Friday, April 1, 2011

sending it back!

The dilemma involved in sending something back in a restaurant is a tough one.  Both for server and guest.  As in many other aspects of life, 'the squeaky wheel gets the grease' and often the most obnoxious complaining customers get their meals paid for, while the quiet, unsatisfied individual says very little and vows never to return.

Servers have a responsibility to read their guests, it's not always about what someone is saying out loud, sometimes it's about how much food is left on the plate - are they taking the rest home?, how many times the guest said 'fine' - one should never strive for 'fine', it's lacklustre and often shows that someone is unhappy.

Tone, body language, conversation at the table, these are all things a server should pay attention to, not to mention using your own sense of judgement regarding the food you are serving.

You are the last pair of eyes evaluating a dish before it makes it to the table.  Are the edges of the garlic bread burnt?  Does the dish look like it has sat under the heat lamp too long?  Is there a film building on the sauce/soup?  Is there enough dressing on the salad? Too much?

Build a relationship with your kitchen staff so they trust your judgement, be critical but fair.

As for the guest responsibility, don't eat something that is terrible just because "you're paying for it".  Remember, there is a difference between poorly made and not your taste, so know which is which.  If the kitchen is putting out food that is inedible (burnt, dry, raw, congealed, over-seasoned, etc.) don't be afraid to send it back!  Politely of course, but you are paying for a dining experience and should not have to eat sub-par food.  A restaurant SHOULD appreciate the feedback if you are being reasonable and pleasant.

Servers, don't belittle the guest.  Yes of course sometimes they are wrong but LISTEN!  CARE!  These people are ultimately paying your wages (plus your tips) and it's your responsibility to make them happy.  Too many times a guest leaves the majority of their dinner on the plate and doesn't want it wrapped up and the server just says "ok, just the bill?"  Not acceptable.  As a server you should judge what the guest is really saying and take the time to ask again, "was it not to your liking?".  You'd be surprised what you can get out of a guest with a little earnestness.  And perhaps you could offer a free dessert, or discount the appetizers at the table as a gesture of care.

Of course if someone is being an idiot, sending back food that is exactly what they asked for and perfectly executed, don't always buy them dinner, they probably wont be back anyway.

1 comment:

  1. I'm one of those diners that will put up with a lot. I don't often complain and usually eat what I order or at least part of it. I travel for work, sometimes to Stratford and will readily admit that if I am disappointed greatly in the food, I will just find a different restaurant next time. Sometimes the disappointment is found in the price I pay verses the amount I get.