Monday, August 17, 2009

Advice to customers: Speak up! (sometimes)

If you go to a casual dining restaurant late in the evening, when you're one of only three tables there, and your appetizer hasn't shown up after ten minutes, speak the fuck up.

Now, I do mean after ten real minutes, not five "I'll exaggerate and be a bitch" minutes. This is especially important if you've decided to bark your order at a drink runner with no notepad, rather than wait thirty more seconds for your freaking waitress.

Here's the story:

Tonight, I have to admit that Brainless really helped me out. I had a table of twenty damn teenagers on the patio--six meals and five drinks between them, but at least they were amusing. I was sat another table at 12 as I was headed out to the patio with their six split tickets. I stopped and got the new table's drink order and then went back to the kitchen with some of the kids' cash. As I was counting it out, the hostess came back with the rest of their tickets--they were all in a hurry. Since I knew it would take a minute to sort it out, I asked the hostess, Jen, to run my new table's drinks to them.

I then took the various change up front to the waiting teenagers, and was about to go take the table 12's order when Jen came up and handed me a notepad with their order on it. As she was setting down their drinks, they'd started snapping their order at her. She hadn't written down their steak temperatures, so I stopped by to get those. They acted a little odd and short with me, but they'd seemed grumpy since they came in so I didn't think anything about it.

I got a couple of other tables, and just kept circulating around. I made eye contact with both people at table 12 several times as I walked by, smiled, etc. They didn't say anything to me, just kept talking to each other. A few minutes later, I had just dropped off an appetizer at one of my other tables when I saw Brainless at table 12, and I could tell that the woman was throwing a fit. All I caught was something about "we never would have". Oh Christ.

Turns out, they'd ordered an appetizer. After Brainless talked to them, Jen came rushing over to find out what was wrong, and that's when I found out that she had written down their order after they gave it to her--I thought she'd gotten a pad and gone back, since it was written down. Well, she'd forgotten the appetizer, so it never got ordered; also apparently they'd been waiting for a refill for their soda for entirely too long (possible; I was busy with five tables on three different sides of the restaurant. The people were wicked pissed. Apparently they said several very nasty things about me to Brainless, and from the hideous look on the woman's face that didn't surprise me. I got the manager, who chatted with them; but I didn't want to deal with them the rest of the meal, so I asked Brainless if she'd finish them since they apparently liked her.

She took them, and they left her $10, so that worked out great. The entire time, though, they kept glaring at me. The entire time I was taking care of my other tables, they glared. To the point of shifting in their booth to lean against the wall and glare at me. The one time I did walk directly by their table, they averted their eyes like pansies.

Now, obviously there were several screw-ups here. Jen should have gotten a notepad or told them to wait for me; I should have reviewed the whole order with the customers. But Jen's also a server, so I trusted her. Obviously the fact that their appetizer got forgotten is not the customers' fault, but they could have said something instead of waiting until they got their food and then blowing their freaking top. Had they just politely asked me how long on their mozzarella sticks, I could have corrected the problem and apologized and averted a whole uncomfortable situation for everyone.

So the moral of the story is this: one, don't insist on giving your order to someone who's not your server! Two, if something is honestly taking a long time, politely ask--the worst that can happen is we tell you the kitchen is busy and it's on the way.

Anyway, I guess Brainless and I are even now--I had to take one of her tables on Friday because she was standing at the host station talking and never greeted them. They'd gone to the bar and asked for drinks, and then stopped me on the way by, because she was just completely ignoring her entire section. They were perfectly pleasant but didn't tip me; these people were rude and angry and left her $10. Guess it balances out!


LW said...

I have people try and give my busboy their order all the time.

purplegirl said...

It's ridiculous! They insist on giving their order to somebody not qualified, and then get pissed when it's wrong. Why can't they just wait for the professionals? :)

Sanity of a Server said...

Our happy hour customers always try to order more food and drinks through the servers that run the food out and these servers never order it or tell anyone because they are more worried about their tables. I don't get why they can't just wait another two minutes!

purplegirl said...

Well if they wait two minutes, they might have to pay full price for that plate of greazy nachos!

chef's kitchen rant said...

We have recently tried having just the one order taker for the whole restaurant. Works well but the regulars don't like it, they find it less personal! So now we are back to section orders. The kitchen tends to get shafted as all orders come in together, but who gives a shit about us chefs anyway?
I don't understand the whole rush to get fed thing. Aren't you out for nice evening?
Regards RantingChef

purplegirl said...

I can't imagine having one order taker, but I guess it depends on the size of the restaurant. I can see how it'd be better for the chefs, though; our managers are always trying to pound into peoples' heads to space out their orders, but of course my coworkers just plug everything in all at once and crash the kitchen!