The Guest Is Always Right … Kind Of
A server’s inside opinion on guest behavior at restaurants.
Maybe I am a little bit biased, but I think that everyone should have to work in the restaurant industry at some point in their lives.
I personally have worked in restaurants since I was 16 years old, working my way from a counter service restaurant to formal dining, and I am currently working at a full-service pizza restaurant.
A restaurant is somewhere that everyone will go to at some point in their lives, so they should learn how to behave properly in the restaurant.
I’m not talking about knowing perfect etiquette or knowing the proper fork to use, but just general politeness in a restaurant setting.
At the particular restaurant where I work, we do our very best to achieve outstanding service.
As cliche’ as it sounds, the guest is always right and I will always do my best to nod and smile while you tell me your complicated order as your child throws their Cheerios all over my freshly swept floor.
That might be the problem though; the guest is always right no matter what they are doing and the server has no place to ask their child to sit down, or for them to quiet down.
The server having no place to do these things is fine, but it is now on the parents to settle their children and to teach them to be polite.
The other day, a typical Tuesday afternoon at work, I had a table come in, it was a table of seven, with four adults and three kids.
Now, usually I don’t mind having kids at my tables. I know how to keep them entertained and involved so they aren’t a burden on me or their parents, but this table was different.
I approached the table as I always do, “Hi, welcome, my name is Rebekah …” the usual server routine, but as I tried to go over the menu with the guests, seeing as they were new to the restaurant, their children were literally running circles around the restaurant causing chaos everywhere.
Many tables around them were irritated by the noise and movement of the children.
I’m not even kidding when I say that one table was so frustrated by the children that they got their pizza to go and left the restaurant instead of sitting and enjoying a nice, expensive dinner out.
Seeing that this noisey table was mine, I politely apologized to the guests around them and to the other servers whose tables were upset, but what more could I do? The parents were doing nothing to settle the children or to punish them for being disruptive.
After their food had arrived and they had enjoyed the majority of it, I went to the table to offer dessert to them, but instead, one of the moms at the table aggressively handed me her credit card with the words “we need to leave.”
So, I ran the card, brought back the check as quickly as I could and thanked them for coming into the restaurant, but all I received was a “sure,” and a bad tip.
I was frustrated, but also so thankful they were out of my section that I really didn’t even care too much about the bad tip.
I personally think — and I can’t speak for all servers in the world — that it is really important for parents to bring their children into restaurants, not to wreak havoc on the place, but to teach them about manners and good behavior while in public.
As a server I am required to be kind and polite to all of my tables (I do this in life anyways), but on the customer side of things, there needs to be a higher level of understanding as well.
Now, I’m not complaining about all children in all restaurants because I have met a surprising amount of very well-behaved children while serving and they usually make my time at work much more enjoyable, but the loud children with uncaring parents ruin it for me.
This also is not limited to children, but adults act poorly in restaurants, too.
The way adults act is very different than children, though. They can be loud, obnoxious, rude, and difficult, making it nearly impossible for a server to make them happy.
I will admit that I was never a perfect customer at a restaurant before I started working in one, but now that I know the difficulties and the hard work that goes into a single table’s service, I make sure to be more understanding of mistakes that servers make.
No, serving a table is not rocket science, but there is some brain power that has to be used to do it right.
For starters, servers are required to know the entire menu, forward and backward, as well as any modifications that can be made to any of the dishes. Basically, you ask your server a question about a dish, they should be able to answer that question.
Servers usually have between four and seven tables at one time, occasionally more, which means that your Diet Coke, which will be refilled in a timely manner, might not be the first thing that your server does because it makes more sense to stop at the table 82 to get their order and pick up dishes from table 84 on the way to get your Diet Coke, but it doesn’t mean they forgot.
On top of communicating with tables, taking orders, refilling drinks and delivering food, servers are also memorizing your order, taking time to chat with you, and cleaning off your table when you’re done.
Now multiply that by seven tables.
Moral of the story, just be nice to your servers, they are busy, but dedicated to giving you a pleasant meal and an enjoyable time at the restaurant.