100 THINGS RESTAURANT STAFFERS SHOULD NEVER DO
76. Do not ask if a guest is finished the very second the guest is finished. Let guests digest, savor, reflect.
77. Do not disappear.
78. Do not ask, “Are you still working on that?” Dining is not work — until questions like this are asked.
79. When someone orders a drink “straight up,” determine if he wants it “neat” — right out of the bottle — or chilled. Up is up, but “straight up” is debatable.
80. Never insist that a guest settle up at the bar before sitting down; transfer the tab.
81. Know what the bar has in stock before each meal.
82. If you drip or spill something, clean it up, replace it, offer to pay for whatever damage you may have caused. Refrain from touching the wet spots on the guest.
83. Ask if your guest wants his coffee with dessert or after. Same with an after-dinner drink.
84. Do not refill a coffee cup compulsively. Ask if the guest desires a refill.
84(a). Do not let an empty coffee cup sit too long before asking if a refill is desired.
85. Never bring a check until someone asks for it. Then give it to the person who asked for it.
86. If a few people signal for the check, find a neutral place on the table to leave it.
87. Do not stop your excellent service after the check is presented or paid.
88. Do not ask if a guest needs change. Just bring the change.
89. Never patronize a guest who has a complaint or suggestion; listen, take it seriously, address it.
90. If someone is getting agitated or effusive on a cellphone, politely suggest he keep it down or move away from other guests.
91. If someone complains about the music, do something about it, without upsetting the ambiance. (The music is not for the staff — it’s for the customers.)
92. Never play a radio station with commercials or news or talking of any kind.
93. Do not play brass — no brassy Broadway songs, brass bands, marching bands, or big bands that feature brass, except a muted flugelhorn.
94. Do not play an entire CD of any artist. If someone doesn’t like Frightened Rabbit or Michael Bublé, you have just ruined a meal.
95. Never hover long enough to make people feel they are being watched or hurried, especially when they are figuring out the tip or signing for the check.
96. Do not say anything after a tip — be it good, bad, indifferent — except, “Thank you very much.”
97. If a guest goes gaga over a particular dish, get the recipe for him or her.
98. Do not wear too much makeup or jewelry. You know you have too much jewelry when it jingles and/or draws comments.
99. Do not show frustration. Your only mission is to serve. Be patient. It is not easy.
100. Guests, like servers, come in all packages. Show a “good table” your appreciation with a free glass of port, a plate of biscotti or something else management approves.
Bonus Track: As Bill Gates has said, “Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” (Of course, Microsoft is one of the most litigious companies in history, so one can take Mr. Gates’s counsel with a grain of salt. By the way, grey sea salt is a nice addition to any table...)
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