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Servers' familiar behaviour

randyjl Jul 21, 2012 09:05 AM

What do you do when a server proceeds to be too familiar? I am very offended when a server treats me as a long lost friend. The worst offense is when he/she sits at the table or booth with my partner and me. Once I gently complained that it was not appropriate to the server. His response prompted me to call for the manager. His response was, "That's how we train our servers." I responded that I would not be staying nor returning. He responded, "That's your choice."

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  1. r
    Rick RE: randyjl Jul 21, 2012 09:10 AM

    Sounds to me like you are looking more for a servant than a server. I think the manager handled the situation perfectly.

    17 Replies
    1. re: Rick
      randyjl RE: Rick Jul 21, 2012 09:38 AM

      You actually think its alright for a server to sit with you in your "temporary" space? You are entitled to your opinion as am I, but you are not entitled to be critical of a person you have never met.

      1. re: Rick
        bagelman01 RE: Rick Jul 21, 2012 09:51 AM

        I disagree, The manager should have explained that although this is the way we train our servers, I'll make sure your server does not sit down at your table again during your visit.

        This would have most likely pacified the patron and excused the server's behavior and avoided a walkout.

        If I was the patron and received the curt response above, I would have also walked and not returned. If I received a response such as I suggest, I would have completed the meal and probably not returned.

        1. re: Rick
          sunshine842 RE: Rick Jul 22, 2012 02:37 AM

          As I said on another thread, eating in a restaurant is a business transaction, not a budding friendship. I used to wait tables, so I don't fancy myself to be above servers or expect them to be my servants, but I am a customer and they are a service provider.

          i don't expect to get hugs or kisses on the cheek from the plumber or the electrician -- and I don't expect servers to sit down at the table with me. (squatting down next to the table is only somewhat less offputting)

          And that whole thing of writing your name upside-down on the paper tablecloth with a crayon? Puhleeze. Really? I don't even need to know your name....and I deduct points for dotting your i's with smiley faces or hearts.

          A server is a professional....I treat them as such, and I expect the same in return.

          1. re: sunshine842
            rockandroller1 RE: sunshine842 Jul 26, 2012 12:53 PM

            FYI, in restaurants with butcher paper and crayons, if it's a chain, I can bet you the server is REQUIRED to write their name on the table. They're not doing it to be cute. Dotting your i with a heart, that's over the top, but one tries to be creative after awhile.

            1. re: rockandroller1
              randyjl RE: rockandroller1 Jul 26, 2012 04:30 PM

              Do restaurants that have butcher paper and crayons have decent foo?. I have never been to one.

              1. re: randyjl
                GraydonCarter RE: randyjl Jul 27, 2012 01:57 AM

                Macaroni Grill does this still, right? With regard to if it is "decent", your mileage may vary.

                1. re: GraydonCarter
                  rockandroller1 RE: GraydonCarter Jul 30, 2012 07:52 AM

                  Mac Grill is the one that comes to mind for me. Actually, several of their dishes are pretty good IMO. I like their food. I used to work at one, and though their food has changed tremendously from when i worked there, I think some of the changes are good. We live in an area with dozens of chains and only a few indies, and most of the indies are really, really bad (and the others we get tired of visiting over and over), so I admit we get takeout from here every so often.

            2. re: sunshine842
              iheartcooking RE: sunshine842 Oct 2, 2012 08:14 PM

              I have to agree that restaurants that require their servers to do this also have crap food. So why even go to these nasty chains?

            3. re: Rick
              Harters RE: Rick Jul 23, 2012 04:50 AM

              I've only experienced it once - a server sitting down at the table to take the order, that is. Once is enough. It is one of the most unprofessional things I have ever seen in restaurant.

              Friends had chose the place to eat, so it was not appropriate to raise this with nthe management. Suffcie to say, we've not been back and won't be going back.

              1. re: Rick
                LindaWhit RE: Rick Jul 24, 2012 12:43 PM

                WAY disagree. I don't want anyone I don't know or who is not part of my dining party to sit down at a table with me.

                The server is there to take my order and deliver my food. I'm not saying they're a servant and absolutely won't treat them as such.

                But they are also not my friend (unless they ARE my friend and that's a completely different situation) and as such, there is absolutely no reason for them to be sitting down at my table trying to shoot the breeze with me.

                1. re: LindaWhit
                  randyjl RE: LindaWhit Jul 24, 2012 12:49 PM

                  Thank you, Linda!

                  1. re: randyjl
                    LindaWhit RE: randyjl Jul 24, 2012 01:01 PM

                    randy, I think we're in the majority with our thinking.

                    It's happened to me twice, IIRC. I was actually nudged over by the waitress as she sat. I said "Excuse me?" as she did so and she said "Oh, we sit when we take orders here!" in a bright cheery voice. I replied rather tersely "There isn't enough room for 3 people in this booth." (There were already 2 of us sitting there) She got the point and stood. Although we got a bit of attitude for the rest of the night.

                  2. re: LindaWhit
                    huiray RE: LindaWhit Jul 24, 2012 10:09 PM

                    COMPLETELY agree with you.

                    The exception-of-sorts that comes to mind is a Chinese (Taiwanese) restaurant in South Bend IN where the proprietess comes over to you and sits at the NEXT table to you and talks with you about what you would like to eat and suggesting dishes if you wish to explore. That's fine and quite agreeable to me.

                    1. re: huiray
                      sunshine842 RE: huiray Jul 25, 2012 12:49 AM

                      THAT would be incredibly cool, and enthusiastically welcomed.

                      1. re: huiray
                        LindaWhit RE: huiray Jul 25, 2012 06:27 AM

                        Totally fine with that, huiray. When they take interest in what you might want to eat and make suggestions? All for that. Sitting down at my table? No thank you.

                        1. re: huiray
                          Harters RE: huiray Jul 25, 2012 06:32 AM

                          Ah, that's a bit different.

