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If I owned a restaurant, I would/would not.....

One thing I would do is give everyone SPOONS.I've noticed a trend toward not providing spoons unless one orders soup, so if you have some sauce that you wish to eat every bit of, you need to sop it up with bread, or lick the plate.
I would NOT place the women's bathroom two miles away.

I'm sure I'll be adding more things as I think of them...

...oh, and be realistic; no "I'd serve Chateaubriand and charge $2."

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  1. I expect a spoon, at least one - that is how I was taught to set a table about 70 years ago, and I've seen no notice that the rules have changed.

    I would also make a point of asking when the diners would prefer their salad, and would require bussers to ask - politely! - before removing a plate or bowl. One "fancy" local restaurant has some fetish about grabbing an "empty" dish off the table without ceremony; a snail plate is NOT empty if there's sauce on it and I've just gotten some bread from the basket!

    6 Replies
    1. re: Will Owen

      AMEN on the snails! First time I had snails was at a little place in Philly. They came to the table, SIZZLING" away in stoneware crocks in DEEP individual holes. They were in a dreamy butter/garlic sauce with finely chopped nuts... maybe hazel nuts? Know we asked for more bread a few times so we coud get ALL of that "healthy" goodness sopped up!

      1. re: kseiverd

        Kseiverd - your snail paragraph makes me want to weep with desire. I think I would stab someone with a fork if they tried to take the snail plate away before we got every drop sopped up.

        If I owned a restaurant, I would print the specials with prices as a menu insert. Mr. CB turns deaf in a restaurant and asks the server to repeat the specials 2 or 3 times, waits until he/she walks away and then asks me "now what were the specials?"

        1. re: cleobeach

          I'm a lot like Mr. Beach, Cleo. If I'm with someone, and someone else starts talking to me out of the clear blue, I kind of freeze up and don't hear what the interrupting talker is saying. Happens all the time. I could never have been an actor, criminal lawyer, or politician.

        2. re: kseiverd

          For me, that place was the Brasserie Pittsbourg in Seattle's Pioneer Square. Though I knew I already liked cooking with wine (moules, coquilles), I had so many new things there that were so vinlicious, and it started with the snails.

          1. re: Jay F

            I remember eating at Brasserie Pittsbourg for my 11 or 12th birthday way back in the early 70s. I thought I was so grown-up eating snails. In later years, I realized that what I really loved was garlic and butter together, but I bragged about those snails for months.

            1. re: Jay F

              Aah... Brasserie Pittsbourg! Sigh. Miss that resto... as a life-long Seattleite, and from a family of good eaters, my dad took me there as a kid. Loved that place! My intro to French food.

              Delicious memories!

        3. Sometimes knives are hard to come by too. Or a sharp steak knife. I'd be sure to have plenty of knives.

          Also good lighting. I don't think a restaurant should be so dark you can't read their menu.

          Always list prices...including drinks from the bar.

          Bread must be warm and butter soft.

          9 Replies
            1. re: Bliss149

              Butter at all! I don't particularly care for the saucer olive oil sprinkled with dried herbs.

              1. re: NonnieMuss

                Nor the oil with balsamic vinegar. You would NEVER be served that in Italy!

            2. re: HillJ

              Yes. A sharp steak knife. I'm left handed, and regular knives are pointless save for buttering bread.

              1. re: NorthEncantoGirl

                What does being left-handed have to do with that?????

                1. re: sandylc

                  Many butter type knives only have the "teeth" on the left side, which renders them useless for cutting for people that are left handed. My mom is a leftie and I got to hear all about it growing up. :)

                  1. re: juliejulez

                    Learn something new every day, I guess!

                    That said, I don't recall the last time I used a table knife to cut with.....

                2. re: NorthEncantoGirl

                  In my home, I wouldn't serve a steak that had to be cut with a steak knife. So IF I ordered a steak in a restaurant, I would expect at least the same quality of meat. Just sayin'

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I remember once my Dad asking for a steak knife. Reply: "Sir, if you can't cut the steak with the knife you have, we will replace your steak.' Good answer!

              2. MAKE the potato salad. I can't believe how many places serve that slop that comes out of a bucket from Sam's.

                1. Written specials! With prices! I hate listening to the long spiel then having to ask for a price and, oh, can you repeat the first one and what was the side with the last special? So frustrating.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Clean with smelly PINESOL. I hate walking into a restaurant and smelling that stuff and it happens ALL the time.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Bliss149

                      My favorite auntie hated the smell of pinesol used in cleaning bathrooms, she said it smelled like somebdy shit on a Christmas tree.

                      1. re: EWSflash

                        I think she just became MY favorite auntie, too!

                    2. Seems simple enough, but make surenthentablemhas enough place settings when seating guests. It seems like about one out ofmfournrestaurant visits, I end up swiping extra table settings from a nearbymtable. Not just at casual restaurants, either.

                      Corollary to enough place settings: make sure there is an adequate supply of napkins for the size of the party and the messiness of the food.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: jlhinwa

                        Yes to napkins, and I'd also discreetly offer wetnaps. They're not just for barbecue anymore!

                      2. I would: offer sample plates that are smallish, reasonably priced and fun. I would have appetizer options that were petite, appropriate for a single person who just wants a few bites of something yummy to start a meal. I woud like to try offering "dinner parties" where for a set amount people could sit around for hours, tapas-style food would be brought out regularly. Small entrees and desserts (also served tapas style) would be included. However, there would be a minimum charge per person, and alcohol would not be included. I'd try to figure a way to offer this to make it worth the server's while, my while, and the customer would feel...not that it was cheap, but that it was a good value. I would want to figure out a way to do it so that people could feel like they were out at a restaurant with friends (which I love), not at a private party being held in a restaurant (which I hate).

                        I would not: ever dare to offer lousy french fries or badly baked potatoes! I mean, sheesh...if you can't get those things right, you have no business being in the restaurant business!!!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: StrandedYankee

                          Hate those barely cooked foil-steamed potatoes!

                        2. Have a bowl of pickled veggies that people can nosh on while they read the menu.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                            Ooh, I would eat there, and tell all my friends. Totally serious.

                            1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L

                              There is a very old-school 24 hour resto here in SEA that serves a small plate of pickled veg(carrot, baby corn, etc.), with celery/carrot and a few slices of salami, and that arrives right after the water glasses. Not a cheap place, but a Seattle institution. That plate is always so welcome while reading the menu at 1AM!

                              1. re: gingershelley

                                What restaurant is that gingershelley? I am also a Seattleite and am curious.

                                1. re: jlhinwa

                                  13 Coins...

                                  I've been going to the one by the Space Needle (is the one by Sea-Tac still there?) all my life.
                                  The little platter offered, with the great bread, is iconic.

                                  1. re: latindancer

                                    Ahhhh, I thought that might be the restaurant. I haven't been there in years. Time for a visit.

                                    1. re: jlhinwa

                                      One of my favorite desserts ever, Zabaglione, made by hand in front of me at this huge counter where we could watch the cooks work...it was made by hand and whipped in a big copper bowl and served in a tall glass. Amazingly beautiful and delicious.

                                      I'm always amused that it's described as 'old school'....I must be too as I've been dining there since the early '60's. It was sold in the 80's but the owners paid attention to what "worked" and I'm still in love with the place.
                                      Oh, the memories at 2 in the morning...after watching Jimi Hendrix play to a few hundred people.

                                      1. re: latindancer

                                        Jimi and Janis baby does not get any better than that.not.ever.

                            2. "One thing I would do is give everyone SPOONS.I've noticed a trend toward not providing spoons unless one orders soup, so if you have some sauce that you wish to eat every bit of, you need to sop it up with bread, or lick the plate."

                              Or ask your server for a spoon. That's what I do.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                My mother took to carrying a spoon in her purse after one place we visited told her they only had iced tea spoons.

