I thought about writing a post like this while I was working at Nonna’s over the summer and after spending a few weekends back at Rhino, I’m finally writing it. So what is this post about? It’s about the fact that at least once a weekend I find myself thinking, “It should be required by law that every person must work at a restaurant for at least a week.” I say this because there is a code of ethics that every person should abide by when wining and dining at the average establishment. Let me shed a little light on it for ya…
Upon entering the establishment, if there is a host or hostess, please let him or her do her job. There is no reason to stand on top of the podium with your arms and legs blocking her from talking to anyone else. I promise you, if she has your name written down that she will call it when the table is ready. Additionally, please do not look around, point at empty tables, and say, “There’s an open table over there, can we have that one?” There is a reason why that table is empty and if you see a list of names ahead of yours, why would you think that table is for you? It’s not. It’s not a conspiracy against you or some evil plan to keep you hungry, it is empty for a reason. Sometimes tables are kept empty when a big party is waiting and the hostess needs to put tables together. Sometimes a table is open waiting to be sat by a party who made a reservation. Whatever the reason, it’s not your table so wait patiently.
In case you were not aware, servers are given a section of tables to cover. The host or hostess is supposed to seat those sections in a rotation so that the server is not bombarded by a bunch of tables at the same time. What customers fail to recognize is that the system is not only set up that way for the sake of the server but also for the sake of the service they receive. If you allow us to seat you in the proper rotation, instead of hand-picking a table, you will get served more quickly and more efficiently throughout your meal.
Now that you’re sitting down, I have a few other quick tips. For starters, keep the pathways open. Whether the servers are carrying plates of pasta or armfuls of beer, we need space to move. Again, not only does this allow us to better do our job but it eliminates the possibility of me spilling hot wing sauce and bleu cheese dressing all over you. Just sayin. Also, try to order refills, more napkins, and extra dressings all at the same time. Believe it or not, you are not the only table we are serving and other tables require our attention as well. Shocking, I know.
If you have children, or if you just act like a child, please be aware that you are still in a public place. Other customers do not want to have to step over and around your adorable 5 year old running laps up and down the restaurant aisle. Nor do I want to trip over her and drop a tray of chicken parm dinners and salmon specials on the floor. Other customers do not appreciate you attempting to grab a chicken wing from their bowl as I walk by or backing up into the tray of vodka tonics because in your world, no one else is trying to get tipsy and sing a long to Britney’s “I Wanna Go.”
Unless I know you, you are a regular, or you are a legitimate love interest….I’m not your baby, your doll face, or your cupcake. I introduce myself for a reason. I have a name so please use it. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate a table when they ask to be reminded of my name instead of barking out, “Hey you!” when they want my attention.
The bus boys are there to tidy up, not to perform full-on maid services. If you have such little control over your kids, at least clean up after them. If you are in capable of either and just have to make a complete mess of the table and floor (including straw wrappers, half eaten pieces of bread, pizza sauce on the walls, and smeared packages of butter on the floor….leave an extra $10 on the table). And in the case of a bar, the floor guys and waitresses are not all jazzed and eager to clean up your mess. Try to keep licked clean chicken bones and plastic cups on the tables and not the floor.
If you have a large party, do not ask to split the check 6 different ways. Do not ask for separate checks 3/4 of the way through the meal either. Especially in the bar setting, it takes a lot of time that frankly, we don’t have. I love when people ask, “Is it really annoying if we split a $65 tab between 8 credit cards?” Noooo, not annoying at all, really. Or I really like when people split tabs of $20 and under, that really makes my day. I once had a table split a $12 check 4 ways…like really? I can’t…I just can’t…I just can’t even go there. Put it on one card and give your buddy some casheesh…better yet, pay for the cab on the way to the next bar.
Unless your service was particularly awful, please tip well. More likely than not, the position your server or bartender holds is the position that pays rent (cough me cough) so an extra couple of bucks really does make a difference. Also, if a bartender gives you a free round or a manager takes something off of your check to be nice, please tip according to what the full bill would have been. The server still put the order in, brought it out to you, and got you extra freakin’ dressing on the side.
I understand completely that when you go to an eatery, it is expected that you will receive a certain level of service. I also understand that since you are paying for the food and service, that it should be to your liking, however I don’t believe I’ve asked for anything too unreasonable. All I’m saying is that if you help me, I will better help you. I also think that most people in the hospitality industry would agree with these simple requests so I’m not alone. If everyone had to work in a restaurant for a week, you would understand how the little things go a long way. For example, when I eat out, I stack my dishes when I’m finished eating, I pick up the little pieces of paper that never get swept up, and I always tip 20%. Most importantly, I always try to remember that even though a restaurant is a public place, that it is really someone’s home. I’ve come to think of Nonna’s and Rhino as other homes so it makes me sad to see people treat it like crap. Would you want me to make a sh!t storm of your living room? I didn’t think so.
I think everyone should experience work in a bar or restaurant also because the environment teaches you a lot about yourself. It teaches you how to interact with all types of people, including the people you work with. It teaches you how to work quickly and efficiently. It teaches you how to handle chaos and irritable customers. It teaches you that mutual respect is crucial to getting along with anyone and it teaches you how to be a team player. “The industry” as they say, is a team sport so if you can’t pull your weight or learn how to pick up the slack of a rookie, then you should probably find another profession. The dinner rushes, the late-night crowds, and the hustle and bustle can get crazy but the best part about working on this team is that we all understand that. We all understand that we’re going to yell, scream, and freak out over mistakes, but then 20 minutes later there’s another issue and we move on. And if all else fails, you finish the day with a drink, count your cash, smirk at each other at how kick ass it is that we served food all day to make more money than our 9-5er friends, and forget the whole thing ever happened!
Sassarella Says…servers are people too! The only reason I started working at either Nonna’s or Rhino is mainly because I said, “Hello, how are you?” to the employees instead of ignoring them the multiple times a week I spent money there. I have to say that although I’m drinking some haterade throughout this post, most of the customers I encounter do not need this helpful guide (which is why I am able to continue in this industry). It is why I love it. I love meeting new people and having the opportunity to experience new places and events because of those people. So don’t get all freaked out if I consistently wait on you and now you’re wondering if I secretly hate you. I don’t, I promise. If I did, I wouldn’t be consistently waiting on you. But coming from a waitress, the best service you will ever receive will be because you treated a server, bartender, etc with respect instead of going into the encounter assuming I’m a low-life idiot who will undoubtedly eff up your order. Because let me tell you, I will hardly ever eff up your order. Like I said, you are in my home and in my home you get what you want, how you want it….just ask for it with a smile, dammit.