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Whose been served? (1 Viewer)

Stevan Lay

Second Unit
Joined
Jan 5, 2000
Messages
485
Actually, this is a pet peeve for many diners that I've come across. It's obviously a different culture that we have here and it is not customary for the waiter/waitress to bring the bill as soon as the guest is done eating or when the table has been cleared. It is usually the case that they wish to stay on for dessert/coffee or just want to chat further while finishing off their wine or coffee. In most cases bringing the bill too soon (especially right after the meal has finished) is regarded as the opposite to what you guys would view as efficient service. Showing the bill immediately before the guest has made any intentions of wanting to leave is just a way of showing them the door, so to speak. People just do not want to be rushed is the lesson.

But then again we do things differently here; tipping is not compulsory.
 

Stevan Lay

Second Unit
Joined
Jan 5, 2000
Messages
485
I think that's great advice. Good servicing is mostly about being observant, attentive and timeliness.
 

Philip_G

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2000
Messages
5,030

I noticed the same in Germany, christ they'd leave us there for a half hour without the bill.
 

david stark

Second Unit
Joined
Jan 24, 2003
Messages
256

I moved to north america about 1 year ago and it does get on my nerves a bit when the waiter/waitress brings out the bill without having been asked for it. At first I used to pay nad leave, but now a lot of the times I just ignore it and ask him/her for another drink or whatever I want.

Other different north american restaurant custums that annoy me (and it seems some locals as well from above posts):
1. bring out main course before I've finished the starter.
2. clearing the table while people are still eating.
3. in general serving staff come over and talk to you more often, I'm out eating with my friends I want to talk to them not you.

As the point of the original post, ways to increase your tip with me:
1. be there when my glass is running empty. If the place offers refills then also offer clean glasses.
2. you don't have to ask how everything is every 5 minutes.

As a final note, the worst service I've had since coming here was at a high end steak house in Toronto. I'd been there a couple of times and the service had been excellent. This time however we were left waiting ages to order (>20 minutes), drinks ran out for the whole table on more than one occasion. All the servers seemed to be interested was in a party of 8 a few tables over.

At the end of the night it was about a $450 (canadian) in total for 4 people and I left between $5-$10 tip. One of the waiters came over as we about to leave and asked if the food had been ok. I replied that the food had been fine, but said the service had been very poor and he just walked off without saying another word to me. Needless to say I've not been back there since.
 

Jason_Els

Screenwriter
Joined
Feb 22, 2001
Messages
1,096
I've been to the best restaurants in the world and a few of the worst. I'm a slave to Zagat. I admit it. :b

The best service I've ever had, believe it or not, was at Gallagher's Steak House in NYC. The lamb I ordered was wonderful but my guest found his steak tough :angry: . I offered to have it sent back but he declined. The wait staff consisted of "seasoned" waiters who had obviously worked their since the dawn of time but damn if they weren't absolutely telepathic. Every time I wanted something I didn't have to even look away from the table. The guy was on it as soon as I knew I wanted something. I have no idea how wait staff achieves that level of service but it was brilliant. Even during coffee he immediately knew when we were done lingering and brought the check just as I was thinking, 'we'd better get going'. He was back with the receipt in under five minutes. That guy got a 35% tip on a $125. bill. Few places were as good as this at higher prices including Alain Ducasse's joint in NYC (admittedly before the overhaul) where it's a one waiter per table deal.

Worst service I ever had was in a retro-style diner where my food was late, I waited TEN minutes in a sparsely-populated dining room before the waitress even showed, and she spent my entire meal talking to her boyfriend a few booths over. I got my order and my drink and my food and then never saw her come over again. When I was done I looked for her but she had disappeared so I waited a little longer and then gave up. I went up to the register furious I had no service, no refill, and NO BILL! I left her nothing and told the hostess why in no uncertain terms. I have never been back there. A few times I have been to restaurants where I've had NO service at all. For whatever reason no wait person ever came to the table. On one occasion there were four of us and we waited 20 minutes and never even got water. Two requests to other staff to "find our waiter" were either ignored or never delivered. Walked out both times and neither time did the maitre d' even notice.

