How to Receive 5-Star Service at ANY Restaurant
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." ~Mother Teresa
Go to any restaurant in L.A., Miami, New York, or Orlando and you will find hundreds of aspiring actors, models, writers, and artistic hopefuls working as servers to make ends meet while preparing for the role-of-a-lifetime to come to fruition, myself included.
Serving is the new politically correct term that has replaced waiter or waitress. Though, for some reason, being a server has been dissed by many as the 'fall back' job for the less fortunate. This is NOT true. I've been a server, for many years, in quest of achieving my version of The American Dream. I've put writing first in honor of what makes my soul ignite with passion. I find that being a server is the best way to earn supplemental income while my unlimited creativity works in tandem with my muse.
The thing that I find to be very disheartening about this profession is the undisputed fact that sometimes people can be very mean, overly rude, and chillingly crass towards servers. Most of the souls I deal with are kind, engaging, and courteous, but the ones that treat me as if I am not human can, at times, cut deep into my psyche. For the most part, I can brush this off, but some days, I can't lie, it bothers me. Who has the right to treat people that way? Yuck! Those negative feelings spurred the idea to write about how to help those who don't know how challenging it can be to deal with the famished population on a daily basis. As a writer, I had nothing to lose by jotting down some helpful service industry suggestions.
Yes, it is true; mean people do suck-a lot! Just be nice is more than a few words strung together on a bumper sticker, it is a code of conduct request from servers across the globe. I have been a server for many years, and I have met many servers over the years and it seems that we all think the exact same way. So please, just be nice because mean people really do suck.
Suggestion-When you sit down at your table and your server enthusiastically greets you with a warm welcome, don't ignore them. Stop talking to your guests, put down the phone, lift your eyes above the menu, and engage with your server. A brief engagement is all it takes to set the mood for a delightful hour, or so, spent with your server. If you want or need time to chill and get settled, just say so. We get it! Chances are it will help us too, especially if we are weeded (really, really busy).
As servers, we represent the owners of our restaurant and we can emphatically state that people are our business. YOU are our business! We arrive at the table to greet you in a timely manner because we know you value receiving prompt attention. We, in return, would like you to be prompt with reservations, ordering, eating, paying, and moving on with your day, or night, so that we can turn our tables. Turning tables is how we make a living and how our owners can earn more money to create more of what you loved during your visit like the innovative hand-crafted cuisine, the newest small batch bourbon, craft beers on tap, and organically sourced paper towels in the pristine lavatories.
Suggestion-The table you're sitting at is the tool we all use to generate our earned income and profits. If you are late to arrive for your reservation, long to order, and carelessly sit for hours after you've paid your bill, then you are disrupting our financial flow. Now, I know for sure that you would reprimand an employee if this were the case in your company, especially if it directly affected the bottom line as a loss of revenue. So please, we kindly ask for you to be mindful of our tables (income generators) and our time (maximized earning potential). This benefits you too in the long run because you won't have to wait an extra hour for your reservation while someone diddles at your favorite table.
Do you like to be yelled at for mistakes that may or may not be yours? No! No one I know likes to be treated badly. Being in the service industry requires servers to be on point at all times. But, sometimes stuff happens. Right? Things happen that are out-of-our-control, that is just the way it is. It is how we deal with the rouge adversities that can make or break a servers confidence. I've often heard it said that, "It is all in the delivery!" Give us a chance to activate our conflict resolution skills before you get angry, please!
Suggestion-When and if things go awry, whether it is our fault or the fault of the kitchen, please do not verbally assassinate us with a sharp undermining tone of voice. We really do want you to be happy with everything that occurs while dining with us. We are eager to please you, to fix any problem, and/or make right whatever has gone wrong. We will take the time to address your concerns promptly, efficiently, and with great care. It is similar to the wisdom my grandfather used to share with me from his experiences with customers, "Becky, you'll always draw more bees with honey than vinegar. In business you must be strong, not sour or bitter. Make sure you always stand behind your product, service, employees, guests and your word."
WE ARE GRATEFUL
As servers, we are grateful that you have chosen our popular restaurant, off-the-beaten-path eclectic cafe, and/or quaint coffee shop. If it weren't for you, we would not be able to share our culinary delights, and thirst quenching libations with the public. We love to watch you consume what we have specially created for you. We are always grateful when we have the pleasure to serve guests who take time to choose us over the many other options for feeding roaring bellies and picky palates. Right from the start, we will go above and beyond to deliver any request that you may have while dining with us if it is possible. Yes, even the gluten-free, vegan, hipster Sriracha connoisseur, and the raw-consciously-inspired-meal-enthusiast.
Suggestion-In turn, we ask that you be gracious to your servers, baristas, and bartenders or anyone else who works so hard to make your brunch, lunch, dinner or special event amazing. And for the record, it is NOT okay to NOT tip, regardless what anyone else has to say. We earn low hourly pay and make the bulk of our money from tips. We are grateful, I promise!
In closing, servers are humans with feelings. We are not emotionless robots. We have good days and bad days just like our guests. We are not all created equal. Some servers are average, most servers are above average, and a distinct few are over-the-top outstanding, but in the end we are all on the same page which is to make sure you love us so much that you come back again and again and again.
Suggestion-Next time you are out to lunch or taking someone special to dinner, take these suggestions to heart. Then sit back and watch as you personally empower your server to take exceptional care of you, your guests and even your kids if you have them with you, as well as the tea-cup puppy in your purse (or stroller if you're that kind of person). Either way you'll show the server that you have what it takes to be the recipient of 5-Star service.
THANK YOU TO ALL SERVERS
I say to servers everywhere-Thank You-for what you do! I validate you! Pass this along to every server who needs a good laugh, a verbal hug, or renewed strength to keep living in the moment as they pursue their own version of The American Dream!