                          I know a tapas restaurant in Spain that doesnt have a menu (and doesnt have the food out on view). The boss comes and sits and tells you what he has. You desperately try to remember everything, cos he doesnt take your order until he's finished talking.

                          1. re: huiray
                            Will Owen RE: huiray Jul 25, 2012 05:19 PM

                            huiray, there's a very good Shanghainese restaurant in Arcadia, CA whose hostess sometimes sits and discusses the choices like that, if there's an empty table available. Quite delightful, much easier to carry on a conversation. It's also a welcome change from the rather brusque, impersonal attitude of many Chinese restaurant personnel.

                      2. e
                        escondido123 RE: randyjl Jul 21, 2012 09:24 AM

                        I have never in my whole life had a server sit down at the table, never. And I have places I've gone to for years and have been pretty friendly with owners/staff. But to see down at the table, I don't even understand why that would happen.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: escondido123
                          bagelman01 RE: escondido123 Jul 21, 2012 09:47 AM

                          Unfortunately, it does happen. About 10 years ago my wife and I were taken as part of a group of 8 to a local steakhouse, The restaurant was very busy. After 20 minutes the server arrived to take our order (we had gotten drinks at the bar while waiting for the table and carried the drinks with us while being seated. The server approached the table, pulled out a chair, sat down opened her book and asked for our order. Our host looked at the server and said: I didn't invite you as one of our party." The server looked annoyed, got up and walked away. After 10 additional minutes and no one taking our order the host apprached the manager, The manager said that if his employees were tired, he had no objection if they sat to take orders. Our host said "they can sit, just not at our table." The manager then proceeded to take the order and another server completed working our table for the evening.
                          We never returned, but found that the restauarnt went out of business about 8 months later.

                        2. s
                          stgrove RE: randyjl Jul 21, 2012 09:44 AM

                          It depends on the kind of place, but a waiter sitting down w. us wouldn't necessarily offend me. I might think it odd, but not offensive.

                          1. Veggo RE: randyjl Jul 21, 2012 10:00 AM

                            It's more discreet if she simply writes her phone number on the check.

                            1. GraydonCarter RE: randyjl Jul 21, 2012 05:32 PM

                              It depends upon the formality of the establishment. Are patrons wearing shorts, drinking shots? I once ate at a fish camp where there were only benches and all the servers sat to take orders, so I welcomed it as a quirky aspect of the place. However, if it wasn't the custom of the restaurant, just a waiter being too familiar, I would find it odd but not necessarily object nor complain.

                              If it is a pricy place, then make a stink.

                              1. Will Owen RE: randyjl Jul 21, 2012 05:44 PM

                                That's one step more familiar than that kneeling thing that was all the rage thirty or so years ago; I never complained about that, nor about being asked to address a grown man as "Skeeter", but sitting down? I would probably not make any fuss about it, but I would probably bitch about it on the local CH Board, and not go back there.

                                11 Replies
                                1. re: Will Owen
                                  Sharuf RE: Will Owen Jul 23, 2012 11:54 AM

                                  "Hi, I'm Randy and I'll be your server. How are you folks tonight?"

                                  I haven't heard that one recently, thank gawd.

                                  1. re: Sharuf
                                    huiray RE: Sharuf Jul 24, 2012 10:11 PM

                                    That's one "greeting" that drives me batty.

                                    1. re: Sharuf
                                      Bill Hunt RE: Sharuf Jul 25, 2012 07:27 PM

                                      At that point, I usually slightly deflect things a bit, and comment, "I'm doing fine Randy. How are you doing tonight?" I do not wish to be flip, but find that when the server is asked about THEIR evening, they sort of lighten up, and get on with the business at hand.


                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                        randyjl RE: Bill Hunt Jul 25, 2012 07:48 PM

                                        I usually repy in kind, whatever "kind" that may be.

                                        1. re: Bill Hunt
                                          jmcarthur8 RE: Bill Hunt Jul 25, 2012 08:09 PM

                                          I do the same, Hunt, and not to be flip at all. I always look the server right in the eye, and ask how they are today, too.
                                          More often than not, they are a little taken aback, and thank me warmly for asking. At least one told me that nobody ever asks how she is.
                                          I was a waitress for just a few days as a teenager, and found that I am ill suited for that job, and thus have a certain amount of empathy for anyone who is a server.

                                        2. re: Sharuf
                                          BabsW RE: Sharuf Jul 26, 2012 05:32 AM

                                          It's funny, but "you folks" grates on me much less than "you guys," maybe because I grew up hearing "folks" used a lot. I'm honestly not sure if it's because of where I'm from (CT) or if it's from my dad's side (Kansas and Arkansas). We use "folks" for parents quite a lot, as in 'How're your folks doing?" So yeah, I prefer "folks' to "guys."

                                          I had a server recently greet me and my daughters at the door with "Hi Guys!" Um, really? He could have cranked out, "Good afternoon, ladies" just fine, but... "Guys?"

                                          1. re: BabsW
                                            coll RE: BabsW Jul 26, 2012 09:37 AM

                                            When I transferred up to Albany NY, it was strange to hear the hosts call people "folks". It was so, well, folksy. Back down here in southern NY, I am now very upset to find that people (from elsewhere I hoping) find "guys" some kind of insult. At least I don't say "youse guys", like my old boss! Or is that more quaint?

                                            1. re: coll
                                              BabsW RE: coll Jul 27, 2012 05:24 AM

                                              Yes, come to think of it, I do hear "folks" on occasion around here in central NY (Syracuse), so maybe it's a northeast thing.

                                              "Youse guys" cracks me up because it is such a cliche. For me, under the right set of circumstances, "guys" is ok, like with an already established relationship. I just don't especially are for a stranger hitting me up with "guys" the second I walk in the door. it's not the gender issue, rather the informality of it that irks me.

