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Hi! My name is __ & I'll be your server tonight.

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I'm just curious; I've seen a number of CHs complain that they do NOT like their server introducing themselves. The practise establishes 2 things; who is ultimately responsible for waiting on you, and what their name is in case you need to have them come to your table immediately (like you forgot to say "no butter on the toast").
I've also seen here complaints about servers asking how everything is. How is the server supposed to know what you need to have your meal made better (a little extra dressing, another look at the beer & wine list, do you want to move away from the table with the small children, etc.)?
Is the meat underdone? Did you change your mind and want the soup instead? Do you need a condiment that's not there?
Obviously, I've been a server, and as a customer, I always want to know the name of my server and have them check up on me to see if I need anything. Hell, I expect it.

  1. Well. Such timing. I've been going to restaurants in the metropolitan area where we live, and on three other continents for decades. I had a new experience last night. Established restauran, slightly-above-average price point for an independent restaurant. Four of us at a four-top. One of our group often asks the server his or her name if they haven't intro'd themselv, because, as you said, he wants to know who to ask for if needed.

    So he did. And the server then asks him HIS name. He answers, she sticks out her hand, shakes it, and proceeds to go around the table asking names and shaking hands.. And she used our first names throughout the meal. Which was very good, BTW.

    That was a first for me. I don't think it was bad, but it was sort of disconcerting. Opinions?

    7 Replies
    1. re: lemons

      the fewer class distinctions, real or imagined, we build between each other, the better off i feel

      1. re: thew

        Agreed. Servers are people. I don't see the problem with acknowledging that and behaving as such.

      2. re: lemons

        I wouldn't like that, as it almost seemed to be implying that it was incorrect in some way for the person to have asked the server's name in the first place, or that the asking of the name was not related to the business relationship that is occurring, but is rather was the initiation of a personal relationship. I don't think it has anything to do with "class distinction"; rather it has to do with the fact that this is fundamentally not a social interaction.

        1. re: DGresh

          I can see your point, but would look upon things a bit differently - at least for me.

          We frequent several restaurants around the globe, and some see us several times per year. Much depends on the restaurant, but in some, like Blackberry Farm, we actually introduce ourselves to our servers, when they approach. Returning several times per year, most recall us, and greet us appropriately. It's rather like family, though rather extended.

          My wife, the marvel, can recall who has children, and their gender, and does the math to know if they are in kindergarten yet. We have had instances where a particular server was off during our visit, but communicated with the staff, to tell us hello.

          Had a recent experience, where the sommelier recalled that we'd attended a food and wine event earlier in the year, and that we'd tasted some particular Bourbon. She recommended a Shiraz, that had been aged in the barrels from that Bourbon distillery. How special was that - especially as it was one of the most interesting Shiraz that I have ever tasted?

          No, I do not draw them into my "inner-circle," but certainly wish to include them in the evening - so long as my wife and I do have a bit of privacy.

          When the chef approaches our table, I always introduce my lovely wife, and then myself.

          I think that it's a "different strokes" situation.

          Hunt

        2. re: lemons

          Well, I suppose I'd rather be addressed by my name than to be in the "you guys" category. But, I also suppose that if I did tell my server my name, I'd expect him/her to remember it and use it; otherwise, why bother?

          1. re: CindyJ

            CindyJ,

            In most of my cases, they do, and they have.

            At one restaurant, where I had dined solo several times, as my wife was in board meetings, when she was finally able to join me, the entire staff stood at attention to meet, greet and welcome her. I think that she felt a bit like royalty, but managed to suck it up and greet each person in the reviewing line. Nice touch.

            Upon returning to a restaurant, I enjoy being addressed by name. I also appreciate the staff remembering that my wife has an allergy to bi-valves, and that we both love white Burgs to start the evening.

            I like to feel comfortable, and want all around me to feel the same way.

            Hunt

        3. I have not read about the complaints you mentioned. I don't see there is a problem for the server to introduce himself or herself, or swing by and ask an answer or two.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            I do see many comments here, and it appears that many do not like that introduction. I happen to not be of that cut of cloth.

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              Bill,

              Thanks. I must have missed it. I don't see what is so annoying about the waiter or waitress introduce him/herself. I guess it is possible that some people find that pretentious. Otherwise, I am not sure what bother them.

          2. I don't care one way or the other about knowing my servers name, but I DO expect to be checked on once for each course. If I'm not checked on, it will affect the server's bottom line, ie, the tip. Conversely, as Michelly noted, how else will the server know what, if anything, is needed which is also what affects the gratuity.

