Jump to content

Welcome to the eG Forums!

These forums are a service of the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to advancement of the culinary arts. Anyone can read the forums, however if you would like to participate in active discussions please join the society.


What to do when you forget to put in an order?

  • Please log in to reply
9 replies to this topic

#1 mskerr

  • participating member
  • 171 posts

Posted 16 April 2013 - 09:25 PM

Well, have started serving FT after only doing some temp stints over the last few years. Most of my experience has been in a (busy) small restaurant where there was no computer (just hand-write a ticket for the one cook) so it's a bit of an adjustment getting used to being in a larger-capacity restaurant with only one computer to put in orders, often with a hostess on it most of the night, and making sure the printer is working and the pasta station got the order etc.

So - what to do on the unfortunate occasion when you realize "oh sh*t I just told these people their food will be up in a few minutes (classic line) and I forgot to put in their order?" I apologized sincerely (without telling them it was my fault... for reference, they saw me running around, obviously busy, but also probably saw a table who came in a bit later get their food much quicker) and brought them a free round of wine, but needless to say they weren't happy.


What else could I have done to smooth things over?


Sigh - feel like a noob all over again! Gotta get back in the groove!

#2 Mjx

  • manager
  • 7,168 posts

Posted 16 April 2013 - 10:17 PM

Free dessert? I don't know, you'd probably be stuck paying for that, but it might be worth it for the goodwill.


Something like 'I'm really sorry, but your order didn't go in when it should have done,' is vague enough to not make things more awkward if the details (i.e. you forgot) do come out, but you might be better off being up front with them about what really happened. I think most people can understand, and are essentially reasonable about human error, but become [even more] grumpy if they get to thinking their server is not telling the truth.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums

#3 ScoopKW

  • participating member
  • 1,037 posts
  • Location:Las Vegas

Posted 16 April 2013 - 10:53 PM

This happens occasionally where I work as well. We send them something from the menu that we can make FAST. Then we send it, "with the chef's compliments." We have several 1-minute appetizers. That's what we usually send. They don't really want something free at the end of the meal. They want something free RIGHT NOW. They're hungry, after all. They also notice that people who sat later than they did are getting their food first. That's the problem that needs to be fixed. Put something nice in front of them in a gigantic hurry and it's likely you'll mollify them. That's what "on the fly" means where I work.


Basically, this says, "Look, we know we screwed up. Here's something you'll enjoy while we fix the problem. We're on it, and you're important to us."

Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

#4 Tri2Cook

  • participating member
  • 4,096 posts
  • Location:Ontario, Canada

Posted 17 April 2013 - 03:32 AM

What Scoop said. Apologize and get something in front of them. Avoid the situation where everyone else at the table feels like they should sit there with their food in front of them and wait for the other food to arrive or the situation where one person is sitting there watching everyone else eat. And please don't pass the blame by being vague or blaming the kitchen. We used to have a server that was notorious for that. She'd screw up and then tell the customer the kitchen screwed up while telling the kitchen that the customer "just decided they want this" or "changed their mind". Fortunately, she didn't last long.

It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

#5 Twyst

  • participating member
  • 296 posts

Posted 17 April 2013 - 01:20 PM

The first thing you should do is tell the expediter/chef.  They will usually tell you what to do from there.

#6 Simon_S

  • participating member
  • 689 posts
  • Location:Dublin, Ireland

Posted 18 April 2013 - 01:57 AM

I apologized sincerely (without telling them it was my fault...)


Speaking purely personally, this approach would absolutely ensure my ire, and may trigger a decision to simply leave. I'm not an idiot, and I'm pretty good at picking up when somebody's bullshitting me, especially if I can then watch them frantically entering the forgotten order in full view. If a server comes over, apologises, admits that the fault is their own, I will appreciate the honesty and will be MUCH happier. People make mistakes, that's fine. People making mistakes and then pretending they didn't drives me bananas.

#7 gfweb

  • participating member
  • 4,797 posts
  • Location:Southern Chester Co.

Posted 18 April 2013 - 04:52 AM

Yeah. Don't BS them. You aren't fooling anyone. Just say "I screwed up I'm sorry". No BS explanations about the computer or the kitchen or whatever.

#8 Allura

  • participating member
  • 378 posts
  • Location:NJ

Posted 18 April 2013 - 06:47 AM

Absolutely get something food-wise in front of them. A lot of people get grumpy when hungry, so that's the easiest way to retain their goodwill. In general, I don't mind a mistake, it's how you handle it that tells me whether you care or not.
Joanna G. Hurley
"Civilization means food and literature all round." -Aldous Huxley

#9 mskerr

  • participating member
  • 171 posts

Posted 18 April 2013 - 08:52 AM

OK, good advice, cheers!

#10 TimSmith123

  • participating member
  • 2 posts

Posted 22 June 2013 - 11:43 AM

Yes, that happens pretty often according to restaurant complaints 


not just your fault))) To get "something food-wise in front of" customer is a clever thing to do.