                                Mom's spoon was wrapped neatly in a cloth napkin she's inadvertently swiped from some other restaurant (when you're in a wheelchair it's easy to accidentally make off with napkins... if you don't stand up, said napkin does not make itself known when you leave the table).

                                1. re: MplsM ary

                                  So that's why grandma has so many mismatched cloth napkins!

                                2. re: ttoommyy

                                  Sure, but why do I have to ASK for it? It should just be given along with the fork, knife, napkin, chair and table.
                                  Ditto salt and pepper.

                                3. I would make sure that service was non-intrusive, once an order had been taken. It should happen almost without the diner being aware that its happening.

                                  There is no need to ask "who is having the fish" if you've recorded correctly. There's no need to take the wine or water bottle away - leave it on the table, diners do have the strength to pick up and pour. If diners are having tap water, leave the jug on the table.

                                  And, of course, service is included in the menu price - no additional charge is levied by way of tip or service charge.

                                  33 Replies
                                  1. re: Harters

                                    "And, of course, service is included in the menu price - no additional charge is levied by way of tip or service charge."

                                    If this restaurant is in the US and you plan to do away with tipping, good luck finding professional wait staff!

                                    1. re: ttoommyy

                                      No, this place will be in Europe, where we value restaurant workers and pay them salaries accordingly.

                                      That said, I wasnt aware that, for example, the French Laundry in California was experiencing any staff recruitment and retention problems since it went to "service included" some years ago.

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        The French Laundry is a bad example since it is not indicative of most restaurants in the US. As a former wait person, I would rather make tips based on my service than get paid a "salary accordingly."

                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                          No, it's a good example because it evidences that the European model of rewarding servers can and does work in America.

                                          Sorry the facts don't fit your opinions.

                                          1. re: Harters

                                            No, it's a bad example. That it works at the highest end of the restaurant spectrum is no indication that it would work across the board. Diners expect the best service at the (supposedly) best places, so expect to tip accordingly.

                                            1. re: Harters

                                              Facts? What facts have you cited? Do you know for a fact that the French Laundry is not experiencing any staff problems? Or is that your assumption?

                                              1. re: ttoommyy

                                                "Do you know for a fact that the French Laundry is not experiencing any staff problems? "

                                                Yes.

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  Very well. I still stand by my opinion as an ex-waiter.

                                            2. re: ttoommyy

                                              except, often you don't get tipped based on your service:
                                              you get tipped based on how cheap/entitled your customer is or isn't.

                                              1. re: westsidegal

                                                Interesting choice of words; are "cheap" and "entitled" opposites? Hm-mmm...

                                                1. re: westsidegal

                                                  Mostly not though in high end, quality restaurants. The waiters I know who are still in the business and work in excellent restaurants make good money based on their tips.

                                              2. re: Harters

                                                As Chris Rock famously said, "when you're getting paid minimum wage your employer is saying 'I'd pay you less but the law won't let me.'" Most restaurant owners pay even less than minimum because they can get away with it, so consumers need to know that menu prices are artificially lower than they would be if the employees were paid a reasonable wage. During the debate over mandatory employer-provided healthcare, the owner of Papa Johns complained that such a requirement would force him to raise the price of a pizza by 15 cents, which then begged the question of why he was refusing to provide healthcare to employees without a government mandate when it created a minimal burden that he could easily pass on to customers.

                                                1. re: ferret

                                                  I don't know who Chris Rock is - but that's a astute comment.

                                                  In the UK, where we still have tipping or a service charge, servers generally have a salary more than minimum wage. We do not have the situation that applies in most American states that the usual "minimum wage" does not apply to restaurant servers.

                                                  I take the view that an employee has an expectation of how much s/he is going to earn over a period of time. Like any employee, they need to know how much they are likely to earn so they can pay household bills, eat, etc. If their income meets their expectations, or surpasses it, then they are likely to remain an employee. On the other hand, if they don't earn this, then they will leave for another job.

                                                  And it really doesnt matter to any employee how that expected income is made up - it could be all salary, all tips, a mixture, salary plus annual bonus, salary plus commission on sales. There are all sorts of models for paying restaurant staff. And so long as the income meets the expectations, the employee is going to happy.

                                                  1. re: ferret

                                                    I am curious as to how "most restaurant owners pay less than minimum wage". My friend and I were so curious about all of the hype we had read from servers complaining in online forums of being paid very low wages and then having to split tips with other staff that we started politely inquiring ( if the server was comfortable with answering) about tips.....wages etc. Apparently here in California servers are paid minimum wage and up and most keep all of their tips.

                                                    1. re: Lillipop

                                                      I believe federal labor law states that employees who earn at least $30/month in tips may be paid $2.13/hour. From what I've read on CH, servers in CA are actually paid a living wage. I'm not sure how common tip sharing is, but it's definitely a practice at many places.

                                                      1. re: Hobbert

                                                        The combined tips and wage must be at least the minimum wage.

                                                        1. re: GH1618

                                                          True. I can't imagine a waiter would stayed employed very long if the employer had to supplement his/her tips to make minimum wage, though.

                                                        2. re: Hobbert

                                                          Including California, 9 states (mostly western) require full minimum wage besides tips. The CA minimum wage is $8.00, the SF minimum wage is $10.55.

                                                          1. re: BN1

                                                            No wonder servers here in California always look so sun kissed healthy smiling and a bit smug:)

                                                            1. re: Lillipop

                                                              Add to that...

                                                              All the government workers.
                                                              I don't see anything wrong with a wait person keeping their own tips?
                                                              They worked for them, they deserve them.

                                                          2. re: Hobbert

                                                            many states require employers to pay tipped employees the state/federal minimum wage but some states still allow a lower "tipped employee minimum wage" as long as the employees tips bring their average hourly income up to the state/federal minimum. If the tips do not achieve the legal minimum then the employer must pay enough to bring the hourly average up to the required minimum.

                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              Dang...all this time I thought our servers had below minimum wage hourly rates. WA state has the highest minimum wage ($9.19) and tips are not factored in. With tips, could be a very decent living.

                                                            2. re: Lillipop

                                                              I work in a mid to upper level restaurant in CA and while it is true that I make minimum wage, I definitely share my tips. My tip out is based on my sales (not my tips) and equals between 35 and 50 percent of my tips. I don't know of any waiters that don't have to tip out. Breakfast cafes, maybe, tip out less as there is less support staff.

                                                              1. re: Missmoo

                                                                So if you share your tips who is it mandated to go to? I mean do the other wait staff share their tips with you also? How does this all work so that no one is getting ripped off. Weird thing is that almost every person we asked said they were not required to share their tips.We asked at mainly locally owned venues/restaurants/cafes etc. in Lodi and Stockton Ca.

                                                                1. re: Lillipop

                                                                  Most servers tip out to the busser (s) serving their section, the bartender, and a smaller share of tip to either a kitchen pool, or at least to an expediter (and possible food runners) who manages the order tickets and flow of food coming off the line.

                                                                  40% of tips going out is pretty typical, providing your support staff is supporting you as they should.

                                                                2. re: Missmoo

                                                                  "My tip out is based on my sales"

                                                                  Would you explain this please? I'm not in the restaurant business but it could go on to explain why I've received the service I did in a couple of restaurants.

                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                    As mentioned above, at most restaurants you have to give a portion of your tips to the bussers and the bartenders, sometimes the hosts/hostesses as well, or the expediter, or both. The percentage varies by restaurant but it's a percentage based on your total sales, like 4% to the bartenders, 2% to everyone else. So if you get stiffed on a table or a very low tip, tough sh*t as you still have to tip out based on what was actually ordered. This is yet another reason why people really don't want to wait on those who are branded as low tippers (unfairly or fairly) like families with small children, tables of teenagers, the very elderly.

                                                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                      I'm a high tipper...25-30%.

                                                                      My experience, as of late, has been with waiters who don't want to wait on tables where alcohol hasn't been ordered.
                                                                      So, I'm assuming the waiter foresees the tip being lower based on the sale.

