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

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Michelly Sep 26, 2010 02:12 PM

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.

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  1. l
    lemons Sep 26, 2010 04:09 PM

    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
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    1. re: lemons
      thew Sep 26, 2010 04:17 PM

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

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      1. re: thew
        cowboyardee Sep 26, 2010 04:35 PM

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

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      2. re: lemons
        d
        DGresh Sep 27, 2010 10:51 AM

        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.

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        1. re: DGresh
          Bill Hunt Sep 28, 2010 07:15 PM

          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

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          1. re: Bill Hunt
            rabaja Sep 28, 2010 09:05 PM

            I heart you.

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        2. re: lemons
          CindyJ Sep 28, 2010 09:31 AM

          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?

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          1. re: CindyJ
            Bill Hunt Sep 28, 2010 07:21 PM

            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

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        3. Chemicalkinetics Sep 26, 2010 04:47 PM

          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.

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          1. re: Chemicalkinetics
            Bill Hunt Sep 28, 2010 07:36 PM

            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

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            1. re: Bill Hunt
              Chemicalkinetics Sep 28, 2010 08:03 PM

              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.

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          2. c
            CocoaNut Sep 26, 2010 05:37 PM

            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.

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            1. h
              HDinCentralME Sep 27, 2010 05:52 AM

              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.

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              1. re: HDinCentralME
                b
                blynk Sep 27, 2010 08:35 AM

                +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.

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                1. re: HDinCentralME
                  viperlush Sep 27, 2010 12:27 PM

                  <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.

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                  1. re: viperlush
                    d
                    Dee S Sep 28, 2010 05:10 PM

                    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.

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                    1. re: Dee S
                      Bill Hunt Sep 28, 2010 07:46 PM

                      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

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                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        bagelman01 Sep 30, 2010 11:52 AM

                        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.

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                        1. re: bagelman01
                          Bill Hunt Sep 30, 2010 06:16 PM

                          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

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                          1. re: bagelman01
                            j
                            jhopp217 Oct 1, 2010 08:07 AM

                            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.

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                            1. re: jhopp217
                              bagelman01 Oct 1, 2010 08:23 AM

                              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

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                              1. re: bagelman01
                                drdelicious Oct 1, 2010 08:27 AM

                                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.

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                                1. re: drdelicious
                                  bagelman01 Oct 1, 2010 08:50 AM

                                  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.

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                                  1. re: bagelman01
                                    drdelicious Oct 1, 2010 09:04 AM

                                    Good point.

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                    2. re: HDinCentralME
                      Bill Hunt Sep 28, 2010 07:33 PM

                      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

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                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                        s
                        smartie Sep 30, 2010 07:08 PM

                        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.

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                        1. re: smartie
                          Bill Hunt Sep 30, 2010 07:35 PM

                          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

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                    3. c
                      cheesemaestro Sep 27, 2010 08:56 AM

                      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.

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                      1. re: cheesemaestro
                        thew Sep 27, 2010 12:30 PM

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

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                        1. re: thew
                          buttertart Sep 27, 2010 12:42 PM

                          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.

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                          1. re: buttertart
                            thew Sep 27, 2010 12:47 PM

                            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.

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                            1. re: thew
                              buttertart Sep 27, 2010 12:52 PM

                              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.

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                              1. re: buttertart
                                chowser Sep 27, 2010 02:09 PM

                                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.;-)

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                                1. re: chowser
                                  buttertart Sep 27, 2010 04:34 PM

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

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                              2. re: thew
                                c
                                CocoaNut Sep 27, 2010 01:17 PM

                                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.

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                                1. re: CocoaNut
                                  thew Sep 27, 2010 01:44 PM

                                  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.

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                                  1. re: thew
                                    c
                                    CocoaNut Sep 27, 2010 03:30 PM

                                    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.

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                                    1. re: CocoaNut
                                      thew Sep 27, 2010 05:01 PM

                                      i said expected, not obligated

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                                      1. re: thew
                                        Michelly Sep 29, 2010 08:36 AM

                                        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.

