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Irritating Guest Habits


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i always have a quiet laugh when i hear someone complaining, "it's so busy in here" (yes, madame, we keep doing everything we can to steer away business, but people keep coming, i know, it's terrible).

or the people who walk in and say they had a reservation for 11 people at 7:00 but for some reason our reservation system, which keeps a record of all resos made (including cancelled ones) mysteriously says that this person has never made a reservation at this restaurant (this actually happened last night).

there is something very satisfying about disarming someone who is totally geared up for battle and ready to argue, complain, or threaten their way to something they know is virtually impossible for you to give them. when you find a way to accommodate them (immediately and without a hint of frustration) the stunned look on their face when they realize they have nothing to complain about is priceless

Sandy Levine
The Oakland Art Novelty Company

sandy@TheOaklandFerndale.com www.TheOaklandFerndale.com

www.facebook.com/ArtNoveltyCompany twitter: @theoakland

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i always have a quiet laugh when i hear someone complaining, "it's so busy in here" (yes, madame, we keep doing everything we can to steer away business, but people keep coming, i know, it's terrible). 

or the people who walk in and say they had a reservation for 11 people at 7:00 but for some reason our reservation system, which keeps a record of all resos made (including cancelled ones) mysteriously says that this person has never made a reservation at this restaurant (this actually happened last night). 

there is something very satisfying about disarming someone who is totally geared up for battle and ready to argue, complain, or threaten their way to something they know is virtually impossible for you to give them.  when you find a way to accommodate them  (immediately and without a hint of frustration) the stunned look on their face when they realize they have nothing to complain about is priceless

And as a customer it is so awesome when a courteous, thoughtful employee does everything in their power to help you without making you feel like a moron. Its the type of thing that makes me return to places and tell everyone to go there. Kudos to you!

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Busboy, I'm taking that story to work.... And giving you this thought to in addition, ever had a headchef that all of a sudden after sneeze during service was white under his nose? Not good in an open kitchen...

I was working at a pretty rowdy bar back in the day when certain hobbies were considered less dangerous and unhealthy than they are now, and the owner - a middle aged guy who'd bought the bar in the midst of a mid-life crisis, I suppose -- came downstairs to a very crowded bar with a couple of suspicious characters and what might be termed an "illegal smile." I told him "I know you don't do anything illegal but unless you go like this right away (rubbing my fist beneath my nose) people are going to get the wrong impression." He was most grateful. Especially since his far more conservative wife was on the prowl that night.

As far as how the flow of conversation goes when the waiter approaches, I'm a little confused on that one--obviously it's bad form to ignore their presence, but isn't it equally rude of a waiter to break into a conversation in full flow? 

The speaker should get quickly to a breaking point -- not necessarily the end of the thought/story -- and push the "pause" button. If that doesn't happen in a few moments, the waiter should nod subtly and perhaps quietly say "be right back" and go tend to his or her other business while waiting for a more overt sign that the table is ready to parlay. Ideally, this -- as with much waiter-customer communications -- should be done by restaurant semaphore: catching the waiter's eye and nodding meaningfully.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Busboy, I'm taking that story to work.... And giving you this thought to in addition, ever had a headchef that all of a sudden after sneeze during service was white under his nose? Not good in an open kitchen...

I was working at a pretty rowdy bar back in the day when certain hobbies were considered less dangerous and unhealthy than they are now, and the owner - a middle aged guy who'd bought the bar in the midst of a mid-life crisis, I suppose -- came downstairs to a very crowded bar with a couple of suspicious characters and what might be termed an "illegal smile." I told him "I know you don't do anything illegal but unless you go like this right away (rubbing my fist beneath my nose) people are going to get the wrong impression." He was most grateful. Especially since his far more conservative wife was on the prowl that night.

As far as how the flow of conversation goes when the waiter approaches, I'm a little confused on that one--obviously it's bad form to ignore their presence, but isn't it equally rude of a waiter to break into a conversation in full flow?

The waiter should wait until speaker gets quickly to a breaking point -- not necessarily the end of the thought/story -- and push the "pause" button. If that doesn't happen in a few moments, though, the waiter should nod subtly and perhaps quietly say "be right back" and go tend to his or her other business while waiting for a more overt sign that the table is ready to parlay. Ideally, this -- as with much waiter-customer communications -- should be done by restaurant semaphore: catching the waiter's eye and nodding meaningfully.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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One of the loveliest compliments of my life was from my youngest stepson, who was about ten at the time. At a restaurant one evening, he turned to me and said, "Rachel, I love that you always treat people nice, and don't ever complain about everything and send stuff back to get a free dinner---Mom does that all the time, and it embarrasses me."

