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Hey! Waitress! Yoo hoo! Over here!


jgarner53
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Ever seen the Chappelle Show sketch where they have a little box that says "Wrap it up" and plays louder and louder "Oscar" music?

My friend Ben and I have often envisioned a device with big LED numbers on it and a huge button on top that says

I HAVE BEEN WAITING: 00:14.32

YOUR TIP IS NOW: 14.54%

And when you push the button the "waiting" time counts up and the "tip" percentage counts down.

Sure, this is only applicable at places like Denny's really. But it's a running joke.

Don Moore

Nashville, TN

Peace on Earth

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in every restaurant that i have ever become close with, the FOH and the BOH had a love/hate relationship. lots of disrespect all around. lots of talking behind backs. and then lots of blow, booze and sex.

word. Sign me up for the lots of booze. :biggrin:

But it isn't always that way which I think dear Nero is pointing out (and I hope experiencing :smile: ). I've worked with some truly awesome chefs that were very people and task oriented that magically made everything work under a controlled chaos with minimal bickering or eye rolling among the staff on the whole.

Something in that keeps me coming back to work each day, eager and refreshed and that doesn't even factor in the drama stories with the regular clientele, purveyors or others in the biz. :rolleyes:

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What more should she have done? Come out and burden her guests by telling them some tale of woe about someone from the kitchen calling off, or another who has car trouble or one of the line cooks is freaking out?

Guests don't want to hear about that. They really don't seem to care and are only interested in the quick arrival of their food and not the excuses.

Perhaps some guests don't want to hear it, but as a frequent restaurant customer, I *do*.

Granted, I'd prefer not to hear the long, drawn out version of it, but I'd really rather know that there's a delay in the kitchen than sit there, playing with the breadsticks, wondering if they had to send out for my dinner or not.

I understand that things go wrong, things get backed up, crap happens - hey, it happens to me, too. If I know what you're up against, and what to expect (like when I can expect dinner), I can understand. Maybe if I'm in a rush, I might need to punt, but at least I have the choice.

An example: my husband and I went to a local restaurant, and as we were being seated, the manager came over and explained they had a fire in the kitchen that morning, and one of their ovens was destroyed. She then listed the somewhat long list of items on the menu that they couldn't cook, and explained that she would understand if we didn't want to eat there after hearing this, and hoped we'd come back.

It wasn't a problem for us, since we'd wanted something not on that list, and apparently, from the number of other customers, it wasn't a problem for a lot of people. If she hadn't been up front about it, there would probably have been a lot of angry people - instead, we were all on the same page.

Getting back to the original poster, I'd've been ticked, too, if the server disappeared so that they couldn't even catch her eye.

Marcia.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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An example: my husband and I went to a local restaurant, and as we were being seated, the manager came over and explained they had a fire in the kitchen that morning, and one of their ovens was destroyed. She then listed the somewhat long list of items on the menu that they couldn't cook, and explained that she would understand if we didn't want to eat there after hearing this, and hoped we'd come back.

It wasn't a problem for us, since we'd wanted something not on that list, and apparently, from the number of other customers, it wasn't a problem for a lot of people. If she hadn't been up front about it, there would probably have been a lot of angry people - instead, we were all on the same page.

Somehow though, I feel that being upfront with their impediments is different.

Waiting for already ordered food, being hungry and trying to make a movie time, one isn't really in the mood to hear the excuses, whether or not one understands or empathises. Do you really want to potentially hear that one of the chefs/cooks was experiencing difficulties and been in the loo for a length of time? :wink:

But I have to agree with much written above. Being upfront and communicate. It appears the server was reasonable and not really tardy or neglectful in attending to the table as she didn't know about a timeline to make a screening.

The huff I don't find out of line either as that was her expression of frustration in otherwise delivering standard, good service. Would it have been better if she blankly said "oh well" and walked away without offering to promo the food?

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I agree with a lot of the posts here. I won't tell you which ones. :raz:

I'm posting to comment on the 'the place was only xyz full' observation, and it's implied reflection on service times in restaurants. I see it often here, and by posters on Sietsema's WP.com chats.