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                              3. re: buttertart
                                Bill Hunt Sep 28, 2010 07:52 PM

                                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

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                          2. n
                            NicoleFriedman Sep 27, 2010 04:52 PM

                            Servers are human beings. While I certainly do not want the server sitting down at my table and telling me their sob stories (this happened in college at a TGI Fridays:} ), why should introducing themselves be of any issue whatsoever? It's much preferable to me to be able to say their name than to say "sir" or heavens "garcon" :}. My grandparents are of the generation that they want a certain level of personal distance between them and the "help". I think my generation has thankfully gotten past this. However, what you're describing is almost the opposite extreme- we don't want to treat the servants like second class citizens so we end up overcompensating to the point where we become uncomfortable. That is not the solution- we have to find a balance where we recognize that being a server is a respectable profession, but we are not paying the restaurant for them to be our friend.

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                            1. re: NicoleFriedman
                              Veggo Sep 27, 2010 05:16 PM

                              Emily Post era etiquette actually frowned on addressing a waiter as "sir". I prefer to know my waiter's name and I use it. How awkward to call out "waiter!" and see 2 or 3 turn to see if I mean them.
                              I always thank my grocery clerks, baggers, and toll takers by their badge names. They appreciate it. Many jobs can't be much fun.

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                              1. re: Veggo
                                c oliver Sep 28, 2010 04:17 PM

                                +1

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                                1. re: Veggo
                                  Bill Hunt Sep 28, 2010 08:08 PM

                                  Great point. When I know a person's name, I attempt to use that, when addressing them. In the grocery example, they have my name on the credit card, so we are all pretty much on the same page.

                                  Hunt

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                                2. re: NicoleFriedman
                                  Bill Hunt Sep 28, 2010 08:06 PM

                                  Nicole,

                                  I am probably in your grandparents' generation, but feel the same as you. If the servers do not introduce themselves, I will ask, and offer an introduction for us, as well.

                                  For us, there is almost always a wonderful balance, and synergy. We all have a great time. It is no different from the cabin crew in FC on UAL. They know our names, and we try to use theirs. It really helps communication.

                                  Hunt

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                                3. MinkeyMonkey Sep 27, 2010 05:42 PM

                                  Oooh, I like this question! Background: I was brought up in an old-fashioned way and class distinctions and stereotypical manners were normal and expected. I'm not old-fashioned nor do I have any weird class distinctions of my own (I'm pretty sure I don't!!) but I know my mother still does. Whatever, to each their own. I know my mother would not expect the staff to become familiar with her but she is also a nice lady and would be polite and reciprocate the communication at the same level it was offered. But, she would be put off if the server asked how things were and then walked off too quickly for her to answer or did not really want to know.

                                  That said, I find that each situation is different. I don't like when servers put on a weird facade (super happy smiley fake) and try to be too familiar. Really, I'll probably forget their name in two minutes. I'm thinking of odd places like the aforementioned TGIF or one of those super-loud restaurants that somehow annoys me no matter what they do. I usually avoid places like that, unless a friend wants to go for their birthday dinner..happens a lot actually.

                                  I do like when I return to a place and the staff remembers me. I remember them too and if the situation works out, we end up knowing each others' names.

                                  No matter how many times I go to a place, sometimes it just isn't appropriate to know the server's name or to communicate in full sentences. Seriously, some places have servers who move so fast that there isn't really any time to even say 'hello' it seems. I'm just fine with that. They have a job to do and I'm not going to be the one to hold them up, plus I love quick service!

                                  Those instances when things are super fast and they ask "how was everything can I bring you anything else I'll be right back with your check" all in one breath and without punctuation, well, sometimes I find that silly. Don't ask if you aren't going to give me the half-second to respond. Other times, well, it somehow works out and I just answer with a smile and they don't mind, like we are both just going through the motions because everything was fine and the questions were just a formality.

                                  Regarding the situation in which the server greeted the guests, well, that is just sweet. I have touch-issues because my palms perspire on their own, randomly, when I don't want them to and usually right before someone wants to shake my hand so I hate the idea of an unexpected handshake. But, since the guest asked first, I can only see her reaction as a kind and respectful response. Now, if she tried to do that on her own without the guest asking, that might weird me out but only because I'm just strange when it comes to hand shakes. The fact that she remembered the names astonishes me. Geeze, maybe I'm just really bad at remembering names but, wow, that is pretty impressive.

