if they are working the night he wants to make a reservation and then request to be seated in their section.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: roro1831

                                                  usually on the check and you can a;ways ask on the way out as jfood has done on numerous occassions. that way you give major kudos that night plus set the tone for the next visit.

                                                2. The author of this list is merely setting forth a number of things that he knows diners want to hear. I wonder if he'll stick to the "don't hustle the lobster" after he's thrown a few dozen in the garbage can, however.

                                                  Common sense dictates more than one of these items. But they bear repeating because, in my experience in the business, one occasionally runs across a server who's friendly, efficient, on-time -- but has little common sense. Once instructed, however, servers like this do remember.

                                                  This is a practical list nonetheless and can be customized to fit the needs of each setting. I agree with the posters above who like knowing their server's name. Those who don't need to know can listen nonetheless and then forget it immediately.

                                                  1. Help jfood on #39. He hears all the time, "and what would the lady like?" for an order. What is the consensus from the board.

                                                    #33 drives jfood crazy. He cannot tell you how many runners have bumped him in his life. At times he will tell the server to tell the runners, other time he will make it impossible for the bump and run.

                                                    45 Replies
                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                      One of my (female) colleagues responds to that first one with "The LADY would like you to drag your mind out of the 19th century and address her directly, thank you very much."

                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                        Whoa...jfood thought the following occurred, in no particular order.

                                                        Looking at male "what would the gentleman like" then to female, "and what would the lady like."

                                                        If it is the server directing the question to the male to speak for the lady then jfood agrees.

                                                        Now, here is a different scenario because mrs jfood usually tells jfood to pick something for her, then when the server approaches jfood, "My wife will have the triple cut prime rib, and i will have the steamed chicken."

                                                        1. re: jfood


                                                          If the server is addressing the "lady" directly, is that so bad?

                                                          Because the male equivalent would be ... "What would you like, sir?"

                                                          What would the female equivalent be ... "What would you like, __?"

                                                          Would it be "ma'am"? To me that would almost be worse ...

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                                            jfood thinks what you like ma'am is perfectly acceptable.

                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                              Of course it is--you're a guy! I remember I was in the grocery store the first time anyone called me "ma'am" and not "miss". Welcome to old-ladyhood.

                                                              1. re: dmjordan

                                                                If the server can't ask the lady or say ma'am, he is trapped. What is he to do? Inquire "what does the hot babe you are with want for dinner?"

                                                                1. re: Veggo

                                                                  dudette probably does not work either

                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                    "you guys" is not the correct plural when one of us is obviously female yet I hear it all the time.

                                                                  2. re: Veggo

                                                                    Good point, mon ami, but as dmjordan relates, if you're a woman, when people start calling you "ma'am" when you've always been "miss", it's tough to hear. So LOL, in a way, "hot babe" is better than ma'am!. I myself don't mind being addressed directly in second person as "you".

                                                                    As an aside, when I'm seated next to a couple who's fighting and the guy is being a jerk, I would like the server to address hiim as "the tool' or "db".

                                                                    1. re: Gigi007

                                                                      Slow learner I am. When in Mexico, senorita is safer than senora.

                                                                      1. re: Veggo

                                                                        Yes, to most Mexicans I'm still a senorita.. :)

                                                                        1. re: Gigi007

                                                                          "ma'am" is not offensive in the south. if you're a woman, any woman older than you is addressed "ma'am," and if you're a man, ALL women are addressed "ma'am.'" that is the courtesy and custom.

                                                                          1. re: alkapal

                                                                            People with southern accents, or dressed military, can call me Ma'am any time. It's when youngsters around here do it that it freaks me out, I feel like they think I'm an alien being. It's just not right.

                                                                            1. re: alkapal

                                                                              I didn't say that being called "ma'am" is offensive. I can't speak for anyone else, but when I was called ma'am for the first time, I felt old. It actually doesn't happen to me all that frequently. It certainly doesn't happen in restaurants, but I do get that at stores like the Gap or Banana Republic where staff is mostly high school/college age.

                                                                              1. re: Gigi007

                                                                                I'm 51, and IIRC, I was called "ma'am" when I was in my mid or late 30s. A definite wince on my part. I had "crossed over" to ma'am status.