            1. Introducing themselves in a professional way is fine. Some restaurants make it part of a "schtick" of over-familiarity (e.g. sitting down at table to take order) which is offputting.

              Asking if everything is fine is a professional's job. Responding to concerns is another. It does no good to ask "everything fine' if you're not going to address the response. Also, don't ask me 30 seconds after putting the plates down...make it a "timely" question.

              14 Replies
              1. re: HDinCentralME

                +1 to "timely".

                I've been asked that before, prior to taking a single bite of food - to that, I always reply "How would I know" gesturing to my untouched plate. Generally, in the type of restaurant where that happens, there will be no return inquiry.

                1. re: HDinCentralME

                  <Also, don't ask me 30 seconds after putting the plates down...make it a "timely" question.>

                  I take it to mean that the server wants to make sure that you are happy with the plate in front of you and that nothing is missing or incorrect.

                  1. re: viperlush

                    Agreed. If there is a query at the time the plate is placed, I've generally been asked "Does everything look in order?" with a return follow up shortly thereafter to make sure all's well.

                    I have no problem with the "Hi! My name is....." and I used to use something along those lines (probably "I'll be taking care of your table this evening." I hate the "Is everything tasty?" inquiry heard at chains and such. Keep the schtick and serve good food without hovering.

                    1. re: Dee S

                      Now, I can abide with two inquires - one on the correctness of the plate and presentation, and then another on the tastes of the dish.

                      What I too often get is an inquiry seconds after delivery, asking how everything tastes. If I knew, I would share.

                      I also expect that the server actually cares, and that if things are not good, they will quickly address things.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Bill,
                        I contract to supply and train mystery shoppers for many restaurant chains, I am not at liberty to disclose the names.
                        Many of the chains shop restaurant servers to make sure they check back with the customer within 2 minutes of the food being delivered to the table.
                        I have explained to the clients that this does not allow enough time for customers to have tasted the food. They might be sipping a cocktail when the plate is set down, or still finishing a previous course (yes, a good server should not serve the next course before clearing the previous one). The stock answer I get from the chain executives is that a checkback more than two minutes after the plate is set down gives an unfair number of the food isn't hot enough complaints.
                        Servers who check back as soon as the plates are out are often afraid of being shopped and losing their job in this lousy economy.
                        The server may know better, but must follow chain standards or be out the door.

                        1. re: bagelman01

                          Interesting perspective, and thank you for sharing it. Considering this discussion, I think that it might shed a bit of light on such behavior.

                          For me, as I am often involved in table conversation, I would like time to actually taste the dish, and will not think less of the kitchen, if I am given that time.

                          Thanks,

                          Hunt

                          1. re: bagelman01

                            That is interesting, but I also think that it doesn't take into account that usually while waiting for food, diners are in the middle of conversations and my experience is, you finish your conversation before digging in. It seems to me, more often than not I'm asked how "everything" is, before I've taken my second bite.

                            1. re: jhopp217

                              In fact getting patrons to eat and leave by doing sublte things like interrupting conversation helps turn tables. On another board I recently complained about a restaurant who presents the check at the magic one hour point. A week later I saw the owner of a similar type restaurant on TV and he said the whole experience takes one hour.
                              I won't be going back

                              1. re: bagelman01

                                If I notice the tables around me turned over twice while I was there, and the waiter was patient and good, I compensate the time in the tip... I know the other tables turned over twice, but they didn't have cocktails, appetizers, a bottle of wine and dessert... but I've also waited tables before.

                                1. re: drdelicious

                                  That extra to the server is appreciated and it compensates the server for lost opportunity, BUT it does nothing for the establishment itself. If a restaurant needs to sell 150 covers per evening to cover their operating expenses, they will try many ways to turn the tables. Not all diners who take more than the average time purchase the extras you mention, many just spend time visiting, A good manager might offer to serve them coffee or after dinner drinks in the bar-on the house-in order to free the table.

                    2. re: HDinCentralME

                      I agree with your comments. In some cases, it is a forced delivery. I feel like there is a script, or teleprompter, just beyond my gaze. I am not into that sort of tableaux.

                      Now, in my case, I come from the Deep South, where things are more familiar, and this extends to restaurant service too. Still, do not hit me with some script. Introduce yourself, and I will introduce us. Take care of us, and show legit concern for our dining enjoyment, and we will get along very well - and there will be a good tip, 'cause I greatly appreciate great service to go with great wines and food.

                      I also appreciate the comment on the timing of the inquiry. If I have not had time to taste anything, how the heck will I know if it's done well, or not? Good point.