                                  I wanted to comment on the tipping thing, too. I hired someone once who had been a waitress. I won't say where. I thought I was going to gag when I reviewed her application forms--they were paying her below minimum wage!!! I mean WAY below. If I remember correctly, she was being paid under $3 per hour. I've gotta say that I've always been a big tipper, even when I'm poor. It is hard work, they stand all day, they get tough customers, they are paid very little, they often are considered part-time employees even if the work all day long so they don't get benefits and, geeze, they get taxed on their tips whether or not you or anyone else tips them. I love to tip. I don't wash the dishes, I don't have to get up, they carry my food out to me and put it right in front of me, how can I not? So, even if the service is not what you'd like or less than you'd consider tippable, you should still consider giving a tip. You are paying for the basic service when you tip, if you tip 20% then you are paying for pretty good or good service, if you are amazed by the service, tact, punctuality, accuracy etc, then tip higher. It's okay, it will be appreciated. Never leave a penny. If it is so bad that you are considering leaving a penny or nothing at all, just communicate your concerns regarding the service to the manager or server or even to the owner if it was really that dreadful, but still leave something.

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                                  1. re: MinkeyMonkey
                                    Bill Hunt Sep 28, 2010 08:20 PM

                                    As I was growing up, all of the various staff knew who I was, whether it was the country club, or the yacht club. OTOH, I knew the names of each, and addressed them as Mr. ____, or Miss ____. This was before the Ms. salutation was coined. This did not matter on race, social status, or anything else. They were my seniors, and were addressed with distinction. That was how I was brought up. I would not have had it any other way. The bartender at the yacht club was Mr. Floyd, and I grew up with him, starting before I was too young to go to the bar - Mr. Floyd made it happen. He also took care of me, when he had sneaked me too much alcohol, and covered for my youthful indiscretions. When I attended my high school's 30th reunion, Mr. Floyd was one of the first people that I looked up, and reconnected with. Same for my father's caddy, and then for my family's server at Galetoire's. They were more like extended family.

                                    Hunt

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                                    1. re: Bill Hunt
                                      drdelicious Oct 1, 2010 07:28 AM

                                      It's funny to me that there are likely several decades between us, but I was raised exactly the same way. I still maintain the same standards of addressing people as 'Mr. ___' and 'Mrs.' or 'Ms,' and in my corporate job world, I take heat for being 'impersonal' because of it... how silly... (It's not their fault, they just weren't raised right.)

                                      I used to go to Galetoire's and Brennans and the like with my grandmother, and I learned the servers as 'Mr. ___' as well. That was probably 10 yrs ago or so. Now that I'm older and on my own, I find the best way for twenty-somethings to be treated with respect in established restaurants is to stick with the polite and respectful groundrules of introducing yourself and remembering the servers names... suddenly the good servers and waitstaff treat you as well as the fifty-somethings that have been frequenting for decades (good recommendations, good tables, special drinks, etc). It has nothing to do at all with class or social status... just mutual respect for the person and for their job.

                                      Now, I don't really go to chains or TGIFs (life's too short for that), so I can't speak on the servers there, and I surely think that two minutes is too short to assess if I'm pleased with the dish or not (I'm a slow eater and a long talker at dinner). I think if the server comes out with the waiter, they can assess if you need anything else. Then, check back in a few minutes to see how it tastes.

                                      Although, 2 minutes is about the right time to remind them that I'll still need the Tabasco :)

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                                  2. j
                                    jhopp217 Sep 28, 2010 04:47 PM

                                    I can't remember ever being to an upscale restaurant and not having the server introduce themselves. I do find that it is becoming a bit of a rareity in most places though. I do like knowing the servers name so if something is needed, I can politely ask for them by name and not say "hey you." As for the second part, I like attentive servers, especially when dining with a group, but don't want someone hovering around the table. I also laugh when a server will ask how everything is before you even take a bite. If the server doesn't provide his/her name, I usually ask.