                                                                    2. re: latindancer

                                                                      Sorry, didn't see your question! I mean that if my checks for the evening equal 1200 dollars I tip out based on that figure. It's easier to make sure people are tipping support staff fairly if you have a number like that at hand. However, that can mean that if you are tipped ten percent you will only make three percent on that check (our tip out is about 7.5 percent of sales). If someone stiffs you, you are still expected to tip out on the check.

                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                        I am a bartender in Boston, MA. I tip out 4% of the gross that I ring on my register to the barback. The amount of labor the barback does is a result of how much I ring in so far as supplying ice, fruit, juice, etc. This is much fairer than a % of tips as the barback is then not dependent on the quality of the bartender's service or the clientele. This also enables management to insure that the barbacks are being compensated per policy as the tip-outs can be compared to the gross.

                                                            3. re: Harters

                                                              Hear hear. A voice of sanity with regards to tipping.

                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                I love the idea of doing away with tips! Obviously, the owner would have to pay staff enough to make it worth their while to work there...my problem with tips, is that what I view as the Reason that tipping should exist, IS THAT good service can be rewarded, and as a way to show your appreciation; and NO ONE appreciates good service more than I do...I frequent an establishment called 'Bak Hak', and the service is so fast, so cheerful, and so heartwarming, it makes you want to weep with gratitude!! ;) I would be more than willing to pay a large fee for that type of service...but what has a tendancy to happen (in my experience), is sometimes, the more expensive a restaurant is, the snootier the wait staff act. Of course, if you are paying a % of your bill as a tip, this means off putting behaviour is being reimbursed at an even higher rate...There is something wrong with that!

                                                                  1. re: xanadude

                                                                    Yes, if the help is twenty-year olds and the restaurant is not a hamburger joint geared toward that age group. Music is part of the experience of eating at a restaurant, and appropriate music AND the proper volume thereof, can affect the whole meal.

                                                                    For example, if my place were an ethnic restaurant, I would make the music match the food.
                                                                    Our favorite local sushi place is great, except for the hip hop that they tend to play. (If the hip hop was sung in Japanese, then fine).
                                                                    Ditto Italian restaurants....I don't want to sip chianti and dip my foccaccia bread into olive oil while hearing Beyonce. (Nothing against Beyonce; I like her, but not while I'm in a pasta puttenesca and tiramasu mood).
                                                                    Oh, ditto for era-themed places... a '50's themed place should NOT be playing Tears For Fears or New Direction.

                                                                    1. re: Michelly

                                                                      I suspect xanadude was questioning the term "the help." Kind of anachronistic.

                                                                      1. re: globocity

                                                                        The staff may have been the more appropriate word.

                                                                1. Pillows available for petite folks seated in deep booths.

                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                    1. re: arashall

                                                                      Mine too. She was 4'10" before that 2" shrink after 60. She'd even like the pillows for tables.

                                                                      1. re: gaffk

                                                                        I was recently at a restaurant and seated with my family at a table but I noticed the bar seats had cushions on them. The waitress was so awesome at her job and saw me staring at them, I didn't even say a word and she brought one over for me. i am not petite in the height way, but I'm thin and sitting on hard chairs for an extended period of time is very uncomfortable. I made sure to return the cushion to it's original seat before leaving and tipped well. And what's funny is that I don't even remember what I ordered (I know it was good) but I remember being comfortable and able to enjoy the meal.

                                                                        1. re: Scooter8

                                                                          I recently had a waitress swap out a hard wooden chair for a padded one nearby. I keep a seat cushion in my car for meetings, but I never remember to bring it when my Dad drives. I don't have extra padding, and have resorted to sitting on coats occasionally, so her offer was much appreciated.

                                                                    2. re: meatn3

                                                                      At 5'6", I would hardly consider myself "petite". But on banquettes, I often need a bit of a boost or back support. Cushions, or patio blankets, are very much appreciated.

                                                                      1. re: KarenDW

                                                                        I agree, I am also 5'6" and people often refer to me as tall but even I have issues with banquettes. It could be that my height is due to long legs relative to torso length but a cushion is always appreciated. Also the blankets! My favorite outdoor restaurant in hawaii offers patio blankets and it's wonderful. I am one of those people who is always cold and so I often want to eat outside but the any chill or occasional wind makes me run inside.

                                                                    3. I would have well trained and (I hope) happy employees.

                                                                      I would have comfortable furniture that was appropriate to the space/decor.

                                                                      I would have a liquor license.

                                                                      I would serve excellent, fresh, and simply prepared seafood.

                                                                      I would totally adopt Tracy L's pickle/olive/relish tray idea.

                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                                                        How can you have happy employees without medicating them? Being a server is the just one rung from being homeless. They are busy plotting on how to, 1) steal out the back door, 2) steal from the customer, 3) steal liquor, 4) steal from other waiters, 5) steal from the busboys, 6) steal time by loafing, smoking or cellphone. If you don't believe me, watch Bar Rescue, Restaurant Impossible, Mystery Diner, Restaurant Steakout etc.

                                                                        1. re: bruce9432

                                                                          (This was a reply to Bruce9432's post about most servers being of the sort that end up on those reality restaurant shows)
                                                                          But this certainly is not the norm for every server, just like the average customer is not the kind that snaps their fingers to summon the server, sneaks food into the restaurant and sneaks items like pepper shakers out, expects AND demands bigger portions for free "because they are regulars" (yet leaves miniscule tips)....etc. etc...oh jeez, I could go on.
                                                                          When I was a server, I gave my all, and most of my customers were wonderful (even waiting specifically so they could sit in my section), but there were always the "bratty" ones who complained loudly and continually, yet would still come into the restaurant.
                                                                          Basically, decor, food quality, quatity, presentation, and pricing aside, the attitudes of the customer, the server, AND the management is going to greatly affect the entire dining experience for all involved. There are nice people and there are jerks. There are people who should be in service, and those who should not. But as a server, I'm more inclined to give better service to someone who treats me with respect as opposed to one who calls me "girl" and asks if I'm trying to poison her with this soup that I just served her. Granted that the customer comes first, but contrary to the old axiom, the customer is NOT always right. And depending on how the request is delivered, AND how the restaurant's systems are set up, some things are simply not possible.

                                                                          How can you have happy employees? Treat them with respect. Understand that they're doing the tough job of providing service to one of the most difficult, temperamental, over-expecting group of people: the American public. If you are experiencing a server with attitude, maybe you should check your own behavior; they may be reacting to your own bad attitude.

                                                                          And for the record: there was one Restaurant Stakeout where Willie praised a server for leaving the restaurant to go next door to the store to buy a condiment for a customer. A server is not supposed to leave their station. What happened to the other customers that they had? She was their server, too. What if there was a line at the store? Willie praised this "incredible display of service", but IMHO, that was taking service too far. You do not leave your station unless there's a change on the floor (change in shifts, closing of sections, etc.) or the manager tells you, or you get sick or hurt.

                                                                      2. I've noted the no spoons thing too. If I ask for hot teas I get a mug or cup and saucer, my choice of tea bags and a lemon, but no spoon! Even when the tea is presented with milk, no spoon. Weird.

                                                                        1. I think training is everything. Some chains get it right, and some fine restaurants do too. But some mid priced independents and some chains really don't have well trained servers. When I ask about a dish, I don't expect to hear " I don't know I just started here yesterday." Or, "I've never had that. They say its good." Or, "I don't really know how they make that sauce/prepare that veggie/if the veggies are fresh instead of frozen."

                                                                          So in the very unlikely scenario of my owning and running a restaurant, I'd make sure the servers knew the menu and had a decent knowledge of the food.

                                                                          And, I'd want them to be fairly paid. But that's another topic, one that I don't know much about.

                                                                          15 Replies
                                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                                            if you pay your servers fairly, odds are they will stay long enough to become familiar with the dishes you serve and with what makes those dishes special.

