Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Waiter, there's a fly in my soup."

My pet peeve when it comes to wait staff in restaurants, the thing that makes my skin prickle with irritation? It's when a staff person comes to the table, glances at the mostly-finished food left on my plate and utters the phrase, "Are you still working on that?"

Working on that? As in constructing a scale model of the Eiffel Tower out of the bones from the rabbit stew?

So it was with some amusement that I read the first installment of "One Hundred Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do" by Bruce Buschel in today's New York Times. The first five are:
  1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.
  2. Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?” Ask for a reservation. Ask if he or she would like to sit at the bar.
  3. Never refuse to seat three guests because a fourth has not yet arrived.
  4. If a table is not ready within a reasonable length of time, offer a free drink and/or amuse-bouche. The guests may be tired and hungry and thirsty, and they did everything right.
  5. Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.
If you have a pet peeve, please leave it under "Comments" below and GSNW readers will vote on the best one submitted. The winner will receive a prize yet to be determined.


Giovanna said...

My biggest pet peeve is when waiters come for the check and you're paying with cash. "Do you want me to bring you change?" Why do they do that? Do many customers actually think 'oh, good point--I will tip 40% now that you mention it'?

Just bring the change--how hard is that--and then I'll leave the tip. Probably more if you don't ask.

Kathleen Bauer said...

Hear hear! Any others out there?

Norma Cravens said...

My 10 year old daughter is very shy, so when our waitress asked if she was finished with her shrimp pasta, and my daughter hesitated, the waitress asked, "Do any of you want the shrimp off of her plate?" She also asked my mother, if she was "still working on that, dear?" There were very few people in the restaurant (now we know why) and we wondered why we were being rushed.

At the time it was very annoying, but now my daughter and I laugh, and say "Hey, does anyone want this shrimp ?"

Kristen said...

In restaurants where food is eaten with chopsticks it is so annoying when the waiter automatically gives non-Asian people forks. Or at a mixed race table when they only ask the non-Asians "would YOU like a fork?" Many non-Asians prefer chopsticks and there are even some Asians who prefer forks, let us decide for ourselves please.

EcoGrrl said...

Me me! Call on me!

I love the first five, but numbers six and seven for me:
6) If you are a waitperson and your shift is over, please let your tables know you are leaving and who will be taking care of them.
7) If someone wants to take their leftovers home, please box them for the customer, don't just drop off a box to make them do it themselves.

Kathleen Bauer said...

Wow! Great stories…makes you appreciate the good servers even more!

koprime said...

MY pet peeves? Those receipts, with the "handy tip calculator" that tell you a 15% tip = x dollars, a 20% tip = y dollars. Those places will ALWAYS get the lowest recommended tip.

I also do not love the assumed "man will pay for dinner" inherent sexism that goes on.

I eat out far less often than I used to, but I enjoy the waitstaff in Portland. They are very friendly and professional.

Cove Beach Cabin Oregon said...

Restaurants that expect a tip for "servers". And then they expect you to bus your table and separate recycling/composting.

Loo said...

Let's see:

1. "How does your food taste?" arrgghhhh, such a stupid thing to ask. Much prefer the all-purpose "How is everything?"

2. Removing plates from people who have already finished BEFORE the last person is done. Subtle, but it sets a tone for that poor person still eating. All plates should be bussed at the same time.

3. Not being able to get their attention until you are forced to flap your arms like a great blue heron or ask someone else to get your server...

4. Asking how things are when your mouth is full of food or you are deep in an intense discussion. Is it so hard to take a split second to suss out the situation beforehand?

These are the ones that come to mind, but I bet there are more. It's rare to find someone who knows how to do the job well.

Little Girl BIG VOICE said...

This happened on Sunday...We had two tables of people in our group, b/c the restaurant couldn't seat us all together. After huffing and puffing about having to seat us all (are they opposed to a bustling business? Would they rather have an empty restaurant?), the waiter for our other table walked back and forth several times, grumbling about this, grumbling about that— Swearing in a family restaurant about how we must be %&&@^#^# kidding him with our outrageous requests. Someone wanted a sugar packet for their tea? How DARE they!

Tip to said waiters/waitresses: Don't make your customers uncomfortable by complaining about their fellow diners—especially if those diners are still there! Needless to say, none at that table were generous tippers for their waiter that night + several of them have sworn off the place all together.

Kathleen Bauer said...

Wow…I'd love to know where this happened! Crazy stuff…