                                                                                Nowadays, either I'm not hearing it, or it just doesn't phase me anymore so I'm not even recognizing that it's been said to me.

                                                                                And having used the word "nowadays", which derives from the 14th century, I guess I am old. LOL!

                                                                                1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                  Exact same age for me, sometime in my 30s. How the heck did I feel old then?

                                                                                  1. re: coll

                                                                                    Same here..."Ah, but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now." Bob Dylan.

                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                      I just love that Dylan line. So true in so many ways.

                                                                                      1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                        Indeed. My hero. And he was well under 30 when he wrote it!

                                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                    That's exactly what I was talking about. I probably did make a face the first time someone called me "ma'am". But like I said, I don't experience it all that much in daily life--more from teenagers than anyone else, so I guess it's no big deal And most of the people I work with aren't Americans, so no one addresses me as "ma'am" in business situations. I really can't recall hearing it in restaurants either, but it does seem to be more frequent when I'm traveling in southern states.

                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                      So how about this one: "young lady," spoken by some 20-year-old punk behind the counter, to a woman who is 50 plus. I know that you become a "young lady" when you are far beyond that. It makes me want to smash something. I have more vitality than he/she does, and am probably far better looking, if only because I don't have my eyelids, brows and tongue pierced. Drop it, punk.

                                                                                      1. re: pitterpatter

                                                                                        A 20-something calling a 50-something "young lady"? That would definitely get my attention - astonished "you've got to be kidding me?" attention, for sure! It just seems so incongruous as to be (almost) unbelievable! If it was an 80-something saying it to me, fine - it's appropriate. But not coming from a 20-something. I can't even imagine the context in which a 20-something would use that phrase on someone old enough to be his mother.

                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                          Well, Linda, believe it because I hear it at least once per day. I know, it is astonishing. Who raised these young folks, anyway? Young ladies?

                                                                                          1. re: pitterpatter

                                                                                            I'm not at all defending whoever is calling you that, but I will answer your question as to who raised these young folks. Baby boomers. We twenty somethings were raised by a generation that lives in perpetual, often crippling fear of growing old. It's not easy being the children of a generation for whom "Forever Young" serves as an anthem. Most of us are very confused as to how people twice our age would like for us to treat the age issue.
                                                                                            That being said, I can't imagine the words "young lady" coming out of my mouth unless I was scolding my niece. That's just strange.

                                                                                            1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                                              I've heard it used as a cutesy, ironic salutation as well (haven't minded it, but thought it a bit silly). I think people are as you say confused about the age issue.

                                                                                              1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                It happens to me from time to time - and recently a young guy working at a local business owned by a friend of mine called me hon (I'm female, mid-50s, and this happened in the NY suburbs, not Baltimore!). I asked him if he was older than 21. With a shocked look, he said no. So I told him I was old enough to be his grandmother and asked how she would feel if he called her hon. He had the good sense (and good humor) to apologize...

                                                                                                1. re: chrisonli

                                                                                                  I was about to post about the 19-year-old store clerks who call a woman older than themselves hon, although I've only had it happen with females, which has a somewhat different feel, but is still wrong.

                                                                                                  1. re: chrisonli

                                                                                                    Next time he'll spell it right. "Thanks, Hun." :-)

                                                                                                    1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                      "hon" is disrespectful.

                                                                                                      if "hun" were merited, it'd be a funny crack, d.u.

                                                                                                      maybe you'd be fine if a young female checkout clerk called you "pops." i doubt it, though.

                                                                                                      1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                        I deal with a South American chef that calls me "Mami" and for some reason that bothers me more than anything else. I mean he ends every sentence with it. I don't even know if that's actually disrespectful or not? But he's never even met me in person so probably thinks I'm a cute young thing. "Hon" doesn't bother me, although I get it more from older women than young men.

                                                                                                        1. re: alkapal

                                                                                                          I'm not so thin-skinned, and I'm from New Jersey. I'd just be a smart-ass back to her. It's something all these "OH WOE IS ME I WAS ADDRESSED DISRESPECTFULLY BY A TEENAGED COUNTER CLERK" folks might consider doing. Wonderfully cathartic.