                                                                            the peeve you mention is highly correlated with staff turnover.
                                                                            staff turnover is highly correlated with poor pay.

                                                                            you have good instincts.
                                                                            kudos

                                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                                              I was recently at an upmarket place. Our waiter was excellent - perfectly relaxed, yet efficient and knowledgable. Later in the meal, we asked him how long he'd been working there and were surprised to learn that it was his first shift - he worked at lunchtime and was now doing the dinner service. Clearly, there had been significant training in the restaurant's style as well as the dishes.

                                                                              Now, OK, I suppose you might say that about a place that's regarded as being amongst the ten best in the country. But you only get that investment of time and effort by owners when they've recruited good staff and have an expectation that they're going to stick around. And it isnt confined to high end places. Good local bistros can also pay well (for the respective market) and train staff properly. We also have the benefit that our town is home to a college which has a catering department and many local servers will have attended the college, either full or part time, to gain nationally recognised qualifications in their industry.

                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                Training seems to be a thing of the past. Restaurants used to take it very seriously. Now they seem to hire people who hopefully have serving experience and they show them the POS system and the menu and just let them go.

                                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                                  one of my recent roommates went through training at one of the Darden restaurants within the last couple of years.

                                                                                  lots of emphasis on up-selling.
                                                                                  lots of time educating them about the ingredients of the "new" cocktail (some pink thing full of sugar, weird color and cheap distilled booze), you know, the cocktail that had the highest margin.

                                                                                  1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                    One of the reasons I refuse to patronize Darden restaurants. One of many, anyway. I don't begrudge anyone wanting to make a buck they are just obnoxious.

                                                                              2. re: sueatmo

                                                                                In terms of "fairly paid", you have to realize that labor is a significant cost to a restaurant, and if you pay wages any fraction higher than industry, it will cut into your bottom line, forcing you either to cut back on your profits, or raise your menu prices. If you do the latter, you better have and OUTSTANDING product and STELLAR service, otherwise you will easily lose to your competitior.

                                                                                I fully support the current industry practice of "lower than normal" wages for servers and making them rely on tips. It encourages them to up the ante on the service they will provide to your guests, and teach them the valuable lesson if they fall short on expected service levels.

                                                                                I worked as a bellman through college and relyed on my tips to be my pocket money for the week, so I've been there, done that.

                                                                                1. re: Dinermite

                                                                                  "It encourages them to up the ante on the service they will provide to your guests"

                                                                                  Only if diners actually make significant differences in their tipping, based on service. Which, reading many posts here by Americans, they simply don't. In the reality of that situation, the concept that service improves due to tipping is a fallacy.

                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                    Even if the patrons don't base the percentage of their tips upon quality of service, an efficient and timely waitperson can turn the table one more time per shift, at least. That equates to more tip money. I hate looking for my waitperson/next course, etc.

                                                                                    1. re: sandylc

                                                                                      unless they get some of the folks who pepper these boards with complaints that the servers take their plates away too soon.

                                                                                      also, it's almost impossible to turn the table if the restaurant management doesn't find a way to deter the campers.

                                                                                      1. re: westsidegal

                                                                                        It takes finesse. I am in the camp of "don't reach for my plate without asking first". Common sense.

                                                                                  2. re: Dinermite

                                                                                    >>I worked as a bellman through college and relyed on my tips to be my pocket money for the week, so I've been there, done that.<<

                                                                                    pocket money ≠ what most waitstaff need to earn

                                                                                    1. re: Dinermite

                                                                                      I swear you people are so ridiculous. Do you honestly think people are so stupid as to not realize that a lower price plus tipping a lazy careless waitstaff doesn't cost them any less than higher menu prices due to a decently paid caring staff???

                                                                                      1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                        PH,
                                                                                        What exactly does this sentence mean? I can't follow it.

                                                                                        1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                          Thank you. Was starting to think I had processing problems. The sentence is awkwardly worded and convuluted.

                                                                                          1. re: globocity

                                                                                            ....or maybe we both have these problems.

                                                                                  3. From a recent dining experience:

                                                                                    ...I would ensure servers did not ask or cause diners to move in order to place or remove plates, did not interrupt conversations, did not ask a diner, while mid-chew, whether everything was good, etc.

                                                                                    Smart and professional staff should always work around customers.

                                                                                    1. Bake bread in house and serve it warm.
                                                                                      Short menu of 6, starters, mains and desserts. Concentrate on a few dishes and do them well.
                                                                                      Good wines by the glass or carafe.
                                                                                      Relaxed, unpretentious but efficient service.
                                                                                      Include service charge in the menu price as they do in continental Europe.
                                                                                      Bring free still water in a jug and ask if ice and or lemon is required without prompting.
                                                                                      Make sure all staff sit down to a good meal with good ingredients before service.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Paprikaboy

                                                                                        A favourite local place brings a jug of tap water almost as soon as you sit down. Clearly showing no pressure to order bottled, although I often do order sparkling. I don't like it in places when there's the immediate upsell when taking aperitif orders to also ask "would you like water for the table". Won't be happening in my virtual place.

                                                                                        1. re: Paprikaboy

                                                                                          I think I would like to go to your restaurant :)

                                                                                        2. <is give everyone SPOONS>

                                                                                          Yes!! What is that, anyway?

                                                                                          A very small restaurant where I dine frequently serves up their fish, they're known for, with only a *fork*.
                                                                                          Inevitably, I have to get up and find a waiter to hunt down a knife because there's only one person waiting on about 20 people and apparently knives are hard to come by in the place.
                                                                                          So, forget the spoons...they may expect people to tip the plate up and slurp.

                                                                                          1. Tables checked for rickety-ness and adjusted every day.

                                                                                            Chair heights that appropriately match table height; including banquette seating (please, no chins on the table lol). Rickety chairs adjusted prn. (Seeing a pattern in my issues lol?)

                                                                                            Footrail or raised footrest at the bar. Dangling feet make me feel like a toddler. A toddler with booze.

                                                                                            Michelly, interestingly, I differ in that I'd want bathrooms FAR away. Down a hall please. No one wants the table by the crapper. :)

                                                                                            6 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                              Along with a foot rest I would add they have hooks under the bar to hang your handbag or brief case.

                                                                                              I also would make sure there are places to hang your coat. I get that space is precious but I live in New England and in the winter nothing is worst than trying maneuver around someones big down coat.

                                                                                              1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                The purse hooks! OMG! I am a freak about those. It's gotten so bad that SO and I judge a place by that one amenity.

                                                                                                1. re: JerryMe

                                                                                                  That reminds me. I would have hat hooks.

                                                                                              2. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                I'd eat at your restaurant, DuchessNukem. I've had one too many juggling acts as a result of rickety, rocking tabletops. No matter how good the food is, the experience is dulled by sloshing liquids in glassware and one's plate teeter-tottering before you! My husband has a couple of times pulled out the Leatherman multi-tool and discreetly fixed a table just so we wouldn't get seasick.

                                                                                                1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                  Well, I don't want them close and/or visible, but as I've previously whined, the women's bathroom is almost ALWAYS way way way down a hallway, up some stairs, around a corner....etc. etc., often a 10 minute trek, while the men's is within 5 feet of the door marked "restrooms"

                                                                                                  1. re: Michelly

                                                                                                    I have never seen this. Where are you located.

                                                                                                2. I'm such a perfectionist that I think owning a restaurant would send me straight to the loony bin in less than a week.
                                                                                                  But I would try to ensure that all glasses are free of spots, the bread is served with soft butter, both regular and honey or cinnamon type, and make sure the bread is soft. I hate it when you try to cut open a piece of bread a crumbs fly all over the place, and it ends up looking like a pack of rabid dogs was eating at your seat.

                                                                                                  6 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                    Actually one is supposed to tear bread, not cut it.

                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                      Either way, you can still make a mighty mess.

                                                                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                        Nah. They got this down to an art in France.

                                                                                                      2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                        Like bite one end and tear it off:)? How is one supposed to do it?

