In case you missed it, New York Times writer Bruce Buschel posted a fantastic list last week of the 100 things restaurant staffers should never do when assisting restaurant guests. The list is a must-read for everyone in the restaurant industry, from servers to managers to even BOH folks, with most of the bullet points common complaints of diners.
A few of my faves from the list:
23. If someone likes a wine, steam the label off the bottle and give it to the guest with the bill. It has the year, the vintner, the importer, etc. [Great idea, but it might be a bit difficult mid-dinner service. Feel free to write down wine info if you don’t have time to steam.]
31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong.
50. Do not turn on the charm when it’s tip time. Be consistent throughout.
77. Do not disappear. [Or go for a smoke break, or sit down in the break room for a snack, or make a quick phone call. Don’t desert your tables for any reason! Period. This is one of my biggest server pet peeves.]
A few of my personal tips for restaurant staff:
- Don’t argue with your room manager or fellow servers during meal service! Take it to the back, behind closed doors!
- It’s become commonplace for servers to try to memorize orders. If a guest’s requests become too much to remember, pull out a pen and paper and write things down. I’d rather see you taking notes than receive a wrong dish.
- Always, always, ALWAYS ask about any allergies the dining party may have. Buschel mentions asking during the amuse bouche, but anything from hors d’oeuvres to drinks may have allergens present. Food allergies can, and will, kill if not addressed properly.
- To the chefs and kitchen line – with the open kitchen craze, never ever call out a fellow cook in view of your dining room. There’s nothing that can ruin a meal faster than watching a sous or pantry chef get chewed out in plain sight of a guest’s pleasant dining experience.