                                                                                                          And I don't have a problem being addressed as "sir", the male equivalent of "ma'am".

                                                                                                          1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                            I don't think it's as simple as equating "sir" and "ma'am" (madam) as they are used in American society. Once a male is grown, he is a sir and stays that way to the end of his days. A female does not become "ma'am" upon reaching her majority, she remains "miss" for at least a couple of decades, if not more. Thus, we don't like to become ma'ams before our time, but we don't have a problem with the use of courtesy titles in general.

                                                                                                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                              ok, henceforth, you shall be "pops" ubergeek!

                                                                                                              <oh no she di'n't! ;-P>

                                                                                                        2. re: chrisonli

                                                                                                          Honestly, I wouldn't have known that would be offensive either. Same with the "young lady" example. I would have known both were a bit awkward, and overly familiar, but not that age was somehow a factor. I can't sympathise with these kids for using those with strangers, but I can sympathize with them for having no way to know these were off limits due to age.
                                                                                                          I worked with a guy in college, a server at a decent restaurant, that called all his customers cats. "What can I get you cats to drink?" Is this in the same category? He always got big tips from baby boomers.

                                                                                                  2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                    My god, if I were a woman in my 50s and a 20-something did that, I think I'd have to restrain myself physically from smackin' him/her with three knuckles' worth of rings.

                                                                                        2. re: Veggo

                                                                                          Most frequently, I encounter the following, which works very well without any of the troublesome questions regarding pronouns or titles: Server approaches table, inquires whether the party is ready to order. At this point, the eyes of all in the party are generally on the server; server looks at one person, makes eye contact and an inquiring expression (I do notice it's near universal for servers to begin with the, or one of the if plural, women). Order taken, server moves on in the same fashion around the table.

                                                                                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                                                                            That's exactly what I thought also, CM.

                                                                                          2. re: Veggo

                                                                                            That would definitely get him a big tip. I guess, though, that he doesn't have to call me anything. Just look at me and ask what I would like.

                                                                                          3. re: dmjordan

                                                                                            I prefer miss too, but I'm not offended by ma'am. I figure it is better than a lot of other options ...

                                                                                        3. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                          The first time I was called "ma'am," I was a 16-year-old cashier at Roy Rogers. Suffice it to say, I'm used to it now, and the word long ago lost whatever sting it may have once had.

                                                                                          1. re: small h

                                                                                            I also clearly remember the first time I was called Ma'am, by the pizza dude delivering my pie. Very depressing, I obsessed about it for days.

                                                                                            When my manager leaves a message for everyone in the dept, he calls us "youse guys"...and we're half women. Doesn't bother me for some reason, it's just the way he is.

                                                                                            1. re: coll

                                                                                              My similar experience was when I was given a 10% senior discount at Carls Jr. It cut like a knife. I would rather have paid the 27 cents.

                                                                                          2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                            You're right, there is no perfect way to address a woman whose name you don't know. I got the impression, though, that when he said "Don't call her lady" that he meant don't address her directly as "Lady." Lady is not my name, by I am *a* lady, so a reference to "the lady" is okay with me.

                                                                                            1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                                              What's wrong with "madam"? If you're going to be so stuffy as to say "...and what would the lady like?" you might as well sound like you're stuck in a 1950's Continental restaurant in London.

                                                                                      2. I agree with most of the list. Buschel does sound a bit rigid. I think his list would be a little different if he had some restaurant experience under his belt. In fact, I believe that all diners would be better customers if they had a little service experience. Until you've walked a mile in my shoes...

                                                                                        #3- Never refuse to seat 3 guests because a fourth has not yet arrived.
                                                                                        (His prerogative, but he'll learn after the masses run roughshod.)

                                                                                        #7- No jokes? (Come on.)

                                                                                        #42- Do not compliment a guest's attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else. (Ridiculous)

                                                                                        I agree with all of the posters who like to know who's serving them. I always quietly ask a server their name. It personalizes an intimate, human-to-human transaction, and it allows me to respectfully address the server when I need to talk with them. I don't use it to curry favor, or to yell their name across the bar or diningroom.

