It's been a while since I've done a Rules According to Jean blog. I don't go searching. I wait until some etiquette oracle whispers in my ear that the world at large needs some hints.
I will go on record right off and admit I have never worked in a restaurant in any capacity. I do, however, have common sense and I eat in restaurants, so I declare myself qualified to write this blog.
We all eat. We all eat out. We all have all problems from time to time—problems that need to be rectified. I am not talking about fine dining here—you know, with the reservations, the four courses, the wine. So I am not expecting for my leftovers to be folded into an aluminum foil swan. I am not even picky about all the food coming out at once, though everyone should get to eat together at some point in the meal. On the other hand, I certainly am not talking about fast food or what I think of as semi-fast food where you are expected to fend for yourself.
I am talking about big chains and local casual dining.
1. If there are other places to sit, do not try to put me by the kitchen. If I want to hear clanking and banging, I'll go to the high school band practice. (This happened to me last week. We passed a dozen places to sit on the way to a booth where we could actually see into the kitchen. When I politely requested a different place, the hostess was snippy. I didn't take it out on the waitress in attitude or tip.)
2. If there are other places to sit, don't put me by two toddlers and their adoring mothers. Yes, I know it's a family place and those women have a right to be there. Yes, I know those children are babies and they have a right to squeal and bang on the table. Yes, I know those mothers have a right to jump up and take pictures of their darlings with their phones and be loud about it. And anyone who knows me knows I adore babies. I just don't want to try to have a conversation while they are doing what comes natural to them.
3. I don't care if you are trying to even things up for the servers. You need to let me sit where I want and you need to do it cheerfully.
1. If you know, please tell me what you are out of when you give me the menu.
2. Don't assume that if I don't order alcohol that I am going to tip poorly. I am a very good tipper for good service and I don't really like alcohol with food most of the time.
3. If you make a mistake, acknowledge it and move on. I am not going to be mad if you get my order wrong. These things happen. I am going to be mad if you argue with me and do not rectify it gracefully.
4. Don't let me run out of my drink. This is especially important if it's breakfast and I'm having coffee.
5. I don't like surprises. I don't mind paying for a refill or for a substitution. Just tell me if it's not on the menu. If it's on the menu, I'm on my own and should have enough sense to read it.
6. Don't tell me you problems. I am patient and reasonable. Don't spin me a tale about how the kitchen is backed up, there's a party of 45 in the next room, or that Joe Bob didn't come in today.
7. Don't ask if I need my change back. Bring me my change. You take care of the service; I'll take care of your tip.
1. If you see your employees clustered around passing the time of day, put a stop to it. Chances are excellent that someone needs some coffee or there are some plates of food sitting under a light somewhere.
2. Circulate and ask if everything is all right.
3. Please don't assume I am trying to get a free meal if I have a problem. I am never trying to get a free meal. I just want my steak to be rare. You cannot unring a bell and you can't uncook a steak. You have to start over.
4. Remember that in most cities, you can't swing a dead dog without hitting an establishment pretty much like yours. I can eat elsewhere.
5. Don't swing a dead dog. It's disrespectful to the dog and the Health Department frowns on it.
This cannot be all. What do you hate to see when dining out?