The Wait Staff And Dining Out

Waiter at outdoor restaurant

I’ve always appreciated the wait staff in a restaurant. Their work is hard and demanding, and I know the hours they work are often primetime hours. I’m always cognizant of the fact they have given up their evenings so Dorothy and I can have a pleasant and enjoyable experience with friends.

The wait staff’s expectations:

  1. To be treated with kindness and respect. We shouldn’t flirt with them, expect them to laugh at our jokes, or fish for compliments.
  2. When they present the menu to us, we should immediately turn our attention to it. We should study it, and then be prepared to either order or ask questions when they return.
  3. If we have special dietary concerns, we should relate them to the wait staff without giving our full medical history.
  4. We should do our best to be present at the table when our food arrives. The kitchen and wait staffs take great pains to try to get the food to your table while it’s still hot. We should try to coordinate our trips to the bar, to other tables, or to the restrooms accordingly.
  5. We should try not to be overly loud, and we should never be obnoxious. Their job is to serve food, not to marshal the behavior of their patrons.
  6. If they are extremely busy, try to be patient. They’re no doubt doing the best they can.
  7. We should settle the bill within a reasonable amount of time after it’s presented us.
  8. When their work is done, I’m sure they would like to go home. If your table is the only one that is occupied, begin preparing to leave. If you hear a vacuum cleaner running, you’ve stayed too long.

And when we go to a restaurant we expect the following:

  1. Helpfulness without condescension. We oftentimes ask for recommendations regarding what food to order and what wine will pair well with the selection.
  2. Good peripheral vision. The good ones are always looking around to check to see if someone is signaling them. They should also circuit the room periodically, and they should just briefly glance at each table to see if the diners want something. If too busy to stop, they acknowledge the diner and say they will be right back.
  3. Friendliness, but not intrusiveness. They should let the customer define the relationship and then adapt their styles to the customers. Some want speed; others want a slow pace; some are extroverts and like to converse; some are contemplative and want quiet; other customers are absorbed in their own conversation and want some privacy, and the good ones respect this.
  4. They should go to great pains to get the food to you while it’s still hot, and they should try to get everyone at your table served at approximately the same time.
  5. Plate removal should be when everyone at the table is finished and done expeditiously.
  6. L’addition s’il vous plait and the adieu. The check should be correct and prompt without appearing to rush the diner’s exit. A “thanks and please come again” from a member of the wait staff should end the evening’s transaction.

With this understanding between us, and at least a 20% tip (if the service is good), we can all go home at the end of the evening happy and fulfilled.