If a restaurant isn't busy, there is a really good chance that some staff have been sent home to compensate for this. Or, if it's something like a dead Monday or Tuesday, they might not have scheduled full staff in the first place. FOH and BOH. Especially if we are talking about a casual place, or something which isn't a 'destination restaurant'.

Also, like beans said, someone could have called in sick. For some kitchens, one person missing is all it takes, especially if they have a lot of new staff on in other positions (typical for a Mon or Tues, when new folks generally train.)

And really, re: customers wanting or not wanting to know the status of their food... We already know that eG members are more informed than the average restaurant patron. Yes, some people do like to know the whole backstory behind their missing food ("well, you see, Steve the prep cook had a fight with his girlfriend, and he stormed out in a huff before he could be bothered to finish chopping/fileting/assembling whatevers, so the BOH is trying to compensate for that now while simultaniously trying to do their current cooking duties. Also, Tom the line cook has decided that he hates me today, because I had the gall to order a dish for a guest the way they asked for it, instead of the way it is normally served. Now, all of my tickets are taking an extra ten minutes to come out. And lets not EVEN get started on the fact that... "), but most people find this very tedious. Even if you just keep the line to "I'm so sorry, the kitchen is running behind this evening." the response is rarely "oh, we're so glad you let us know." Most people don't want to hear it, they just want their food. And will say as much.

I worked in restaurants for five years, and it's been another five since I have worked in one. It doesn't feel like it has been that long. :biggrin:

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who here hasn't gotten "huffy" at work? for those who have, i expect you to pay back 10% of your pay for that day. :raz:

I ride a Huffy to work. The FOH laughs at me :wink:

Noise is music. All else is food.

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I would have left a tip. I also wouldn't have allowed only an hour to eat and get out of there without letting them know.

On the other hand, 20 minutes is too long to go with no word on when your food will be coming. So there had been a mistake there. It's annoying when people compound their mistakes by getting defensive or huffy, but that does seem to be the way of things.

Edited by Tess (log)
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I just wanted to add my 2 cents worth.

1) I definitely let my server know right off the bat if I have some kind of time constraint.

2) I learned a long time ago that there is a difference between slow service and slow food. Slow food is when you wait an exhorbitant amount of time for your food to get to your table. Slow service is when no one approaches your table. If there is a problem in the kitchen, your server should be there, pouring more water, offering more beverages/bread, etc. A polite and sincere apology about the delay is appreciated and understood. I agree that guests don't want an in-depth description of what caused the delay (unless it's something like the kitchen fire described above).

BUT, my tip for the day:

This senario can work two ways. A while back, my husband and I went out to dinner. Not to a fancy, takes-three-hours-to-eat kind of place, but mid-price, family oriented. They were slammed. We did get seated pretty quickly, ordered drinks, and watched our server get pummeled by the rest of her tables. They wanted their FOOD! More BEVERAGES! Their CHECKS! She kept stopping by our table to apologise for the wait. "Don't worry" we said "we're in no real hurry". We had bread and wine, so all was well.

When her rush died down, she brought us a beautiful little antipasto platter (un-ordered and compliments of the house) and thanked us for being so understanding.

Just some more thoughts.

Laurie

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I always let waiters know if there is a time constraint. Anything less than three hours I consider a tight timeframe. You never know what might happen and you can never assume that other people operate with the same assumptions you do.

I would have left a tip, but a perfunctory one due to her huffiness.

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It doesn't sound to me that you really received bad service, other than the fact that her reaction seemed "huffy."

The fact that you spent a half-hour in the bar having cocktails suggested to anyone observing you that you were having a leisurely evening out. I don't know if the server observed that fact, but I would definitely assume that, if you wanted a quick bite before having to be somewhere, you could have stayed in the bar and ordered there as well.

So then you say you sat at 7, had a salad course and an entree course, and started getting upset when entrees weren't there by 7:35. I work as a server, by the way, in addition to running my small business. For myself, I try to time the pace of courses according to the guest. There is nothing I hate more, personally, than having my entree arrive when I've just gotten my salad, so that I can watch it get cold while I'm trying to finish my first course.