                                            2. re: BabsW
                                              Bill Hunt RE: BabsW Jul 26, 2012 07:34 PM

                                              Now, I sort of take offense to "ya'all," unless it flows naturally. At too many restaurants, it does not.

                                              OT - Pet peeve: any menu that reads like Eudora Welty, regarding any form of Southern dialect. For us, that is a very, very bad side.


                                              1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                Harters RE: Bill Hunt Jul 27, 2012 01:20 AM

                                                Any menu that lapses into cliched dialect is bad, bad, thing. Worst examples I can recall coming across have been in toristy areas in Scotland. Och aye the noo.

                                                1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                  BabsW RE: Bill Hunt Jul 27, 2012 05:26 AM

                                                  I imagine when a dialect is overdone, it can be grating.

                                          2. pinehurst RE: randyjl Jul 21, 2012 05:51 PM

                                            I agree. H and I have pretty heavy Boston accents, and I also don't love it when we're elsewhere and trying to get a meal, but have to answer (at length, brevity usually won't do it) "What brings you to Chicago?", etc., then get a story about the server's own travels. Being pleasant, yes. First date questions, no.

                                            1. woodleyparkhound RE: randyjl Jul 21, 2012 06:40 PM

                                              I used to live near a Red Lobster and every few months I would get a mad craving for those damned cheese biscuits and would have to drive over there. The server would always plop herself down in the booth across from me. I was really put off by this, but never said anything. I just assumed it was the policy of the place. Randyjl, did your incident happen at a Dead Lobster, per chance?

                                              A couple of years ago, I went to a high end steakhouse in Washington, DC with two male friends. I was stunned at how familiar the server was with us. She joined in our conversation, told stories about sex with her boyfriend, etc. We were sort of amused, but mostly really put off by it. We didn't complain though or give her a bad tip, but it really left a bad taste in my mouth.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: woodleyparkhound
                                                visciole RE: woodleyparkhound Jul 21, 2012 07:12 PM

                                                How did her boyfriend feel about it?

                                              2. f
                                                fara RE: randyjl Jul 21, 2012 07:16 PM

                                                I think this is just one more sign of things going downhill....
                                                no seriously servers aren't trained the way they used to be. In the good old days, at an $$$ place, servers waited until everyone was finished to clear their plates, among other things. I think once in my life a server has sat down at our booth to take our order, it was at a chain restaurant. I think things may be moving away from super friendly, but not necessarily back to proper/formal.

                                                1. j
                                                  janniecooks RE: randyjl Jul 22, 2012 12:49 AM

                                                  There is at least one chain restaurant that does that as part of their "shtick", can't remember which one and thankfully it has been years since I've been there. In writing that the manager said that is how the restaurant trains its servers, I assume it's that chain. Such behavior on the part of a server isn't typical or normal, and if it bothers you don't go back there, especially since you have expressed your concerns to management and were disappointed in the response.

                                                  20 Replies
                                                  1. re: janniecooks
                                                    coll RE: janniecooks Jul 22, 2012 03:15 AM

                                                    I just remembered that my brother and his wife went to a restaurant at Disney World called Moms, or something like that, and the waitresses were all older women who talked to you like you were a little child in trouble. My brother thought it was funny, his wife was horrified and annoyed at the same time. Now that's one place I'd probably walk out of. I think maybe they did?

                                                    1. re: coll
                                                      sunshine842 RE: coll Jul 22, 2012 03:33 AM

                                                      There's also Dick's Last Resort, a smallish chain (just a doze or so locations) whose SOP is to be insulting....it's funny if you're in on the joke; horrifying if you're not.

                                                      Their servers will also back off the act if they realize you're not amused.

                                                      1. re: sunshine842
                                                        mojoeater RE: sunshine842 Jul 23, 2012 03:53 PM

                                                        I've had two horrifying times at different Dick's. Once, a friend was wearing a new silk tie and the server took scissors and cut it off him. Thought he was going to faint. Another time a girlfriend misunderstood the hard time the server was giving the table and burst into tears. The former was understandably upset. The latter was way too sensitive and kinda hard to be around anyway.

                                                        1. re: mojoeater
                                                          sunshine842 RE: mojoeater Jul 24, 2012 01:02 AM

                                                          we were at the one in Chicago with a guy wearing a tie...the server did at least give the guy the chance to take it off -- probably a good thing, since he'd bought it in Italy and probably would have used the scissors on the server had it been cut off.

                                                          1. re: mojoeater
                                                            LindaWhit RE: mojoeater Jul 24, 2012 12:53 PM

                                                            Destroying a patron's property? REALLY? So the manager or servers would be OK with the patron keying their car?

                                                            That is just ridiculous that he cut off his tie!

                                                            1. re: LindaWhit
                                                              sunshine842 RE: LindaWhit Jul 24, 2012 01:04 PM

                                                              it's a shtick -- they staple the ends of the ties to the wall -- it's a big running joke at all of their locations.

                                                              1. re: sunshine842
                                                                LindaWhit RE: sunshine842 Jul 24, 2012 01:08 PM

                                                                Schtick or not, to cut off the tie without a patron's OK is destruction of property. As mojo noted, the friend obviously didn't like that it was done.

                                                                1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                  bobbert RE: LindaWhit Jul 24, 2012 07:07 PM

                                                                  I have to agree when it comes to destroying my clothing. Other than that, it's usually the restaurants shtick, whether it's a server sitting at your table, verbally abusing you, writing their name on your table in crayon, or to just to keep you wondering how your waitresses boobs manage to stay confined in a few square inches of material. Usually I know what I'm getting into before stepping in the place. Sometimes I discover the shtick after I've been seated. If it's what they do it's what they do and I tend to go with the flow. If it's not my thing ( and it usually isn't) I simply don't return.

                                                            2. re: mojoeater
                                                              huiray RE: mojoeater Jul 24, 2012 10:18 PM

                                                              WOW. Just WOW.

