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Aug 1, 2012 01:42 PM

Opinions of CH'ers on How Regulars vs New Customers are treated

I'd be interested in hearing the opinions of Chowhounds on this scenario:
Two couples go to a diner for breakfast. One of the couples are regular customers at this diner. The other couple are friends of the 'regulars' and it's their first time at the diner.
As soon as both couples are seated, the wife of the regulars is immediately served a cup of coffee with her preferred creamer. The other couple is ignored until about 5 minutes later when the server comes back to get orders.
The husband of the regulars likes a wedge of lemon in his water, so that's what the entire table gets without being asked.
Once the food is ordered, it takes at least 20 minutes to arrive. Upon serving the table's food, the server explains that the cook overcooked the eggs of one of the regulars and she made him cook another batch. That's why it took so long for all of our food to arrive at the table.
I can understand regular customers being treated well but am I wrong in thinking that this is overdoing it and not acceptable? Just curious....

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  1. certainly all should have been offered beverages at the same time. if the eggs needed to be redone then the server should have let the table know there would be a delay. all food should come out at the same time. seems you are complaining that it didnt come out at the same time regarding the beverages, but complaining they had to wait for all to come out at once for the food.

    all in all it sounds like the service was sub par.

    3 Replies
    1. re: KaimukiMan

      The reason for the delay in serving the food wasn't explained until the food was served. I agree that all food should be served at once but the courtesy of an explanation would have been nice.

      I'm just a little peeved because, the 'regular' couple was given special treatment at the expense of the others in the group.

      1. re: prio girl

        yes, i acknowledged that you should have been given an explanation. and some more coffee while waiting. And you should all have gotten beverages at the same time. And they should have made sure all your plates came out at the proper temperature.

        1. re: prio girl

          Honestly, I think you are making way too much out of it.

      2. It is clear which part of the couples you were.
        The only thing I see that maybe might have irked me, is that I waited 5 min to get my coffee, but I am pretty grouchy before my first cup. What, you expected to be asked if you wanted lemon with your water and are upset that you got it? I, for one, always order water with my meals, and it a rare time that a slice of lemon or lime isn't present in or on the glass. I am never asked. I don't use it, so I give it to my dining partner. Had no idea I should feel insulted by that. So to me it's a pretty petty complaint to say you got lemon because the one person liked it that way. And having a server who refuses to serve an order because it was incorrectly done, is pretty smart. Why serve something you know is wrong? But because you perceived it as "special treatment to a regular" it's a bad thing?

        Sorry, I see nothing here to get "miffed" about, except maybe the coffee.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Quine

          Well, that's why I asked - I really am interested in CH'ers opinions.

          But, Quine, nothing about the scenario I presented involved me feeling 'insulted.' I also agree that incorrectly prepared food should not be served. But the 20 minute wait for the eggs to be cooked again also involved the rest of the table's food sitting and waiting to be served and it suffered in the process. (Cooled off pancakes, overdone homefries)

          1. re: prio girl

            So the "table's food sitting and waiting to be served" caused cooled pancakes and overcooked homefries?
            If the order was pancakes and eggs, with a 20 minute service delay, that was a sign of the kitchen being in the weeds and pushing out ill timed food. An egg re-fire takes only a few minutes. I doubt that the whole order was done at minute 5 and then had to wait for 15 to re-fire an egg. I see that as a kitchen issue, not preferred treatment on the server's side.

            1. re: prio girl

              Wait. So everyone else's food was not up to par having to wait for the regular's food? THAT is most definitely wrong!

          2. On the "serving coffee" and waiting on the rest of you -- were you busy looking at the menu? because that might make a diff.

            1. That just does not seem right.

              If I have guests, in a restaurant, where I am a regular, I expect them to get the same treatment, if it differs.

              Should I be the guest, I would hope to "ride the coat tails" of the regulars.

              It is like me bringing in guests to the Red Carpet Club - they get the same treatment, though might not know the bartender, as I do.


              3 Replies
              1. re: Bill Hunt

                That's exactly what I felt. There are a couple of restaurants where the owners, chefs, wait staff are personal friends of ours. We're greeted warmly, we introduce our guests (even friends and family visiting from Italy) and they are treated as nicely as we are.

                Hey, this is just breakfast in a diner, no big deal. I just wanted the opinion of CH's on this because it was off-putting to me. Thank you all; I really do like hearing all the differing opinions - which is why I asked in the first place.

                1. re: prio girl

                  Yes, same with us. We often dine out with another couple (she writes cookbooks, and he's a wino, like me). We always introduce them, when the chef, the GM or the sommelier stops by. They reciprocate with us.