                                                                                                        1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                          The opposite :) Tear off a small piece, spread butter if you wish, eat, repeat.

                                                                                                      3. re: alliegator

                                                                                                        I like soft bread when it is of the soft bread variety.

                                                                                                        But crusty bread is also delicious.

                                                                                                      4. How realistic? Could I require guests to stow cell phones away? Ask unruly children's parents to take them away?

                                                                                                        Honestly I'd love to set up a "family section" if people were going to persist in dragging children to my fantasy restaurant. I'd make it small, out of the way, and punish bad/late waiters by banishing them to that circle of hell. Then if someone came in with little'uns they'd have to wait for a table back there. Maybe my restaurant will be called Adult Swim.

                                                                                                        (Spare me the my-children-are-perfectly-behaved-and-love-gourmet-food replies. Obviously I'm not talking about YOU.)
                                                                                                        :-)

                                                                                                        8 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                          I've seen "no cell phone" signs and family sections (though not often)- so I think both of your guidelines are within the realm of possibility.

                                                                                                          1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                            Sure, as long as you're creating an adult swim section, add the pig pen section too. For unruly, self-centered adult diners who need to over talk the entire room so we can ALL hear their important conversation, one too many cocktails induce leaving the area they reside a wreck with crumbs, spills, napkins on the floor, broken glasses. The tip left ON the dirty food plate. The so called adults, those "fun" guests should be hosed down before they depart.

                                                                                                            1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                              I have actually seen one restaurant that had two separate rooms, one with a bar in a hip-looking room with little tables around it and louder music and the other quiet with white tablecloths and napkins and warm accents. When we arrived, the hostess let us know they had a more "formal" dining room which is for those who prefer quieter conversation and their other room (I forgot what she called it) which had a more energetic vibe, and which did we feel we would prefer that evening?
                                                                                                              Granted, she didn't say "would you rather get really drunk and shout at each other, or are you a refined patron" but it basically translated into the same thing. I thought it was great.

                                                                                                              1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                It is a helpful idea. unfortunately not enough restaurants are in the position to offer a pig pen room and don't know until it's too late that the hip party of 6-12 is going to be a handful.

                                                                                                                1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                  Maybe they need a "trap door" policy...

                                                                                                                  1. re: hyacinthgirl

                                                                                                                    a cartoon strip (I can't place the name) with the trap door just flashed across my brain...perfect name for that side of the restaurant!

                                                                                                              2. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                Or the table of baseball cap wearing dude-bros whose every other word starts with "F". I have no problem with language and maintain a steady stream of profanity myself most days, but I don't shout it out in public where others are having dates, family dinners, etc.

                                                                                                                1. re: NonnieMuss

                                                                                                                  Loud-talkers aren't fun in any circumstance. I find management faces two tactics with loud talkers; either it's pointed out immediately or the group becomes the talked about topic when they leave the restaurant.

                                                                                                                  When the volume takes over, I'd like a cowbell to ring right at the table letting the group know they're aren't in a barn.

                                                                                                            2. I would make sure that if there is a special that the staff knows if there is still any available.

                                                                                                              I would allow the wait staff to buy-back a predetermined amount of drinks, as a bartender would. Or offer complimentary coffee, for their better customers.

                                                                                                              I would want all my servers to have tried all the dishes on the menu, regardless of the level of the dining.

                                                                                                              I would not want any bathrooms visible from the dining area.

                                                                                                              I would want some uniformity when it comes to dress.

                                                                                                              1. Another vote for the purse hooks.

                                                                                                                I would offer a "smaller portion" menu.... the same stuff that's on the main menu, just in smaller portions.

                                                                                                                Also mini desserts. Some places (mostly chains) do this already. Often after a big meal I just want a little somethin', not a piece of cake the size of my head. Doesn't need to be fancy... a small brownie or lemon bar, or a small scoop of sorbet.

                                                                                                                Also half bottles of wine.

                                                                                                                15 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                  A few places I know don't offer a separate children's menu but do offer youngsters smaller portions of quite a few of the main menu items. Which is really just a return to how restaurants were when I was a child half a century ago.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                    One of our favorite places does that and it was a really nice options. They would make our son anything on the menu "kid sized" and priced. Made it one of our first choices when we went out.

                                                                                                                    I have noticed many places now offering two sizes for their pasta dishes which is nice too.

                                                                                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                      Yep, I like the two sizes as well. Sometimes I want pasta as a starter, sometimes as a main course.

                                                                                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                        When ever pasta is offered as a primo Piatto I always ask if they do half portions. We love the four course style eating.

                                                                                                                    2. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                      I would be that happiest person on Earth if "smaller" were an option at more places. I don't need 2 chicken breasts with my chicken parm, I don't need a half pound of wings, and I don't need my burger to be bigger than my face.

                                                                                                                      1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                        I think most people expect chicken parm, wings and burgers to be large portion types of food.

                                                                                                                        1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                          Wings I understand but I don't get the other two.

                                                                                                                          1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                            Yes, but there is 'ample' and reasonable value, and then there is "American-giant-plateful-large" supersize a.k.a., Claim Jumper sized meals. Who needs enough food for 2 meals on one dinner plate?

                                                                                                                            Give me a nice portion at a decent price, and I will be happy. I don't need to take home as much food as I eat, which happens alot in chain resto's these days. For the record, I don't choose those to eat at, but sometimes clients I meet for lunch do, and I go along against my wishes to be polite.

                                                                                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                                                                                              I suppose with wings you might expect college guys to bust in the place and be like "yeah---wings!!!". But then there's me. I'd like 6 or 7, not the half pound. And burgers are really just outrageous. Nobody needs that much food.
                                                                                                                              My complaint with too much is that I'm not a fan of leftovers. Nothing ever tastes as good the next day, and it just seems a shame to waste so much.

                                                                                                                              1. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                Or, if you're like me, you'll eat that entire head-sized burger anyway, because it's there, but then regret it for the rest of the night.

                                                                                                                                1. re: juliejulez

                                                                                                                                  I've been known to go that route as well ;)

                                                                                                                                2. re: alliegator

                                                                                                                                  Hate to burst your bubble but 6-7 wings is likely half a pound at least.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                    You mean the whole wings, or the sections? Hmmm, I stand corrected.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: melpy

                                                                                                                                        Huh, you learn something knew every day. Thanks for letting me know.

                                                                                                                            1. re: ChrisOfStumptown

                                                                                                                              tRP The Riverhead Project) here in Riverhead puts a carafe of still water and sparkling water on the table @ no charge.
                                                                                                                              I drink a lot of water with my meal and love it.

                                                                                                                            2. I would:
                                                                                                                              - Ensure that the acoustics allow for conversation.
                                                                                                                              - Have an open kitchen.
                                                                                                                              - Maintain a 100% gluten-free kitchen.
                                                                                                                              - Train ALL staff - including FOH - in food allergen awareness and best practices for allergen control.
                                                                                                                              - Identify all common allergens on menu items.
                                                                                                                              - Offer options to accommodate most dietary restrictions.
                                                                                                                              - Serve reasonable portion sizes, and offer the option for ordering half-portions.
                                                                                                                              - *Proofread* the menu before printing!
                                                                                                                              - Enforce a "no phone conversations" rule in the dining area - if you MUST keep your phone on the table, set it to vibrate and take any calls in the bar or outside.
                                                                                                                              - Locate the restrooms away from the dining area, and have purse hooks on every stall door in the ladies room.
                                                                                                                              - Welcome solo diners with a communal table and bar seating
                                                                                                                              - Maintain a clean and user-friendly website and *keep information current.*
                                                                                                                              - Enforce a "no smoking while on the clock" policy for all employees.
                                                                                                                              - Provide sufficient light to read the menu and see the food.
                                                                                                                              - Allow incomplete parties to be seated if they want to have drinks at the table while they wait.