                      Hunt

                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        I also dislike the script - had that happen recently at a restaurant in Delray Beach Fl where the waitress learned her lines. We had the 'the beef has an explosion of taste ........' and 'the idea behind the menu is small plates so that you can try a variety of dishes' and 'the chef has collaborated with (insert name of famous TV chef) to make a wonderful ............'. If we asked for an explanation or for further information we were met with blank stares as if she were a robot and had not learned anything extra.

                        1. re: smartie

                          Now, when it comes to "cast members," and their "scripts," I am less enthusiastic with such. A brief introduction is enough for me.

                          I do like a good, useful description of menu items, and the ability to add details, when asked. Often, the server has no clue, beyond the script, and has not actually tasted the dish. To me, that is an important aspect. I use that info for the wine pairings, whether there is a sommelier, or not.

                          I want sincere descriptions, from personal experience, and not a "sound bite." Maybe that is just me?

                          Hunt

                    3. I completely agree. Based on comments in these forums, servers are damned if they do and damned if they don't. Personally, I see nothing wrong with a server introducing him/herself by name or asking if everything is all right after the food has been served and we've started eating, so long as the server doesn't come back every few minutes to ask the same thing. I would feel neglected if the server never came over during my meal.

                      There are those who don't recognize the difference between servER and servANT. I've certainly experienced my share of subpar service in restaurants, but I'm constantly amazed at the minor things that some people consider to be serious offenses committed by wait staff.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: cheesemaestro

                        usually accompanied by a statement to the effect "and that's money off the tip" which clearly is the root of the matter

                        1. re: thew

                          If you are referring to my comment of a few days ago, I was being arch/flip/ironic, take your pick. I've worked in food service and know exactly what people go through and how the general run of the public assumes that servers are beneath them/incapable of other employment/of low educational level etc. We tip well.

                          1. re: buttertart

                            you would be surprised how many are not being ironic in the least when they say it. i'm shocked by how many people here seem to be itching to tips less at the drop of a hat.

                            for me, you would have to REALLY screw up the service for me to consider lowering your tip. and that does not include asking if i want change, telling me their name, forgetting to fill my glass, etc.

                            1. re: thew

                              We've only ever tipped less than 15-20% once in a long career of eating out in joints high and low, in a place in Berkeley a million years ago when the waiter went out of his way to make us as miserable as possible. I subsequently became friends with a woman who had worked there who told me it was their practice to pick a table to dump on when they got overly busy. We were the lucky party.

                              1. re: buttertart

                                You'd think someone like that would be fired, especially if others knew of the practice. That's just unprofessional--maybe he'd most recently had a job at Jet Blue.;-)

                                1. re: chowser

                                  It was a Berkeley restaurant back in the day, run by a "character", I think the practice was at least tacitly sanctioned.

                              2. re: thew

                                I don't know about "itching" to lower the tip at the drop of a hat. I have had the opportunity to be a server. It's extremely hard physically and can be a very stressful and tedious position. I've had very generous diners and those who don't believe in tipping - I suppose they are under the mistaken and laughable belief that the establishment is paying a livable wage. Because of my experience, I tend to be a very generous tipper, but then as with now, I believe tips/gratuities are earned. That means more than just taking my order and returning with a plate of food - ie, verifying that the order is complete and served while the food is still hot, checking on the table at least once per course service which may be done at the time of refilling my glass, bringing more bread, etc, and assuming that yes, I do want change, the same as when I go to any other retail establishment. I work for my money. I guess I expect the same from others. But then, that's just me.

                                1. re: CocoaNut

                                  i want my change too, but i'm not offended if someone asks. and it is not like any other retail outlet, because at the GAP you are not expected to tip, so the question fi the change does not come up.

                                  1. re: thew

                                    And therein lies the "GAP" between our thinking. I don't feel obligated to do very much of anything and if I were to make a list, "tipping" would not be on it. So yes, expecting change is the same as going to any other retail outlet. That said, it has to be outrageously distressful service to fall into the "no tip" category, but it has happened.

                                    1. re: CocoaNut

                                      i said expected, not obligated

                                      1. re: thew

                                        When there's a credit card and/or a fair amount of cash put in the payment envelope, the server usually needs to double check as to whether you want to split the bill -someone paying with credit card and someone else paying cash- or are they to put the whole bill on the card and give you change. It's a thousand times easier to make sure of what the customer requires before you cash out the check than find you have to redo the whole thing, which usually requires a manager's clearance card or something like that.

                              3. re: buttertart

                                Not familiar with said comment. For me, we are all in this together. Make my life fun and easy, and I will do my best to reciprocate. I will always show respect, and hope that the server does the same. I am easy to get along with, and only expect a professional relationship, plus great wines (usually my call) and great food.

                                Hunt