Most everything has been fine anyway, but in any situation, I've been trying hard to live up to that sweet child's confidence ever since.

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One of the best that's already mentioned is server "yo-yo." Teenagers are notorious for doing this ON PURPOSE and at one restaurant, I flat out refused to take any more tables of all-teens and told them they could fire me if they didn't like my request, after a particularly bad table.

The table, if you're interested, was 6 youths on "all you can eat ribs" night. Yes, it's a complete nightmare. I can't remember the particular math but I think the standard dinner included 4 bones plus the sides. Re-orders (the "all you can eat order) came out as 2 additional bones at a time. Most people, after eating a salad, a baked potato, a veg and 4 bones can maybe do 1 more side order, maybe 2 max and then they're full. Well, each of these people had between 4 and six re-orders a piece, and each of them would not order with another person, they waited til I had gone to ring up a re-order, then flagged me down to put the next one in. As they were all entered different times they didn't come out together either. It was all I could do to service my other 3 tables with a LOT of help because all I was doing was running back and forth from the kitchen to the table to the dish with dirties, back to the line to pick up more bones, etc. In addition, they were drinking PITCHER after PITCHER of iced tea, to the point that we ran out and I had to brew more. I would say they went through 5 pitchers of iced tea.

They had a fairly big bill and I brought back the change, and was finally able to turn my attention to my other tables. I was really curious what they would tip given how much I was running around, and I was hopeful that despite their age, they could see how much of my time they had monopolized, and maybe left me all the change as it was a number of dollars.

They left me 30 cents.

I RAN out of the restaurant and confronted them as they got in their car. I threw the money on the ground and said they should keep their lousy 30 cents and be ashamed of themselves, and that if they ever came back, someone else would have to wait on them. I told them I hope they all ended up in customer service jobs.

My other favorite story is the kids' soccer team I waited on. This was at a mexican place I worked where you immediately had to "chip" the table when people sat down (put down chips & salsa). When I came in for my lunch shift, they told me ok, we have a party of THIRTY coming in, they're a soccer team and some of the adults/coaches/parents, but mostly kids. I was told there would be 3 people handling the party but the other 2 weren't there yet. So I had some people help me set up by chipping the tables, we all worked to get water and pitchers on the table, etc.

Naturally, the other 2 servers did not help. 1 did not show up for work, the other didn't come in til after the party left, like 2 hours later.

When they arrived and got sat down, the adults told me that they had decided it would be MUCH EASIER FOR THEM if EACH CHILD and adult got their OWN, SEPARATE CHECK. *dies* THIRTY CHECKS! That way, they could just give their child the money and avoid confusion. Ok, fine.

So you can imagine handling a party of 30, by yourself with whatever help you can cobble together from other servers, with constant re-chipping and new salsa and refreshing of water, as well as food order and delivery for the whole party. THEN doing 30 separate chits for every single person. It took FOREVER. They were really loud and left a horrible mess (they were fairly little kids), chip crumbs so bad and salsa smeared everywhere that they closed the section, which meant this was all I got for lunch service, my station was closed.

They left me those little religious pamphlets about why God and Jesus don't believe in tipping and how you should help people out of the goodness of your heart. I sh*t you not.

Edited by rockandroller (log)
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Just came home from another busy night at work and of course have a few more of good examples of well manored slightly drunk guest..

- Just arriving at a packed bar, reaching over the bar, waiving a credit card/bill in your face and insisting they've been waiting to be served for half an hour.

- Walking into the bar, thinking they'll get served faster if they walk up to the bartender and poke him on the shoulder (that guy actually made me laugh :laugh: )

- Accidentally knocking over stuff e.g. bottles on a tray (which in it self I don't have a problem with) but then looking at you like you're too blame. Another funny story, I served 5 flaming sambuca shots one night and as I came to the table and started blowing out the flame, one guest reached for a shot still on fire and knocked over the tray, setting the entire table on fire :huh: I tried reacting as quickly as I could and folded the tablecloth and pounded it till the fire was out. The young lady then looked at me, smiled and said:"You reacted really quickly, good job...... But I think my purse is in there somewhere." Pointing to the charred pile in the middle of the table :raz:

Server yoyo: 17 guests, 17 seperate checks, didn't informe me untill they were ready to leave, yikes!

