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Rules for Serving


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One Hundred Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part 1) Very interesting list, took me back to my fine dining days...

I'm wondering what gulleters think. I knew all of these except #27, though I'm in favor of it. I've had waiters clearly overfilling glasses in order to get the second bottle sell in.

"Gourmandise is not unbecoming to women: it suits the delicacy of their organs and recompenses them for some pleasures they cannot enjoy, and for some evils to which they are doomed." Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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I think these rules seem fine, if a little OTT. But I'm young and don't go to many fine dining type places, so most of these aren't even an issue in my day-to-day life.

The one that seems exceedingly strange to me is:

7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.

Really? No name? I get joking, flirting, cuteness being an issue, but waiters are people with whom you're transacting a business deal, not robots. I work in an office, and it is nearly mandatory to begin phone conversations with my name, right after thanking the customer for calling my business. You don't HAVE to remember your waitresses name to complete said transaction, but doesn't it make it easier, not to mention showing the restaurant and it s employees their proper respect.

I get frustration with TGIMcFunster-type waitresses who do every cutesy trick to pull for a higher tip, and I'm in no way condoning that, but come on!

"Life is a combination of magic and pasta." - Frederico Fellini

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Maybe the remaining 50 Rules will include

1. Do not carry your guest checks between the small of your back and your belt.

and my all time favorite rule

2. Do not interfere with diners' enjoyment of their meal by interrupting their meal to ask, "How is everything?"

Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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I think these rules seem fine, if a little OTT. But I'm young and don't go to many fine dining type places, so most of these aren't even an issue in my day-to-day life.

The one that seems exceedingly strange to me is:

7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.

Really? No name? I get joking, flirting, cuteness being an issue, but waiters are people with whom you're transacting a business deal, not robots. I work in an office, and it is nearly mandatory to begin phone conversations with my name, right after thanking the customer for calling my business. You don't HAVE to remember your waitresses name to complete said transaction, but doesn't it make it easier, not to mention showing the restaurant and it s employees their proper respect.

I get frustration with TGIMcFunster-type waitresses who do every cutesy trick to pull for a higher tip, and I'm in no way condoning that, but come on!

I like number 7. It's much more of a traditional model for waitstaff (i.e. European model) where it's understood and accepted that not everyone is equal. Fact is, waitstaff is there to serve you, not be your best friend (or potential friend).

And before anyone makes assumptions, I have waited tables. And no, I never gave my name, nor did anyone ask, and yes, I made good tips. Waitstaff need to be good at their jobs, and guests do not need to know my name in order for me to do that.

That being said, if there were regular customers with whom I had repeated contact, then the name thing might come in handy. But I would never presume to offer my name, but if they asked, I'd tell them.

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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I don't mind a waiter asking if everything is okay, as long as they are neutral about it and give the diner an opportunity to make any comment they might feel compelled to make. If the waiter is attentive and only does it once it's reasonable, but if the waiter is already stepping away before they even get the sentence out, it's intrusive and meaningless.

Anything obviously scripted by the restaurant irritates me no end. It's not hard to tell if someone is being genuine. The other night we were a party of six and two different servers asked at different times, "Are you still enjoying that?" My SIL responded, "No, but I'm still eating it." I don't think the waiter was even paying enough attention to hear her, but I thought it was funny and so did my nephews.

I HATE being called "Ma'am." I don't need to be called anything. Just talk to me, and look at me when you ask me a question. When a waiter tells me his or her name, sometimes it sounds silly, sometimes it sounds okay. I might remember it, I might not, but I most likely will not call that person by name. As for the touching, I know some people just can't stand to be touched by strangers, but for me it's on a case by case basis. If the wrong person touches me it will backfire, but sometimes I don't mind at all. A waiter should always know that touching a customer is a risk. Flirting? Again, it's awfully subjective. If can be fun, or not.

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I'd agree with the majority of that list if I was hiring servers because I know that there are a certain percentage of people who go into places looking for things to be unhappy about and cataloging every single little thing that they didn't like... even if it's something that wouldn't have bothered 50 other people. They may not be the majority but they are generally much more vocal than those who were happy so they have to be catered to. When it's me being served I'm just not that fussy. If the server is polite, gets my order right and solves any problems that may arise without attitude we'll get along fine. I don't feel that they are beneath me. I don't feel that my money buys me a license to be an ass. I don't require my server to be a breathing ATM machine that just displays the options and completes the transaction while otherwise remaining in it's place. If I ever become that full of myself, I hope some uppity server has the cojones to knock me back down a notch or two.

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

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I dunno, to me a lot of those seem a bit over the top. Plus, I think it has a lot to do with where you work, etc. Some people and places have their own version of these 'rules' - some on this list are meant to be followed, some places like some of those rules broken, and some are pretty much no brainers, where if not followed is just plain wrong.

Honestly, I don't think I would be happy if every single of those were followed. I think it's silly to think that every single person likes to be waited on the same way, much the same reasoning that not everyone enjoys the same dish.

Personally, I think the writer was a little full of himself. To me, as long as the server is polite, and professional, then I have no problems. You can still be professional giving me your name, or following any number of other 'rules' on there. It just depends on where you are and who you are waiting on.

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality.

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I cannot believe that I am the only one who just calculates a flat percentage (20%) of my pre-tax bill as the tip. I mean, if the waiter insulted me or did not at all do his job I am not going to add insult to injury, but I have really never had that experience. The back-and-forths about such rules often revolve around a waiter's desire for more tips, and while I am sure experienced waiters know what they are doing, I wonder how many people actually slide tips up or down, it sounds awfully time-consuming.

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I also tend to leave a standard tip, but if I think the service is extra good, or if I think the waiter deserves some extra because we were occupying a table for longer than a typical meal, then I'll tip extra.