                                                                                        I'm working on a list of 100 things that restaurant customers should never say or do. I wonder if the NYT will post it...


                                                                                        5 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: PJ SNS

                                                                                          I don't necessarily want to be "intimate" with my server. In fact, one function of etiquette is to keep a potentially intimate situation from becoming so by creating formal boundaries. I don't like it when servers introduce themselves. However, as someone said above, I think it's a good idea to wrap up with "If you need anything my name is X". That makes it clear that the name is offered because the waiter wants to improve your service rather than because the waiter wants to become your new best friend.

                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                            Ruth- I hear you. I paused when I used 'intimate' in my post, but then proceeded to use it hoping that readers would get my intended meaning. The server-diner relationship is a personal one because it involves communication, interaction and hospitality. I'm with you on the boundaries, but I also believe diners need to be flexible and open to some spontaneity and fun.

                                                                                            1. re: PJ SNS

                                                                                              I'm the customer, I don't "need" to be "open" to anything. Sometimes I want spontaneity and fun with the waiter, but usually I rely on my dinner companions to make my time enjoyable. A waiter who is trying to be funny or entertaining or even overly friendly is just annoying.

                                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                I'll add to this from the point of view of business dinners. 90% of the time when I go out for a fancy-shmancy dinner it's a business dinner and we are discussing business. A good server should be aware of what's going on at the table and gauge his or her shtick from that.

                                                                                                If people are clearly in a business discussion (or a sombre personal discussion) then cute little "let's lighten the atmosphere" antics are almost certain to be unwelcome.

                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                  I agree that a server who is trying to be funny, entertaining or overly friendly can be annoying. Obviously a server needs to take his/her cues from each set of guests. I'm just saying that I believe that more people need to be open to the fact that dining out is a fluid, dynamic interaction, and that the world is not perfect. There are a lot of uptight people who are rigid, inflexible and unforgiving. Even in the most formal dining rooms a personal connection with a server can make an evening more enjoyable.


                                                                                          2. dining out should be fun. i have a responsibility to show up on time and be polite. the house has a responsibility to be polite, answer questions/offer suggestions, take care of the basics and be prompt. that aside, it's up to the chef to impress.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: steve h.

                                                                                              Agree wholeheartedly--and talking about dining out should be fun, too--in theory, at least. ;)

                                                                                            2. There is a hilarious rebuttal on waiterrant.com. As snarky as it seems, he really does capture the behind the scenes attitude of what goes on in many restaurants.

                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: pitterpatter

                                                                                                Do you have the complete link? I tried www.waiterrant.com and got a directory for restaurant listings and other misc. info.

                                                                                                1. re: Gigi007

                                                                                                  waiterrant.net. very lame responses

                                                                                                  1. re: jfood

                                                                                                    Thanks. I agree with you. Stopped reading around #15 or #16. Not funny.

                                                                                                    1. re: Gigi007

                                                                                                      Lots of unpleasantly sexist comments too. I can't say I was amused.

                                                                                                    2. re: jfood

                                                                                                      That entire site could be replaced with one sentence: "I hate everything about being a waiter."

                                                                                                      1. re: small h

                                                                                                        I think at this point (having had blog lead to book, etc.), it's all about the shtick.

                                                                                                2. I want to add that SO was dining with her daughter at a so-so Italian place in New Haven and, in the middle of lunch, the waiter came over and started swirling her glass of wine! She said, "Are you adding air to it?" His reply: "I'm adding oxygen to it". What an asshole!
                                                                                                  I doubt that he would have done that if I was there...

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                    That's a new one! Wow. But why would your presence have changed his behavior? Would that have made the idiot immediately smarter???

                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                      I thought this might not need explanation, but I'm sorta glad you asked. One or two women dining alone are a target for men just as women are when they are alone on the street or elsewhere. Some men feel they can say anything, touch, rub and otherwise violate a woman's privacy however they want since there is not a man present to stand up for them. In this case there were two attractive women dining alone in a sparsely occupied restaurant. One was a young twenty-five year old. Both are petite. I think the gesture of handling someones drink after she had been drinking it was provocative; perhaps the next best thing to actually touching her. Then he had to correct her and say "I'm adding oxygen", rather than saying "yes".
                                                                                                      His actions were possibly akin to a familiar person picking on you, when they really want to jump you. His actions were too familiar. I would not even do that to SO's glass (nor correct her)!