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                                    1. m
                                      Muskrat Sep 28, 2010 05:17 PM

                                      II think it's a lot easier to ask "Please ask Mary to bring my check" than "could you find my server -- she's brunette, about 5'6", and speaks with s light accent I can't identify."

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                                      1. re: Muskrat
                                        f
                                        fourunder Sep 28, 2010 06:10 PM

                                        Whichever table you are seated at in any restaurant is broken down into sections/stations on a master floor plan. You can tell any staff member to ask your server to bring the check....and the staff member will know exactly who to seek out and deliver the message to the appropriate person.

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                                      2. pikawicca Sep 28, 2010 05:21 PM

                                        Until fairly recently, it was possible to flag any waiter and ask, "could you please send our waiter over?" Why is this impossible now?

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                                        1. re: pikawicca
                                          Bill Hunt Sep 28, 2010 08:23 PM

                                          I do not find this to be a problem, but would it not be better to ask, "could you please tell Mary that we need our check?"

                                          That would be my personal preference.

                                          Hunt

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                                        2. Bill Hunt Sep 28, 2010 07:06 PM

                                          Personally, I like to know my servers' names, and will attempt to address them by them. At some restaurants, I know most of the servers by name, and feel at ease, carrying on a conversation with them, on menu items, or maybe the wine.

                                          I do not intend to get into their personal lives, and do not expect them to wish to join into mine, but being able to address each properly is nice.

                                          As for inquiring on how everything was, I find this a nice touch, so long as it's not a toss-off line. Now, I do greatly appreciate the server with good timing. If I, the host, has just placed some food into their mouth, that is NOT a good time to inquire. If there is deep discussion (we often are doing business at dinner), that is NOT a really good time. There will be better times, and they will come up. Observe.

                                          Also, when a course has been served, keep an eye open, in case something is not quite right. The server need not hover, but being somewhere in the dining room is good. Here again, if I know our servers' names, it is easier to signal them. I am NOT a fan of "hey you."

                                          Just my preferences, and others might feel differently.

                                          Hunt

                                          PS - we host a lot of catered events. I make it a practice to introduce myself to everyone on the team, and try to address each by name. Now, my wife is much better, than I, and can probably identify every catering team member over the last 15 years. I wish that I was that good.

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                                          1. jfood Sep 29, 2010 03:53 PM

                                            Jfood does not understand why this is an issue for anyone. And as others have stated it makes it easier to ask for the server by name to other staff. And it is a nice ice breaker for the start of the meal.

                                            But please do not ask jfood for his name. It is usually on the reservation if that is important and jfood is really not interested in a social engagement with people other than those at his table. Not elitist or anything like that, this is his down time and he can choose the environ to which he wants to participate. Likewise when he flies he is places himself in the one-man cone of silence. Very rare that he ill have a conversation with people next to him.

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                                            1. re: jfood
                                              s
                                              smartie Sep 30, 2010 07:11 PM

                                              tonight our waiter, at an upscale steak house, asked my daughter for ID for her wine, it was her 22nd birthday so she got out her ID and told him, whereupon he flashes a pic of his 3 year old and starts telling us supposedly funny stories about her. It was odd and I think inappropriate.

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                                              1. re: smartie
                                                Bill Hunt Sep 30, 2010 07:39 PM

                                                Even with my Deep South, familiar bias, that is over the top, and is not welcome.

                                                We have lived in PHX for many years. It's a city of 5000, that swells to over 4M, in the "season." We are the only two people, who do not own a Summer home in La Jolla, or elsewhere, and dine year around. It is common in July to have the owner, chef and sommelier at our table, showing off the pictures of their grand children, but that is because we are the only diners that week! Times ARE changing, and now more of the few remaining restaurants are being filled, as people default on the mortgages for their 5th and 6th homes, and stay in town. Otherwise, I greatly appreciate not having too much familiarity.

                                                Hunt

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                                            2. h
                                              Harters Sep 30, 2010 09:56 AM

                                              The OP expresses the style of service that s/he prefers. I presume it's intended as an invite to discuss our own personal preferences.

                                              For me, no, I dont need or want to know the server's name. And I dislike places that come and check on "how is everything".