My essentials for excellent service are:
  1. Be attentive from the moment we sit down.
  2. Get drinks acurately and quickly and keep them filled
  3. Know your menu items perfectly and actually try everything on the menu
  4. Watch the table like a hawk. Look for signs people are finished or might need something. A searching head is not interested in the decor.
  5. Be prompt with the bill when asked otherwise be prepared to bring it after the entree if asked. Nothing like having it ready when asked .
  6. Don't be chatty or divert your attention to someone else while at the table. I don't need to know your name either.
  7. Thank your host for coming and always ask if everything was as it should be. If there have been mistakes apologize after making good on them immediately as they happen.
  8. Don't chew gum, scratch your irritating groin rash, or fart while at the table. (I've had all three happen). Remember, we're closer to your crotch than you are.
  9. Be sure the table is properly set before we sit down. If a utensil is dropped., appear immediately with a replacement.
  10. Give honest opinions on specials and deserts. Know your food.
  11. If you are not the sommelier be sure the sommelier is advised of what we have ordered before he or she arrives to take our order.[/list=1]

    Yeah I'm a stickler, but I appreciate good service and will go above or below 20% based on my perceptions. I've seen wait staff appear do all these things effortlessly. New York is an outstanding school for wait staff. New Yorkers are impatient, perfectionist, and sophisticated. We know good food from bad and the sheer volume of good restaurants in a city where people dine out more than any other in the world, means only the best of the best stand out. New York has long exceeded Paris as the gastronomic capital of the planet. The best of New York is the best in the world.

    The diner is not off the hook either. My rules to being a courteous diner:
    1. Be polite! Be polite! Be polite
    2. See the above.
    3. Be sure you and your table know what they're going to have before ordering starts.
    4. If your party is each paying separately make sure people keep track of their costs then have every tab figured before the end of the meal. Try to pay with one card or have the cash ready.
    5. If you're at the first seating don't keep the table needlessly. If you're enrapt in what you're talking about or having the time of your life, then fine. But if the service was great leave an extra large tip to make-up for the table not turning over that evening.
    6. Complaints about the wait staff or food should go to the maitre d' if you're not returning a dish to the kitchen.
    7. Let the maitre d' know that you're the host if you are. That information should be transmitted to the wait staff by the maitre d' to avoid service errors.
    8. If you are pressed for time, require assistance, or have dietary restrictions tell the waiter as soon as possible so your waiter can check with the kitchen.
    9. DO place your silverware together on the plate when finished. If you can't help moving your plate, don't have the rim off the side of the table.
    10. Say "thank you" frequently. You want the waiter to be your ally in the kitchen and elsewhere in the restaurant. If you like the service you've received tell the maitre d' and then get the name of the waitress for your return visit. If you have no idea what a good waiter can do for you then you've never been to Antoine's-- or you have and thought it sucked.
    11. Don't bother the busperson with orders. If you need something have the busperson get the waitress.
    12. If a diner has a problem with an order it's up to the host to make it known to the waiter. If there is no host then designate someone who has the best view of the room to act as one.[/list=1]

      And a final "Thank you!" to Empire Szechuan. Great food, Good service..... until we were finished. 45 minutes and no check despite 2 requests to give it to us. We had a great free meal!

      P.S. - Avoid eating when celebrities are around. Most restaurants go ga-ga and end-up giving poor service to the rest of the diners. Some restaurants are used to it but most don't handle it well.
 

