Restaurant service . . .

February 21, 2019


The Committee for the Preservation of Loveliness agrees that good service is the number one requirement of a good restaurant. We stopped meeting at Dan’s Dandy Diner because the servers would never refill our tea even though we politely asked five times. They also got our orders mixed up with the table next to us and wanted to argue that we were the ones who forgot what we wanted. After three months of this nonsense, we switched our meetings to the Uppity Inn, and although they try to sneak dark meat into their chicken salad, everything else is fine. 

My husband worked as a waiter in college but I wisely never took a job in this industry because I’m somewhat accident prone. I stuck to tutoring and babysitting. Kids bounce. Glassware doesn’t. 

Those I know who have food service experience are generous tippers and appreciate good service more than the average customer, but they are also exceedingly sensitive to the shortcomings of the waitstaff as well. 

My husband’s pet peeve is when the server addresses us as “we.” How are “we” tonight? Have “we” decided what “we” will be having? And a wild variation, How is “our” steak?  — He’s been known to respond, “Would you care for a bite?” (Followed by a little kick under the table from me). 

The best service we ever had at a restaurant was at Gene and Georgetti in Chicago.  Going further north than Tennessee makes me breathe fast, but in the case of good restaurant service, I think our Southern friendliness may just get in the way. Gasp! Could it be? Fresh silverware, appetizers, main courses, salads and desserts would magically appear on our table at the Chicago Steakhouse. The servers rarely uttered a word and made things happen without telling us their life story. It was as if they had a cloak of invisibility and we were able to focus on each other and the great food. Then again, no one asked how my mama or boys were doing, so I left feeling full of good food but slightly unloved. 

Roo Ann, an alumna of waiting tables at Bennigan’s, said she wants her server to wait until she’s at least tasted the food before starting the never-ending questions. “How is everything?” “How about now?” “Do you need anything now?” 

Leaning over and reaching across someone’s plate or commenting on the amount of food eaten has also brought some friends within an inch of knife-throwing. “You didn’t like that very much, did you?” was the sarcastic way one waitress commented on how a friend cleaned her plate.  

I’ve previously told you about how my point of irritation is when they remove my husband’s plate before I’m finished eating, therefore rushing me so they can turn over the table. Many of you agreed with that one. 

When we dined in a foreign country, we were amazed how everyone lingered over their meal. They’d talk, laugh and literally cry, then order more wine before returning to work 2 hours later. No one was rushed, the waitstaff didn’t comment on what or how much they ate. Everyone was relaxed and focused on being together and enjoying the company with no running commentary or intrusion from the staff. 

“Thank you so much. We enjoyed it.” 

“No problem.” 

“No problem? I didn’t think we were a problem.” 

“Whatever. See ya’ next time.”

“There won’t be a next time.”

For an updated review of downtown Fairhope restaurants, click HERE.

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  1. I once stopped in at the IHOP in Irondale, Alabama, maybe 20 years or so ago. I sat down and no wait staff came over. It was maybe 5 minutes when one came and sat down at a nearby table, on break I suppose, yet even that person did not get any other wait staff’s attention that I was sitting there waiting. I sat there for maybe ten minutes then got up and left. I have never been back to an IHOP since.

      1. On another note, a few years ago while travelling through Tennessee, we stopped at a Perkin’s Family Restaurant east of Knoxville, and were seated near the hostess station. Well . . . the young man who was a host that night, decided that we all needed a Kazoo concert so he started playing that thing. I guess he was bored or something! Anyway we called the manager over and expressed our non interest in a “concert.”

  2. So I’m not the only one who gets her feathers ruffled when dining out at all the personal life stories from servers! You would think it was a social occasion with some of these people. Please, let us dine with the one who came in with me!!!!! (I hope that wasn’t really ugly, but you hit a nerve this morning after a not so good night’s sleep).

    1. But I’m sure you are quick to thank and tip the servers who give beautiful stress-free service! I think its basic social graces society is missing in general that spills over into their jobs sometimes. As in, “Her mama didn’t teach her any better.”

  3. We used to go to a restaurant {I can’t remember which one now} that had picnic tables and when the waitress came to take our order she would sit down! Always by my husband!! Like, slide over sweetie! I can’t believe we went there more than once!! I prefer service over food any day! Seasons 52 is my favorite and I always leave a large tip, they treat you like a VIP, and don’t bug you. The worst is when you have constant attention and then they disappear for hours when you want your check! Okay, I feel better now, nothing like a little rant to get your blood circulating!

    1. The servers who have been well trained really do stand out and deserve a great tip. That is so funny and awkward about this sitting-down waitress! Strange. I’ll have to look up Seasons 52.

  4. In addition to giving me my usual chuckles when reading your posts, this one also made me understand why my husband gets so aggravated sometimes in restaurants–not at the wait staff, no at me! Because evidently I’m the guilty party when they start in on their life story. Yep, I’m the curious one that wants to know more and encourage them to tell more. Oops, gotta watch that.

    I do have to say that your Chicago steakhouse experience reminded me of the excellent meal and service we had here in Nashville at the Jeff Ruby steakhouse. Super service and food and the server was practically mute except for a few well chosen words. And me, I was wanting to know if he was from Nashville or where and how many kids did he have, etc. But I didn’t dare ask as it was obviously not that sort of place!

    1. You have a friendly heart. Remind me not to eat out with you! Isn’t it funny how we really do remember good experiences with restaurants and businesses once we stop to think about it?

  5. My least favorite form of address, in a restaurant or anywhere, is GUYS, as in “How’re you GUYS tonight?” or “Are you GUYS ready to order?” when it’s clearly two women sitting in front of them.
    Grrrrrr …

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