Where Local and Global Appetites Collide

Restaurant Culture: Diners Bill of Rights – Do You Have Suggestions?

Going out to dinner or lunch should be a joy not a ploy for the restaurant to treat you badly.

There are so many restaurants in major metropolitan areas that bad or indifferent service would most likely close down a joint sooner vs. later.

Here’s one writer for the LA Times who chimes in with a bill of rights for diners. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with her suggestions? Do you have some of your own?

What was your worst dining experience?

How important is good service?

Have you ever told a restaurant manager about your bad experience, and if so, what was the response?

  1. Being unfriendly results in bigger tips for the server. So says a recent article I read recently (can’t remember where) that actually ran an informal experiment.

    The experiment: A waitress split her tables one evening — half she was nice to (smiled a lot, chit-chatty, full of suggestions, took their order quickly) and the others she was not nice to (didn’t smile, gave short answers like “they are all good” when asked about a wine selection, was slow to get to their table).

    The result? The not-friendly attitude resulted in 18-20% tips and the nice attitude resulted in 15% or less.

    My personal comment on this is that I can see it and here’s why: I don’t value the suggestions of a young waitress/waiter who probably is a finicky eater and wouldn’t appreciate or recognize a dish that had sophisticated flavors. Also, when they talk too much or visit too much, it is overkill. I want to experience the effects of the server, not the server him or herself.

  2. Often a server’s – I beleive that’s the word they prefer – favorite dish is often whatever is being pushed by the kitchen that evening. Don’t be fooled.

    Also in regard to the LA Times article: I totally disagree with the whole salt thing. Any chef who can’t salt his/her food properly has no business being in a kitchen. If a meal has to have salt added, it’s probably not very good anyway.

    And chit-chatty sometimes comes across as obnoxious….so maybe that’s why the tips were lower. I would bet, too, that at a higher end restaurant, an overly friendly server is a negative, while at more casual places – or lower priced places – that is a plus.

  3. Mary,
    I was curious if I could find the article about the bad service = bigger tips. I found it here –
    but you can skim over the Ann Coulter crap. She makes me nauseous.

    I often hate when my friends ask the wait staff — And what do you recommend? Like I give a damn? I agree with Rita that they are probably trying to push whatever the cook says has to move that night.

    I don’t like chatty wait staff when I’m dining out. I like them to establish eye contact with me occasionally so I don’t have to wave my napkin across the room (been there, done that)

    I want them to wait at least 3 minutes to come back to the table to ask, “How is everything?” Sometimes they lay the food down and spit those words out before you can even pick up a fork or they never return.

    I absolutely hate when they bring the check without asking if you want dessert. These days I’m not eating dessert but what if I want a glass of dessert wine or a cup of coffee after the meal.

    I do tip better for attentive service then I do for service that sucks or borderline sucks. And if the service is really bad I may only leave 10 percent or less along with a note why. Fortunately, that rarely happens.

  4. After I graduated from college in the late 70’s, I got a job as a waitress at T.G.I. Friday’s for the summer before my first real job started in September. That was in the day when the servers showed their personality with unique hats. Mine was a white “butch cap” like Spanky wore in the Little Rascals. I was influenced by my father, who wore one.

    The training course I had to go through was 1-2 weeks (can’t remember exactly) and there was a final test that was grueling (I was crying at the end — I didn’t have anything as hard in all my four years at school). You know how big their menu is!

    They were preparing us to answer any kind of question such as, does that sandwich come with mayonnaise? or how many ounces of chicken are in this dish?

    I lost a lot of the detail as the months went on. Does it really matter?

    Yes, we were given motivations to sell bottles of wine with meals or certain desserts.

  5. oh and when my guests asks me what i suggest or what plate is better i always speak the truth i never push to sell ”todays special”

  6. I just came across this blog, and I know it was written two years ago, but incase anyone reads it here goes:

    I’ve been a server for several years, and it is my opinion that every person should work in a restaurant, or in customer service at least once in their lives. If i have learned nothing else, it is that politeness is the most important quality someone can have.

    As a customer try this experiment:
    go out two nights in a row. on the first night, act really rude to the waitress, ignore her when she comes to the table, ask her for one drink at a time, sit with an unpaid bill at the end of the night for 20 minutes so she has to stay late standing around so you can chat.

    then the next night, be polite. give her your attention when she greets the table, smile and say please and thank you. be curteous and ask for the bill when you are ready, and pay it when she set’s it down. that’s all.

    tip what you want, but see the difference in service you will reviece.

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