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Can I politely ask next time to have a more experienced waiter?

john333 Feb 8, 2011 05:23 PM

The problem: today at lunch the waiter I got was really nice but he's still a novice--in fact I saw him training last week (accompanying one of the veteran waiters). When he took my order today he asked if I wanted the salad first ahead of the main course and of course I said yes. First of all I waited half an hour and no salad. Then both the salad and the main course arrived together at the same time. Of course this turned my lunch into a nightmare because I was running out of time and I had to hurry and eat both the salad and the entree more quickly. Plus with the salad and the entree both on my table at the same time there wasn't enough room to comfortably read my newspaper.

Maybe this wasn't the guy's fault but he did seem to be running around alot. I just wonder whether the problem was due to a lack of experience.

Now last week I had a waiter who has worked there since at least last year (and who has waited on me before) and everything was timed just right making for a purrrrrrfect dining experinece.

Have any of you chowhounds ever specifically asked to have a server with some experience when you ate out? Or is that just too rude? I keep thinking I would have enjoyed lunch today if I hadn't gotten someone so green.

  1. r
    Rick Feb 8, 2011 05:39 PM

    I think the best way to go about it would to learn the name of the waiter that you like and simply ask to be seated in his section. That way you don't have to worry about being rude, and you'll get waited on by someone you know is good.

    9 Replies
    1. re: Rick
      john333 Feb 8, 2011 05:55 PM

      Maybe I'll try that again. However in the past when I've tried asking for my favorite waiter it's never worked out. I've gotten the following responses:

      1. "Sorry he's not working today".
      2. "Sorry his section is full"

      1. re: john333
        p
        poser Feb 8, 2011 06:02 PM

        Remember your first day on the job? I bet you where thankful when your co-workers were a little tolerant of your inexperience. In the whole scheme of things, it ain't that big of a deal, now is it?

        1. re: poser
          john333 Feb 8, 2011 06:16 PM

          Oh, I'm sure I'll get over it :).

          Please note that I was nice to the waiter and didn't complain about the delay/salad coming with the entree. And I a decent tip. On the other hand, maybe I should have gently pointed out to him why I was unhappy, so he would learn (assuming of course it really was all his fault; maybe it was the kitchen's fault).

          1. re: john333
            r
            reatard Feb 8, 2011 06:40 PM

            You should have been an experienced diner and asked about your salad after 15 minutes.

            1. re: reatard
              john333 Feb 8, 2011 06:41 PM

              How could I ask him when he was running around and didn't stop at my table?

              1. re: john333
                r
                reatard Feb 8, 2011 07:13 PM

                Please, you couldn't flag him down or speak to the MOD?

                1. re: reatard
                  rockandroller1 Feb 9, 2011 04:09 AM

                  I agree, if you couldn't flag him down and you're on a tight schedule, nothing wrong with approaching the MOD and saying, gosh, I can see X is very busy and perhaps new to solo serving, but I'm wondering about my salad since I was hoping it would come before my entree, could you maybe check on it for me? You'd have gotten your salad immediately and the server would have been told of the problem and could work to correct the situation - probably couldn't stop the entree from being fired since in a lot of places, as soon as you enter it they fire it and you have to rush to get the salad out yourself. But, he could have tried hard to make the rest of your experience good, by making sure your drink was full and you were otherwise pleased. It's very, very easy to get quickly overwhelmed when you're new to serving but the only way to the other side of the weeds is to wade through them and hope that people can cut you some slack til you get better at navigating.

        2. re: john333
          invinotheresverde Feb 9, 2011 05:15 AM

          I'd politely explain that last time you were there your service was subpar, but you wanted to give them another chance (which is all true). Constructive feedback is important to all businesses and any place that takes itself fairly seriously will bend over backwards to ensure shoddy service doesn't happen again.

          1. re: john333
            f
            fourunder Feb 10, 2011 06:50 AM

            2. "Sorry his section is full"
            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

            Rick's suggestion is best. If you receive the response above, return with...

            * Thanks anyway, I'll come back another time * or, if you have time to wait, * Thank you, but I do not mind waiting *

        3. monku Feb 8, 2011 06:50 PM

          You said you worked in a restaurant why don't you cut him some slack and give him some tips.

          Places I frequent I specifically ask for that person to wait on me and I will wait till they have a free table if necessary.

          2 Replies
          1. re: monku
            k
            KTFoley Feb 8, 2011 07:37 PM

            "You said you worked in a restaurant why don't you cut him some slack and give him some tips. "

            Are you thinking of posts from joe777 rather than john333?

            1. re: KTFoley
              monku Feb 8, 2011 07:59 PM

              Ooooooops. Sorry.

          2. a
            Augie6 Feb 9, 2011 05:00 AM

            I use to run into this problem constantly at my last job.. Only getting an hour for lunch a slow server/kitchen can be horrible. I would imagine that the server will get use to multi tables and become more attentive.

            I find it very refreshing to see you did not fuss or not leave a tip... I really compliment you on that portion!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Augie6
              john333 Feb 9, 2011 06:48 PM

              Thanks!

            2. b
              bobbert Feb 9, 2011 07:21 AM

              I agree with most posts here. You usually can't pick your server and, by the the time you return (next week?) he will probably be up to speed. I have 3 kids in the biz, FOH and BOH, so I tend to be very sympathetic to newbees. When my daughter first got moved from hostess to server, they initially limited her number of tables and even which shifts (no Friday/Saturday nights) she worked until they thought she was up to speed. Believe me, unless the place qualifies for an episode of Ramsey's Nightmares and management is totally clueless, they know who's doing well, who needs help, and who is not cut out for the job. To finally answer your question, aside from requesting a "special" server, no, there is no polite way of asking for someone else. I, too, am glad that you cut the guy some slack and still gave him a nice tip. I believe you'll find that he gets up to speed and, if you're a regular, you may one day be able to share with him (with a laugh) how much he sucked when he first started. Lord knows I sucked at every new job I ever had.

              1. jlbwendt Feb 9, 2011 08:22 PM

                Did you ask the server where your salad was during the 30min that you waited?

                1. m
                  mikie Feb 10, 2011 01:26 PM

                  I typically try to make a determination on where the source of the problem is and I'm rarely familiar enough with the wait staff to know who's new and who's not. If it's the wait staff, the gratuity reflects the level of service. If it's the kitchen, I ask to speak to the manager, scares the carp out of the wait staff but they still receive the gratuity they worked for and the manager has to deal with the problem. I'm a bit of a hard liner, I have expectations when I dine out, and if those expectations are not met there are concequences. Typically, that establishment gets crossed off the list for a while.

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