Dave Simpson

Second Unit
Joined
Sep 18, 1999
Messages
445


Larry,

I'm not out to start a beef with you, or indeed anybody, here, but I'd like to offer my opinion on your statement in a civil fashion. I had a similar conversation with the cook at the joint in which I currently serve as the barman (been at it for some years now). The young fellow wanted to know why he should tip me (or anyone behind a bar) when all I do is turn around, retrieve the beer from the fridge, pop the lid and hand it over. It wasn't the first time I've heard this reasoning, so I explained it to him, as I've explained it to others in the past: waiting tables or tending a bar isn't a minimum-wage (five bucks, seven bucks, whatever) gig; it's an $18/hr job. This is because, yep, it's a really shitty job sometime, and very few would put up with it at minimum wage. The pressure simply isn't worth it. To my way of thinking, there is an unspoken agreement between client and server, which goes like this: you provide me with friendly, quick, efficient, and inoffensive service, I'll provide you with a tip of 15% or greater. Of course, it doesn't always work out this way, but it normally balances out in the end. Now, if everybody decided that a tip will never be left to any server under any circumstance in any restaurant or bar, then the house owner would be compelled to give his service staff really substantial raises to make up for the loss of gratuities, or the owner would face the loss of his staff, and have little chance of finding replacements to work for minimum wage. So, once the new raises were in effect, and I mean a wage of around $15-20/hr., and my cook friend asked me for a bottle of beer, I'd happily turn around, retrieve the beer from the fridge, pop the lid, hand it to him, and say "there you go, pal. That'll be $12.50", because the owner of the house will have passed his new labour cost right along to the customer. My point is that one way or the other, the service staff will be paid a decent wage, or there will be no service staff at all. In return, the customer has every right to expect fine service.
Thanks for reading. Cheers.

DS.
 

Stevan Lay

Second Unit
Joined
Jan 5, 2000
Messages
485
Jason, I'm glad you posted that. IMO, the whole eating out experience is a two-way street. While the customer has every right to expect fine service, the diner should also be accomodating and understanding of the efforts in running a restaurant/bar.
 

LarryDavenport

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 15, 1999
Messages
2,973
Dave: Bars are different than what I meant by "counter service." I always tip bartenders about 50 cents a drink, which can add up to much more than 20 percent over an evening's drinking (since I only drink pop now).

What I meant by counter service is a restaurant (a Seattle-area pizzaria comes to mind) where I stand in line to place my order, have to fetch my own utensils and napkins, and have to go up to the counter when my name/number is called, and am expected to bus my own table.

Similarly, if I go to a coffee shop and order an espresso drink, I'll tip as much as 25 percent, depending on what my change is, but I won't tip if I ask for a drip coffee and am handed an empty cup and pointed to the pot to help myself.
 

MikeSerrano

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 7, 1999
Messages
354
There are definitely some cultural differences.

Here's how it is In this neck of the woods:

The waitperson is seen as a participant in the event that is the meal. The server should be genuinely friendly (and not a caricature of a TGI Friday's server--replete with "pieces of flair"). Friendly conversation is encouraged.

Drink and appetizer orders should be taken as soon as the guests are seated.

Allow a reasonable amount of time between appetizer and main course.

Make sure glasses are full, but always ask before refilling.

Keep the dining area clean. This means removing empty dishes as soon as the customer has finished.

Be accessible. This means checking in every so often.

Don't make the customer wait for the bill, if they have to ask for it, you've taken too long. (It is understood if the diner wants something else the old bill will be taken back and a new bill delivered).

If all these things are competently done, a 20% tip is given, more if the server was especially good. 15% is standard for "okay" service.

-Mike
 

Dave Simpson

Second Unit
Joined
Sep 18, 1999
Messages
445
Larry,

I stand corrected regarding counter service, which, I suppose, is a partial form of self-service. Of course, a smaller tip would be appropriate in this case. Cheers.

DS.
 

Sami Kallio

Screenwriter
Joined
Jan 6, 2004
Messages
1,035
Yes, I do.

As for over the counter food places, I generally don't. In buffett places where the waitress only refills your drinks, the tip should be smaller. No matter how much the order is, the minimum tip for me is $1. If it's a bar and the drinks are, say 75c, when I get my bill I usually give the same amount in tips. If I pay with cash, I give $2 for the drink.

