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Dec 3, 2009 06:29 PM

"It's Coming Right Out" - Why say it if it is not true?

Recently Jfood has noticed that many servers seem to state these words with absolutely no rhyme or reason when asked how the food is doing. Then several minutes later jfood asks that the server check and many times there is a substantial time delay before the food comes out.

This only causes the customer to lose all faith in the server and the server's honesty in future responses.

Jfood is just curious if pthers are noticing this pattarn, but even more curious from the many servers on the boards to give their opinion on if they do this.

Many thanks in advance.

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  1. Are you just ranting or do you really want to know? If the latter, servers say "it's coming right out" for the same reason other people say things like "I'll get right back to you" or "the check is in the mail." It postpones acknowledgment that things are not as they should be.

    10 Replies
    1. re: alanbarnes

      jfood really wants to know, not ranting at all. He had a great meal tonight with a great server so it is not a knee jerk reaction at all.

      Why not tell the customer that they will check with the kitchen, then return with an honest answer. Your answers are those one gives on the telephone where the chance of a confrontation shortly thereafter is minimal at best. There is no escaping the face to face with the customer within 15 minutes with the server and the customer.

      1. re: jfood

        The servers are at the mercy of the back end. ( kitchen ). I think the servers are being honest with you with the information they have been given.
        I like when an experienced server says that the kitchen is slammed and can I get you another drink or soda.

        1. re: otps

          "The servers are at the mercy of the back end. ( kitchen.)"

          It starts with the chef or line cook, who probably has said something less than polite to the server, take your pick:
          (expurgated version)
          "It'll be right out, I already told you that."
          "We're slammed, 45 minutes."
          "What order?"
          "What table?"
          "I don't have an order for that table!"
          "I can't hear you."
          "I don't want to see you in here again tonight."
          Blank look.
          Bad look.
          Refuses to respond to server.
          Server is assulted. (Yes, I have seen this happen.)

          So, yes, the servers are at the mercy of the kitchen, but the kitchen is getting slammed because too many customers were seated too quickly by the host. The host was hired by the owner. The owner's parents willed him the restaurant and on and on...back to the server, who politely says, "It's coming right out."
          Servers are just doing the best they can to make a buck and pay the rent.

          Disclaimer: Of course, this is not the case in all restaurants. There are many great, well-managed places with well-trained staff and excellent chefs, conducting their business on a nightly basis without a hiccup. Somehow, though, the bad experiences tend to stay in the forefront of our memories.

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            interesting pov. servers and cooks are actually on the *same* team, although some of these posts would seem to put them in adversarial positions. "it will be out in 5 mins/30 secs/momentarily" (when it won't be) is an inexperienced server's coping mechanism-- which actually serves to piss off the customer/self-sabotage the server's own tips more often than not. i don't really understand why inexperienced servers often shoot themselves in their own foot in this way, and then have meltdowns when everyone else fails to drop everything to cover them. . . lying or "guessing" about timeframes in a restaurant isn't polite at all. good servers will check on their tix without bugging the kitchen staff or causing confusion in the boh. better yet, they can be paying extra attention to their tables, because in the event of a delay as a result of kitchen issues, having an attentive server/good service will completely erase any perception of this delay in the minds of the customers. good service does not equal breakneck-quick service, except at denny's. servers rushing around frantically calling for food before it's properly cooked, nagging the cooks, and rushing their tables to hurry up and eat is actually quite bad service, not good service.

            1. re: soupkitten

              Maybe the short answer is more thorough training. In the NY metro area, often servers are part-time employees, with other full-time career interests. While I think that it's perfectly fine for people to hold part-time jobs to augment their income, from my experience working in restaurants that had good training programs in place, that exra attention to training leads to a heightened sense of teamwork and ultimately a better dining experience for the customer, whether the server works two shifts a week or six.
              Better training certainly seems to be the make/break point of good service.

        2. re: jfood

          From first hand experience, I can tell you that there's a very good chance that if your server does check with the kitchen, the kitchen will do to the server what your server did to you. Most people lie to avoid or even just delay confrontation, regardless of the situation and regardless of the potential outcome of the lie. Society trains us to do this from a very young age.
          Also from first hand experience I can assure you that most customers are just as eager as the server to avoid confrontation, and will not call them out on the lie. So the server can ask the kitchen, who will probably just tell them, "It's coming right out," anyway, and then be honest will the customer, risking having to give them an answer they won't like. Or, the server can just say, "It's coming right out," by doing so probably not really have to deal with the situation, then hope that once the food comes out the customer enjoys it and accepts an apology for the delay so that the tip is not so badly affected. The server is subconsciously betting on the desire of the customer to enjoy himself outweighing any sense the customer might have that there is something to be rationally upset with.
          I'm not saying it's right at all, but it does boil down to basic psychology of avoidance.

          1. re: danieljdwyer

            Agreed, the servers are typically at the mercy of whatever the cooks/chefs say. Sometimes they make mistakes, or the oven's cold, etc. that will change the accuracy of the estimate... sometimes they're under stress from everybody and they just blurt out a panicked answer.

            1. re: Blueicus

              Then there are the times the server has forgot to put in the order, ordered the wrong thing or forgot to say hold the --- and doesn't want to pass on that there is a delay to the customer, because it's the server's own darn fault.

            2. re: danieljdwyer

              I HATE HATE HATE it when someone Beee-Essses me! For a waiter to do that will definitely impact on his tip.

              "Most people lie to avoid or even just delay confrontation, .... Society trains us to do this from a very young age." Lordy, Daniel, I must take issue with that. It's entirely opposite to the way I was raised, and to the behavior I can accept.

