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When the server keeps coming back to check on you

went to a restaurant last night which we had been to a couple times before, I'm guessing that it's the restaurant policy because the servers just don't leave you alone. Constant babbling and checking in to see if we want anything else becomes annoying after about the 8th time, we were eating and talking to each other and yet the server checked in every few minutes with 'can I get y'all anything else'. Even the manager always comes over once to ask the same question. We have noticed this every time we've been.

I don't want to get up to look for my server to ask for an extra napkin, more water and so on but surely when the diners have said once or twice that they are fine, why keep coming back?

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  1. Then just say, "We are fine, thanks, if we need you we'll wave a hand." If that doesn't work, go elsewhere.

    1. As a former server, if a table doesn't need something one minute, sometimes they will the next. Ideally, after delivering your main course, they are supposed to give you a minute, then come and ask you if everything is alright. After that, the server is just supposed to keep an eye on you and periodically walk conspiculously by you in case you do need something. But, if your server is swamped, then he/she might take whatever opportunity, however often, to verbally check on you.
      Two other scenarios: if there were recent complaints about customers being ignored, your server, or the entire waitstaff, may have been told to step up their checking on their tables (with the manager checking up on THEM)...or, if you are in one of those establishments where there are no actual stations and every server takes at least some responsibility for every table, you could end up getting asked over and over if everything is alright.
      Although admittedly annoying, as a customer, I find being ignored MUCH more annoying.

      1. In this case it sounds like that is the policy.

        If you dine there again ask for the manager when you are being seated. Let the manager know that your party needs to converse without interruptions and to please inform the server to keep an eye on the water glasses. Assure the manager that you will signal the server if you need anything else after the food is served.

        They are just trying to make the experience a good one. You have to let them know if your preferred serving style differs.

        1 Reply
        1. re: meatn3

          Good point. Without some instruction, on one can possibly know what you need and want. Converse.


        2. #1 Question>>>Was this a chain?

          Many chains have policies on checking back with dining patrons. Secret(mystery) Mystery shoppers are engaged who actually time checkbacks and report (including visits by the manager). Your lowly paid server and manager may have been following policy and trying to keep their jobs!

          If this is the case, the suggestion down thread that you inform the manager in advance that you wish to converse without interruption is meaningless, it's not worth a loss of job, sometimes the mystery shopper is timing service at an adjoining table.

          If this is not a chain, the checkbacks may be a means to turn tables, the establishment may not want you to camp out for a leisurely meal...............

          1. Sounds like they were giving an effort to give you great service. If it's not the type of service you like, just kindly let them know that you do not wish to be disturbed and will get their attention if you need anything.

            1. That is getting too much. Sounds like it is a policy especially the manager also did the same. escondido is correct. Maybe you can give them a hint that their constant service is not necessary. What a server need is to keep an eye on you from a distance. That is to notice if you are looking in their direction.

              1. no it's not a chain, Friday night it was pouring and they weren't all that busy and anyway it's summer so our area is quiet as there are thankfully no tourists around! It's happened at different times of the year, busy or not.
                The funny thing was I was telling a patient on Wednesday about this restaurant and how it's so annoying how many times they check on diners. Friday she came in to my office with a gift certificate for $50 it turns out her nephew owns the place and he was upset to hear that a customer had complained about the amount of checking and double checking done by the servers.
                We did not present the GC till the check came so they had no idea it was going to be used by somebody who thought their service is over the top annoying and I have no idea who the owner is. Must be company policy, the couple at the nearest table told the same server that they did not need a check back.
                When we went for my birthday last year, we found this same issue so irritating that we left to get dessert and coffee elsewhere, I don't think it's a turning tables policy, it's not a cheap place, entrees $18 and up.

                1. There is a very fine line, that a server must walk.

                  One one end, there is the patron, who wishes to have a server hovering over them, in case they have any request - then there are the patrons, who want to sit and talk, and do not want a server hovering over them. It is not easy to tell, who your patrons are. Often, the feeling is "more is better," but that is not always the case. I feel for any servers, as there are not likely "cheat sheets" available for them.

                  I often host major donors, and do not wish to be interrupted by a question "How is everything?" when we are deep into conversation.

                  We are hosting a gracious donor next week. She has given us over $30M, but that is NOT why we are dining. We want to sit, and talk to her. When we are being seated, I will pull our service captain aside, and instruct them to watch for any signal from me, and to NOT hover.

                  I will instruct them to bring the first wine, with appropriate glasses, and then to hang back, until I signal.

                  At that point, we will order our various dishes, and maybe more wines.

                  When those have been delivered, we will not require anything, unless I signal.

                  We have a lot to talk about, and we do not wish to be interrupted, with "how was everything?" If there are any problems, I will signal, and we will address those. Not particularly easy, but we have our reasons, and I tip graciously.

                  Now, if no one tells the server, or the service captain, how can they possibly know? Answer - they cannot.

                  It is incumbent on both parties, to see that things go, as planned.


                  1. Given all the variables, that is why I like to go back to restaurants that know me and know how I like to be served. If I went to a restaurant numerous times and had not figured out a way to make the service something I was comfortable with, I would stop going to that restaurant.

                    1. I have actually found this to be the case at most middle of the road places. Meaning, not burger joint/diner types, but not $100/person place. Based on what you said about entrees,I think it's because they know they will be waiting on a table for 90+ minutes, but the total bill will only be about $50 per person. If it's a table for two, that only amounts to about a $15-20 tip from most. What they are probably hoping to do is induce the customers into another round of drinks, thus bumping the bill up $5-10 per person and their tip up another $3-5 per table.