                                              My ideal for good service is that I've hardly noticed it happening from the point when my order was promptly taken to the point when I pay the bill. It's the sort of service I generally find in mid-scale and upwards places here, so I'm generally happy.

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                                              1. re: Harters
                                                d
                                                DGresh Sep 30, 2010 10:19 AM

                                                While the "how is everything" is so prevalent around me that it would be hard to be bothered by it, I too would prefer not to be asked, as long as someone could be quickly summoned with a look across the room. However I guess I'm a rather non-fussy diner who rarely has a problem with my meal. Maybe I just choose my restaurants well, or maybe I'm just a pushover :)

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                                                1. re: DGresh
                                                  c oliver Sep 30, 2010 10:36 AM

                                                  Or maybe your glass is usually half full.

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                                                  1. re: c oliver
                                                    d
                                                    DGresh Sep 30, 2010 11:23 AM

                                                    that too :)

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                                                  2. re: DGresh
                                                    p
                                                    purple bot Sep 30, 2010 11:26 AM

                                                    The funny thing (not really, but) is that you hear so many people complaining "once the food was dropped, no one ever came by to check on us" that I've come to conclude that if you are a server you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.

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                                                    1. re: purple bot
                                                      Bill Hunt Sep 30, 2010 06:21 PM

                                                      I only have my one vote on that issue, but would like to have the delivery, and then when the table has had the opportunity to actually sample, the server does drop back by. Had an issue with some heavily over-salted dishes recently (two entrees and then a total substitute), so some interaction was required. As this was at one poor diner's expense, the other three were sitting and waiting for the situation to be rectified. Had all servers just disappeared, we'd have been there a long time.

                                                      Remember, just one vote - give us a moment with the food, and then drop back by. If there was a problem then, perhaps keep an eye out, when the replacement comes.

                                                      Hunt

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                                                2. j
                                                  Jack Flash Sep 30, 2010 11:37 AM

                                                  Personally, I HATE it when my server tells me his/her name. It just strikes me as unprofessional. They don't do it in Europe (at least, not in France, Italy or Switzerland). I don't need to know his/her name in order for him/her to tell me the specials, take my order, or keep an eye on the table.

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                                                  1. re: Jack Flash
                                                    bagelman01 Sep 30, 2010 12:01 PM

                                                    In my years of travelling and dining in Europe, the server does not tell me his/her name. HOWEVER, it has been quite common for the maitre d to tell me when seating me that Henri will be serving you this evening....................

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                                                    1. re: Jack Flash
                                                      d
                                                      donovt Sep 30, 2010 02:18 PM

                                                      Just curious. Does knowing the servers name somehow negatively affect your dining experience?

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                                                      1. re: donovt
                                                        j
                                                        Jack Flash Sep 30, 2010 03:05 PM

                                                        It is the act of introduction itself (not the actual knowledge of the person's name) because it is completely unnecessary to the transaction that really bothers me. Some of the best service experiences I've ever had have taken place with nary a word from the server. Consider the typical Parisian bistro experience: the waiter shows up at the table and, with a raise of the eyebrow (and maybe a "vous avez choisi?") takes my order. It is then served. A "terminé?" when I'm done, and the plates get cleared. I do not need to know if he's named Pierre or Jean-Luc or Jules. It serves no purpose.

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                                                        1. re: Jack Flash
                                                          bagelman01 Sep 30, 2010 04:29 PM

                                                          I also prefer seamless, quiet service. The waiter is there to serve, but not be part of my and my table companions dining experience/conversation/expected privacy.
                                                          I like knowing the server's name, so if I am happy, I can ask to be seated in his/her section on a later visit, or conversely tell the host, that a table serviced by X is unnaceptable.
                                                          I do not need to use the serever's name when addressing him/her, I just speak directly as in "Please bring me another drink" or "May I have the check."

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                                                          1. re: bagelman01
                                                            Bill Hunt Sep 30, 2010 06:27 PM

                                                            It is probably my Deep South upbringing, but I like being able to address all people around me by name. I look for name badges, and similar, as I want to address them appropriately.

