Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Server's Rant

Dear Restaurant Patron,

I will be your host and server tonight. Before we begin, let me point out that there are certain rules of etiquette that you should observe.

To begin with, if you have more than 5 in your party, make a damn reservation! If you walk in the door with nine people odds are good that I won't be able to seat you any time soon, most especially if the restaurant if nearing capacity. You see, most restaurants don't have tables that seat more than eight (and only a couple of those at that). Most tables seat four. That is standard in just about any restaurant. If we are even somewhat busy I am not going to have two or more tables that are anywhere near each other that can be pulled together to accommodate you. The same goes for any party greater than five. The more people you bring without a reservation, the longer you're going to have to wait to be seated. This is especially true when others are also walking in with large parties and I am running out of places to seat anyone! If you are a table of two to four please understand why I won't seat you at my one (of two) tables for eight. If I put you there odds are good I will have a larger table walk in next and thus have nowhere to seat them. Also, if I say that the empty table is reserved, do not be so rude as to ignore my hostess and simply park your ass there anyway and then get pissy when I ask you to move. That's why we put the "reserved" sign on the table.

That being said, do not be grumpy and rude and insinuate that it is my fault that you could not be seated immediately. You saw the full parking lot when you drove in, you can clearly see that there are no tables available to fit your party and that others are waiting to be seated also. You are the ones who chose not to call ahead for a reservation.

If you have a reservation and decide to bring more people with you than originally anticipated, CALL AHEAD! If your reservation is for four and you show up with five, you're just going to have to suck it up with that extra chair stuck onto the end of the table meant for four. You see, I did my job by picking you a primo table and setting it up for you, per your request. I have no way of knowing that you're bringing someone else and can't switch you to a larger table when we are busy and smack-dab in the middle of a rush. If we are slow I will have no problem switching you to a larger table. Again, I feel you have no right to complain about the lack of elbow-room because you did not adhere to your original request for a table for four.

Do NOT simply sit down at a table that has not been cleared and reset. If you were not my table I will simply assume that you are the original party that was sitting there. It is also extremely rude of you to demand that I stop what I'm doing to come over and clear and reset the table while you stand there waiting impatiently. This is especially irritating when there are clearly other open tables that are clean and reset that you could have sat down at. If it's a weekend and you don't wait for my hostess you may be taking a table that needs to be reset for a reservation. You may also be making it hard for your server if she was just given a couple of new tables by the hostess right before you chose to ignore the hostess and sit at that dirty table. You are immediately setting yourself up for a less than desirable restaurant experience.

If you don't like the taste of the item you ordered, that's just too damn bad. You ordered it. I should not have to ask my manager to strike the item from the bill simply because it did not suit your palate. That's the chance you take when you order something different. I will politely decline to remove said item from your bill, especially when you ate all of the side items and almost a third of the entree while determining if you liked the flavor or not.

Please do not play the game of needing just one more thing when I bring something to your table. It's fine if you decide you'd like another drink, but when each person at your table orders a new drink each time I come back with the previous drink order, you are just creating more work for me and, in my opinion, being rude. When I ask if you'd like another drink, that is the time to decide yes or no. Not after I've just made four trips repeatedly to your table to bring each person a single drink only to be asked by another person for a drink refill. This is especially annoying when there are nine of you and each of you makes me run a drink refill equating nine times in a row that I've had to run a drink to your table.

Please remember that while I strive to make you feel as if you are my only customer, you are not. On a weeknight I am splitting the entire freaking restaurant with one other server. When you see that we have opened the backroom to accommodate the overflow of people and that the two of us are handling approximately 30 tables between us please have a little patience if I can't get to you right away. Please remember that we don't carry a full staff on weeknights because we are not a big city and we are not normally this busy on a Wednesday. Even on a weekend night please remember that you are one of five or six tables that I am serving and while I'll do my best, I may not always be able to get to you right away when you want something.

If something is not to your liking please tell me right away so that I have the opportunity to correct it. If your steak isn't done the way you like and you don't tell me until it's time to pay the bill and you want a discount because of it, there's nothing I can do and you will go away unhappy with your dining experience and I will be pissy because you ate it all and never once told me anything was wrong!