                                                              As LindaWhit said - destruction of personal property?? HOW do they get away with it and/or not get hit with lawsuits? Even if they reimburse the value of the destroyed property (the tie) [How would THAT be established? Especially if it is irreplaceable? (location where it was bought, sentimental value etc)] it does not compensate for the shock and unpleasantness of the act etc etc.

                                                              If people were warned in big bold lettering prominently displayed at the entrance that patrons wearing ties of any sort were liable to have their ties cut off that might be a different issue but in the absence of such prominent warnings I just don't see how they get away with it. Are there such warnings?

                                                              ETA: I just looked up the website for Dick's Last Resort. There are no warnings there that personal property is liable to be destroyed.
                                                              I also looked up the entry in Wikipedia on it. There is NO WAY I would willingly go to such a place and subject myself to such abusive behavior. People actually go to such places???

                                                              ETA2: I found an older CH thread on a similar thread topic and this post: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/2888... which leads off with: "Dick's Last Resort is sort of a frat boys night out joint for the junketeering set.".
                                                              DEFINITELY not a place I wish to patronize.

                                                              1. re: huiray
                                                                sunshine842 RE: huiray Jul 25, 2012 12:53 AM

                                                                Yes, there are warnings in the restaurant about ties. And as I observed in Chicago, they are also known to threaten, but give the guy a chance to take the tie off before actually cutting it off. I've also known guys to wear a hideously ugly and out-of-date tie JUST for the fun of donating it to the tie wall.

                                                                It's definitely casual, and can get a little boisterous...but I don't think I'd class it with toga parties and puking on the furniture.

                                                                Every time I've been in one (and I've been in several - they tend to exist close to convention halls), the crowds have been 40-something and pretty reserved.

                                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                                  LindaWhit RE: sunshine842 Jul 25, 2012 06:30 AM

                                                                  Regardless of the warnings that they might cut your ties off, and regardless if they are a casual restaurant - they have no right to force you to remove the tie or cut it off. If someone wants to wear a tuxedo with bow tie to Dick's Last Resort, that is their right.

                                                                  If Dick's doesn't want to serve that person because they're wearing a tuxedo and tie? Different story - that is *their* right. But that's not what is happening. They are threatening physical removal of said tie. I haven't read one thing that they refuse service if you are wearing a tie and won't take it off (or allow it to be cut off).

                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                    sunshine842 RE: LindaWhit Jul 25, 2012 07:56 AM

                                                                    It's just not that serious.

                                                                    The signs are posted. They don't sit on your chest and tear it from your neck, nor do they pounce on you unannounced to cut it off.

                                                                    But if this doesn't sound like a place that you'd enjoy, just don't go there. The food isn't great, but the atmosphere is lively and fun, and a lot of people enjoy it. They've been around a long time, so it can't be terrible. (I haven't been in one in years...not least because I don't live near one and haven't traveled to a city with a location in years.)

                                                                    I've never heard of a lawsuit (not that I follow their corporate news)...and my guess is that if it were a sizable problem, they wouldn't do it any more.

                                                                    1. re: sunshine842
                                                                      LindaWhit RE: sunshine842 Jul 25, 2012 08:12 AM

                                                                      What happens if you've never been there, no one's told you what it's all about, and you're taken there by others? And this happens? As danna just said below - if someone cut up a $150 tie or one that had personal meaning, I'd be livid. Yeah, I know - it's a *tie*...but it's not their place to destroy property unless given permission to do so. As I said yesterday - why doesn't it then give me the right to key that server's car? It doesn't.

                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                        huiray RE: LindaWhit Jul 25, 2012 08:45 AM


                                                                        And these "warnings" supposedly posted - sunshine says they are IN the restaurant. Are there are signs at the door, outside the restaurant, in BIG BOLD UN-MISSABLE type, as I asked previously? Do you really expect me to scan the walls and read the fine print once I'm inside and have sat down at a table? If I have no idea what the place is about, decide to check the place out and walk in wearing my $150 tie , sit down and is then accosted by a scissors-wielding deranged waitperson threatening to cut my tie off - whether or not I am given a "chance" to take it off as sunshine says (in Chicago)(in other places I gather I would not be given the chance to do so) --- WOW, I would be kicking that person in the crotch or smashing my water glass or any other implement at hand into that waitperson's face in defence of my person being assaulted then reaching for my phone to call 911.

                                                                  2. re: sunshine842
                                                                    mojoeater RE: sunshine842 Jul 25, 2012 07:17 PM

                                                                    The tie incident I witnessed was in Chicago too! The server pulled out scissors and threatened, and my friend just laughed. She took the tie in her hand and he continued to laugh. I think he thought she was flirting and she probably was. He was definitely surprised when she made good on her threat.

                                                                    Dick's is not a place I would seek out. They have their schtick and some people love it. The few times I've been have either been at a conference or once with a family member who thought the whole thing was hilarious. It is certainly not for everyone.

                                                              2. re: sunshine842
                                                                GraydonCarter RE: sunshine842 Jul 23, 2012 08:48 PM

                                                                > it's funny if you're in on the joke; horrifying if you're not.

                                                                There's a restaurant called Bob's Place and all the waitstaff have a nametag that says Bob and they all say Hello I'm Bob, I'll be your server. They never really explain it.

                                                                1. re: sunshine842
                                                                  danna RE: sunshine842 Jul 25, 2012 06:50 AM

                                                                  I remember going to a Dick's once in Dallas when I was about 22 on a staff training junket. We had no idea there was a "schtick" when we went there, but it didn't take long to figure out, and we thought it was hilarious. Particulary watching the people who didn't figure it out, and left in a huff. I even enjoyed the frozen crab legs and ribs. But, honestly, I can't imagine anyone too much older than that being entertained.

                                                                  I don't remember the tie trick, but I do remember the last time I bought my husband a tie. It was $150 and I'd take that out of somebody's ass if they cut it.

