I truly enjoy eating at a nice restaurant. After a lifetime of cooking, it’s a real treat. The “eating out” experience is so much different today than when I was growing up. I don’t recall our family eating out until I was in my mid-teens. Oh sure, we stopped at The Spot for an occasional hotdog and root beer float, but that was a summer treat and the food was eaten outdoors at their picnic tables.
It’s not that we didn’t have “fancy” meals where we learned the proper placement and use of silverware and cloth napkins and other table manners. That’s what Sunday dinners were all about. But many of today’s families are able to expose their children to nice restaurants at a much earlier age. For the most part, I don’t observe terrible table manners among diners when I eat out. Do you?
Steve Dublanica would disagree with me. He’s a professional waiter at high-end restaurants in New York City and the author of an interesting book: Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter. I don’t spend every day in restaurants so I should probably take Mr. Dublanica’s word for it, but he seems to encounter an amazing amount of rude and badly mannered people. He does admit to being cynical so perhaps he notices the rudeness more than I do.
Reading this book opened my eyes to the business side of a restaurant. Many nice restaurants seem to operate on very tight budgets, long hours, poor physical conditions, and for the wait-staff, rude and overly demanding customers. Misbehaving customers is probably the main theme of the book. I couldn’t help but think of my own behavior as I read the book. Has my behavior been offensive to waiters?
As the author related example after example of customer rudeness, I was horrified. I’d like to think the author is overlooking all the well mannered people who visit. In the back of the book are a few appendices. One of them a list of tips on how to be a good restaurant customer. Here are a few:
- Always make reservations, especially on the weekend. Then keep the reservation
- Don’t whine about the table.
- Don’t snap you fingers to get the waiter’s attention.
- Make your waiter go through the specials only once.
- Don’t order off the menu. It forces the restaurant to make something they don’t normally cook well.
- Cultivate a restaurant and it’s staff with good behavior and frequent visits if you want to be treated like a regular customer.
- Don’t aggressively grab a waiter or bus person.
- Don’t monopolize the waiter’s time.
- Pay the check within five minutes of receiving the bill.
- Don’t ask for separate checks at the end of the meal.
- Tip at least 15 to 20%. Tip 20% to a favorite waiter. A 25% tip should be saved for special occasions or extraordinary service.
Although I was horrified at some of the examples of poor behavior in this book, I must say that it was a fun book to read. The author has a nice way of poking fun at himself and he wrote a well organized analysis of the restaurants he worked for. Overall, I recommend you check it out.
Warning: There is a plethora of f and other four-letter obscenities in this book.