                  Never hesitate to ask - while you will likely get differing thoughts and different observations, there will almost always be some replies.


                2. I have no problems with this.

                  This is just one of the benefits of being a "regular". Loyalty has its rewards.

                  You (or the non-regular couple) were not wronged in this instance -- it only seems that way when compared to the service the regulars received.

                  The level of service you received was pretty standard (mediocre, if you prefer). It's just that the regulars got above-average service. So when compared side-by-side it just appears like you got jipped. You didn't.

                  25 Replies
                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    You don't think that it's discourteous for two couples who are sitting together at the same table to be treated so differently in such an obvious and blatant manner?

                      1. re: prio girl

                        Not at all. That's how places get repeat business. You may have felt jilted and never go back, but those regulars will continue to go and tell more friends

                        1. re: jhopp217

                          if i was a regular, and my guests were treated that way, i don't know if i would be back, let alone inviting other friends to join me.

                          1. re: KaimukiMan

                            Exactly, KaiMan. As Bill Hunt said immediately below, everyone should be treated as potential regulars. You don't max out the allowable number of regulars and then everyone else get's shitty service.

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              How did the OP get "shitty" service?

                              Is the server supposed to be clairvoyant and know that they wanted coffee (with or without the "preferred" creamer)? What if the OP didn't want coffee? Those kind of people are amongst us, y'know.

                              Lemon with water could just be standard practice at the diner (it is at many places that serve icky tap water).

                              And redoing eggs because the kitchen goofed is (wait for it ...) expected regardless of whether you are a regular, or otherwise. I'd imagine if the non-regular's eggs were cooked poorly, the regulars would have to wait until the dish was fixed before the entire table was plated.

                              So, again, I ask ... what was "shitty" about the non-regular service?

                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                1) I am the OP and I never said I got 'shitty' service
                                2) The server put the coffee and creamer in front of Mrs. Regular and walked briskly away. The rest of us and, yes, we did want coffee, weren't offered any until later when the server returned to take our table's orders.
                                3) Serving lemon with water is not standard procedure in this diner. That's just how Mr. Regular likes it.
                                4) Yes, I agree, all food should be prepared properly and served to the entire table at once.
                                5) Mr. Regular has very particular tastes and demands when he orders his food and beverages and he's not very polite when he does this. This diner has his desires down pat and so he is happy and that's all he cares about.
                                6) I've been with Mr. Regular in other food establishments and he orders his food like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally - no, not the orgasm scene, the pie ala mode scene. So, again, this joint has his quirks down pat and knows better than to serve his water, eggs, toast in any way but his way. That's fine for Mr. Regular but there were 4 of us at the table.
                                Again, this was a breakfast in a diner - no big deal. Certainly not worth complaining to the Regulars or to the waitstaff. And my post was to get CH opnions because I think you guys are smart! (most of you, anyway - thats a joke BTW) Thanks again, I appreciate the responses.

                                1. re: prio girl

                                  I didn't say you wrote that the service was "shitty".

                                  I was quoting LindaWhit, who I was responding to.

                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                    I knew that, I just thought I'd throw that in there for the heck of it ;-)

                                  2. re: prio girl

                                    Just speculation, but I don't think your friends, the Regulars, are very well liked at this diner. The staff just knows what to do to keep them from complaining too loudly.

                                    I think the staff was being a bit passive-aggressive here and took out their frustration with the couple on you. They got her coffee, his lemon water and special eggs, and screw the rest of it.

                                    Unfortunately, as their guests, you got the fallout and were treated poorly. If you had gone in there on your own, completely unknown, they probably would have treated you just fine.

                                    The coffee incident is particularly baffling, because I don't think I have ever gone into a diner/breakfast type place where the server was not right there pouring coffee a minute after you sat down.

                                    1. re: pamf

                                      That is a great point. I am a regular at quite a few places and know that the servers bring the "regulars" who bitch and moan their stuff before anyone else, because they don't want to hear it. They bend over backwards for people who leave exactly 15% just because they don't want to hear it.

                                  3. re: ipsedixit

                                    OK, sorry about the phrasing of shitty service - I was speaking more in general terms and NOT this specific situation. Did you see I wrote "everyone should be treated as potential regulars. You don't max out the allowable number of regulars and then everyone else get's shitty service." I was referring to Bill's post below.

                                    But in this situation, the others did get cooled-off pancakes. If the eggs were redone, then (wait for it......) SO SHOULD THE PANCAKES have been redone. They shouldn't be allowed to cool off.

