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Things restaurant staffers should know. Or should they?

Post by Sue Kidd / The News Tribune on Nov. 13, 2009 at 2:59 pm | 2 Comments »
November 13, 2009 4:30 pm

The only positive thing about being home sick is catching up on my RSS feeds. This post and this post from the You’re The Boss blog at the New York Times website have lit up my feed this week.

The blog posts were written by Bruce Buschel, who is chronicling the opening of his seafood restaurant in New York on the You’re The Boss blog. His “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do” two-part series has caused quite the buzz in many foodie and restaurant worker circles and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen it mentioned on Facebook status updates. Have you read it? If not, and you’re a routine visitor of restaurants, you really should. Click “more” to see my personal Buschel favorites and to read links to to reaction/criticism of Buschel’s blog post. And, please.. do weigh in on your favorites, or criticize what Buschel has to say.

My favorites:

“1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.” Agreed. I just can’t stand a restaurant that lets guests mill about in the lobby for five minutes without a hello. Or, worse, a greeting that is cold, aloof. If you treat me as if you don’t really care whether I dine there or not, I’ll take my business elsewhere, thanks.
“8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials. Wait for the right moment.” When dining out, I’m there to eat and socialize. Servers kill the mood of the table when their interrupt the conversation flow.
“15. Never say ‘I don’t know’ to any question without following with, ‘I’ll find out.’ ” My dining partners are instructed to ask a lot of questions on my behalf when I dine out. When I encounter a server who doesn’t answer basic questions, or worse, won’t offer to ask the kitchen staff, I wonder what kind of training the restaurant does with their staffers. I’ve encountered this plenty with middle road restaurants, and sometimes high-end places, too.
“74. Let the guests know the restaurant is out of something before the guests read the menu and order the missing dish.” This happened to me while reviewing Andre’s in Bonney Lake. If you run out of dishes, I think you’re morally obligated to disclose that before I’ve had a chance to peruse the menu. Don’t let me get my heart set on a dish when you know before I’ve even sat down that you can’t make it for me.
“80. Never insist that a guest settle up at the bar before sitting down; transfer the tab.”
This happened to me recently at The Rock in Puyallup while waiting for a table. It was such an annoyance to have to settle up at the bar, then pay my food tab after we were seated. Really, did you have to do that?

These are the ones I disagree with, are way too nitpicky, or just leave me scratching my head:

“7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.”
Really? They’re not allowed to tell me their name? Come on, that’s not annoying. Now if they sit down with me at the table while taking my order, that’s really annoying. But I don’t mind knowing a server’s name. Do you?
“17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.” This one never seems to bother me. In fact, I think I’m more bothered when dirty plates just sit there uncleared. However, I will say that I don’t like to be rushed, or asked if I’m done when I’m clearly not.
“10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials.” I’ve been guided right by servers many times while dining out. Recently, while dining at Merende, a server mentioned a mushroom risotto was her favorite. I had missed it when perusing the menu, and I was glad she mentioned it. It was a killer presentation. Many servers will guide you right in menu navigation.

THE PEOPLE WEIGH IN:

This post here at the Waiter Rant blog is just classic. I love the snarky responses from a server’s point of view. In fact, any local servers want to write a rant against Buschel’s list?

This post here at Serious Eats about Buschel’s blog post has some interesting comments/responses. Worth a read.

The comments here at the Consumerist blog are classics. A must read.

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