                                                                                                                              I would not:
                                                                                                                              - Offer a separate children's menu. Kids are welcome but they can eat the same things as adults. Just order them half-portions.
                                                                                                                              - Play music. As much as I love it, there's no choice that wil please everyone, and it can become intrusive or distracting.
                                                                                                                              - Decorate with live flowers or scented candles.
                                                                                                                              - Automatically start every table off with a bread basket. Instead, I would give them a choice of starch (bread, chips, etc) or crudités with which to enjoy the complimentary dip or spread.
                                                                                                                              - Leave condiments on the tables - they get too grimy and I don't like unnecessary clutter. I would make a note on the menu that patrons should feel free to ask their server to bring condiments to the table as desired.

                                                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                "Ensure the acoustics allow for conversation." YES YES YES! This is tops on my list.

                                                                                                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                  I agree with everything you mentioned, except for the kids menu. Not saying a kids menu has to be chicken/fries/grilled cheese, but it's nice to see a creative--ish kids meu. Like at a brunch place- fruit smiley face, balloon shaped pancakes, French toast sticks, mini star sandwiches. Real food - not stuff thrown in a fryer

                                                                                                                                  1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                    As I understand it, 'real' chefs loathe brunch more than anything so I'm guessing it's going to be the rare one who goes even farther and has kid-enticing items. Honestly, I think most pre-school age kids are better served by their parent ordering something to share. Less waste.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                      I thought of brunch b/c that's the last place we went out with DD. but I've seen places have enlightened kids dinner menus. We usually do share with her what we've ordered. Sometimes thought, she needs her "own." And wants the plate to be "mine"

                                                                                                                                    2. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                      I totally respect your stance on the kids menu, but I'm not budging on that one - if they won't eat anything on my regular menu I'll send them over to your restaurant :)

                                                                                                                                      Ideally my food would be approachable for most people - even the picky & unadventurous - yet sufficiently creative and intriguing to diners looking for something new & interesting.

                                                                                                                                    3. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                                                                                      I agree with some of what you've said, especially about allergen awareness and proper nutrition and portion sizes.

                                                                                                                                      But I have to be honest, your restaurant sounds like a no-fun zone. A silent, brightly lit, place with no flowers, where you have to beg your nicotine-deprived server just to get some darn ketchup? No thanks.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: coffeesnob3

                                                                                                                                        I never said brightly-lit, just not so dark that you can't see.

                                                                                                                                        The scent of *live* flowers can interfere with your ability to smell and taste the food, and MANY people - including me - are allergic to them. I'd rather not have a bunch of diners sneezing all over their food.

                                                                                                                                        I'd hardly call a simple request "begging" for condiments, and I can't think of a single moderate to high-end restaurant that keeps ketchup bottles on the table.

                                                                                                                                        And finally, the disgusting odor that clings to the hair, skin and clothing of smokers makes me sick. Whenever my server smells like that I lose my appetite, and I wouldn't subject my patrons to that.

                                                                                                                                        But I understand that you can't please everyone, so I won't expect to see your name on the reservations list. I'm sure you'll be able to find a place with insufficient lighting that keeps greasy, crusty ketchup bottles on the tables right alongside vases with flowers that are shedding pollen onto the cloth and your food ;)

                                                                                                                                    4. Give every diner a daily specials menu along with the regular menu.
                                                                                                                                      Six people sharing 2 daily specials menus is annoying.
                                                                                                                                      What's up with that?

                                                                                                                                      1. I would put enough stalls in the restroom for an expected number of users (based on some calculation I haven't done but perhaps just more, especially for us ladies).

                                                                                                                                        13 Replies
                                                                                                                                        1. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                          Oof. I try not to, but I hold *inadequate* restrooms (# of stalls, cleanliness, well-stocked/lit/in working order?, etc) against a restaurant to an uncharacteristically large degree (yes, weird-wiring...but there it is!). Having spacious, clean and adequate facilities makes me feel like the restaurant gives a hoot. Give us a reliable way to dry our hands. Give us a sensibly-positioned wastebasket that is NOT overflowing. Soap, please? It seems simple. Do I still go to restaurants where I love the food, but hate the restroom? Yeah, but far less often than to the ones that give that hoot. It honestly surprises me how many otherwise well- and/or expensively-designed restaurants just punt on the restrooms.

                                                                                                                                          Okay. Exhibited my quirk, there. It's pretty reasonable, as quirks go.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                                            Also keep the temperature in the restrooms above freezing.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                                              Not weird at all. I also take the view that cleanliness in the toilet area is a significant matter. If a place allows such a public area to be unhygenic, I wonder what is going on in the areas the public doesnt see - like the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                                                I was in a restaurant the other day that was HUGE. Could not believe that it was a "one-seater." I had to stand there in the hall forever just to go wash my hands. Just like a convenience store on the interstate!

                                                                                                                                                1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                                                  In Seattle, we have a local magazine that has a 'best restroom' contest annually.... This has helped to keep the quality of restrooms really UP for any new establishment opening. Everyone wants to at least make the list for one reason or another.....

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: gingershelley

                                                                                                                                                    Great, great idea! The opposite of shaming, although occasionally my bad self wants a little shaming of really awful restroom facilities, really. (Bad, Cay...) Glad to hear it's working!

                                                                                                                                                2. re: fldhkybnva

                                                                                                                                                  There is a place in my metro area that, when you, ah, "perch" on the, ah, "place", your face is directly across from/above the urinal. Ugh.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                    You and I are in the same metro, sandy, and I think we both remember ladies' rooms in one hotter bar spot with two way mirrors, such that the occupants of the restroom had to watch the entering folks in the building lobby try to peer through the mirror. I thought the days of confrontational restrooms had passed around here; sorry to see they haven't.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                                                      Seriously not funny, am I right?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                        I consider restrooms like that as showing contempt for the customer, really.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                            Metaphorically, and with good humor of course, I think I agree with you!

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                      As a lady of above average height (don't let my glorious red mustache fool you), I have often been in restrooms where the stalls were much shorter than myself. I'm no giant, but there is one in particular where, when I stood up, I could have easily seen into my neighbors' stalls. VERY uncomfortable.

                                                                                                                                                  2. I would not make any of the servers upsell anything. I would want them to gauge their table's interests and, if it seemed applicable, guide them to ways to make their experience better or dishes more interesting for them, but I wouldn't make them attempt to sell wine to the table mid-service after they've already ordered beers or soda pop, for example (something I was required to do at a former job), or any of that other nonsense.

                                                                                                                                                    The floors in the kitchen would have to be as spotless every single day as the floors in the dining room, and cleaned twice a day. Do you know how many times I've fallen or seen others falls in BOH because of the greasy floors?

                                                                                                                                                    Training of all servers would include servicing your station all at once instead of one table at a time. I've seen so many servers get weeded because they are playing table ping pong instead of hitting all their tables every time they come out of the kitchen - the drinks for this one, taking the order of the next one, cashing the 3rd one out, taking the dirty app plates from the 4th, etc.

                                                                                                                                                    Bathrooms must be checked and cleaned every hour. This is one thing that (when done correctly) chains have way over independents, as the hostess has to check every hour and sign a paper saying they checked and took care of whatever needed done. Nothing worse than overflowing wastebasket, smeary mirrors, drenched sinks and missing TP, let alone a backed up toilet, to ruin your experience.

                                                                                                                                                    I'd have a "children's fun" area - a corner of the restaurant dedicated to families. Families need to eat out as well. A local diner I go to has a basket of toys and another basket of books at child level that kids can take from and play at their table while they are there. It works great. Another one has a train table and trains set up, which occupies them awesomely. And servers would get special "child" badge designations if they excel in this area - the ones who are more patient and understanding, with more frequent bussing and cleaning in this area, and you'd actually get a small bump in hourly pay if you are designated a children's server specialist in my restaurant - let the process of teaching children how to behave in restaurants be something we want to work on, not something we groan and bitch about. Or at least, get a little bump in pay and some additional recognition if you are working those "front lines" more regularly.