                                                                2. re: coll
                                                                  janniecooks RE: coll Jul 23, 2012 12:00 AM

                                                                  I think the servers pull up a chair at Buco di Bepo, but can't be certain.

                                                                  1. re: janniecooks
                                                                    Will Owen RE: janniecooks Jul 23, 2012 03:25 PM

                                                                    Most of the crowds I've been with at any Buca di Beppo would probably have encouraged that, especially if he or she could be persuaded to take the glass dome off the Pope so we could "decorate" him. I couldn't love these for their food - though it's okay - but mercy! What a great place to misbehave! So I frankly wouldn't care if the server sat down in my lap. But, see, BdB is a Theme Party, not a restaurant.

                                                                3. re: janniecooks
                                                                  viperlush RE: janniecooks Jul 22, 2012 11:53 AM

                                                                  I've had it happen at Hooters and Outback.

                                                                4. b
                                                                  beevod RE: randyjl Jul 23, 2012 07:20 AM

                                                                  I draw the line when the server follows me out to my car.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: beevod
                                                                    coll RE: beevod Jul 23, 2012 08:42 AM

                                                                    I've had servers do that, but only if you were running out on the bill!

                                                                  2. Terrie H. RE: randyjl Jul 23, 2012 09:10 PM

                                                                    I've never been confronted with a sitting waiter, which is good because it even makes me grind my teeth when the server calls my 78-year-old aunt and me "you guys." I'm apparently not in the generation these places are targeting. If only my aunt didn't want to go!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Terrie H.
                                                                      jmcarthur8 RE: Terrie H. Jul 25, 2012 02:17 PM

                                                                      Ditto on the 'you guys'. I am most certainly (and obviously) NOT a guy!

                                                                    2. mariacarmen RE: randyjl Jul 24, 2012 11:31 AM

                                                                      more often than not, I don't need a server to become overly familiar, but I've had it happen when I've been likewise playfully engaging with him/her. i certainly don't want every server to sit down at my table. but if it's done in a joking, playful manner, when I've made it clear we're having an informal moment, i am not offended.

                                                                      but if i've made it clear to management that it was not welcome, the manager should apologize, even if that is their "training" ritual.

                                                                      1. Bill Hunt RE: randyjl Jul 24, 2012 09:44 PM

                                                                        I have never encountered such, unless I have dined many times with that server, and then, they are "almost family." Otherwise, never have seen it.


                                                                        1. v
                                                                          Vidute RE: randyjl Jul 24, 2012 11:20 PM

                                                                          Know before you go. We're all internet savy here. It doesn't take much to google or yelp a restaurant to find out if there are any "quirks", or even call the restaurant to find out its policy. So, for example, it's your birthday and you don't want to have a sombrero foisted upon your head while the waitstaff serenade you, you'll know not to go to Don Pablo's.

                                                                          You have to remember that the server is doing their job as they were trained. As a patron, you have the choice of staying or leaving; however, with today's economy, the server, unfortunately, probably does not have that luxury.

                                                                          I have been to restaurants where the server sits at the table, pulls up a chair to the table, kneels at the table to take the order, where the host escorts me by the elbow to the table, and where the owner/manager places a hand on my shoulder when asking about the meal and service. Yes, there are times when I am not in the mood for familiarity. Rather than complain, I simply let my server know that I although I appreciate their efforts, I would prefer to just order and eat my meal uninterupted. I've never had a problem.

                                                                          What does irritate me, though, is not having the table cleared between courses and not having the table crumbed before dessert at "white tablecloth" restaurants.

                                                                          24 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Vidute
                                                                            DagingKuda RE: Vidute Jul 25, 2012 11:29 AM

                                                                            "Know before you go. We're all internet savy here. It doesn't take much to google or yelp ...

                                                                            I have been to restaurants where the server sits at the table, pulls up a chair to the table, kneels at the table to take the order, where the host escorts me by the elbow to the table, and where the owner/manager places a hand on my shoulder when asking about the meal and service..."

                                                                            Most of what you listed in the 2nd paragraph above is unlikely to be found easily by yelping or googling a restaurant. And why is the onus on the diner to determine these things beforehand anyway ?

                                                                            1. re: DagingKuda
                                                                              Vidute RE: DagingKuda Jul 25, 2012 09:08 PM

                                                                              "And why is the onus on the diner to determine these things beforehand anyway ?"

                                                                              The onus is on the diner because the diner is the one who has expectations and reservations. If you're going somewhere you've never been and are disappointed by the service, food, price, etc. of the establishment, and you did not research the restaurant ahead of time to see if it meets with your likes, who is to blame? I suppose a vegan restaurant could procure and prepare a rare porterhouse for the person whose sense of entitlement leads him to believe that everyone and every business is there to accomdate his, and only his, wants. The heck with the diners who frequent that specific restaurant for its vegan menu and culture.

                                                                              1. re: Vidute
                                                                                escondido123 RE: Vidute Jul 25, 2012 10:06 PM

                                                                                If I am disappointed by anything at a restaurant, it is my fault? That's an absolutely nutty idea.

                                                                                1. re: escondido123
                                                                                  Lizard RE: escondido123 Jul 26, 2012 03:19 AM

                                                                                  That doesn't appear to be what Vidute is saying. It's not 'anything' but certain things. If you wanted a lovely quiet night out and booked at a place like Ground Round, whose appeal is that one gets to toss empty peanut shells on the floor, one would assume that the ill-prepared diner was at fault for not doing research. Similarly, someone who doesn't eat red meat would be better served by not going to a steak house (unless the entire plan was to eat specialty sides like creamed spinach or some such). Yes, the restaurant is responsible for all of its dishes, but choosing to go outside a specialty or beyond the restaurant's stated parameters seems like a bad plan, and somethng that could be avoided through a certain amount of research.

                                                                                  Of course, not being prepared for assault, destruction of property or truly crap food is another matter entirely.