As far as how the flow of conversation goes when the waiter approaches, I'm a little confused on that one--obviously it's bad form to ignore their presence, but isn't it equally rude of a waiter to break into a conversation in full flow?

Depending on the quality of the restaurant, if it's a larger party, say more than 10 and everything on the plate is not stated in the menu, so it would take som explanation to understand why the certain ingredients have been but together with the wine, I normally walk behind the guests still talking after a 5-10 seconds of waiting an give them a subtle squeeze on the shoulder (if I can't catch their eye), works everytime for me.

It all definately depends on the situation and the place, the example I mentioned is guests that look down on you as an annoyance to their evening and deliberately use any excuse to be impolite or ignore you completely when you try to contact them in any way.

Racheld, you're welcome where I work anytime :biggrin:

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Why, Thank You, Sir, she said. I think I may have BEEN in that party of 17 a few years ago---would that have been when the Bride and Groom smiled, rose, and made their exit, just BEFORE the harried waiter came back with the check (thinking, of course that he KNEW who the hosts were---they'd reserved the room, brought in the cake, and were right there in their little wedding outfits).

The happy couple strolled out into the night to take up their new lives, all rosy and happy, while all of US were left to tell the poor guy who was responsible for WHAT, so he could go divide up the check. :sad:

And that had happened to us before, once, when we received written invitations in the MAIL to a birthday party, arrived to see the table all decorated, balloons on the Happy Girl's chair, etc. The two "hosts"---self-proclaimed "godfathers" of the honoree, ordered several platters of appetizers for the table, we all ordered from the menu, a good time was had by all, until. . .

The poor waiter returned as we were getting into coats, scrambling beneath chairs for purses, etc., and was then informed by the hosts that he'd have to divide up the check. So we sat back down, motley-dressed in half-shrugged-on coats and gloves dangling ready, to await our turn to tell the waiter who was with whom.

And if that were not bad enough, the two old gloomps didn't even claim the Appetizers---Chris and I paid for one orphaned Bloomin' Onion, and had already covered the check for a young lady who rose, flushed and embarrassed, and sought us out apologetically because she did not have the funds with her to cover her dinner.

So---from a Service standpoint---have you encountered THIS kind of "divvy up the check" mayhem, when even the diners don't know until it's inflicted on them after dinner? Have you ever had to go around the table and auction off the items just to recoup costs?

A pox on all "hosts" who invite, then sit back and let others pay for their party. :angry:

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and another thing, the guy that held a birthday party (his) and made a big deal of picking up the bill for everyone.His friends were very thankfull to him, but mentioned the idea of themselves leaving a tip."NO NO, it's fine, i've sorted that out, haven't i Adrian?"

"Yes Sir" was all i could say, counting the £5 tip on a £450 bill. :angry:

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A pox on all "hosts" who invite, then sit back and let others pay for their party. :angry:

Oh, my. My future in-laws "hosted" our rehearsal dinner, and when the check came, pointed to Paul and I and said that "they will be taking care of it."

As Paul blanched (we didn't have enough in the checking account to cover the check), my dad more than quickly assessed the situation, and said "I will take care of the details and Paul and I will work it out later."

No one was left in the lurch, no one was embarrassed, and the staff was very well tipped.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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when Mr. FB and I am served by a waiter who plonks down our dishes and says, "enjoy," we always say to one another, sotto voce, "choke on it!" Then we laugh crazily. I'm sure this is an irritating guest habit. :smile:

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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  • 2 weeks later...

How about a person who walks into a restaurant, sees what's on the menu, and proceeds to demand something that's not on it? :) I was with an American friend in Athens, we went to a souvlaki place. It was a busy saturday night, there were lots of peope waiting to order. I translated the menu to my friend. The conversation proceeded as follows:

Me: They have pork or chicken souvlaki.

Friend: I want lamb.

Me: They don't have lamb.

Friend: They must have lamb!

Me: No, only pork or chicken.

Friend: I think you're wrong, Bob, they should have lamb.

Me: Well, not according to the menu, just trust me on this one.

Friend: They should have lamb!

Waiter: What'll you have?

Me: I'll have a pork souvlaki with everything. (to my friend) what do you want?

Friend: I want lamb!

Me: I told you, they don't have lamb. They have pork or chicken.

Friend: Ask them if they have lamb.

Me: They're busy, they don't have lamb, make your choice, please!