                                                                                                                                                    Standing monthly order for spoons. They just disappear instantly, and no server should have to run a thing of silverware through the dish as fast as they can in order to serve a dessert, while their other tables sit waiting for service.

                                                                                                                                                    I could do this all day.

                                                                                                                                                    6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                                                      You should totally be a restaurant consultant!

                                                                                                                                                      We enjoy dining out, and sometimes bring our toddler. Granted, we aren't taking her to fancy places, but it's nice when servers pay attention to the kid. We went to one place where the server set her place in plastic, brought a coloring book and crayons, and offered her a "tour"

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cheesecake17

                                                                                                                                                        Thank you! I forgot to mention that all my restaurants would have a freelance, professional writer to review and edit the menu every time we make a change, and hopefully be available for quick-consultations for a daily specials board, if one exists. I just went to a restaurant last night where they were just putting up the specials board and I was like, "Um, leek is two "e"s, not l-e-a-k, which kind of sounds like someone took a leak in the soup." They were embarrassed and changed both boards right away.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: rockandroller1

                                                                                                                                                          <all my restaurants would have a freelance, professional writer to review and edit the menu every time we make a change, and hopefully be available for quick-consultations for a daily specials board>

                                                                                                                                                          I used to do that for a place near me whose menu changed frequently. It was so easy, I worked for food.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                            I'd like that job! So many menus are written so poorly....drives me nuts.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                              Oh, I ate so well for about two years.

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                              Lu-u-ckeee!......said in my best Napoleon Dynamite voice.

                                                                                                                                                      2. I would create a separate room for customers with young children and infants.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Lighting - lack of ...

                                                                                                                                                          If customers are using smartphones as flashlights, just to read the menu, it is too damn dark.

                                                                                                                                                          1. -Properly made tea.

                                                                                                                                                            -SERVERS WHO DON'T TOUCH THE CUSTOMER'S PLATE OR EVEN REACH FOR IT WITHOUT ASKING THEM FIRST IF THEY MAY REMOVE IT.

                                                                                                                                                            1. My restaurant would offer interesting and delicious food which includes fruits and vegetables and other fresh things on the: KIDS' MENU.

                                                                                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                I am alway curious what this means. Would the adult menu not have those things? Or are you talking about a typical chain where nobodies food is fresh, interesting and delicious?

                                                                                                                                                                Maybe I am just lucky but rarely do the places I eat at have kids menu's. The chef will make whatever is on the menu in a kids size with kids prices and on the rare times we have with us what is marketed as a "typical kid" they are happy make up something neutral like pasta with butter and cheese or some grilled chicken and veggies

                                                                                                                                                                The rare places we do go that have kids menu have versions of nuggets, burgers and pasta but there are also veggie burgers, assorted fresh veggies/fruit, homemade chips, sweet potato fries. All cooked fresh, in house.

                                                                                                                                                                Thought I do agree that I don't get places whose whole premise is "farm to table", local, organic, etc and then they have kraft mac and cheese on the kids menu. Either their guests are posers (I'll demand this now 'cause it trendy but my preshus only eats xyx) or the place has no respect for children and think thats all kids will eat. We won't eat at place like that as don't like the message it sends.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                  I, too, generally avoid restaurants that have nasty kids' menus. But these kinds of places certainly exist and they need to be exterminated ;-). Our kid was a "foodie" from day one and always enjoyed what we ate.

                                                                                                                                                                  If my place had a kids' menu it would be fresh and lovely and respectful of our future adults.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                    Exactly.

                                                                                                                                                                    We go to a veggie Chinese place often with our daughter. They always remind us that they can make her anything- as long as they have the ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                                                                                                      "I am always curious what this means. Would the adult menu not have those things? Or are you talking about a typical chain where nobodies food is fresh, interesting and delicious?"

                                                                                                                                                                      (Your remarks have inspired me)

                                                                                                                                                                      What about a restaurant where EVERY CUSTOMER receives a "Kid's Menu" despite age (and maybe even a toy with their "happy meal")?
                                                                                                                                                                      I mean, face it, there are times you order your "grown up" steak with fully dressed baked potato and 5 spears of grilled asparagus with a teaspoon of hollandaise sauce drizzled over and as they place it before you, you notice another waiter place a plate of hand cut, hand breaded catfish fingers with fresh made mac and cheese and hand cut fries in front of the kid at the next table and you thought, "damn, I wish that had been on MY menu"?

                                                                                                                                                                      Ok, so not very often, But admit it, there have been times you wished you could have ordered from the kid's menu.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                                                                                        Plum Bar in Oakland has "Happy Meals" during their happy hour. One is a burger, a beer, and a shot. I thought it was a great idea.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Ashley12

                                                                                                                                                                          That would make most people happy:)

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I'd have several pair of reading glasses on hand for those who forgot theirs or might have trouble reading the minute #2 font size Galicia Sanskrit text on the menu. And the restrooms, my rant is so long I may start a new thread.

                                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                      YES to the reading glasses. I should have included that with my "sufficient lighting to read the menu" requirement. While I'm at it I'll add that I would choose a font that's clean and large enough for most people to read without a problem.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: bobbert

                                                                                                                                                                        I have been to several restaurants that loaned reading glasses. Great idea.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Motosport

                                                                                                                                                                          My post upthread asked for better lighting too.
                                                                                                                                                                          Community reading glasses, you've got to be kidding me. I don't think that's the answer. If you don't need eye glasses in the first place and need to turn your flashlight app on to read their menu, what sense does that make? LOL...

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                                                                                                                                            Also I'd want to be assured that the shared eyeglasses are CLEANED after/before I use them.
                                                                                                                                                                            Double points on the good lighting, especially if the menu has very small print or is otherwise hard to read.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Michelly

                                                                                                                                                                              Well we know that's not likely! Imagine having that job each day!

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I would NOT have strolling (or non-strolling) mariachis. True i probably wouldn't open a Mexican restaurant, but if i did...

                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                                                                                                                          Many years ago, I was at a conference with 3 colleagues. To the untrained eye, we appeared to be 2 couples, and were serenaded accordingly by a mariachi band. The look on their faces when we whipped out our money individually was worth the price of admission.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sr44

                                                                                                                                                                            Something similar happened when my brother and I were in Europe for a wedding over Valentine's weekend. We had a good day of shopping and went into a nice restaurant for dinner, and they brought champagne and a heart shaped cake to share. We shrugged and thought "eh, free stuff"!

                                                                                                                                                                        2. I would run it exactly like Ruth's Chris Steak House. The only restaurant I've ever been to where I felt that if things weren't to my liking they would make it so, and make me feel good about it.

                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: bruce9432

                                                                                                                                                                            Perhaps without the sizzling hoy dishes which heat your steak to the next temperature bracket if you don't eat quickly or if the chef didn't over compensate
                                                                                                                                                                            To have it end up at the eight level of done.

                                                                                                                                                                          2. My friends and I used to go to restaurant on the waterfront that had a jazz trio on Friday Saturday and Sunday evenings. It was great.I would implement that if I owned a restaurant.I would also offer a few private dining rooms ( for up to 6 people but mainly for couples wanting privacy and intimacy) with one on one wait staff for an extra charge.I would also expect the wait staff to be super neat clean cut clean shaven and to be articulate attentive polite efficient and to show the customer the utmost courtesy even in adverse situations.Dining out should be a pleasurable experience always.

                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                                                                                No beards allowed on males or females.Not even a stubble.They can work at an establishment that allows facial hair if they want.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: DuchessNukem

                                                                                                                                                                                  I was reading about a touted restaurant and there was an accompanying photo. It was one of the owners and he had very long hair and a full beard. He was making a coffee drink and neither batch of hair was constrained in any way. Personal style is his freedom and his business, but it turned me off. When I cook at home, the first thing I do is go upstairs and tie back my hair and brush or blowdry down my clothing to avoid strays making it to the kitchen.