So, I have the option of holding off on the entree order, so that the guest can eat at his own pace, or I can "ring, ring" if I know the guest wants the food quickly and won't be offended by entrees arriving with salads still on the table.

So that explains her being flustered. Here, she thought she was timing things beautifully, according to what she perceived as your relaxed pace, and then you informed her, after having spent an hour in the establishment and saying nothing, that you needed to get out quickly. I'd have gotten flustered, too.

And then you stiffed her. :sad: Is there some way you could give me her name and place of business so I could send the poor girl a tip in your stead? You do know that she not only didn't get paid to wait on you, but that she paid a percentage of her sales on your table to the restaurant for waiting on you? Ouch.

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Speaking of the diner being kept informed of circumstances in the kitchen...

I used to have breakfast at a nice place, if a little pretentious. As I dined alone, I would arrive early to get one of the few two-tops, and clear out before a line formed out the entrance. Service was always pretty good that time of the morning on a Saturday.

But one day, I waited for what must have been 45 minutes til the waitress finally told me that the chef/owner was in the middle of a telephone interview and my food would be cooked after it was done. So finally, after about an hour's wait, my food arrived with the check.

I took a few bites, reached for my wallet, and before I even opened it she swooped over and asked if I needed changed.

I'm a quick eater, and as I was a regular, she should have known that. Note that I said I was a regular. Haven't been back.

Edited by Katherine (log)
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Having worked in both the front and back of the house, I find this to be an interesting thread.

1. I agree totally that BOH is not all that interested in making the FOH look good. This depends totally on the type of Chef you are dealing with but the Prima Dona's of the food world can be taxing at best.

2. Unless the table has been served the entree and everyone is obviously enjoying their meal, 20 minutes without checking on the table is entirely too long.

3. Under time constraints...I would have asked the waitress to give me my $3.00 happy hour drink at my table...and proceeded with the ordering.

4. I would have left a tip...even if it wasn't a full tip.

Life is a feast. Savor every course!

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2. Unless the table has been served the entree and everyone is obviously enjoying their meal, 20 minutes without checking on the table is entirely too long.

I guess I'm trying to get the timeline straight here, to see how much the time that passed was actual, and what was perceived. . .

So 7 p.m. - table is seated

7:02 p.m. - table is greeted by the server, provided that she's fairly competent, and she takes drink orders at this time.

7:04 p.m. - table gets drinks, and places order, provided that server is acting quickly, and that table has decided that quickly what they will eat.

7:08-7:10 p.m. - table gets salad, but again, this sounds like pretty fast service.

7:20 p.m. - you state that by this time, salads have already been eaten and cleared, and a second basket of bread is brought. Again, this sounds like a combination of fairly fast service and fast eating up to this point, by real time standards.

And then it was the period between 7:20-7:35 where there was a breakdown in communication? When possibly something happened in the kitchen that slowed down your food? I'm not sure I understand. What am I missing?

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7:00 places order

7:35 get's waitress attention

Picks up small paintball gun

gets her attention :laugh::laugh::laugh:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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And really, re: customers wanting or not wanting to know the status of their food... We already know that eG members are more informed than the average restaurant patron. Yes, some people do like to know the whole backstory behind their missing food ("well, you see, Steve the prep cook had a fight with his girlfriend, and he stormed out in a huff before he could be bothered to finish chopping/fileting/assembling whatevers, so the BOH is trying to compensate for that now while simultaniously trying to do their current cooking duties. Also, Tom the line cook has decided that he hates me today, because I had the gall to order a dish for a guest the way they asked for it, instead of the way it is normally served. Now, all of my tickets are taking an extra ten minutes to come out. And lets not EVEN get started on the fact that... "), but most people find this very tedious. Even if you just keep the line to "I'm so sorry, the kitchen is running behind this evening." the response is rarely "oh, we're so glad you let us know." Most people don't want to hear it, they just want their food. And will say as much.

Being that I am currently in a FOH position, I have found this thread interesting as well.