                                                                                2. re: Vidute
                                                                                  LindaWhit RE: Vidute Jul 26, 2012 07:28 AM

                                                                                  You're comparing apples and beefsteaks here using the vegan restaurant cooking a steak for a carnivore. How is that the same thing as going to a restaurant where they cut off your tie? My sense of entitlement is such that my personal property is NOT going to be destroyed.

                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                    Vidute RE: LindaWhit Jul 27, 2012 03:49 AM

                                                                                    My sense of entitlement is such that my personal property is NOT going to be destroyed. LindaWhit

                                                                                    Then don't go to establisments where that occurs. No one is forcing you to go where you don't want to.

                                                                                    And isn't the restaurant entitled to choose its concept? Regarding the cutting of ties, there is a sign as you enter that ties will be cut. When you enter, there are cut ties adorning the walls and customers having their ties cut.. If you decide to enter and dine at this establishment, you are choosing to become a participant.

                                                                                    It's your responsibilty to select a restaurant which meets your liking. That is why there are so many restaurants. Not everyone has the same prefences and even those preferences change depending on the occassion.

                                                                                    We have to take responsibility for our own decisions and actions.

                                                                                    1. re: Vidute
                                                                                      LindaWhit RE: Vidute Jul 27, 2012 10:27 AM

                                                                                      Yet AGAIN, Vidute - as I've said before on this thread, if someone is taken to a restaurant such as this *as a guest* and has *no clue* about what is to happen to him?

                                                                                      It's wrong to destroy their personal property. Plain and simple.

                                                                                      1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                        Vidute RE: LindaWhit Jul 27, 2012 03:36 PM

                                                                                        Yet, Again, LindaWhit, you can leave. No one is forcing you to stay.

                                                                                        Tie cutting is this restaurant's signature. People go there just for that. If that restaurant did not get patrons, the owners would definitely change the premise. After all, it's a matter of making money.

                                                                                        If you have friends that would take you to this type of restaurant, they either don't know you, don't like you, or don't care. Whatever the reason, you do not have to stay. Tell your hosts that you have a sense of entitlement to not patronize this establishment.

                                                                                        Turn around and walk out the door. There is a restaurant full of people who have chosen this restaurant specifically because they find the tie-cutting entertaining. If you don't like it, leave. These people are having fun. You are not entitled toenforce your preferences and ruin their evening because the restaurant is not to your liking.

                                                                                        As repeatedly stated, you are an adult. You can choose for yourself. The restaurant owners are not forcing you to dine at their establishment.

                                                                                        Do NOT go.

                                                                                        1. re: Vidute
                                                                                          Bill Hunt RE: Vidute Jul 27, 2012 06:58 PM

                                                                                          I have dined at a few of the "tie cutting" restaurants, and have worn ties. When the approached me, I just gave them the "glare," and they moved on.

                                                                                          While that is not my "thing," at one such restaurant, near my studio, the food was really good for lunch, but they never touched MY tie. They all knew better.


                                                                                    2. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                      Harters RE: LindaWhit Jul 27, 2012 04:25 AM

                                                                                      I have difficulty understanding the concept that a restaurant might want to cut off someone's tie.

                                                                                      Would this be acceptable behaviour for, say, a supermarket or a pharmacy? Even if they had big signs up saying "If you buy groceries here, we will cut off your tie as part of the experience".

                                                                                      Are there any other examples of similarly odd behaviour? Even with restaurants? Are there places, say, which have signs saying "Eat here and we will throw cold soup over your shirt"?

                                                                                      I only ask because a tie cutting restaurant is so alien to my culture that I want to try to understand it better.

                                                                                      1. re: Harters
                                                                                        huiray RE: Harters Jul 27, 2012 04:56 AM

                                                                                        Look at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8596... and the subthread descending from it.

                                                                                        1. re: huiray
                                                                                          Harters RE: huiray Jul 27, 2012 05:32 AM

                                                                                          That's this thread, huiry.

                                                                                          1. re: Harters
                                                                                            huiray RE: Harters Jul 27, 2012 05:35 AM

                                                                                            Indeed it is but it is pointing to a *specific* post. Did you even try clicking on it, or hovering your cursor over it to see where it pointed to? (Look at the status bar at the bottom of your browser) It seemed that you may have missed the discussion about Dick's Last resort, a restaurant chain, and the descriptions of how it treats its patrons.

                                                                                            1. re: huiray
                                                                                              Harters RE: huiray Jul 27, 2012 06:05 AM

                                                                                              Erm, yes, I clicked - otherwise how would I have known that it was this thread?

                                                                                              And, yes, I had read the various posts - which is how I know about the practice of this restaurant.

                                                                                              What the contributions so far do not do is help me understand the culture that leads to that practice. Although perhaps it is just one of those cultural things that are just not readily understood by foreigners

                                                                                              1. re: Harters
                                                                                                linguafood RE: Harters Jul 27, 2012 06:22 AM

                                                                                                I went to a place in Valencia in the 90s with a similar "shtick". I believe it was called Las Bestias (The Beasts).

                                                                                                I have zero recollection of the food, but drinks were served in a large bucket from which you had to help yourself, "napkins" consisted of a toilet paper roll on the table, and the owner would go around insulting you or, if you were a *really* lucky gal, you got to take a sip from a sparkling wine bottle embellished with a rubber dong. Yay. Happy fun time. No cutting of ties.

                                                                                                But apparently not just a 'murrican thing....

                                                                                                1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                  Harters RE: linguafood Jul 27, 2012 09:16 AM

                                                                                                  I have it in mind that I am frequently insulted in languages which I do not understand.

                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                    woodleyparkhound RE: linguafood Jul 27, 2012 09:59 AM

                                                                                                    I had the pleasure of being waited on several times by Edsel Ford Fong at Sam Wo's in the 70's and early 80's when I lived in San Francisco. He was a scream and was locally very famous. It was fun to take people from out of town there to watch his performance.


