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Mar 28, 2011 01:43 PM

Is this wrong to do? Requesting a server....

Both my wife and I go out to eat on a pretty regular basis (2-3x a week). My wife has Celiacs disease (must eat gluten-free) and that alone makes our dining choices pretty difficult. We have certain restaurants that we go to that are pretty good with her food allergies, but it only depends on who is serving us. We mainly go to places that the servers/kitchen staff are trained with food allergies.

My main question is, is it wrong to request a certain server when you go out to eat? There are only a select few servers that we trust when placing an order when we dine. We have tried to go to management (FOH Mgrs/Kitchen Mgrs) to make our orders and they seem to not be capable to cater to our needs as well as the special servers.

On a side note, if the meal is incorrect w/needed food allergie omissions, is it wrong to lessen their tip (I usually tip 20-25%, but on bad service 15%). I'm not sure what to do since it could either be the server's fault in imputting the info to the kitchen, or the kitchen improperly handling the food. Again, when these certain servers are our waiter/waitress, we have never had a problem.

Please let me know what your thoughts are on this.......

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  1. There is nothing wrong with wanting a specific server.. especially with your wife being gulten-free!!!! Most people (including myself) do not know the pariculars of what needs to be done or not done for that matter. IMHO I would stick with the people that are in the know!

    As far as lowering the tip-- it can be a touchy subject. IF the server is showing no compasion or interest , then Yes lower the tip. If they are attempting you cannot fault them

    1. IMHO I can see nothing wrong with requesting a specific server based on your wile's health considerations. Actually what could be more important to you or to the restaurant than insuring your wife's good health by dong the right thing? Seems the problem is not just the server that might not know the right thing to do but the kitchen which does not know or care. Difficult situation. Regarding the tip, you are more forgiving of bad service than I would be at 15%. The type of bad service would have me considering a range from 0 to 15% especially if it involved a health issues.

      1. I think you should be assertive paychecktoday. My friend spent the better part of a year testing for a gluten allergy and you have my empathy. I think you are paving the way for a lot of people, I'm no scientist but food allergies are getting a lot more attention these days.
        My friend has a favorite barber and I have a hair stylist that I prefer. I have my stylist's business card with the hours she works, maybe someday servers will follow suit.
        Tipping is a sticky issue, but if the meal is incorrect for your wife it is basically inedible. I think things will improve in this area eventually but I was always really grateful for Chipote's gluten free option when we just wanted a quick meal. You can watch them make it and they even change their gloves for you.

        10 Replies
        1. re: givemecarbs

          Yeah, we did Qdoba (Chipotle is too spicy for my wife) for a good while in the early stages of her food intolerance. Our local Qdoba knew us so well, the second they saw me, my wife and daughter come in, everyone automatically changed gloves and made our order from memory haha.

          What my issue is that, due to her intolerances, we have a very limited variety of places we can dine at. We have to mainly stick to chain restaurants (sad, I know) because they seem to be the only ones that really cater to GF diets on a broad scale. But even at my last chain restaurant this past weekend (PF Chang's in Plymouth Meeting), we had horrible service there and her food was cross contaminated. PF Chang's is KNOWN as one of the best places for GF diners, so we were very disappointed.

          Going back to my original post, since we have a limited amount of places to go, we eat at the same places alot, and run into the same servers who have served us before. Again, we know the select few who can serve us correctly, and some we know who are clueless. If I were to "lessen" the tip due to bad service or inedible food, and get the same server again at a later dine-in time, do you think that could affect my service or food preparation? I've already spoken to mgmt and they always tell me that they will take care of things properly, etc.

          Just wanting to see what you guys think about this, and how I should handle things. BTW, I have worked in the restaurant business for a long time, so I know exactly what could or could not be going on behind the scenes.

            1. re: bonappetite

              I'm aware of the website, and am constantly on there. They are a good source of information in regards to places to eat. But, it only suggests places that serve GF items, and doesn't guarantee that it will be safe. The only place I put my full trust in that is listed on there is Giorgio on Pine.

              1. re: paychecktoday

                I think the glutenfreephilly list is invaluable. We've eaten at many of the places on the list without any problem. Most of the small BYOBs (KooZeeDoo, Matyson, Modo Mio, Bibou and Sonata) have all been excellent. We've also had great GF meals at Bar Ferdinand, Sazon, Tria, Picanha Grill, Osteria, and Paesano's. My DH hasn't had any trouble after any of those, as long as we have informed the server and ordered carefully.

                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                  What is the GF bread at Paesano's like?

