Monday, November 28, 2011

customer profile: the regular-non-tipper

"Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot.

Wouldn't you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name..."

Being a regular is nice.  A cheerful hello awaits your arrival.  Smiles from staff members, handshakes from management, you are an important part of a successful restaurant make-up.

I love regular guests.  They get to know you, they seem to care about the establishment as they continuously come to spend their hard earned money.  But, something I will never understand is a regular who doesn't tip.  

I am forever feeling like I have to clarify my points as they are so often taken out of context.  I too have locations I go on a fairly regular basis and my tip varies based on the service.  Bad experience = bad tip.  Good experience = good tip.  I'm not saying just because you go often to a particular restaurant that you should have to become a philanthropist.

What I am referring to are the certain people who return again and again to the same venue and just don't tip. Period.  I don't get it, they can have the greatest meal of their life and service to match and still no tip.  I personally would have trouble being a repeat customer knowing that some poor server is paying to serve me.  Yes, it's true, we pay out whether you tip or not (to better understand this concept read my previous post on tipping out).

Perhaps I'm so bothered, not by the lack of tip, but by my lack of understanding.  I've often wanted to approach this type of guest and ask, genuinely ask, why?

Suddenly your entrance turns into a twilight version of 'Cheers', smiles become frowns, handshakes become accusatory looks and the servers are doing rock, paper, scissors to figure out who gets stuck with you.

The last thing you want is being pegged as a non-tipper, your quality of service will be greatly decreased.  And trust me, we peg you, as soon as a regular-non-tipper walks through the door every server who knows alerts every server who doesn't know and we all scowl inwardly.

If anyone out there can enlighten me on the thought process of this type of customer, it would be greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

o Christmas tree

Welcome to the holiday season, a time of warmth, generosity, togetherness, and 'Christmas Parties'.  Every year between November 15th and December 24th I want to quit my job, crawl in a hole and weep until it's all over.

I've posted before about large groups but that does not even begin to express my feelings about restaurant filling, pre-booked, pre-ordered, set menu monster-sized parties.  I'm crying a little even now as I anticipate the coming month.

First off, if you ordered in advance for your dinner, DO NOT switch at the last minute.  Just because your friend's choice looks better than yours does not entitle you to change at the last moment.  This will result in someone else getting the wrong meal (imagine if half the people in your group did this?), which will cause the kitchen to back-up and have to re-cook a dozen meals and throw out the dozen they already made.  Not nice, eat what you ordered for the love of Santa!

Second, drink in moderation.  Yes, you're spending time with a bunch of people you don't like at the best of times (family/coworkers) so you may want a little social lubricant.  But be careful, too many candy cane martinis could result in serious tongue-wagging embarrassment.

Third: as mentioned in the other post, pay attention to your server.  Make a mental note of who they are (note: the young thin blonde and the older brunette are not the same person) and pose your questions and requests to that server.  Be patient, there are a lot of you who all want things at the same time; The night is young there is plenty of time to get drunk.

Inevitably, most Christmas parties get a little rowdy and by the end of the evening the ever present guest list breaks down like this:  There is, without fail, at least one male in the group who feels it is his calling in life to get impossibly drunk and inflict himself on the female staff.  There is often a puker - who of course never reaches the bathroom in time and leaves their festive present "discreetly" in a napkin or under one of the tables.  Don't forget the unhappy employee/unrequited lover who ends the night loudly complaining about their boss/lover to anyone who will listen - inevitably ending in tears and drama and refusal to get in the cab to go home.  Of course the lingerers are a common occurrance as well.  These are the people who hang on to the bitter end after everyone has left, they keep the staff, who try to reset around them without much success, hours later than necessary.  Last but not least, the boss/coordinator/head of the family who is in charge of paying the bill has always overspent on the event itself and cheaps out on the tip.

This year at your Christmas party, get into the spirit of giving; give the gift of good behaviour to your restaurant staff this holiday season!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

late night bar etiquette - taking a pass

Imagine yourself lined up at a busy bar, you've been waiting a few minutes which has given you a chance to notice the bartenders working hard and fast behind the bar in hopes of serving everyone all the alcohol they could ever want.  You notice that the person to your right has been waiting just a few moments longer than you.

Now, you consider yourself to be polite, you don't butt in line, you hold doors open for old ladies.  That's nice.  But when the bartender turns to you, nearly frantic with the movement of multiple orders swirling in his/her brain, ready to take your order, DO NOT offer your turn to the person to your right.  Unless of course you aren't ready to order or intend to wait for your next turn, which could fall somewhere after everyone else already waiting at the bar.

You see, giving your turn to someone else is nice, but it DOES NOT mean that you will then in turn be served next.  The time it takes for you to pass your turn to someone else is the time it could have taken you to say "coorslight bottle" at which point the bartender would turn to the next person anyway for a multiple order.  You don't know if the next person is going to order a round of shooters for the whole bar along with a couple of pints for his friends and a cocktail for the pretty thing at the other end of the bar.  You have essentially made yourself wait quite a long time.

And don't go mentioning to the bartender that you were next.  We have a loose idea of who is next, it is at our discretion and though it may not be 100% accurate, we are the booze gods so what we decide is pretty much the law of the universe as far as alcohol consumption goes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

smoking gun...

May I begin with a question?

Does it bother you when a server approaches your table with the smell of cigarettes lingering?

A few questions perhaps...

What connotation do you relate to a restaurant whose kitchen/wait staff are sitting outside, in uniform, smoking?

In the restaurant industry breaks of any kind are few and far between, so I understand the want to slip outside for a quick butt, but where do you draw the line?

Is it okay to pop out for a puff while waiting for your table's entrees?  Do you then deliver their food while the smoke lingers?  Should you greet a table after smoking?  Does the level of cuisine or time of day have an effect on the guests' perception?

I recently experienced a situation where there was a rather long delay in the middle of dinner; when the server returned he smelled so obviously of cigarettes, I understood why we had been forgotten.  His tip declined rapidly.

There have been times in my life when I have been a smoker and times that I have not.  Let me tell you something: smokers stink.  This is especially true when the persons doing the smelling are not smokers themselves.  It is fairly well known that smoking mutes your sense of smell and taste, therefore you do not notice your own stench, but the people you are serving can smell you 'loud and clear'.

So many topics that I bring up are directly related to timing and discretion, as is this one.  Neglecting your section to take a smoke break is unacceptable; serving food in a fine dining atmosphere while reeking of stale cigarettes is disgusting and unfair to the people spending the money on a high end experience.  But alternatively, if your tables are well cared for by a co-worker in your absence, you cover your uniform so the stench doesn't linger and wash your hands afterward/use mouth wash or gum, go ahead, smoke your lungs out!