                                                                                                                                                                                  I once ate at a restaurant and found a hair in my food. Figured, "it happens," then kept eating around it. Then I encountered about 12 more.....I was done.....

                                                                                                                                                                                  Sorry if anyone is eating right now.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Back on topic....all of my waitstaff would have their heads/faces/necks/hands/arms shaved...no, waxed...daily ;-/

                                                                                                                                                                              2. Ok,
                                                                                                                                                                                Here's one not yet mentioned. Teach the employees that answer the phone basic phone skills. Things like what is your name and that will be ready in xx minutes, and maybe even what the price will be. What i got today was:
                                                                                                                                                                                Me:"I'd like to order blah, blah to go go"
                                                                                                                                                                                Server: "ok, is that all?"
                                                                                                                                                                                me: "yes"
                                                                                                                                                                                server: "ok"
                                                                                                                                                                                Me: "so when will that be ready?"
                                                                                                                                                                                server: "5 minutes"

                                                                                                                                                                                It's not a large deal, but it would have been nice.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Yes spoons. At a diner, I'd serve both the little spoon for coffee and a big spoon for soup/eggs. You can't use a teaspoon for anything other than coffee.

                                                                                                                                                                                  and BUTTER. BUTTER SHOULD BE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE. How hard could this be? At the beginning of the day, just set out the butter somewhere where it can heat up to room temperature.
                                                                                                                                                                                  Buuter NEEDS to be at room temperature to be spreadable and have that amazing fat/salt flavor. Cold butter is like eating bricks.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: peanuttree

                                                                                                                                                                                    I totally agree on the butter thing. We have a wonderful little bistro in town that has wonderful butter that they sprinkle with sea salt before bringing it and a basket of fresh baked bread to your table, but the butter is ROCK HARD!

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: peanuttree

                                                                                                                                                                                      Funny, my friend feels the exact opposite, hates butter at room temp. Always has to have them get her hard butter as it's usual soft butter.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Grounds for instant dismissal would be any member of staff saying "No problem" to a customer, when they order something.

                                                                                                                                                                                      As I have often wanted to say, and possibly will at sometime " Of course, it's no fucking problem. Your're a restaurant. It's on your menu. I am a customer."

                                                                                                                                                                                      9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                        I'll agree heartily with your "no problem" and raise you an "awesome".

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                          Mercifully, "awesome" has not yet really found its way to the eastern side of the Atlantic. Only a matter of time, of course.

                                                                                                                                                                                          On the "no problem" thing - my 2011 review of a place:
                                                                                                                                                                                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/797288

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                                            My employees (not food service) are forbidden from saying "No problem."
                                                                                                                                                                                            I explain here is always the potential for a "problem" and we don't want to give our clients a false sense of security.

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                            Once you went to all the trouble to hire and train this employee, you would really fire them for a slip in their vocabulary? I think you might be being over-sensitive, common vernacular is just that. Turns of phrase come and go; good employees are hard to come by.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: coffeesnob3

                                                                                                                                                                                              You stick to your prejudices and I'll stick to mine :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                              Although, on a serious note, had I (in reality) trained an employee for service in my restaurant, they would know what standards were required in how they addressed customers.

                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                              If I may add my peeve phase, "Have a good one".

                                                                                                                                                                                              A good what?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: kmcarr

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I hate a single "have a good one" more than a thousand "no problems."

                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Awsum" just means they're yung (sic). I have two young friends who call me "our most awesome friend, Jay." I can live with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Jay F

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Not necessarily. My aunt is 57 and according to my father she got stuck on the awesome train and never got off the first time it came around. Although she uses it more as a description than and "ok" place filler.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Here's one. If a restaurant has a dessert that's a la mode, the ice cream scoop has to be enough so I can have a bit of ice cream with every spoonful of my pastry. Last night we were at a place that had an incredible skillet cake with a teeny, teeny scoop of homemade ice cream.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: PegS

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mebbe it was meant to be a garnish...

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I'm with everyone that has said a Kid's Menu actually prepared with quality ingredients. That's my number one pet peeve concerning restaurants - especially since I was a picky kid.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  I'd elect to have freshly prepared foods, none of that "defrost and go" craziness.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  The Kid's Menu doesn't have to be overly sophisticated - most children aren't going to touch anything they can't identify on sight. But it can include chicken tenders (using a real bird decapitated just for the event), potato bites & corn. And some kid friendly desserts (meaning a chocolate cake that isn't loaded six ways to Sunday with every sugar know to man & small insects).

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I would fire anyone who, when rolling silverware, rather than inserting a teaspoon(which I refer to as a coffee spoon) they wrap the silverware with either a soup spoon or a long handled iced tea spoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I would (do):

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Train. My. Staff.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Where I live, we have an internationally recognised college for hospitality professionals. Most students come from Asia or India to study, hoping to make it big in global kitchens. Most come out knowing how to carry three plates, but very little workable knowledge of the hospitality battlefield. Every single time I interview one of these graduates for a position in my establishment, they note that they wish to be a hotel GM within 5 years. Good luck with that!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Do my research.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Do we need another tapas bar on this strip? Really?
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Are we in an area where small food on big plates at high $$$ is going to be successful? Biggest failure of restaurants is not knowing what the clientele is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Be a bright light in the harbour for dietary requirements.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Vegetarian doesn't mean "veggie stack" or "salad". Gluten free doesn't mean without bread.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Every chef and worker needs to know the ins and outs of dietaries, and our (separate) menu would specially cater for these guests. With so many new and unusual dietary requirements these days, someone who gets it right can be expected to rocket.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. Gracefully accept split checks.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      Not hard with the computerised POS these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      5. No Scoopons, cheap arse Tuesday specials, kids eat free gimmicks.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      If your venue cannot attract guests based on its food and service, you are doing things wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I'd have tables big enough to accommodate the place settings, candle, wine bottle/glasses, bread basket, dinner plates etc. They'd also be placed far enough apart that I couldn't easily engage in conversation with my neighbor, nor would the server have his/her ass on my table as they poured water or wine for said neighbor (yes, this has actually happened to me...if she had had more of a booty, I would have lost a lovely glass of Pouilly Fuisse).

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Do NOT have people trying to sell roses at the tables on V's Day (or any other day). The dinner is already going to be expensive, and the man looks like a cheap shmuck if he doesn't buy the woman a rose (even if he already shelled out for a dozen long-stemmed ones earlier).

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Michelly

                                                                                                                                                                                                            That's kind of like the clown (literally) that made balloon animals for your kids at a Luby's that I used to go to. Although the clown's tip was less than the cost of the rose, I'm sure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. +1 on the spoons, Michelly. What is this new trend of not including a spoon with your silverware? Because servers do not provide spoons as a matter of routine anymore, when they serve coffee, they forget to give you a spoon one time out of three. Also, I like having a spoon to transfer sauces to other parts of the food. (Try doing that with a fork!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                            As for other things that I would do, if I owned a restaurant:

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'd include soup spoons with soup, instead of regular spoons. I'd get rid of any band that plays so loudly that you cannot carry on a conversation in the restaurant. I'd add more lemon juice, lemon peel, or lemon extract to the hollandaise sauce. I'd have my servers put left over food in boxes with water tight seals. I'd ban styrofoam left over food containers because they leak and pop open without warning.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            I'd serve beer ice cold and with frosted glasses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I would have

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1) soft butter
                                                                                                                                                                                                              2) straws of sufficient diameter and wall thickness. I hate being given tiny thin-walled straws for things like shakes
                                                                                                                                                                                                              3) pepper grinders, not shakers
                                                                                                                                                                                                              4) shakers whose holes aren't too small for what they're serving e.g. red pepper flakes, salt
                                                                                                                                                                                                              5) fresh chiles, not pickled
                                                                                                                                                                                                              6) draft root beer.
                                                                                                                                                                                                              7) optional a la carte pricing
                                                                                                                                                                                                              8) if we say it's spicy, we mean it