Whether you want to impress your friends or just get through
dinner with above par service, there are things you can do
as a guest to ensure your money won't be wasted and that you
will have a great time. It just takes a few simple things
to set yourself apart from the other guests in the restaurant,
and be treated like a V.I.P....
what kind of restaurant you are going to
Is there a dress code? Open parking or valet? Is it
"kid-friendly"? Is your favorite credit card accepted.
A la carte, fixed menu, buffet? Your experience will be more
enjoyable if you know what to expect.
If the restaurant takes reservations, by all means make one.
It is probably wrong but most restaurants treat their reservations
better than those unfortunates who walk in and go on "the wait".
Whenever possible, make your reservation with the manager and let
them know of any special needs ahead of time (wheelchair access,
dietary concerns, time constraints, etc...).
We live in a starstruck culture and restaurant people, although
they see their fair share of celebrities, are not immune.
If you are working on the set of Julia Robert's new movie, let them
know when you make the reservation. You don't have to be obnoxious
about it, just say, casually, "I'm in town working on Julia Robert's
movie and I heard you had a great restaurant and wanted to make
a reservation..." Of course, you don't want to stretch the
truth too much; you never know if Julia might be dining in the next
Compliments will get you everywhere
If you were dining at a friend's house, you would be treated great,
right? So, the first thing you need to do is make the server
your friend. When they approach your table listen to what
they have to say and use the opportunity to set yourself apart and
get them on your side. Ask questions. How long they
have worked there? Do they like working there? Do they
go to school? Showing interest in someone will always benefit
you. Acknowledge if they are busy and compliment them on their
hard work and how well they are handling everything. Now that
you have fed their ego you have their attention.
Get the server involved
Ask the server to recommend items for you or even let them choose
your meal for you. Doing this will not only get you some of the
best items on the menu, but the server will then become much more
concerned about your order. The more involved the server is in your
dining experience the more responsible they will feel to make sure
everything is perfect.
act like Sally in "When Harry Met Sally"
Order from the menu. Don't make your own. The restaurant,
if successful, is great at making their recipes. They may
not be as good preparing something you come up with. A minor
modification, now and then, is OK. But don't try and turn
a cheese pizza into your grandma's eggplant calzone.
Undercooked meat is not the end of the world
If a problem does occur, first of all call them by their name (No
"Hey..." and especially no "Hey, Miss!"). Explain the
problem. Keep your cool and they will take care of whatever is wrong.
At the same time tell them what you do like so you don't come off
as just a complainer. When the server solves the problem let
them know that you appreciate their initiative. Remember it
is just dinner, don't make it seem like your whole world has just
ended because your medium steak came out rare.
Try out your new jokes
Humor is a great way to show your server that you are there to have
a good time and you are a guest that can joke around. Be careful
not to come across too sarcastic, you want them to know you are
just kidding around.
pitch a tent
Restaurant workers have a name for people who hang out for hours
on end, not ordering food or spending money: "Campers".
And it is not meant to be endearing. It's fine to spend a
few minutes after a meal having coffee and talking, but more than
a half-hour is costing the restaurant, and your server money.
If you ever find yourself in a restaurant that is running behind
on seating its reservations on time, it is usually because of "campers".
Return like a Rock Star
Now if you are checking out a restaurant because you are planning
to bring friends in and you want to impress them, then now is your
time. Let your server know that you intend to return and tell
them you want to request them. Trust me, they will take care
of you this time and love it when you bring your friends back.
a good tip
It doesn't matter
how much fun you were to server or how nice you were, they are still
there to work and make money. A server will always remember
a good tipper and a bad tipper. If you are coming back soon
it won't hurt to tip a little extra. When they see you walk
in the next time you will be treated like a king. Even if that server
does not serve you, they will remember you and pass on the information
to their friend who is. Your friends will be impressed and you will
have a great time.
Your thoughts on the Message Board.