                                    1. re: LindaWhit

                                      But in this situation, the others did get cooled-off pancakes. If the eggs were redone, then (wait for it......) SO SHOULD THE PANCAKES have been redone. They shouldn't be allowed to cool off.

                                      Really? When does that ever happen?

                                      When one diner gets a under/over cooked steak, for example, and the kitchen decides to replace it, the other diners do not get to have their dishes replaced, as is. Right?

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        And now you're comparing apples and oranges.

                                        THAT is the exact issue - the OTHER diners' dishes were *not* put in front of them, ipse (as in your supposed scenario). They were held in the kitchen while the regular diner's eggs were recooked.

                                        IF the other diners' had received the food they had ordered and could eat their *hot* food while the regular was told his eggs were being recooked, different story. But they didn't. Their dishes sat, cooling off, as the OP stated, and were served in that state, all for the sake of this one person.

                                        I won't be discussing this any further. You feel one way; I think differently.

                                2. re: KaimukiMan

                                  yes, absolutely. why would i want my friends to be treated less well than I am, and at my table? it isn't like the friends showed up at ANOTHER table and didn't get the same treatment that we did!

                                  1. re: mariacarmen

                                    I've been away from this thread for a bit, but have to say that when I am the "regular," my guests get great service too, and when I am the guest, I cannot recall a time, when I felt slighted in the least.

                                    Maybe I have just been very fortunate, or lead a very sheltered life?

                                    Matter-of-fact, I seem to almost always get great service, even when I am dining at a totally new restaurant.

                                    We just dined at a restaurant, that we had not dined at, for the last six months. They greeted my wife by name, had a dossier on her limited food allergies, and had even written up a Chef's Tasting Menu, just for her, because that was what we did on two previous visits, over the last 15 mos. Just a nice touch. Should we arrive with guests on our next visit, I feel comfortable in stating that they would be treated very, very well.

                                    Yes, guess that I am just the "fortunate son." I feel for others, when service goes off, or is geared toward part of the party, but not to all. That is just odd.


                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      I believe the way you are treated is a result of how you treat others. You clearly are a kind, thoughtful and respectful person, so that is also how you are treated. Giving a smile is the best way to get a smile.
                                      In the OP's case here, I think the treatment of the husband of the "regular" pair, has the staff so used to jumping how high he tells them. Most likely, he would have griped if anything else happened. He might have felt his wife was slighted if, the server took the time to take drink orders before they brought hers. I do not believe he is on the list of "good regulars".

                                      1. re: Quine

                                        In that respect, I try. I want the servers to enjoy me (and my party), as much as I hope to enjoy their service and the food. At the end of the day, "we are all in this together." Same for the cabin crew on my flights. If I can insure them experiencing a better day, they almost always reciprocate, and I end up benefiting.


                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                        i'm guessing this wasn't a diner with a $3.99 breakfast special - eggs any style and two slices of bacon. Sheltered wasn't the word i would choose, but it'll do for now.

                                        Regardless of the level of dining, service should never be rude or condescending.

                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                          Yes, the "diner aspect" has played on me, throughout the thread.

                                          While we DO dine at diners, and other breakfast locations, I do not think that I am a "regular" at any. Once upon a time, I was at Camellia Grill in New Orleans, but now, I am but a tourist, with memories.


                                  2. re: jhopp217

                                    I would think that a business would want more regulars/repeat business. Why slam the door on new repeat business?

                                    1. re: dave_c


                                      That is the question, that I keep asking myself, but as I am not in the business, there might be something, that I just am missing. However, there is much that is beyond my comprehension.


                                  3. re: prio girl

                                    I do see a bit of a problem there, and am a bit surprised.

                                    While it is nice for a chef (as an example) to recognize regulars, they should be very nice to "potential" regulars.

                                    Recently at Chef John Besh's Restaurant August in New Orleans, Chef Besh stopped by. Though we have not lived in New Orleans, since Chef Besh was born, he recognized my wife, for several culinary events, where he was a guest chef. We spoke, and introduced our dining companions, who live MUCH closer to Restaurant August. Chef Besh was warm to all at our table, and very welcoming to all. Nice touch.


                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                      How was the restaurant not nice to the non-regulars?

                                      1. re: ipsedixit

                                        Actually, Chef Besh was great with the non-regulars. I do not understand your question. Heck, I think that he liked them, better than he did me, though he did fawn over my wife, but she had done several cooking classes with him, and I had not.