                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood
                                                                                                      mariacarmen RE: linguafood Jul 27, 2012 04:20 PM

                                                                                                      well, that's er, comforting, to know - that we're not the only dumbasses in the world. i had hoped we were.

                                                                                                    2. re: Harters
                                                                                                      pamf RE: Harters Jul 27, 2012 10:15 AM

                                                                                                      I agree that the tie-cutting stunt is ridiculous and not at all funny.

                                                                                                      I believe the origin of it was to be the opposite of stuffy, formal restaurants where gentlemen were required to wear a jacket and tie and were provided with a house jacket or tie if they arrived without their own.

                                                                                                      There are very few restaurants anymore that enforce a dress code anymore. But I have been around long enough to have witnessed this happen to a member of my lunch party who arrived without a tie at Jack's in San Francisco, it was the mid-eighties.

                                                                                              2. re: Harters
                                                                                                Vidute RE: Harters Jul 27, 2012 04:27 PM

                                                                                                There are quite a few establishments that have gimmicks.

                                                                                                Rainforest Cafe: automatronic animals and thunder storms with lightning.

                                                                                                Medieval Times: flying falcons, defecating horses, battling knights no cutlery- you eat with your hands

                                                                                                Ninja Restaurant: Ninjas battle and drop in as you are lead to your table and are eating. At the end of your meal, a Ninja holding a sword, stands beside you "encouraging" you to leave a bigger tip

                                                                                                Tony and Tina's Wedding: The diners assume the part of guests of a wedding and are included in the show

                                                                                                Food challenge where if you eat the super jumbo serving you don't have to pay and you get your name and photo placed on the wall of honor.

                                                                                                Japanese hibachi restaurants where the chef throws food into the mouths of diners

                                                                                                Restaurant servers throwing dinner rolls across the restaurant to diners

                                                                                                Eating hard-shelled steamed crabs with a knife. Spitting is encouraged.

                                                                                                Restaurant where Clothing is optional

                                                                                                Restaurant where you eat in complete darkness

                                                                                                Eating 180 feet in the air at table suspended from a crane

                                                                                                Having to sign a release in order to be able to consume "atomic" hot wings

                                                                                                Establishments where ladies remove their bras to have them hung from the wall

                                                                                                1. re: Vidute
                                                                                                  Bill Hunt RE: Vidute Jul 27, 2012 07:03 PM

                                                                                                  Yes, there are several, rather odd restaurants, but they do seem to stay in business.

                                                                                                  I have never seen the draw of Dick's Last Resort (several cities), but then many others do?


                                                                                                2. re: Harters
                                                                                                  Bill Hunt RE: Harters Jul 27, 2012 07:01 PM


                                                                                                  I completely agree with you.

                                                                                                  It seems that in the US (my home country), there are some restaurants, that sort of pride themselves in such, though I have never understood why.

                                                                                                  Some patron will don truly horrible ties, in hopes that they will be cut off, and hung, like trophies, on the wall. I have never had "horrible ties," so do not play along. I have never had any server press the issue. As stated, the "glare" gets their attention, so enough said.


                                                                                                  1. re: Harters
                                                                                                    MrsBridges RE: Harters Jul 28, 2012 01:16 PM

                                                                                                    This seems to be a hazing ritual, like in fraternities or sports teams, where high-status members inflict painful or humiliating abuse on low-status and new members, both to keep them in their place and test their loyalty to the group. The abused put up with it as the price of enjoying the privilege of associating with the abuser. This is alien to my way of living, and I maintain a long distance from any subculture that practices it.

                                                                                                    1. re: MrsBridges
                                                                                                      Vidute RE: MrsBridges Jul 29, 2012 11:52 PM

                                                                                                      And sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

                                                                                          2. jmcarthur8 RE: randyjl Jul 25, 2012 02:34 PM

                                                                                            The most off-putting server I have ever had was at a national chain restaurant where the young woman introduced herself and then said, 'And what are your names?'. My sons and I just looked at one another feeling very much like our personal space had just been invaded. We did mumble out our names, and felt very awkward for the rest of the meal.

                                                                                            On the other hand, one of the most pleasant experiences was this past week at a 50+ year old diner in a small town in South Carolina. The waitress "owned" the dining area - she'd been there for decades, and as far as she was concerned, you are her personal responsibility when you are in her place. As soon as I told her we just came in for pie, she insisted that we come behind the front counter and look at the pies. She pointed out each kind, introduced us to the 'pie lady', told us when each pie was made and what was the best thing about it. (We chose the coconut cream cake that she had made that morning, which had coconut custard for filling and toasted coconut whipped cream for frosting). We had so much fun there, watching her pull up a chair to a young couple nearby, sitting down and explaining the menu to them, that we ordered a cheeseburger and fries so we could stay longer. Meanwhile, as the waitress noticed the young couple playing tic tac toe with one of the dining room's wooden sets, she brought her iPad over to them and showed them how to play Othello, leaving the iPad with them. She never told us her name (though we found out on Yelp that it's Wanda), nor did she ask ours. I guarantee you, when we go back in a month or two, Wanda will remember us, and she will remember that we'd only been there once before. That's the kind of person she is. We loved it.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: jmcarthur8
                                                                                              sunshine842 RE: jmcarthur8 Jul 25, 2012 02:41 PM

                                                                                              I put that in the same category as huiray's Taiwanese restaurant in Indiana....when the person in charge really truly cares that you enjoy your food, it's a completely different thing than some pasted-on performance dictated by corporate policies.

                                                                                              One is warm and genuine and real; the other is a pasted-on performance.

                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842
                                                                                                jmcarthur8 RE: sunshine842 Jul 25, 2012 07:37 PM


                                                                                            2. m
                                                                                              mjn123 RE: randyjl Jul 25, 2012 08:03 PM

                                                                                              Manager failed!