                                                            Now, I do not wish to include the servers in my inner-circle, and I doubt that many would want to be there, but I do like being able to refer to all of the staff by name.

                                                            My wife oversees 10,000 employees, and can speak to most by name. I am not so good, as she, but am not a "hey you," person.

                                                            Just personal differences.

                                                            Hunt

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                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                              pikawicca Sep 30, 2010 06:43 PM

                                                              Your wife can keep 10,00 names in her internal Rolodex? Incredible.

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                                                              1. re: pikawicca
                                                                Bill Hunt Sep 30, 2010 06:52 PM

                                                                She amazes me, and on many levels. She can walk though one of her smaller hospitals, and ask the kitchen staff how their daughter (by name) is doing in school. I cannot recall all of our neighbor's kids' names!

                                                                Were she not such a phenomenal hospital administrator, I think that she'd be great in either sales, or politics.

                                                                Hunt

                                                                PS - OTOH, I can tell her the exact order of the music on our 8-track trip through the Smokey Mountains in 1973. She has a hard time recalling where we went on that trip, let alone the order of the music on the tape deck.

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                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                  jfood Sep 30, 2010 07:02 PM

                                                                  can't fool an old timer mr hunt. the 8-track was a continuous loop so there was no beginning. :-))

                                                                  jfood had an 8-track recorder, oh how times have changed

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                                                                  1. re: jfood
                                                                    bagelman01 Sep 30, 2010 07:08 PM

                                                                    J>even before the 8 track, we had a 4 track in an early 60s Imperial
                                                                    It's tough getting old

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                                                                    1. re: jfood
                                                                      Bill Hunt Sep 30, 2010 08:01 PM

                                                                      Hey, back in those days, I actually recorded my own. Talk about an operation. I was so glad when we moved to the 120min. tapes. Much easier to produce!

                                                                      Now, I can upload 4 hours of music to my wife's system, or plug in either iPod, and even do 6 CD's, plus the satellite radio. Times have changed, and now, I doubt that I can recall the playlist from the last trip up to Sedona!

                                                                      Hunt

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                                                                2. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                  c oliver Sep 30, 2010 07:04 PM

                                                                  Do you call them by their first name? And is it then alright if they call you by your first name?

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                                                              2. re: Jack Flash
                                                                thew Oct 1, 2010 05:10 AM

                                                                unnecessary? that's a funny criteria when doing something as unneeded as dining out. necessary includes water, a little caloric intake, and some manner to keep war when it is cold out. that's about it.

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                                                            2. re: Jack Flash
                                                              thew Oct 1, 2010 05:07 AM

                                                              europe is still bound by countless centuries of strong class divisions, which is exactly what america was founded to combat. it is a quintessentially undemocratic attitude, which i for one cannot wait for it to vanish from the planet

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                                                              1. re: thew
                                                                d
                                                                donovt Oct 1, 2010 06:56 AM

                                                                Here here Thew. To steal one of your lines, they are your server, not your servant. I generally don't want long conversation with my server, but some polite "smalltalk" is appreciated on both ends.

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                                                                1. re: donovt
                                                                  c oliver Oct 1, 2010 07:27 AM

                                                                  Well said.

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                                                            3. k
                                                              KatieMc Sep 30, 2010 02:47 PM

                                                              I find it a bit twee, and really, any customer should be able to signal to any server to resolve a missing item, not just wait for your designated one to appear. Last week a server did this to the two men at table next to us and one replied:
                                                              "Great, my name's Bob and I'll be your customer tonight." funny....

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                                                              1. iL Divo Oct 1, 2010 02:39 PM

                                                                I couldn't care one way of the other. If that server is good, I'll remember and call them by name cause I think it's polite of us to do that and may also offer better service because you're making a point of putting meaning and importance to their job therefore them.

                                                                Conversley, if the server is not optimal, I tuck that note away in my little pea brain and pull out that knowledge at tip time.

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                                                                1. The Chowhound Team Oct 1, 2010 02:49 PM

                                                                  It seems like everything there is to be said on this subject has already been said, and now the conversation is just going in circles, and growing increasingly unfriendly. We're going to lock it now.

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