Please remember that I am a person. You may not want to laugh and joke with me and that's all right. We all have different personalities. Do remember though, that there is no need to be snooty and high-handed and treat me like dirt because I work as a server in a restaurant. This may be my full-time job, it may be my extra money. I may actually enjoy and take pride in the work I do. I do not deserve to be treated rudely because I choose to work in a service industry. Yes, I'm not a neurosurgeon but I'm willing to bet neither are you. You are no better or worse than I am and I do not deserve to be treated like trash. If you treat me that way you will not get my best service and I may just find someone to spit in your food (just joking. Or am I?) If you are a regular in our restaurant you will be "black-listed" among the servers and kitchen staff and you will continue to have lower quality service because of your bad behavior. Our manager may not like that but after he's dealt with you a few times he'll back us up. You see, while the goal is that the customer is always right, we do reserve the right to refuse service to anyone and our manager has actually told a few a****les to never darken the doorway of his restaurant again. Our service is great, as is our food, and we will continue to do well without your business.

Last, but not least, even though I agree that the policy of tipping sucks and we should be paid higher wages, tipping is how the industry works. I am working for your tips, not my paycheck (which is laughable and barely covers taxes on the tips I claim). If you're not willing to tip at 15%, at least stick with nothing less than 10%. Almost all of you have cell phones with handy-dandy tip calculators if you can't do the math in your head. You see, I have to claim at least 8% of my sales with the IRS, whether or not I actually made that much in tips. Leaving $2 on a $50 ticket simply because there were only two of you at the table is not cool or nice. Leaving $4 when there were nine of you and your combined tickets totaled $140 and I ran constantly to meet your needs is just plain rude. Don't expect that someone else will leave a tip just because you all paid separately. But I understand because you live around here and everyone knows that you are all a bunch of a**es. Leaving $25 when there were 18 of you and my only table for the night because you sat in the restaurant for 3 freaking hours thus preventing me from turning over any tables in my section on a Friday night is rude and inconsiderate in my opinion. Because of you my manager has now agreed to mandate 15% gratuity on parties of eight or over. We never felt this need to mandate it before you but now we do.

Yes I am complaining and bitching. You see I know that I'm a good server. Heck there are nights when I'm an awesome server! I've been in this industry for 20 years now (off & on) and have waited tables in places from diners to casual restaurants to upscale restaurants. I've watched you restaurant patrons become increasingly ruder and more demanding over those twenty years and I've had it with those of you that ruin the night for me and the tables around you.

The sign on the back door of our restaurant says "Leave all problems at the door. From here on in there is only fun ahead!" The sign on our front door says "Welcome". It does NOT say "Please leave your manners here before entering".

Your Server


Noodle said...

Amen, sister! I count my days working in a restaurant/club both the best and the worst of my working time.

Vanessa said...

Awesome post and well stated! I wait tables for extra cash and agree, the sense of entitlement has gotten way out of hand among restaurant patrons. Mostly they are tolerable, but you sure remember the ones who are not!

The Missus said...

Having bartended and served at many restaurants... I firmly believe that a 15% tip should be included in the overall cost of a meal on the check...

I too have been stuffed many times. It's ridiculous how many clueless people there are out there.

Frogdancer said...

Ummm... bad day at work??? (Backs away slowly holding a menu in front of me as a shield....)
I've given you an award. Hope it goes with your decor...

Anonymous said...

Having worked in plenty of jobs where I depended on tips, I think this should be required reading for ANYONE who has never worked for tips in their life.

Anonymous said...

The worst thing is when people assume you're stupid when you're a server. I have 2 degrees and have earned those degrees with my tips. I am a supply teacher right now with plans of teaching full time in the future. And it always horrifies me to see regular customers (out with their young families) tip so poorly when they know that I am going through to be a teacher and that their tips are being invested in my - and their - future, as I may teach their child at some point. Their lousy tips for my awesome service say a lot about how they treat people. These will be the parents that complain that I am not focusing enough on their child with no regard for the fact that I have 25 others to focus on as well.
I find it hard to respect people who tip poorly (for no reason) because, to me, it says that they are willing/able to disrespect others since they can get away with it: the kind of people who would pocket a $20 instead of returning it to the old lady who unknowingly dropped it. So sad, really...
Tips are not the icing on a cake: some bonus yo give if the service blows you away. We make less than minimum wage, and do not get raises. The GOVERNMENT decides when we get a raise, thru raising minimum wage. We depend on tips to live and, in my case, go to school. And unfortunately the people who don't tip their servers for good service are often people who didn't depend on tips to pay for their education, rather, they depended on mummy and daddy.

TheGeneralPublicSucks said...

A must read for anyone who goes out to eat! Having been a restaurant employee for 10 years, I enjoy seeing articles highlighting how people should act in a restaurant. Check out my blog for my daily (well, almost daily) accounts of my interactions with customers at my job.
The General Public Sucks