Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A quibble with the 100 things not to do

Some of you have asked me to comment on a New York Time article by Bruce Buscell titled "100 things restaurant staffers should never do (part 1)"

Many of things are just common sense and normal human decency like # 1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting. Or #2. Do not make a singleton feel bad. Do not say, “Are you waiting for someone?” Ask for a reservation. Ask if he or she would like to sit at the bar.

Other "don'ts" aren't quite as black and white. I disagree with the following don'ts for the following reasons:

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

Studies have shown that waiters who tell guests their names make better tips. I believe it's because the person your serving is forced to remember that you're a person/fellow human being and that might lead him or her to think you, like him or her, have bills to pay and feelings that would be hurt by inconsiderate tips. Maybe saying your name would be out of line in some stiff restaurants where guests prefer to think of their waitress as a servant.

11. Do not hustle the lobsters. That is, do not say, “We only have two lobsters left.” Even if there are only two lobsters left.

If it's a busy night in the restaurant where you're dining and you want lobster, would you want to know there are only two left? Just asking.

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

I hate sitting there with an empty plate in front of me and I hate having a full plate in front of me when I'm finished, that stands whether the person I'm with is finished or not. Take it away, I say. And that's why I clear plates before everyone is finished. Some people even hand me their plates while their companions are still scooting peas around with their forks.

31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong.

What if the guest doesn't want to talk about it? She has diarrhea or the guy she's with called her fat?

32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.

What if they're wearing something really soft?

37. Do not drink alcohol on the job, even if invited by the guests. “Not when I’m on duty” will suffice.

Isn't free booze part of the employee benefit package at most restaurants? No health insurance or paid vacation, but a free glass of wine to take the edge off those mean rednecks who stiffed you can make it possible to smile at the next table that asks for sweet tea.

38.Do not call a guy a “dude.”

Even if he has long blond hair and wears board shorts?

40. Never say, “Good choice,” implying that other choices are bad.

I disagree with this one in earnest. It makes the guest feel accomplished. It's not that other choices are bad, but this person is special and identified the best thing on the menu all by him or herself. I feel proud of myself when waiters congratulate me on my choice and I like to reward my cleverest customers with a little proverbial pat on the back.

42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else.

So not true. If I compliment your date's sense of style, I'm simultaneously complimenting yours.

43. Never mention what your favorite dessert is. It’s irrelevant.

Unless it really is the best.

49. Never mention the tip, unless asked.

Or if it's a foreigner who has left you 3 percent and you feel it's your duty to all the servers this European will stiff after you on his vacation. Letting him leave without a gentle, "was there something wrong with the service?" and brief explanation of U.S. tipping customs is like setting your friend up with a guy you know has Herpes.

1 comment:

  1. What about addressing customers as "you guys"? As in, "Are you guys ready to order?" I have to admit I've said that if your server calls you "you guys" you aren't at an upscale restaurant.