                  1. re: barryg

                    I actually didn't try it, but my husband thinks it is pretty decent. At least it's shaped like a hoagie roll, which is hard to find (or make, I've discovered). One of the things he misses most is cheesesteaks, hoagies, etc., so the fact that he can get anything close with fillings as good as Paesano's is a major treat.

            2. re: paychecktoday

              Since you asked for advice pay, I would continue to request certain servers, even going so far as to make a reservation and ask for the preferred server at that time. It makes me feel squirmy to even think about, but yes your worry about "revenge" is not far-fetched at all. If there were more choices for you it would be possible to lessen the tip and then never return but that is unrealistic until restaurants get with the program more.
              Are you willing to drive out to the 'burbs? I was surprised to be able to get a gluten-free menu from Molly Macqiuire's in Lansdale, and I've heard good things about Melodia in Souderton. I know that restaurant managers read these boards sometimes. Again, thanks for breaking a trail for all people with food allergies.

              1. re: paychecktoday

                I don't think there is anything wrong with asking for a particular server, as long as you do it in advance.

                It's interesting, my husband has celiac and I feel that, for the most part, places are very careful and most servers (thought admittedly not all) know at least enough to check with the kitchen. We've eaten at a pretty large number of Center City restaurants without a problem. All the Garces restaurants are fine as long as you let them know. Several places we've been have given us a menu pre-marked with the items that are GF without modification, and will often also note those that can be modified slightly. Maybe my husband is less sensitive than your wife, but he's never had any trouble after eating at these places.

                1. re: Hungryin theBurbs

                  Yeah my wife is super-sensitive to gluten. All gloves must be changed, and prep area cannot have touched anything gluten at all, or she would have a reaction. My plans are to take my wife to the restaurants listed on the website, but with a daughter and an expected child coming in 2 weeks, we havent been able to do too much traveling. Also, with the restaurants listed (modo mio, garces restaurants, etc), those places to us are considered higher end for our budget. It's nice for us to go to every so often, but as a quick fix for not wanting to cook, we are limited.

                  1. re: paychecktoday

                    Gotcha. Have you tried Sazon? Their prices are pretty reasonable. The arepas are yummy, and definitely GF. Another place on my list is the Philadelphia Chutney Company--looks like good cheap eats, dosas are definitely GF, and they have a lot of different fillng options. Haven't been there yet, but my husband and I plan to check it out soon.


                    Good luck! It sounds like you've got a lot on your plate. :-)

            3. Why not ? l have many restaurants where l request a particular server when reserving. They know me, and know l am an excellent tipper, i always get comped for something, little or big, it is nice.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                When you get comped because you are known as an excellent tiper; is it the the service person comping you at the expense of the restaurant or is it the establishment? One of the big problems in food and drink businesses is the unauthorized favoring friends. Just curious?

                1. re: Bacchus101

                  Depends on restaurant. If large, l suspect they are favoring me, but maybe the management says take care of your favorites. The comps are usually an app or something small. At small owner operated places, the management seems to both know and suggest doing it, there the comps are larger. But come on at three or four of these places, l bring presents back for staff from my extensive travels and everyone seems happy, thus in my mind not theft or extortion, just friendship.

              2. There is absolutely nothing wrong with requesting a certain server. You like and trust that person and the servers do not care.

                Now - about your getting food you did not order. That is what it is. Part of the servers job is making sure to communicate information about the meal to the chef and then when it comes up to check it and confirm (if needed) that it was done BEFORE it is brought to the table. Period. If it is wrong, a new one is cooked or (if possible) the meal is corrected. The server can go out and tell the table what is up if there is a delay. The server should also know or check with the chef about what is possible for those with food allergies.

                15% is generous especially considering the serious nature of food effecting health.

                4 Replies
                1. re: Sal Vanilla

                  I agree with what everyone else said...if you have a great server stick with them. We do it all the time at Estia (with Saki) and at other places where there are some servers that make the meal that much more enjoyable.

                  1. re: bluehensfan

                    Thanks for all the imput. So what I am doing so far is the right thing to do, in requesting a server (which I do ahead of time over the phone when making resos), and tipping based on service. It stinks that when I can't get my server, I'm almost positive that my dining experience will be sub-par or horrible.

                    1. re: paychecktoday

                      Can you bail and pick a different spot if you can't get the server you want paycheck ?

                      1. re: givemecarbs

                        I can bail, but, as I stated before, there are only a few places she considers safe to eat. Either that or she has to eat something completely different than what she wants at that restaurant (a salad w/o croutons or something that has no way of being cross contaminated) or go to a different restaurant w/o reservation and pray they don't have a long wait.