                                                                                                  2. In the places where the servers can become as "casual" as the setting:

                                                                                                    "Can I get you guys anything else?". Holy Chowhound, if that gal I've been dining with for years is a "guy" I'm in freakin' trouble.
                                                                                                    "Are you still working on that?". Four-leggers in a feed-lot "work" on that..but diners? Jeesh.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: noreservations

                                                                                                      What you have said reminds me of really casual places or theme places where all bets are off; like where they cut your tie off, or you eat with your hands and (I think) are supposed to pat the wenches on the butt. How are waiters/waitresses supposed to act if you are dining in a strip club?

                                                                                                    2. I would add to #9: always, always give the price of each special. I don't mind asking but some people do. Something that sounds good for $12 might not sound that good for $20.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        In the day of home/office printers I don't even now why I have to play a memory game trying to remember the specials. A page of specials with prices included would cost pennies a sheet. I went to a place for brunch with about 8 "specials". I was impressed my server remembered them all but I'm pretty sure I didn't.

                                                                                                        1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                                                          Good point. And I'd be more apt to order if they were in printed form. I do see it at times but not often enough.

                                                                                                      2. Good list.

                                                                                                        It comes off as picky and obnoxious, but so am I so I love it.

                                                                                                        The only quibble I have is with this:

                                                                                                        "2. Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?” Ask for a reservation. Ask if he or she would like to sit at the bar."

                                                                                                        I eat out alone a lot and asking me if I'm alone doesn't make me feel bad but refusing to give me a good table just because people don't want to look at someone sitting alone does. So it should be:

                                                                                                        "2. Do not treat singletons differently than groups of diners. Offer them a table or a seat at the bar and let them choose."

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: taos

                                                                                                          I agree completely. Just because I'm a single diner doesn't mean I always want to eat at the bar or should feel obligated to eat there.

                                                                                                        2. This list sounds familiar, so much so that Buschel should credit his source, directly or not.

                                                                                                          Thanks to google, here is the original. The list of "129 Cardinal Sins" comes from Bernard Chakroun, maitre d' at Le Bernardin. This was published in Eric Ripert's Life on the Line, and then reprinted in the New York Magazine.


                                                                                                          1. I'll add another:

                                                                                                            DO NOT address a group (2 or more) as "guys" ie: Hi "guys", are you "guys" ready for the check, can I get you "guys" anything else?..especially if there are women in the group.
                                                                                                            That is my biggest pet peeve when i dine out. I hate it, it makes me crazy enough to pull the manager aside.

                                                                                                            Oh and don't say we either; Are "we" finished, what are "we" having tonight? You are not a part of our dining group, don't act like you are just becuase you are serving us.

                                                                                                            Just be polite, offer us your name, and even joke around if appropriate, but don't come on too strong, we all know you're doing it for a better tip. Believe me it will backfire and you will just seem creepy.

                                                                                                            7 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: jcattles

                                                                                                              Perhaps if the "we" is me and a cute waitress, I wouldn't think her creepy.
                                                                                                              Perhaps she wants to join me and unconsciously says "we"? Naw, I thought not....

                                                                                                              1. re: Scargod

                                                                                                                jfood had a colleague that always thought the waitress was coming onto him. Finally it was just he and jfood at a dinner (no other colleagues) and he looked at jfood and said, "wow i think she likes me." Jfood whacked him on the side of the head. "what was that for?" reponse, "you're a smart guy. Stop being so stupid. You're 20 years older than her, she is 5" taller than you and you will give her a bigger tip if she flirts. " sheesh, amazing sometimes.

                                                                                                                that is why reading a book at the table is a great companion when solo and tarvelling.

                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                  Sounds like your colleague was reading "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty".