              1. re: Sharuf

                I agree completely with taking issue with this. I think dishonesty for any reason, even those little white lies most people are okay with, is a terrible thing. But I also know that this is a psychological/sociological phenomenon observed in most people.
                How we're raised and what we learn through our development are often two very different things - and this can be either fortunate or unfortunate, depending on the case. We start learning long before our parents and elders are able to communicate values to us, and the period encompassing the beginnings of brain activity in utero through about a year old is generally held to be the most formative. We learn from the reactions of other in this period, and this continues to be more influential than communicated values through toddlerhood.
                Children learn quickly that, if they do something wrong that upsets their parent and are faced with an emotional parent, they have a lot to gain by delaying confrontation. If a child lies about it while their parent is angry, and the parent only figures out the truth at a later point when he has cooled off, the child can now be scolded by a far less emotional parent. Additionally, children learn at a young age that lying about something often means that, in the end, they get in trouble for the lying rather than the initial misbehavior. While the initial misbehavior may have angered the parent, most people react to a discovery of a lie with cooly rational disappointment rather than anger. Even if the child's punishment is more severe for the lie, children are likely to choose a longer time out over being angrily yelled at.
                So, while the parent is verbally teaching the child the value that lying is worse than the initial transgression, the child is learning that they can create a more favorable situation by using dishonesty to avoid or delay confrontation. If they actually get away with the lie and escape punishment entirely, you've probably got a liar for life on your hands. One incident in those formative years can shape a person's whole personality later in life, and take years of therapy or personal reflection to correct.
                That's why waiters lie to customers. They learn as children that it's likely to be the easiest solution to an uncomfortable situation. Avoidance is a powerful component of human psychology - it has even been observed in other apes, and I think many dog owners would say their dogs do it too.

        3. I used to be in sales and I think the cause of my greatest credibility was when I said "I don't know but I'll check and get back to you." That "robot" answer means nothing after the first time, does it?

          2 Replies
          1. re: c oliver

            I think sales is not comparable to serving in this case. If I ask if the soup of the day is made with vegetable stock, I want the answer with certainty. If the server has to go back and ask the chef, I'm happy to see her being honest with me instead of making something up that may very well be wrong. This is even more the case with food allergies that could be life threatening.

            I think there are cases where the server makes mistakes and forgets to put an order on the ticket. When that happens, I do get annoyed when the server fails to admit the mistake. However it's extremely obvious when you get your main course and no appetizer/salad has arrived beforehand. There have been times when I mention it after waiting a certain time and the servers act like they already put it in. If the next course is ready to be served at that point, I would rather be told about the mistake so I could decide whether the app is even worth it.

            1. re: queencru

              Oh, thanks for reminding me... that is most certainly my most favourite "challenge" servers routinely give cooks,

              (just as everything's ready to go up)

              Server: "I forgot to punch the steak well done in, can I have it on the fly?"

              Cook gives the server "the look"

              Cook: "Okay, that'll be ten minutes"

              Server: "But I really need it now"

              Cook: "Fine, so you want me to butterfly it and throw it in the deep fryer?"

              Server: "Sure, whatever"

          2. As a server, I'm not given any exact answers. I can go to the expeditor, the cooks, the guy on the grill, and no one will say "6-8 minutes." They'll tell me it's coming and make it clear that I'm pissing them off.

            Best I can really do is go and see where the ticket is on the board and note if it's up next or if there are 5 checks ahead of it. Also, managers would be upset if we were making promises we can't keep. Saying 5 minutes and then not living up to that makes both myself and the kitchen look bad. It's better to be vague.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Azizeh

              "They'll tell me it's coming and make it clear that I'm pissing them off. "

              I think this is the primary reason. Most cooks where I have worked get very, very po'd with server inquiries. I've seen some of the less evolved mess with the order (further delay, etc.) to punish the server.

              Azizeh is stating the best (for customer and server) action of quietly checking on the lineup of tickets and staying out of the cooks way.

              Vagueness from a server usually has more to do with restaurant internal drama/ego's than with the server/customer dynamic.

              I'd rather fudge and say it is next in line than open a can of worms by telling the truth that:
              "If I ask, the cook will blow his top, get everyone in a tizzy and then storm off, take a smoke break to cool off and delay everyone's experience by another 12 minutes."
              IMO vague is just better all around...

              1. re: meatn3

                I don't consider "it's the next ticket up" vague and unresponsive. I consider it a valid, honest response (if true). In that scenario the server did actually go to the back and check on the order's status rather than give an on the fly, meaningless "it's coming right out".

            2. Thats a good question jfood. As a former server and manager I would say that its lack of experience coming into play. I used to say it occasionally, if I was in the weeds, but I learned that its better to be honest and specific. A good server learns never to make promises that they can't keep, because they know from experience that it will only make things worse. You're completly correct in your comments about losing faith in the server. Nothing is worse, people can become enraged very quickly over this.

              I can't say I've noticed this pattern in the places I've dined lately, but I don't eat out that often.

              1 Reply
              1. re: haggisdragon

                I will also add that sometimes there's a tricky dynamic. Sometimes the chef is the server's boss. If the chef/boss is an incompetent asshole with communication problems then the poor server can be intimidated and mislead into relaying false information to the diner.

              2. I've never noticed this because I never ask how long food is going to be when I'm sitting there. If I'm in a hurry I'll ask if they can accommodate my time frame before I sit down, and I'll accept their recommendation on what to order. If I'm not in a hurry I wait as long as it takes, usually when I go out to dinner I'm socializing so it's not that big of a deal if the food takes a while.

                If I sat down after they said they could accommodate my time frame and they don't, I pay for whatever I've had to that point and leave.

                If I were to ask, though, I'd agree with jfood, "it;s coming right out" to me means right away, it's being plated as we speak - so if it didn't show up within 2-3 minutes I'd be quite annoyed.