By Brian Montgomery
Steve recently showed me a blog on the New York Times' website called "100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do". You can check it out yourself here. In addition to frequently dining out myself, I previously worked in a restaurant for nearly 7 years in various capacities from lowly busser and dishwasher to server and host/supervisor. As a result, I looked forward to reading the article!
I found myself agreeing with many of the points the author made, for example #34: Do not have a personal conversation with another server within earshot of customers. My take: Rude and unprofessional. Or, #62: Do not fill the water glass every two minutes, or after each sip. You'll make people nervous. Along with #62a: Do not let a glass sit empty for too long. My take: Be attentive but not annoying. That also goes for pouncing on me as soon as I sit down to recite your specials and take my drink order...
That's not to say that I agree with everything the author said. Here are two that rubbed me the wrong way.
#17: Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.
Why?! As a patron I don't want an empty plate sitting in front of me. It's in my way and unappetizing. Get rid of it, I'm obviously done. I don't think the waiter is being rude, they're being efficient. If the table is full of empty side plates and dishes, the waiter is inattentive or lazy.
#91: If someone complains about the music, do something about it, without upsetting the ambiance. (The music is not for the staff — it’s for the customers.)
Really? Come on. Some may say, "The customer is always right," or something like that. But really, in a case like this--sounds like the issue is with the customer, not the restaurant or its music selection, unless it's too loud. But then again, most restaurants are built around a theme or concept, and the music often reflects that. Chances are, if you go to the Hard Rock Cafe, you're going to hear loud Rock music. If you are that conceited and self-centered as a customer, you probably shouldn't go there in the first place to have a quiet dinner.
What do you think? What really bugs you when you go out to eat? What do you wish your waitstaff did or didn't do? By the way, we have a great selection of educational books to help you train your staff right!
- steve ziegler
Brian, a couple things I would like to add to this. First, be sure to check out the comments this article brought in...they are funny. People have really strong feelings both ways about what the author wrote. Second, while I agree with many of this author's rules, I take issue with some being too nit picky and homogenizing and I take issue with his tone in general. I guess being raised by a single mom who waited tables makes me a bit sensitive to people treating waitstaff like personal servants. Having tended bar in the past, I like the commenter who suggested that there needs to be a list of rules like this for restaurant customers!