I tend to go with 20% tips and I hardly drop drop unless the service is really crappy. Even if it is crappy but you can tell the waitress/waiter is trying her/his best, I'll go with 20% tip. Unfriendly service is what causes me to lower the tip or not give it at all.
 

Shane Gralaw

Second Unit
Joined
Jul 24, 2001
Messages
298
Just went back to waiting and wanted to revive this thread.

Really, a server generally wants to please you as much as you want to be pleased. Budgeting your time on this scale is really difficult. I worked a lot of jobs between waiting the last time and waiting this time. It is a really hard job. I was a substititute teacher in Mexico where I had to wrangle 40 teenagers who didn't speak my language- that was easier. I know it appears sorta easy. It is truly one of those jobs where people observe it and are absolutely sure they could do it better. Really, most people can't.

Often waiters joke that there should be a mandatory service draft, like the Isreali army or something, before someone should be allowed to dine out. I wouldn't oppose that.

Enough bitching about shitty waiters- if you try a little to be a better customer- you will be well served and walking out happy.

Ok- RULES FOR WAITERS

1. Be prompt and courteous. Give every table the benefit of the doubt. I know, there are certain stereotypes about certain tables, and while some are totally true, don't go in expecting it. Rock out and they might surprise you (although, it can be a bigger pisser when you do this and your expectations were dead on- fuck it, shake it out- it is the total take of the night, not the individual rude table who dicks you).

2. Don't do the phony best friend thing. People hate this. If they ask your name, fine but don't go out of their way to schmooze people, unless you have a natural reaction to the flow of the situation. Don't be a phoney cheezebag. AND DON'T TOUCH THE CUSTOMERS unless you actually know them, personally.

3. Give them exact change or, if not round UP. Good god, if you round down 'cuz you don't have the change in your pocket and they are in a hurry, you will almost certainly meet up with someone who will translate you 3 cent stiff into dollard knocked off the tip.

4. Accomodate. If they want split checks and all twenty have debit cards- fucking do it. If they have crazy modifiers to their order- do it (as best you can with the policies of your restaurant). If they could get everything they wanted at home, they would eat at home.

5. Get a job at a place with excellent support staff. You can't be five places at once, and although this would seem obvious to anyone with half a brain, many customers are too wrapped up in their own shit to recognize this. So work somewhere with (ideally) a dedicated back wait, a runner, expo, and several hosts who all understand it is everyone's duty to help everyone else out.

6. Someone brought out the bending down question- I do this, but usually when the situation is more sensitive than usual. If you fuck up and it's so busy you forget to put an order in on time (hey it happens) the bend is acceptable, you are guilty and are being contrite- trying to be as honest about your fuck-up as possible and trying to see what will make the situation right. Also sensitive - when a credit card is declined- bend down and be discreet. And if you are the one with the bad credit card- your waiter didn't run that bill up- so don't tip them badly for "embarrasing" you by bringing it up. Visa did that when the card couldn't run.

RULES FOR CUSTOMERS (and yes you will get better service if you do these things)

1. Your waiter is a person. Make eye contact. Be as gracious to them as they are being to you (and if you get a pompous shit of a waiter- fine- be rude, but if they are trying to be nice to you, reciprocate). And if you are a busy person who must talk on a cell phone - tell your waitperson "excuse me for a sec" and they will leave you alone until you are done. And no fair getting pissed if they are not immediately there the second you hang up.

2. If the restaurant is busy, try to recognize that. You are the one who chose to have the optimal dining experience at 7:00 pm on a Friday. I know, you think the restaurant should have staffed more people, but this is not economically feasible. You can't call in staff for two hours of business. they would make fifteen dollars. You wouldn't probably wouldn't show up for two hours work for fifteen dollars- why should they? (See the first part of rule#1). But in any case, your waiter does not set they schedule, why penalize him or her and make them serve twice as much for half as much?

