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? 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.
This story was written for AL.com