Friend: Why are you being so difficult? Why don't you just ask them if they have lamb?

Me: (to the waiter) Exete arni? (do you have lamb?)

Waiter: Oxi, kotopoulo i xirino. (No, pork or chicken.)

Me: (to friend) They don't have lamb, just pork or chicken.

Friend: Why don't they have lamb?

Me: It doesn't matter why they don't have lamb! They don't have it!

(Meanwhile the waiter is getting impatient, something that takes a busy Greek about 12 seconds as it is.)

Friend: Just ask him why they don't have lamb!

Me: (to waiter) I'm sorry, my friend is slightly insane today. He'll have pork.

Friend: Did you ask him why he didn't have lamb? What did he say?

Me: No. You're having pork by the way.

Friend: God, if you'd given me a choice, I would have ordered the chicken!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!

Actually I was grateful that the waiter, waiting through this exchange, didn't understand English...

"Los Angeles is the only city in the world where there are two separate lines at holy communion. One line is for the regular body of Christ. One line is for the fat-free body of Christ. Our Lady of Malibu Beach serves a great free-range body of Christ over angel-hair pasta."

-Lea de Laria

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okokok, so here's mine...

First off, the Mrs and I rarely dine out as she feels that I, as a 30 year vet in 'the life', tend to be a little too critical of other peoples places. Also, as a I am old school enough where I don't leave the BOH when I'm working I generally have little sympathy for the waitrons and their difficulties.

With that disclaimer out of the way, the wife and I have just returned from a weekend visiting relatives in central Wisconsin.

On the return trip we stopped for lunch at one of the chain joints on the periphery of the Wisconsin Dells.

We were seated in a booth next to a table of eight that were either all going deaf or simply felt that their conversation was so intriguing that no one else in the restaurant would want to miss a word of it, since it was all spoken at maximum volume.

The main topic of their (bellowed) conversation was a brief history on how often they managed to affect free meals by bitching about every little thing. So no surprise when they demanded to see the manager after waiting a good five minutes for their meal to arrive. The manager (a harried looking kid barely out of High School from the looks of him) immediately assured them that their meal would arrive promptly, before checking on it (his first mistake, since one of the kids had demanded an order of ribs, a dinner only option, even though it was only 11:30 in the morning).

After waiting another ten minutes (during which they trumpeted the the rest of the dining room with stories of not paying for any meals or drinks during their current stay in the Dells) they of course demanded to see the manager again, this time, having been made aware of the issue of having to make ribs for one of them, he tried to explain the situation and asked them for their patience (second mistake) which they immediately used as an excuse to make a scene and began demanding compensation for their 'unreasonable' wait.

As soon as the food arrived, the father jumped out of his chair, literally screaming that the food was "ice cold" before he had even touched it and despite the fact that two servers and the manager himself had expedited their order and brought it to their table.

We left at this point, appalled by the behavior of my fellow vacationers and with, perhaps, just a little more sympathy for travails of the wait staff at my own place.

Edited by The Apostate (log)

I'm so awesome I don't even need a sig...Oh wait...SON OF A...

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I worked at a touristy place one summer and I will have to say I hate lots of kids who make a HUGE mess w. their crayons, knock over the salt and pepper shakers... ect. And not to mention they didn't even tip well and I had to clean up after their children.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm usually a back of the house person, but,....

Being snapped at! for my attention. Just that gesture puts me down.

Something my grandmother does I know on purpose and so I hate it when I see the behavior in customers- asking for my opinion on "what is your favorite?" and then loathing the dish and blaming my taste for it!

Bringing children who don't behave. I am NOT your babysitter.

On the other hand, it's not my fault a diner brings their bratty kids in.

Being "followed" into the service station. Weird but it's happened. I'll be happy to talk to you at your table, why are you following me???

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I really dislike being interrupted by one guest when I'm talking to another. If I am helping someone at the front, or at a table, please wait until I have finished before getting my attention. You can wait 23 seconds for your new knife.

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Those are so great - I enjoy this thread. I am chef at this private club and we have a former NFL footbal quaterback - I can't mention his name - but he comes in with a couple of his former team mates and this is the order

Him - Half of an egg sandwich with strawberries (cut in quarters) and Banana cut in disc shapes in a bowl NOT touching his other food.

Other Guy - Half of a Club Sandwich with a cup of soup and a sectioned orange

the last guy - Burger WD no lid with extra pickles

The NFL guys you gotta love them - bunch of nuts

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