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"Is everything OK?"

When a waiter, manager, restaurant owner, etc., asks you this while dining, do you say "Fine!", "Very Good!", etc., even if the food isn't so hot? And do you think the person asking wants/expects a truthful answer?

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  1. As a restaurant owner, I can assure you that the manager and restaurant owner want the truth. The server couldn’t care less. By the way, went to Boston and ate at Craigie on Main (James Beard winner best chef northeast 2011) and my wife had such a disappointing meal that when the manager came over, we told him the truth. He comped her meal and gave us a gift certificate to come back.

    4 Replies
    1. re: shanefink

      Wow, surprised about Craigie! What was disappointing, food, service, both?

      1. re: shanefink

        "went to Boston and ate at Craigie on Main (James Beard winner best chef northeast 2011) and my wife had such a disappointing meal that when the manager came over, we told him the truth. He comped her meal and gave us a gift certificate to come back."

        That manager did exactly in my opinion what he should have done. Maybe a few are trying to get something for nothing but bet those who state the disappointing truth about their meal and are made more comfortable by a gracious offer like this manager displayed will return and try again.
        Very good business sense.
        Next time it may still not meet your expectations but at least it won't cost you either, and who knows it may be incredible.

        As for my husband and myself:if asked, we say it's fine which is our way of saying nothing special but fills the gap in our stomach. Ate at the Stratosphere in Vegas for our Anniversary 2 years ago and all know the sky high price of dinner there if you've been. The steak was good in that you could cut it with your fork but the duck will never be welcomed back in my pond ever. Our waitress was a hundred and twelve with a speech problem sorry to say, but when she approached to ask how our meal was I told her I didn't at all like the duck mostly due to the overall price my beloved was about to pay. Manager came over and replaced it with shrimp which was palatable at least but yes, the truth at that price, had to be told. And we won't return for a specialty dinner there again.
        Nothing comp'd and no dessert for our 35, lack luster/not classy.

        1. re: shanefink

          The server couldn't care less??? What kind of jerks do you have working for you?

          My livlihood depended upon the satisfaction of my customers--"how is everything?" was the most important thing I could possibly ask them. If there was a problem I made damn sure it was straightened out immediately--what kind of slouches are restaurants hiring these days?

          Never mind, I just answered my own question--slouches.....

          1. re: KSlink

            There's no reason to beat up on today's servers.

            I think it has a lot more to do with whether the person asking has any real ability to rectify the complaint you're making. Plenty of good, hard-working servers probably would rather not hear complaints that they can't do anything about - that's human nature.

            A lot of times it comes down to the nature of my gripe. If my steak is over/undercooked or my (ostensibly hot) soup is cold, then I'd expect a good server to want to hear about it and fix things so his or her customers leave happy. But say my complaint is of a different nature - maybe the dessert is cloyingly sweet, or the herb garnish is poorly chosen for the flavors of the dish, or the chairs while admittedly stylish are uncomfortable - not all servers will be able to do anything useful with that information anyway. I'm sure there are restaurants where that kind of feedback is valued, but there are a lot more places where servers check in with you for no other reason than to make sure that the service end of the dinner is going well.

            If a manager, cook, or owner asked me how everything was and seemed to really want to know what I thought of my dinner, I'd tell em in full - they have a lot more ability to respond to those kinds of criticisms. Servers, usually not. OTOH, I've been in situations where a server told me that I was trying a dish that's brand new on the menu and seemed to genuinely want feedback on what I thought of it, and in those cases I've told em if I had nit-picky complaints. Even there, I get the impression the server is asking because they were specifically told to find out how the dish was received.

            If you came up to me at my job and told me, for example, that you thought my employer was charging too much, there wouldn't be a thing I could do about it (aside from maybe directing you to someone who takes that kind of complaint). I'd rather get on with my job and focus my energies on things I have some control over. Granted a lot of servers don't work for as big a company as I do, but I think a lot of them are in the same position with respect to nit-picky complaints.

        2. My experience is that they don't really care what you have to say unless the chef actually comes out and talks to you. That person truly wants to know how you feel about their dishes, the rest are just giving you lip service. (Otherwise, they might actually make note of what you have to say in some way rather than just saying "uh, huh" as they clear away the plates. And the fact that no one comes out after you say something to the server tells you the rest don't really care to know.)

          2 Replies
          1. re: escondido123

            If no one comes out after I tell the server, all that may mean is that the server didn't bother to tell anyone.

            1. re: Leonardo

              And if the kitchen/owner never hears anything from their servers about how the meal was, I have to assume they don't care to know or they would think it strange that there were never any complaints.

          2. I'd put it along the same lines as the cashier who gives the obligatory "did you find everything ok?" and the acquaintance who asks "how are you?". It's more of a formality, unless there's a serious problem.

            1. If it's just bland or dry food I usually just nod my head and don't come back, but I'm trying to be more honest. A few months ago I tried out a brand new restaurant (they were putting up the sign as I came in--I might have been the first customer) and may have broken their hearts by saying I didn't like the chicken. But they had dried peppers cut up and mixed throughout the dish, which made it inedibly chewy, and I felt it necessary to say something.

              1. I'm surprised everyone seems to think this is some empty gesture; most restaurants I know of require this of the waitress within a certain time frame after the food is brought to the table. If something's wrong the sooner it's corrected the less aggravation and bad feelings on the diner's part.