Top Ten Worst Service Mistakes
I didn't want today's Top Ten to be just a list of pet peeves, but somehow more positive than that. In other words, a list of ten things that if a server avoided, I would be so grateful I would fork over a big tip.
Thanks to all the people who posted suggestions, too many to acknowledge individually. And I do feel for the restaurant managers, hosts, hostesses, waiters, waitresses and busboys out there who are taking a beating on this blog. Feel free to strike back under the entry You Asked for It.
The photo is for illustrative purposes only. The waitress pictured is clearly working her backside off.
Anyway, here's my list of things that matter most to me:
(Karl Merton Ferron/Sun Photographer)
* Being told I have to sit at the table by the bathroom door because my server doesn't have enough tables, or conversely being jammed in with other diners when half the dining room is empty. (At the Milton Inn once, the hostess said, "I can seat you by the window if you want, but I should warn you that the waitress in that section has a lot of tables so the service may be slow." I appreciated the fact that she put it in terms of the guests' convenience, not the staff's, no matter what the reality.)
* Being ignored when I sit down. I know you have other customers. It's nice if you take a moment to say, "I'll be right with you."
* Being told long lists of specials without any prices, particularly if those prices are higher than the ones on the menu. I always ask for the prices, but in certain situations asking can be awkward.
* Recommending the most expensive entree on the menu or a very expensive bottle on the wine list when asked. Or saying "everything's good," even if it is. My husband hates it when a waiter says "excellent choice" no matter what you order, but I've got bigger concerns than that.
* Not writing down the order and then getting something wrong.
* Not stopping by to keep me posted if the kitchen is slow. At least then I know the food isn't just sitting under a warming light while you're having a smoke out back. A corollary of that is chatting with other servers in plain view while I'm waiting for my food. On the other hand, nothing will ever be as bad as the last time I ate at Peerce's Plantation. The busboy brought out the tray of our entrees, but the waiter had disappeared. We waited so long looking at our cooling entrees that I finally got up and served our table myself.
* Telling me to save my fork or knife for the next course rather than bringing fresh flatware.
* Not keeping the water or wine glasses filled. Ditto not offering a second round of coffee.
* The one that bothers me most: Not clearing the table completely before bringing the next course.
* Not asking if we're ready for our check, and not being anywhere around so we can signal that we're ready.
* Forgetting to bring the leftovers out after the meal, or even worse, forgetting to pack them, so they're lost for good.