                                                                                                              2. re: jcattles

                                                                                                                I agree with your points. I will add, however, that I have sympathy for young waiters and waitresses who use "guys" this way. It's not acceptable in a formal or service context, but it has become the normal, informal, genderless term people my age use to address a group. Back when I was teaching, when the administration would do formal observations of my lessons, I would always get in trouble for calling my class guys, as in, "Quiet down guys." There was always irony in this for me, since my female students frequently called each other "dude". It's one of those tough linguistic habits to break, but correct speech is part of the job when you work in the service or hospitality industry.

                                                                                                                1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                                                                  The genderless "dude" term of endearment at first surprised me years ago, but for those who will pay my social security it is now ubiquitous.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                    It's funny how fast those terms change in meaning, and which ones various generations find offensive or at least odd. I see "lady" suggested pretty frequently as polite, but when it's tossed around in casual conversations between twenty-somethings, it often functions as a sarcastic term with the same connotations as "bitch" ("Some lady in the supermarket was holding up the line." "Listen, lady.") "Lady" was used as a derogatory term in the Victorian Era as well.
                                                                                                                    Bill Bryson has done some fantastic work of cataloging shifts in the terminology used to refer to people. He considers "chick" to be one of the most divisive words in the language. He missed out on one of my favorite recent oddities though. The age group 5 to 10 years younger than mine (basically college aged kids) uses the word "man" pretty extensively as a genderless term ("Hey man." "Whatever, man.") This is clearly unsettling to many people, which is ironic given that "man" originally was a genderless word, with "waepman" (spear person) and "wifman" (weaving person) being the gender specific terms- talk about stereotyping terminology.

                                                                                                                    1. re: danieljdwyer

                                                                                                                      We allready miss my friend Bill Safire who stayed abreast of these warpspeed changes and On Language nuances. I don't know who will take his place.

                                                                                                              3. okay... some are right on, but really... Don't say a special is your favorite? why not? that is passion & enthusiasm. Don't bump into table or chairs? well, duh! but servers ARE human and sometimes it happens... Don't remove empty plates if others are eating... Believe me sometimes people WANT those plates gone. That is a personal preference.
                                                                                                                I worked as a server through UCLA and then for a while after i graduated... I think if EVERYBODY did it for a week, there would be a lot less nitpicking and a lot more understanding!

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: trixie67

                                                                                                                  i know it's not correct etiquette, but i don't like an empty, used plate in front of me. if it's just mr. alka and me, i'll get them to remove the plate. otherwise, i follow the "rules."

                                                                                                                  1. re: trixie67

                                                                                                                    I agree that servers can't win on the "remove plates" issue. I've seen posts on chowhound railing about servers clearing their plate before the others and other posts complaining about servers leaving the empty plate while the rest of the party finishes. It's definitely a matter of personal preference, and all a server can do is try to pick-up clues from the person's body language, or ask "would you like me to clear your plate" (not "are you finished with that"!)? I personally would prefer to have my empty plate left(just in case I want to steal something from one of my dining companions, or change my mind about finishing up the last bits of something), but there are definitely some situations (if the table is overcrowded because of the number of plates or the ratio of the size of the plates to the size of the table) where it's better to remove a plate as soon as practicable.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                      I'm so glad you wrote that, Ruth. Everyone seems so absolutely dyed-in-the-wool convinced that their way is the ONLY way permitted by good service and etiquette.

                                                                                                                      I personally prefer to have the plates left for the same reason, but I think that might have been conditioned by the overzealous waitstaff who try and take it away before the food is gone.

                                                                                                                  2. #7 Neutral about the name and if the table is lively and jokes with the server than it is appropriate to joke back.

                                                                                                                    #27 – WRONG, service is the act of serving people; he is suggesting that the server ask the customer if they want to take over part of the service of the meal. Sure along with that I’ll run back to the pass-out counter and pick up the food for us and then run the dirty dishes to the dishwasher for too. This would be a major service faux paus, guests who wish to pour their own wine should say so to the server, otherwise it is implied that the server will do their JOB.

                                                                                                                    #37 – Depends, when bringing a rare bottle of wine to a restaurant to celebrate an occasion it is customary to allow the sommelier to sample the wine along with your head waiter. If it is a treasured bottle of wine this will many times result in the waiver of the corkage fee.