First and foremost, I definitely agree with the level of information that needs to be shared with the diner, whether it is related to a time delay, a mistake in how the meal was prepared, etc. If I think it is necessary, I will stop by a table and let them know that their dishes will be out momentarily. Only very rarely will I mention a delay in the kitchen. Regardless, most of the time my customers are very chatty and enjoying their wine, etc., and realize that good food takes time. It is really a judgment call on how much should be revealed. When I am a customer, I don't really care what the delay is; I just expect it to be fixed as quickly as possible. My husband and I dined with another couple in NYC last weekend for a late lunch, and the mood felt slightly rushed from the start. My friend and I ordered differently varieties of the same item, and unfortunately they were mixed up and had to be sent back to the kitchen, not once, but twice. After the second mix up, I was told that the ticket got jammed printing out in the kitchen and they couldn't read it???? :blink: Anyway...don't really care...just fix it.

The waiter was less than friendly at the end of our meal, however I still managed to leave 15% tip, pre tax.

Other comments:

In a hurry - this should always be mentioned to a server. They can carefully manipulate how food is ordered (hopefully without pissing anyone else off), beg BOH to speed things up, and just generally manage this situation.

Checking in - this is inexcusable. Regardless of how busy it is (which it obviously wasn't) the server should be walking by often and at least checking out of the corner of their eye the mood of the table. By quickly glancing at the table the customers should be able to catch the server’s eye and bring them over.

Overall, I'm pretty tough when it comes to being served, and I do my best to give the same. Regardless, I rarely tip less than 20%, post tax. We have to make a living, ya know?

"I can resist everything except temptation." Oscar Wilde

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I once trained a waitress that since we had a 30 minute lunch that when she saw us get out of the truck she should get us a pitcher of beer and go where she wanted us to sit. We went there so often we would order as we sat down. And have a beer. Then the food and out the door. This was long before cell phones and she got a 25% tip every time. Service is about service . I tip well cause I know what it's like to work for a living. If you've got a deadline let them now. :cool:

Bruce Frigard

Quality control Taster, Château D'Eau Winery

"Free time is the engine of ingenuity, creativity and innovation"

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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Checking in - this is inexcusable. Regardless of how busy it is (which it obviously wasn't) the server should be walking by often and at least checking out of the corner of their eye the mood of the table. By quickly glancing at the table the customers should be able to catch the server’s eye and bring them over.

One of the things I really love about one place where I wait tables is that the design of the restaurant, and the rules for the path that I must take dictate that I must walk in a circular pattern through the building over and over again.

In other restaurants where I've worked, some tables were literally at the end of a "dead end" - a long corridor down which I'm not going to walk unless I'm specifically going to check on that particular table. This seating arrangement provides for private booths for the guest, but the server must be somewhat obtrusive to stop by and check if everything is alright.

Do you see what I'm getting at? The purpose of the circular pattern would be to make it look like the waitress is doing something else, while making her swing through her station, giving you an opportunity to ask for that extra side of sauce or a refill on your coke.

Some restaurants are designed poorly in this respect, forcing the server to pop in on the table, obviously while she's not doing something else, to say, "Oh, huh huh, me again. Just checking to see if there's anything you need."

If I'd never worked as a waitress, I'd not know that these are important things to think of when designing your floor plan.

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One of the things I really love about one place where I wait tables is that the design of the restaurant, and the rules for the path that I must take dictate that I must walk in a circular pattern through the building over and over again.

If I'd never worked as a waitress, I'd not know that these are important things to think of when designing your floor plan.

Obviously in the restaurant where I am employed this is the case.

"I can resist everything except temptation." Oscar Wilde

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One of the things I really love about one place where I wait tables is that the design of the restaurant, and the rules for the path that I must take dictate that I must walk in a circular pattern through the building over and over again.

If I'd never worked as a waitress, I'd not know that these are important things to think of when designing your floor plan.

Obviously in the restaurant where I am employed this is the case.

Well, until recently, I was working at two places, and the one has the circular pattern of walking around the place, and the other has a long, upstairs dining room with no obvious reason for walking down that runway unless it's to check on your one table, and they might be trying to get a little privacy, and you're not allowed to go down the stairs at the front of the restaurant, so that you could look like you're doing something else or anything. . . I found it very inconvenient.

Good thing I don't have that problem anymore.

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