Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Restaurant Staff Pet Peeves about Customers

Before I began teaching I went to college and completed a BS in Food Service Management. I worked in that field for a few years and decided to leave when I realized that I had not seen my daughter in a week (unless she was sleep). I left management and began waiting tables. I was able to spend time with my daughter and make a decent living. I went back to school and received my teaching degree and recently completed my masters. I have been a restaurant server off and on for years. I’m working at one now to pay for that masters (they don’t give them for free). I work at a restaurant that is family oriented; the servers wear white shirts, ties, and black pants. This is a place that has linens on the tables and linen napkins. The wine and food can range from reasonable prices (8.99) to the expensive (25.99). There is a price for everyone and a kid menu. Most of my nights are good and run smoothly. However, this has been the week from hell. I have waited on every server’s nightmare this week. Last night I thought I was going to scream. I would not have made it if I had not visualized my two days off starting the next day. Here are a few of my and other server’s pet peeves about customers. Please don’t be offended if you recognize yourself in any of the pet peeves. And if you should happen to feel insulted because you recognize yourself, well, let this be your wake-up call. It's high time to begin acting like ladies and gentlemen.

Cell Phones
Cell phones, cell phones, cell phones! Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as 'normal conversation levels' while using a cell phone in a nice restaurant. Respect other diners, and please take your cell phone conversations outside.

If you are on the phone, I will not greet you or wait on you until you are off the phone. And do not act miffed if you had to wait for me because you were on the phone.

Any quality piece of meat or fish ordered 'well done. Hamburgers are fine well done; sushi-grade tuna or prime beef is not. Also, 'a little bit of pink' is not medium-rare.

If the cooks are going to have to reinvent the wheel just to make your meal, order something else, or do not be mad when it takes longer to get your food. And, if your foods can't touch each other on the plate, stay home until you can be grown-up enough to be served like an adult.

Hands down, biggest pet peeve ever: customers who sit at a table for two hours and don't tip adequately. Customers should realize that each table is only as valuable as the amount of time a server turns it over. That is two hours that I can’t make money with that table. A customer should never feel rushed; however, they should be considerate.

You are expecting a big party to arrive at your section on a busy night. The three tables you set up are taking up all of your section since they placed a reservation for 10 people. They arrive 20 minutes late and, instead of 10, only 6 people show up, and it’s too late to change the table setting because they’re “waiting for the rest of the party to show up,” which they never do, [thus] taking up the extra table you could have used for somebody else.

Separate Checks
You have a large party and they tell you at the end of the meal that they want separate checks. I have to go back and try to remember what couple or family had what. They usually say, 'I did not order this,' 'We only ordered two instead of five,' or 'We never got this,' after they ate it all. Meanwhile, your restaurant is in a 50-minute wait, and they're at the table after three hours, still talking. ... By the time they leave, the wait is over and your section is closed, and you only made $30 when everybody else made over $200. Also it takes time to make 5 or more (up to 22 to date) separate checks.


Don't talk down to me. Do not assume that all wait staff are morons who cannot get a job elsewhere. I guarantee most of us have more college than most of our customers. Also, some could be waiting tables as extra income. My waiting tables is enabling me to continue my education.

Customers, who shake their glass, whistle or snap to get their server's attention, it is rude. A simple nod or casual wave will do the trick.

Here is a Tip
Tip appropriately. Industry standard is 18 to 20 percent. If you ran the legs off your server, tip accordingly. If your bill is $100, tip $18 to $20, or more if your server went above and beyond. I do not cook the food, and I do not control how much it costs. I serve the food. Tip on the service. Example. A friend last night has a table with a $163.82 bill and left the customers $12.00 after she also had to separate their checks.

People who earn $50,000 or more a year may have no qualms about stiffing someone making $2.65 an hour plus tips, sometimes just because a third refill of iced tea didn't arrive for one diner at a table for 12.

Sweetener packages, napkins, lemon slices, etc., left on the floor. Would you throw these items on your floor at home? Have some couth and at least put them on top of the table.
Parents that let their little darlings play with the sugar packets and have the nerve to get angry with me when I pick them up and remove them. The sugar packets are not there to keep your child from screaming. Remember that the sugar is a consumable item. Have you ever picked up sugar packets that don’t look new? Now you know why.

Other Peoples Children
Please, please, please do not let your children run through the restaurant unless the sign outside says Chuck E. Cheese's. If your baby is crying loud enough to cause a scene, take the little darling outside so everyone around can continue to enjoy their dinner.

Parents who take the whole soccer team out and spend the night at one end of the table, drinking wine, while their children run wild – leaving the servers with no choice but to ask them to stay seated and stop blowing spit wads. Then the parents get offended. Please! Servers are not sitters.

Moms who would let their little darlings run amok in the restaurant while servers try to dodge them so they don't drop the trays of food they're carrying, and the other diners try to tune out little your little sweetie's singing-and- dancing routine. One night a child was knocked to the floor because the server (carrying a large tray and a tray holder) didn’t see the child. The parent was angry at the server and complained to the manager.

In short, way too many people think the fact that they're paying for a meal entitles them to act like jerks when they enter a restaurant.

It is the golden rule, a timeless piece of wisdom espoused by every major religion. This one, simple directive, if followed by all mankind, would lead not only to more pleasant dining experiences for everyone, but to world peace. Treat other people the way you would like to be treated. Do unto others, etc. Yes, even unto restaurant servers who forget your iced-tea refill.

Remember, civilized behavior never goes out of style.
Boorishness, unfortunately, goes out all too often. Why can't it just stay home?

Now the Knitting

Today I hope and pray that I can complete my Center Square hat from Knitty. I'm want to send it in to the calender contest. The yarn is Cascade Indulgence.


Angela said...

I just want to shout AMEN! I have never worked as a server before BUT I do get annoyed when other customers are just down right rude to my waiter/waitress. I'm glad to hear the 20% tip guideline is still out there. That's my baseline unless I'm treated really bad.

Rachel said...

Aww, I'm sorry that you've been having such a tough time at work. However, it's nothing a good bit of knitting therapy can't fix!!!! lol And I LOOOVE your Center Square Hat - I've really enjoyed the little bit of FI work I've done but couldn't think of anything else to make. I never liked this hat from Knitty.com but I really like yours! Great choice on the colors :D

ekgheiy said...

You have some good points. :) I must admit I'd probably fall under your sh-- list with the tipping and the separate checks issues. Allow me to e'splain:

Tipping - There is one main reason why I wouldn't tip...

Poor service: I've come across some wait staff who didn't even bother introduce themselves. My thought is that if a waiter/tress can't even be kind enough to tell me his/her name, why should I give a tip? I once had a waiter who didn't even check on us for upwards of 45 minutes after we received our food!! Huh? Surely he shouldn't have gotten a tip, right? *scratch head* And if a waiter/tress has a foul attitude, then a tip is definately out of the question. My tips are totally commensurate with the quality of service.

Separate checks - I hate it when people sit at a table and haggle over dollar bills in public to pay the check. I don't know why, but it really bothers me for some reason. I had lunch with a gal from college and didn't want to haggle with cash at the lunch table, so I put the tab on my credit card. We agreed that she'd pay me back later. HA!!! Moral of the story, I *always* ask for separate checks when I'm at a restaurant with someone who I don't want to and/or can't afford to feed. :)

Camping Jason said...

It's funny, I went out to a restaurant the night after I read this, so it was fresh in my mind. I always try to tip according to the service the waitstaff provides, if they're extra attentive, then I get them some extra. I also hate it when parents let their kids run rampant throughout the restaurant.