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I cannot believe that I am the only one who just calculates a flat percentage (20%) of my pre-tax bill as the tip. I mean, if the waiter insulted me or did not at all do his job I am not going to add insult to injury, but I have really never had that experience. The back-and-forths about such rules often revolve around a waiter's desire for more tips, and while I am sure experienced waiters know what they are doing, I wonder how many people actually slide tips up or down, it sounds awfully time-consuming.

I pretty much agree. I don't have a downward-sliding scale (the scale can slide upward in some cases though). I either tip or don't tip and the offenses that would cause me to not tip have to go well beyond minor annoyances and pet peeves. I can't see penalizing servers for not knowing that someone likes exactly two drops of condensation running down the outside of the water glass as it arrives at the table.

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

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For me, most of these "offenses" fall into the category of "I don't really care"

Yes, I agree. The only possible exception would be if these occurred in truly top restaurants for which you were paying a significant amount of money (like Per Se or Le Bernardin or something). Other than that, I think adherence to these rules would make things too fussy for me.

The "no names" rule really strikes me as odd and somewhat archaic.

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I completely agree with just about all of the rules. Yes, some are pretty niggling, but several niggles in a row amount to an irritating waiter. Best to avoid them all.

Re #7, I don't mind a name, but I don't want him/her in my mental space. The waiter is not my dinner companion. Take the order, be quiet, be knowledgeable, be present, never interrupt a conversation. If I'm a regular, be friendly, but not a "pal".

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Re #7, I don't mind a name, but I don't want him/her in my mental space. The waiter is not my dinner companion. Take the order, be quiet, be knowledgeable, be present, never interrupt a conversation. If I'm a regular, be friendly, but not a "pal".

Agreed, but I think there is a considerable middle ground between a stiff, formal, servile server who refrains from giving his/her name, and the "pal" who is over-friendly as you describe. I'd like someone in the middle. Someone human, but not in my face.

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17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.

I think this is one standard that, of the few remaining fine dining restaurants left in this economy, most restaurants should drop. It isn't even the standard in any but the upper, white tablecloth establishments, and when I've worked in those, I can tell you that it is literally hell to try to get guests to comply with this:

"You can take this," says the patron, literally shoving the plate in the direction of my pressed shirt and tie. Even better are the guests who start piling their dirty dishes at the end of the table while the rest of their family and friends are still eating. Better yet: the guest who actually gets up and walks over to the server to hand him/her the plate.

Well over 90% of the dining public that visit fine dining establishments don't even have the vaguest idea why a server would wait to clear an empty plate from a diner who has finished before the rest of the people at the table, so most of them just assume that it's because he/she is being lazy. Literally, it pisses them off. Unless we introduce a course in public schools instructing people how to dine in fancy restaurants, I think we need to let this custom fall away with other long-abandoned practices, like laying one's coat over a mud puddle, so that a lady may pass. It's a dinosaur.

And most of my guests will ask me for my name, if I don't tell them what it is, so I don't understand where that's coming from, either.

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Well over 90% of the dining public that visit fine dining establishments don't even have the vaguest idea why a server would wait to clear an empty plate from a diner who has finished before the rest of the people at the table, so most of them just assume that it's because he/she is being lazy.

Oh gosh, please no. This is one of the things that really irritates me about most waitstaff. Before I even knew it was "proper" it bothered me to have my dining companion's dish taken before mine; it made me feel like I was holding things up. Then when I got older I realized why the standard had been put in place--and that I wasn't crazy for feeling rushed and uncomfortable when I was the only one with a plate left!

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I tip 20% too unless the service is nasty or noticeably cold or egregiously wrong. But I might be old-school in the fact that I resent being relied on to provide a significant chunk of the watitstaff's salary, since the owners can get by with farming that out to customers. I still think tipping should be done the Euro/non-U.S. way: just a little something extra, with a nice fat tip if the service happens to be exceptional. A tip should be earned, not assumed. That said, I follow the NYC/U.S. norms only because otherwise the waitstaff would be living below poverty level.

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The list is largely just service-business common sense (maybe we need a new phrase -- it's not quite so common now). My favorite: 8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials... Enhanced by Holly Moore's corollary: Do not interfere with diners' enjoyment of their meal by interrupting their meal to ask, "How is everything?" Even brief conversations get interrupted by that needless question. Which connects then to:

I don't mind a name, but I don't want him/her in my mental space. The waiter is not my dinner companion.

Years ago, checking out fine restaurants in a big new Las Vegas hotel, I saw a stark contrast. Some restaurants (Le Cirque) had high-end European-style service. Employees circulated, actively looking for things needing attention, and unobtrusively providing it -- not waiting for customers to flag them down. Others (Aqua) instead showed high-end "US-style" service. Servers would come to the table, beam at you, and talk about themselves -- and not notice missing silverware, or ask if you wanted coffee at the end. Being chatty wasn't a problem, but a symptom.

For me, most of these "offenses" fall into the category of "I don't really care"

Good, because as a customer you won't notice if those offenses are deliberately absent either. Everyone is happy. (Just as readers who are less word-conscious don't notice, or mind, when publications routinely edit out "in regards to," or "which" with restrictive relative clauses -- the result looks natural, both to those who don't notice and those who do.)

Now what we need (but rarely see) is the sequel: Good practices for customers in fine dining. It seems as if many of them think ethics or decorum are concerns only for the servers or the restaurant. (Otherwise, why would we see things like loud cellphone use, or past threads here by customers who pulled something obnoxious on a restaurant, then actually became indignant when called on it? Or the replies from other restaurant customers, sympathizing with them?!?)

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