                                                                                              The familiarity in the owner or hostess and/or chef is an art and if it is done well, brings a whole new spin on an evening out. The server would be fired or sent home for crouching down in fine dining. If it is the artisan ...well old world, new-world and down home all have to be taken in context. Sex and life stories have little to do with listening and predicting what the guest might need before they noticed they needed it. To be seen and not heard...anticipating...you reach for it...and it appears...are to be found in the perfection of a craft. No one wants to be reduced to a common ground…unless that is the theme of the house.
                                                                                              How can you sell fine wine or establish common ground if your discussing the trash in your life? Excuse me Sir…would you like to try this excellent vintage..only 200 cases ever produced…after you spoke of screwing your GF on the deck chair at the Ramada Inn?

                                                                                              1. BabsW RE: randyjl Jul 26, 2012 05:36 AM

                                                                                                The only place I've had that happen to me was at this greasy spoon which became a favorite of ours. We knew that we'd been accepted as regulars when the owner/head cook/lead cranky waitress came over, pulled up a chair, whipped out her order pad and said, "So, you having what you usually have, or do I have to write this down?"

                                                                                                Cracked us up.

                                                                                                In a less informal place, I'd have to raise my eyebrows at a server just pulling up a chair and plonking down to chat.

                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: BabsW
                                                                                                  MonMauler RE: BabsW Jul 26, 2012 07:33 AM

                                                                                                  That's funny, Babs. I have a similar story.

                                                                                                  On most Fridays, after happy hour is finished, my friends and I go to a bar-restaurant that is central to our disparate locations. It's a family-run establishment - 75% of the employees are related to the owner - the bar is populated by local blue-collar types, and the dining area is generally filled with seniors as well as a smattering of families. The food is mostly unremarkable, save one thing - the fried fish sandwich. It is exceptional, and a favorite for me and my friends. 90% of the time we will each order the fish sandwich with a side of fries as well as two pitchers of beer for the table. Since we've been going there for years, we are on a first-name basis with the entire staff. So when a server comes over to our table, she just says, "The usual?" we nod, and she goes to put in the order for all 5-7 of us. The place is usually busy on Fridays, but if any of the servers have time, they will pull up a seat at our table and bs for a little bit.

                                                                                                  Afterwards, we go to someone's house for beer-whisky-poker.

                                                                                                  1. re: MonMauler
                                                                                                    LindaWhit RE: MonMauler Jul 26, 2012 07:42 AM

                                                                                                    Love both of these situations - you are well known; you've been going there for years; you end up being regulars. I've got a place I go to on a regular basis, and the waitstaff always comes over for a hug and a chit-chat when they're waiting for their drink orders to be made for the bartenders. Completely different than a waitperson sitting at my table to take my order.

                                                                                                    1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                      BabsW RE: LindaWhit Jul 27, 2012 05:29 AM

                                                                                                      The drawback to being a regular at that joint was that you had to go get your coffee "your own damn self." lol

                                                                                                      1. re: BabsW
                                                                                                        LindaWhit RE: BabsW Jul 27, 2012 10:31 AM

                                                                                                        Yeah, but you're still laughing when you go over to get that coffee "your own damn self". ;-)

                                                                                                        1. re: LindaWhit
                                                                                                          BabsW RE: LindaWhit Jul 27, 2012 01:41 PM

                                                                                                          Oh, absolutely!

                                                                                                    2. re: MonMauler
                                                                                                      BabsW RE: MonMauler Jul 27, 2012 05:28 AM

                                                                                                      It's good to have a homey, familiar place you can go. :)

                                                                                                  2. f
                                                                                                    fara RE: randyjl Jul 27, 2012 07:27 PM

                                                                                                    how about "You still working on that?" amazingly this is commonplace in even somewhat nice establishments. No, I am not working on it. I am eating it.

                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: fara
                                                                                                      acgold7 RE: fara Jul 27, 2012 10:38 PM

                                                                                                      Yeah, I hate that. Of course, sometimes the flip side is even worse: "Are you still enjoying that?" No, I stopped enjoying it long ago. I'm just trying to finish it.

                                                                                                      1. re: acgold7
                                                                                                        FeeFiPho RE: acgold7 Oct 1, 2012 12:07 PM

                                                                                                        Curious on how to respond to that all too frequent server's query " are you done working on that?" Any suggestions?

                                                                                                        1. re: FeeFiPho
                                                                                                          LindaWhit RE: FeeFiPho Oct 1, 2012 12:42 PM

                                                                                                          "No, I'm going to put my paw on it and gnaw on it a little while longer, thanks."

                                                                                                          1. re: FeeFiPho
                                                                                                            huiray RE: FeeFiPho Oct 1, 2012 01:08 PM

                                                                                                            "No. Back off."

                                                                                                          2. re: acgold7
                                                                                                            Bill Hunt RE: acgold7 Oct 2, 2012 07:57 PM

                                                                                                            My response is "No. Thank you, and I will signal, when I am done."


                                                                                                        2. Dagney RE: randyjl Oct 1, 2012 07:21 PM

                                                                                                          I know there could be some gray area on this issue. But....

                                                                                                          For me this is black and white. When I waited tables, I did not sit down with people, prattle on about my life story, tell them my name unless asked, or greet a table with "Hey guys!" The words "Can I getcha started with..." did not cross my lips.

                                                                                                          Service is service. And when performed correctly, service is an art form, in the taco shop and in the five diamond house. It is not a frat party or coffee klatsch or a time to "be bubbly." A server should conduct one self with manners, class, and a professional demeanor. Buddying up to complete strangers is wildly inappropriate.

                                                                                                          1. c
                                                                                                            CyndiA RE: randyjl Oct 1, 2012 08:20 PM

                                                                                                            I have never had a server sit down at the table, and I'm in the rural South. Often I do know the server well, and we might ask about family etc. But, they are busy, and I'd think it would take more time to sit down. Outside my area, I'd be rather confused by the person taking the order sitting down at the table/booth. I don't know that I'd mention it, but I'd not go back if I did and the manager responded as you noted.

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