3. Some basic rules of communication. You want that refill? Put the glass on the edge of the table where it can be seen. If it is a really crowded restaurant or you are sitting in a booth, you might have to hand the server the glass - no hating- you waiter is not Mr. Gadget or Stretch Armstrong- the standard rule of biology and physics DO apply to waiters, too. You want your order taken? EVERYONE close their menus. You want your plate taken away? Put a napkin, silverware wrapper ring, Sweet'NLow packet trash or some other crap on your plate. We know you are not still noshing on your plate slowly without having to ask you 20 annoying times. You want the bill? Put some cash or a credit card down. Especially if it is breakfast or lunch and you are in a hurry - hell, do it when the meal is served- you will be paid up and out on your way as soon as you want to be.

4. Don't stack plates. Ok, people usually do this out of good will. They think they are being helpful. I do appreciate that but it is super UNhelpful. You are not making a tidy pile for the waiter to easily take away. Usually, it is an unstable heap of plates layered with food goo, saltine wrappers, forks, another plate of napkins, mashed up food, a kleenex, three spoons and a knife, ect ect- a totally unweildy and nasty mass that must be pulled apart more laboriously and nastily than it would have been if the waiter had removed the plates himself.

5. If it is a cheap restaurant, tip better. It doesn't matter if you got away with a bill of $8.44. If you waiter still had to greet you, take your drink order, ring it correctly, get it out to you promptly, take your food order with whatever specifications you desire, check back on refills, run your food, check back to see if it's correct, do more refills, get your payment, process it, check yet again for refills, ect ect - then tip according to the fact your waiter had to do about a dozen+ things to serve you. That's a minimum, a dollar per person. Two dollars, for non-fine dining, is really good- 3+ and you will be treated like a king the next time you come in (and that's what you're going out for, right- to get what you want and feel good about the experience?). That said, if two of the fifteen were not done to your exact specifications, don't stiff or tip super-badly. Hey if they could have done all of them correctly, a good waiter probably would have. They still did at least 10 things correct (for 2.10 and hour). And if you want to order just appetizers or just hang out for two hours, fine. But please tip accordingly. Sometimes a waiter only has four or five tables, and if you take one up for a low tab or for a long time, you cut into their ability to earn. Just try to recognize and tip accordingly. Tip better for a long stay or for a low tab. Hell, I work in a restaurant where a I had three sorority girls who ordered two appetizers and one drink and stayed for an hour. Still gave them great service (giving them the benefit of the doubt) and got six bucks off the table- despite the super- low tab (thank you ladies). Be cheap if ya wanna, but not to the service people.

You know eating out involves tipping- this is America- it is a social contract of sorts - part of the price is the tip. If you are cash strapped- cook at home- no fair to dick a service person. They are doing at least a dozen other really nasty and menial things as side work, without which you meal would either suck hard or not happen at all, for which they get paid next to nothing. Just try to empathize a bit and be nice.
 

Scott L

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 29, 2000
Messages
4,457
i used to work for tips... just keep refilling my drinks and you get an easy 18-20% from me
 

MarkHastings

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jan 27, 2003
Messages
12,013
One other thing to mention to the wait staff:

-Don't take anything out on your next customers. If the last party really screwed you out of a tip, it's not fair to take that anger out on the next party. How many times have I heard a wait person say "Ugh, I've had a bad day" or "The last table screwed me", etc. - and they act all miserable.

It's not my fault that you are having a bad day. If I am expected to tip you, then you can't expect a lot of 'understanding' from me. I'll understand to an extent, but having a bad day, does not mean you can slight me on service.

As was said, if customers who are 'strapped', shouldn't eat out - wait staff who are 'miserable', shouldn't be serving.
 

TV555

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jul 26, 2006
Messages
59
Real Name
Tom Veryal
There are 2 different types of perfect waiters for me:

1) Completely invisible and transparent. I don't really notice a lack of any service.

2) Hot hot hot females that flirt w/ me and make me believe.

I have actually had 1 of these.
 

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