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A Couple of Small Tweaks Can Mean Awesome Service!

May 9, 2017

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Being a server in a restaurant is not an easy job. J.Q. Public can be demanding, infuriating, and downright rude. While the majority of people may be pleasant, a server needs a tough skin to keep that smile on their face at all times.

Having said that, there are a couple of things servers can do to take a night out from good to awesome, at least in this writer’s opinion. Admittedly, some of what I am about to say may not apply to every eating establishment, but imagine how awesome even a Sizzler might be if servers there followed these simple ideas.

The first has to do with the wine. Yes, I just eliminated more than a few places to eat but bear with me. Every server should be trained in how to open a bottle of wine, it is not that hard. It is painful watching a server struggle with such a simple task, often ending up with a broken cork. I blame management for this one, all they need to do is have a server open a few with them and voila!, mission accomplished. Once the bottle is open and someone has tasted it, pour some in each glass, but if it is white two things to remember. First, white wine has been chilled and pouring too much in a glass means that it will warm before consumed, so pour less than you would with red. Second, since it is chilled it will need a cooler, and here is a simple trick to make that experience better. Most servers put ice in a bucket bring it to the table and try to force the bottle into the ice. The problem is the bottle is now sitting on ice, not in ice. The trick is to use less ice, add a small amount of water, then the bottle sits down in the iced water and stays cool.

The second idea for taking an evening out from okay to great is pacing. If I order a salad and an entree, I want to be finished with the salad before the entree appears. Having had too many negative experiences with this one, I tend to order my salad and after finishing it, order my entree. A good restaurant will have the pacing down so this is not an issue but a good server should be the fail safe here. If I want to be rushed I can go to a fast food joint, but in a restaurant I want to be able to enjoy the great food they prepare.

The last point is a simple one, listen to the customer. This, for me, is usually when it is time for dessert. My wife does not eat dessert, she does not have a sweet tooth, she has no problem watching me but she does not eat dessert. So when I order a dessert and say she does not want one, don’t bring two forks and say just in case. Because then I have a pissed off wife and you just lost part of a tip.

Which brings me to the last point, tipping. If the service is bad, I leave zero tip. I was told once by a restaurant manager that this is the best way to communicate dissatisfaction. Leaving a small tip just implies one is a cheapskate and the point is lost. If the service is good but you brought two forks I will probably leave you fifteen percent. If the service is good, if you paced things correctly, then I use my special formula for tipping. It goes like this. Let’s say the bill is $132.00. I round to the next highest whole number that is easily multiplied, in this case $140.00. I take ten percent of that, which would be $14, then I double that, which would be $28, divide that amount by two, which is $14, and add the $14 to $28, resulting in $42. Astute mathematicians will realize what I just did. $42 is thirty percent of $140.00. Some might think this is over tipping. While some restaurants do pay servers better than others, not all do. Also, I have no problem acknowledging a job well done.

So my basic point here is that while serving is a hard job, sometimes thankless, it only takes a few tweaks to make it an awesome and rewarding experience for both you and the customer.

Bon Appetit

Side note: As a Scotch drinker who likes it neat, I am surprised at how this term is so misunderstood. Neat is simply “a single, unmixed liquor served without being chilled and without any water, ice, or other mixer.” As a server, I realize you are not a bartender, but for us Scotch drinkers, please learn this term or at least if you hear it, ask the bartender before showing up with a glass of Scotch violated by water or ice or God forbid both.

 

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