Monday, March 29, 2010

Restaurant Service

This is just the day to write about lousy service.  I'm in foul humor anyway, so I might as well take it out on service people who are paid minimum wage when they are lucky; less when they aren't.  I tried writing this entry from the perspective of what good service should be and have failed miserably in the first sentence or two, which I attribute to my aforementioned attitude.  Here are a few things for the server to think about.

Acknowledge the Customer.  That would be me, genius.  The man who just walked in the front door and sat down in your section.  I know you're busy, that it's the middle of the lunch rush, that your mental midget of a manager screwed up the schedule so now you're short handed, and that you've got PMS and a bad case of hemorrhoids.  Guess what?  I don't care.  I'm not willing to wait a few minutes while you deliver six lunch specials to the table of old ladies who you know aren't going to leave you a tip, but I will wait.  At the same time, if you can't be bothered to welcome me to The Grease Trap Diner and lie to me about being with me in just a minute, I'm not going to wait around at all.  I'm going to skip the gastrointestinal distress I'd otherwise incur here and go somewhere else.

Appearance Is Half The Battle.  You don't have to be a hottie in a low cut top (although it helps), but you do have to look like you're not going to sweat all over my salad.  Emphasize the low cut top, by the way.  A lot of defects can be overlooked if I'm distracted, and a low cut top is an easy way to do it.  Hundred dollar bills work almost as well.

One thing that I find particularly nauseating is the cloud of perfume that permeates the area around you in a ten foot radius.  Fat ladies are extremely prone to this, and I've never been able to find out why.  Why the hell drench yourself in perfume?  Because you think you sweat?  Let me be very clear about this: Sweaty women smell good to men.  The reason for this is that the smell of a woman's sweat will remind the man just where he was the last time he smelled a hot woman's sweat, and that's a happy memory.  By way of contrast the overpowering stench of a quart of cheap perfume at 11:30 AM is enough to make my breakfast attempt a return to sender.  Knock it off with the perfume.

While I'm at it, the same thing is true for men.  Just who are you trying to impress with all that Stallion Musk you're wearing?  Look Peter Pan, stinking the place up with your doubtlessly invaluable élixir d'amour isn't impressing the ladies.  All it's doing is making you stink to high heaven.  While I'm at it, take the bar towel out of your back pocket – unless you're advertising, that is.

Playing The Real Estate Game Successfully.  If I have to deal with assigned seating, do not try to give me the lousiest table in The Grease Trap Diner and expect me to tolerate it.  Think.  I know it's hard, but try anyway.  What makes you believe I want to sit at a table against the wall that's barely big enough for one and commands a view of the kitchen when the servers open the door?  Ask me where I'd like to sit.  I'll tell you and everyone will be happier.

Service Is Really Anticipation.  When you eventually get around to taking my food order, start anticipating what I might like.  If the chef is terminally ill and the kitchen is slow, stop back at my table and say so.  Offer to complain to the manager on my behalf, or tell me in a friendly manner that you'll take the chef out back and beat the shit out of him.  Whatever you do, do not fucking disappear into the back of The Grease Trap Diner never to be seen again until my food is ready.  Do not breeze by the table and ignore me while I'm waiting for my meal.

When the kitchen finally has my order up, get it out from under the heat lamp immediately, not in a few minutes.  Check the order for accuracy and foreign objects, then serve the meal.  Serve it now, right now.  I'm not even going to hope that my food will be served from the left and my dishes removed from the right, which would be nice.  Right after you have served my meal you'll ask if there's anything else you can get me.  Typically the waitress will dash away before anyone can speak, so don't be in too much of a hurry here.  Allow me to look things over and see if I need anything else.

From this point on, the server should be seen and not heard.  That doesn't happen often, but that's the goal.  What generally happens is that if the customer wants something, the entire wait staff vanishes.  I got so tired of this crap once at a Cracker Barrel that I got up and went back to the kitchen where I found the entire staff standing around beating their gums. I left. Another time I couldn't get my check, so I left.  No one bothered to stop me.  The other side of this slug is the bright, perky overattentive waitress.  She appears when your mouth is full and brightly asks if everything is delicious.  She does the same thing while you're in the middle of a conversation.  I had one waitress out at Rosie's on McCord that was so bad I complained to the manager and was provided another server.  This behavior is especially rude when the customer actually does want something but can't ask for it.  Naturally, the waitress leaves before the customer can articulate what it is he wants.  But never fear!  She'll be back when you're busy eating.

Box It Up.  If customers ask for a doggie bag, the waitress may be assured of two things: One, Fido isn't getting the contents of the bag.  Two, the customer wants you, the server, to box up the leftovers.  What's the problem here?  Do not just dump a Styrofoam container on the table and walk away.  Box it and ask if I'd like anything else.

Bring The Check.  Make sure the check is correct and the bill isn't padded.  Bring the change back to the table.  Do not ask if I want the change.  Until I leave it on the table for you, it isn't yours.  Get it?

If I don't leave you a tip, trust me, you do not want to know the reason why.  This is particularly true if you're a young female with a fragile ego and a sense of entitlement the size of an oil slick from the Exxon Valdez.  Daddy thinks you're cute, Bubba thinks your cute and the current BMOC says he loves you and thinks you're cute.  He doesn't, by the way, love you.  He wants to put his hoo hoo dilly into your cha cha.  If I didn't leave you a tip, I no longer think you're cute.  I think you're a spoiled little bitch on a stick that should do around 1000 hours of community service down at the soup kitchen until you get some idea of just what humanity is all about.  Hint: It isn't about you.  The last time this happened to me I gave the young lady a chance to retreat.  She didn't, which was unfortunate for her.

Whose Fault Is It?  Bad service is the fault of the management.  They either know what's going on in the dining room and don't care, or they don't know what's going on, and that is a failure as well.  The manager gets paid to know these things.  Management also gets paid to train the wait staff.  One successful manager I spoke with told me that the real secret to his success is to have a meeting every single day and review standard operating procedures.  If the manager isn't doing this, he or she should be replaced.

And now it's time for me to serve myself – two fingers of Bourbon, straight up.  Water back.

1 comment:

Hooda Thunkit (Dave Zawodny) said...


A restaurant can have the best food in the world, but if the wait staff is incompetent/clueless, it is going to fail.

Conversely, a mediocre restaurant with competent, attentive wait staff can thrive.

As you have pointed out, the wait staff makes all the difference in the world.

If I encounter bad service, I check back to see if they have gotten a clue in say 10 or 20 years (if ever)...

But that's me ;-)