public server announcement: the customer rebuttal


This post was written by a good friend of mine, especially for me! It's a response to an old entry where I listed complaints about working in a restaurant as a server. Hats off to a great retort.

10. Just bring the dessert menus

Nobody at the table usually wants to admit to craving dessert. Don’t ask in front of everybody and then one person says no so everyone feels like they should say no. Just bring the dessert menu and announce it and leave one for everyone. Don’t put anyone on the spot. Dessert orders bring up the tab and mean a bigger tip. Be sensitive in how you mention dessert to everyone.

9. Stick to the menu

You know the complaints that you have heard over the years. Make sure we know them too. If the lobster ravioli comes with hot red pepper flakes (just ask Friday’s) and you always get complaints that the dish was too spicy and the menu never said red pepper flakes were included, then warn me when I order it. “That comes with spicy red pepper flakes, is that ok with you?” If the sushi menu does not say the rolls come with spicy mayo and they all do, warn me. That’s a big difference between enjoying the rolls and not enjoying them. If I saw spicy mayo on the menu I would have said to hold it. It’s not your fault if the menu is incomplete, but you are the one who will get the blame. I see the words, I order my food with some possible changes, and I don’t need surprises.

8. Stop by soon after the meals arrive

So we got the food and we start eating. Come back within a couple of minutes. Maybe I forgot to ask for mustard. Maybe I saw another serving of creamed corn and want one myself. Maybe I just want to let you know that the steak is not cooked right or that the dish was supposed to have peppers and onions but it doesn’t. Having me wait until you stroll by 10 minutes later with my food getting cold is not a good idea. And if I want another drink, that’s a bigger check and a bigger tip.

7. Don’t take my fork

I had salad and maybe an appetizer. I used one fork for the lettuce and you took it. I used another one on the appie and you took it. What is left for me to use for dinner? Do I have to wait while my food gets cold for you to bring me another fork? Or knife? Just move the fork and knife off to the side when you take my plates or – better yet – take them and bring me a new one. I know only the fancy joints do that but even in some fine restaurants the meal is served without utensils readily available. Not good.

6. Know the menu

You work there regularly. We dine there once in a while. It is not too much to ask for you to know the menu. Is the penne vodka sauce red, pink or orange? Is the filet mignon 8, 10 or 12 ounces? Are they sausage patties or sausage links? Do you have chocolate syrup? No, not hot fudge, chocolate syrup. Do the crab legs come cracked? Can the kitchen butterfly the steak? Simple questions, unless you are new to the job which we would understand. If you have to move away and check, it is very annoying.

5. Take away the empties

Nothing looks worse in a restaurant than a table of empty glasses, bottles and plates. When you bring a new bottle of beer or glass of wine, take away the old ones. Nobody needs to know how many beers I drank or how many glasses of wine I had. Bring a new drink, take away the old glass.

4. Greet us as quickly as you can

If people sit down at a table in your section and you are their server, then at least acknowledge them within the first two minutes. We all understand you are busy and you may have just gotten the food for your table of eight and your table of six and you won’t get right to us – just let us know. Don’t leave us to asking random servers as they walk by “Are you our server?” We are about to spend a lot of money in your establishment and we should be greeted at a minimum and introduced to you and yes we will be patient until you can get by for our drinks and to give us the menus. Waiting for our first contact for 5-10 minutes is annoying and unnecessary.

3. Repeat the order

After taking everyone’s order, go over them once again to be sure you have it right. Everyone can hear what you think you heard and correct it if it is wrong. Plus you will have witnesses when someone says “I did say no onions” and they complain when there are onions and the rest of the table will realize it’s not your fault. Or, conversely, it just might be your fault. So why not make it clear what you understood.

2. Make it easy on yourself

If you have a full table and someone says they would like another drink or a napkin or some ketchup there is a very simple statement to make – “Does anybody else want anything?” Don’t walk away and come back with the beer or napkin or ketchup only to find that someone else wants something too. You could be running back and forth all night for one thing at a time. It is incredibly annoying to see a server turn and walk away without asking that basic question while other people need something too. You will save time and aggravation by getting all the requests done at once instead of coming back over and over again.

1. Yes I want change

There is a simple statement to make every time you get the check back from a patron – “I’ll be right back with your change”. Don’t ask if I need change. I will be the one to say “No, keep it, it’s all yours”. If the bill was $21 and I leave two twenty dollar bills you can be darn sure I need change. Saying “Do you need change?” is very presumptuous when the amount in the folder would indicate a 30 or 40% tip. Just assume the extra money in there is not for you until you give me the opportunity to say that it is.

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