« All the restaurant news that's fit to print | Main | Yes, in hard times you can eat your business cards »

May 14, 2009

A handwritten note from the server



I got the following e-mail from a reader who wanted to remain anonymous. She had eaten at Sullivan's Steakhouse and then gotten a handwritten note from her server, something that's never happened to me. But, of course, it wouldn't, would it? Since I never give my right name.

I was given a card with the check to fill out if you wanted info about specials, events, etc., and I filled it out since I am starting to be a regular.
Yesterday, I got a pretty long hand-written note on a nice card from our server thanking me for dining there on Mother's Day.  I'm not a sucker for that kind of stuff, but it was a nice touch. 

I've never even heard of this happening; I didn't know anyone wrote notes by hand anymore. (And I am a sucker for that kind of thing.)

(Elizabeth Malby/Sun photographer) 

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 10:21 AM | | Comments (34)


I've never gotten such treatment from a server in a restaurant, but recently I bought some make-up at Nordstrom's and the beautician followed up with me via telephone to see how things had worked out. It was nice, if a little odd.

Nordstrom's has always been very service-oriented, but I've never gotten a call before after a small purchase. I suspect that businesses all over are kicking it into high gear with regular customers during the economic downturn.

You should see Elizabeth Large's handwriting ... incredible! Ask her for a handwritten note sometime and you'll see what I mean. Do they offer college degrees in calligraphy? If so, I'll bet she has one.

I had the same thing happen to me once when I was an expense-account-regular at the Capital Grille in Minneapolis.

Interestingly, it was sent to the hotel that I routinely stayed at and was waiting for me when I checked in. The server had picked up in one of our conversations where I always stayed and had figured out my schedule (not that hard--every other week, I was there from Monday through Thursday). I was already a fan of the Cap Grille, but that certainly reinforced my feelings.

I don't know why, but I immediately imagined that the note went something like this:

Help! I am being forced to work here against my will. Tell no one about this or they will kill my family in Russia. Please go to the man with the hot dog cart around the corner and say the word "trampoline" and walk away.

Owlie, that was roughly my first thought, too.

My second was that this would creep me out.

You should see Elizabeth Large's handwriting ...

In lieu of a handwritten note to each and every one of us, maybe EL could write out a note and use it as art for, say, Comment of the Week.

Sullivan's? Isn't this with the servers in fishnets?

Frankly, in hard times, a novel approach like old-fashioned (albeit, over-the-top) courtesy in a hand-written note is an idea worth trying.

My husband and I had dinner a few months back at the Ruths Chris on Water Street and a few days later in the mail got a nice note from our server.
I thought it was a great touch.

I had dinner recently at TGI Fridays, and the server followed my home and tucked me in. Nice touch.

I received the same letter Kristen got from the same establishment. The only difference was it kinda creeped me out.

If I start getting hand written notes from women in fishnet stockings, I might as well just go and put the divorce lawyer on retainer.

I can see the possibilities.

Mr. Smith arrives home from the mist recent business trip to Baltimore and a note arrives a few days later thanking Mr & Mrs Smith for their recent visit to restaraunt X.

Alas poor Mrs. Smith the 1st never accompanied her husband on his most recent business trip. Ooopsie!

Oh RayRay.

RayRay for comment of the week...

That comment card you fill out is equivalent to signing up for a players card in the casino. The company (Sullivan's or other chain) tracks your visits, bill amounts, etc. They even have a program that will let them know what you order everytime you visit and who was your server, etc, etc.Technology rocks for managers who need great marketing data.

RayRay, was it Guy Fieri who followed you home from Friday's? If so, did you also find that his whiskers tickle?

i've gotten a matchbook from ruth's chris that was autographed by my server.


not sure if I could've sold it on ebay or anything, but it ended up on top of the toilet with all my other matchbooks to be used to ward off stink.

I at one point in my banking career I had to write thank you notes to everyone who opened up an account. The bank was ummmm having difficulties and thought that a personal note would make a great impression. I figured out that people were smart enough to know what was going on. Had to write those damn notes on my own time. Grrrr

I once got a note from a server -- an attractive blonde -- asking me if I wanted to take her out to another restaurant. No, honey, that was before we were married. Honest!

WOM in its most organic form...beautiful.

What's WOM?

What's WOM?

It's MOW in a mirror.

I remember lamenting not so long ago when the economy was "booming" that restaurants were hiring the dregs of the work force and service was suffering miserably as a result. It seems we may have come full circle? I welcome the effect of businesses trying to find ways to differentiate themselves by improving service, offering discounts and building relationships with customers. There has to be something good to come out of this historic downturn.

Seems a bit iffy to me. What happens if I "stiiff um"???
Anyone ever seen Clint Eastwood in "PLAY MISTY FOR ME"????

Sometimes when we spoon it does tickle the back of my neck.:-)

What's WOM?

Write-only memory?

We received a hand written note in the mail from a waiter at Blue Sea Grille once. A nice touch, I thought. That was when they first opened though and I dined there a few months ago and didn't receive a card that time.

A personal note seems like a nice thing - why does it strike some as creepy? Is the server-customer relationship supposed to be anonymous?

Pokey, I don't want my server following me home!

Pokey, it is one thing if this is a server I've developed a relationship with over a number of visits. If it is not, it is pushing way too fast, and indebting me to them by going over-responding.

That is why it is creepy. Never mind that I expect notes only from people who know me, not necessarily on a personal level, but at least know my name without looking at the credit card slip.

Oh for god's sake! It's a freakin' cynical piece of manipulation. Jesu Cristo, it's not real. It's repulsive friendstitution. Waitresses are taught that if you touch a man on the shoulder he will give you more money. Same crap., You are not anybody's friend, you are a wallet with a stomach. Real human relations don't exist when the basis of the relationship is the exchange of money.


Funny thing happened on Mother's Day. My college bound daughter took me out to a local restaurant, recognized the glasses the waitress was wearing as having come from the mall store my daughter works in. My daughter then offered up a picture (on her cell phone) of the eye doctor she works for and asked our waitress if she would be interested in meeting him. Long story short, they met for drinks that Tuesday (5/12), went out to dinner together on Wednesday, saw a movie on Thursday and jammed together (they both play guitar and sing as it turns out) on Friday! My daughter got a text message on her cell phone from this waitress this a.m. thanking her for being "such a good little matchmaker".
P.S. She gave us EXCELLENT service on Mother's Day even though the place was packed.

Wait a minute Owlie, when I was at Sullivan's a woman put her hand on my shoulder, and you're telling me that it was just some ploy. So I really don't have it going on?

I received a handwritten thank you card from our server at Roy's a year or so ago. I thought it was nice, but it still comes off as a little stalkerish.

Post a comment

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

Top Ten Tuesdays
Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Restaurant news and reviews Recently reviewed
Browse photos and information of restaurants recently reviewed by The Baltimore Sun

Sign up for FREE text alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for dining text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Food & Drink newsletter
Need ideas for dinner tonight? A recommendation for the perfect red wine?'s Food & Drink newsletter is there to help.
See a sample | Sign up

Stay connected