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Thread: 100 things a restaurant server should never do

  1. #1
    Elite Member KristiB's Avatar
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    Default 100 things a restaurant server should never do

    Great list and I can't wait to see the second half. One of my pet peeves is being called, "you guys." I won't hold it against the server tip wise, but it irritates me.

    One Hundred Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part 1) - You’re the Boss Blog - NYTimes.com

    Herewith is a modest list of dos and don’ts for servers at the seafood restaurant I am building. Veteran waiters, moonlighting actresses, libertarians and baristas will no doubt protest some or most of what follows. They will claim it homogenizes them or stifles their true nature. And yet, if 100 different actors play Hamlet, hitting all the same marks, reciting all the same lines, cannot each one bring something unique to that role?

    1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.

    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.

    3. Never refuse to seat three guests because a fourth has not yet arrived.

    4. If a table is not ready within a reasonable length of time, offer a free drink and/or amuse-bouche. The guests may be tired and hungry and thirsty, and they did everything right.

    5. Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.

    6. Do not lead the witness with, “Bottled water or just tap?” Both are fine. Remain neutral.

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

    8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials. Wait for the right moment.

    9. Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. It is not a soliloquy. This is not an audition.

    10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials.

    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.

    12. Do not touch the rim of a water glass. Or any other glass.

    13. Handle wine glasses by their stems and silverware by the handles.

    14. When you ask, “How’s everything?” or “How was the meal?” listen to the answer and fix whatever is not right.

    15. Never say “I don’t know” to any question without following with, “I’ll find out.”

    16. If someone requests more sauce or gravy or cheese, bring a side dish of same. No pouring. Let them help themselves.

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

    18. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what. Do not ask, “Who’s having the shrimp?”

    19. Offer guests butter and/or olive oil with their bread.

    20. Never refuse to substitute one vegetable for another.

    21. Never serve anything that looks creepy or runny or wrong.

    22. If someone is unsure about a wine choice, help him. That might mean sending someone else to the table or offering a taste or two.

    23. If someone likes a wine, steam the label off the bottle and give it to the guest with the bill. It has the year, the vintner, the importer, etc.

    24. Never use the same glass for a second drink.

    25. Make sure the glasses are clean. Inspect them before placing them on the table.

    26. Never assume people want their white wine in an ice bucket. Inquire.

    27. For red wine, ask if the guests want to pour their own or prefer the waiter to pour.

    28. Do not put your hands all over the spout of a wine bottle while removing the cork.

    29. Do not pop a champagne cork. Remove it quietly, gracefully. The less noise the better.

    30. Never let the wine bottle touch the glass into which you are pouring. No one wants to drink the dust or dirt from the bottle.

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

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

    33. Do not bang into chairs or tables when passing by.

    34. Do not have a personal conversation with another server within earshot of customers.

    35. Do not eat or drink in plain view of guests.

    36. Never reek from perfume or cigarettes. People want to smell the food and beverage.

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

    38.Do not call a guy a “dude.”

    39. Do not call a woman “lady.”

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

    41. Saying, “No problem” is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm. “My pleasure” or “You’re welcome” will do.

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

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

    44. Do not discuss your own eating habits, be you vegan or lactose intolerant or diabetic.

    45. Do not curse, no matter how young or hip the guests.

    46. Never acknowledge any one guest over and above any other. All guests are equal.

    47. Do not gossip about co-workers or guests within earshot of guests.

    48. Do not ask what someone is eating or drinking when they ask for more; remember or consult the order.

    49. Never mention the tip, unless asked.

    50. Do not turn on the charm when it’s tip time. Be consistent throughout.
    Next week: 51-100.

  2. #2
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Damn. "No problem" has an air of insincerity? I agree with many of those above, but lots of others seem so over the top. Like these must be for high-end restaurants that I'll never visit because they make me so uncomfortable with all the formality that I'm sure I'm doing something wrong. I just hardly ever frequent places like that.

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    Elite Member KristiB's Avatar
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    I waited tables in high end restaurants and I've dined in many. Do not be intimidated. They're more happy with neophytes than know it alls.

    The only wrong things you could do are manner related like dine and dash, yammering at top volume on you cell, or not leave a tip

    We went to one place the other night and they gave me a piece of silverware I had never seen before (still not sure wtf it was). I asked and the server explained it. I tried using it and didn't like it and went back to a spoon and fork.

  4. #4
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    Yeah, it's me feeling like such a fucking yokel in those places that I feel even the servers are looking down on me or know I don't belong. What can I say, I'm blue collar and I feel uncomfortable being waited on so formally. Like when they offer me a taste of the wine I order I'm thinking "okay I'll taste it but I've never met a wine I didn't drink!" It feels so hoity-toity. I'm more at home at an Outback or some place with peanuts on the floor than any Michelin-star-rated place.

    The couple I really liked were the "don't make singletons feel bad" and "NEVER touch the customer." And some other ones that are really common sense like not banging into chairs, no gossip or personal convos in front of guests and don't mention the tip.

    Still I wouldn't hold it against them for complimenting me or if they mention their preferences. Sometimes I even ask what they like better, I might avoid ordering a bad dish.

  5. #5
    Elite Member DeChayz's Avatar
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    I very much disagree with:
    7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.
    10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials.
    a) I don't want a cyborg for a server, I want a person. Make jokes, bond; you will get a bigger tip!
    and b) Yes, I do want suggestions when it comes to specials/menu items, especially when I'm torn between a couple. Your opinion can help me choose!

  6. #6
    Elite Member yanna's Avatar
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    Fantastic list! I love it when I get good service! I particularly like No. 7. I'm sorry but it bugs me. I don't care about the server's name and I probably won't remember it. I think it's an American thing. I've never had a waiter come and tell me their name in Europe, not that I remember, at least. And I would prefer some distance. I'll tip them anyway, we're not best buds.

    And I don't want their own opinion unsolicited. If I ask for help choosing something, good. If they tell me that their whatever is particularly good or fresh that evening I'll just assume that everything else on the menu is not that great/fresh etc. And I'll except them to have an idea of what's in each dish or at least run to the kitchen and find out.

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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    I especially like number 12-do not touch the rim of a glass. That just makes me cringe. I don't know where those hands have been and do not wish to drink after them. I think these are good solid rules.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    In regards to number 32, I thought studies showed that when servers/waiters touched their customers, they received a higher tip or something.

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    Elite Member Penny Lane's Avatar
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    I do not want my waiter touching me.. that's creepy.

  11. #11
    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Study: Restaurant customers tip better when touched

    Reach out and touch someone may be the new motto of the hospitality industry. A new study by the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell, published in the June 1998 issue of the Cornell Hotel and Administration Quarterly, shows that when restaurant servers touch their customers -- even for as long as four seconds -- they increase their tips by more than 3 percent.
    Especially prone to the power of touch were younger customers: Touching them increased tips by nearly 7 percent. Older customers were less influenced by the four-second touch: hands-on service only increased tips in this group by about 2 percent.
    Existing studies have shown similar increases in tips when the customer is touched, but this study is the first to show that a prolonged touch does not provoke a negative reaction from customers that might cause them to leave smaller tips.
    "We found customers tipped significantly more when touched than when not touched and that the duration of the touch has no negative effect on tipping," said Michael Lynn, associate professor of consumer behavior and marketing, who co-authored the study with David Sherwyn, assistant professor of law, both of Cornell's School of Hotel Administration, and Joseph-Mykal Le, a graduate student at the University of Houston at Clear Lake. "Our finding that even four-second touches increase tips suggests that hospitality managers and employees need not fear that they might accidentally touch customers for too long," Lynn said.
    Lynn had a waiter at a Houston restaurant randomly assign his customers either no touch, a brief touch (two seconds) or a prolonged touch (four seconds, which was silently counted as "one-Mississippi, two-Mississippi, three-Mississippi, four-Mississippi"). The waiter touched his customers on the shoulder while delivering the check.
    The study showed that tips increased from an average of 11.5 percent in the "no touch" condition to an average of 14.9 percent in the "brief touch" and 14.7 percent in the "prolonged touch" conditions.
    The study suggests that hospitality managers' objections over encouraging employees to touch customers because of the risk of lawsuit are unfounded. The study's authors say the touch they suggest "is not harmful or offensive enough to make out a claim for battery."
    "Moreover, the damages in a battery suit depend on the harm done, and the harm inflicted by a brief, casual touch is negligible," the study offers. "Hospitality managers could benefit from encouraging their employees to touch customers," Lynn said. "Such a policy would make customers feel more welcome and appreciated. It would also increase employees' tip incomes, which should increase employee morale and reduce turnover. We see no valid reason to forgo these benefits. Thus, our recommendation is to reach out and touch your customer."

  12. #12
    Elite Member KristiB's Avatar
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    I don't want to be touched either. Keep it professional.

  13. #13
    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    For real. I don't know you, do NOT touch me! To me it would only make me immediately uncomfortable and come off as a purely insincere gesture. None of which bodes well for their tip.

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