Knowledge is power, but it can also be somewhat detrimental in certain cases. I think restaurants is really one of them. I worked in fast food before, but that really has nothing to do with serving tables. We had one of the cleanest McD’s you would ever walk into and took pride on our restaurant and the food. I used to think that I had build enough good karma in the fast food industry by serving great “junk” food, until I got food poisoned a couple of years ago. I have since cut down on my fast food eating other than at lunch time when it is some time inevitable.
Growing up in Colombia we lived a middle life class. People rarely go to restaurant unless there is a special occasion. There were really no fast food places back then like her, and even the burger shops modeled after franchises here were a treat and not an every day thing. The restaurants I knew about were mostly a little more upscale and we very rarely visited them. Most of the time my Dad would pick up food and bring it home, so I say my experience with restaurants over there was about 95% take out.
I started going to restaurants during college. I was working and the disposable income and credit card use went mostly to family places like Lake Street Cafe and Dappers. I discovered that you can have breakfast all day other than at Denny’s and Ihop and enjoyed the experience quite a bit. I also learned that Hispanics have the fame of being bad tippers because I was approached several times after giving just 20% tips. I like to tip and if I had more money my tips would probably be closer to at least 50%. I also made it a rule that if I did not have enough to tip, I would just not eat out or adjust the price of the place.
I use my experience in a restaurant as a very social thing. Like with the movies I don’t like to go alone. I am more interested on the conversation and looking at people faces and reactions more than the noise or look of the place (I was going to use ambiance but Meesha has issues with the word.) I used to measure service level with the friendliness and promptness of the service. Also if special request were met and timely. The most important factor was always time of the arrival of the food, and then never to feel rushed out after.
I never thought of the phrase “How is your food” much, that is until someone pointed out to me that a good server always asks and never mid bite. Now I always think of that when I am making up my mind about good service, I can’t help it, its not even a conscious thing anymore.
Wook not to long ago told me during a lunch about clearing out plates from the table as being another measure of a good server. I have noticed lately that I also take a not of that when making my mind up about the server.
The latest one is what ruined a place that I used to love going for us. The server was new and young, and had not noticed that he was pretty much slamming the drink down and not placing things on the table but kind of rush trowing them. I would have not noticed it until it was pointed out to me, again I care more about the company and the conversation. Once it was pointed out and the food was still not coming it because a huge annoyance. Added to that was the fact that he seemed more worried about talking to the female servers than refilling our drinks or bringing out the appetizers. When the refills that we had to ask another server for came out, the glasses were slammed and I about lost it. We ended up walking out still hungry and moved to another restaurant. They say ignorance is bliss and I think when it comes to restaurants, I would say that is pretty accurate.
I think as we get older we all get pickier and pickier about what we like and how we want to be treated. I seriously don’t want to become an old man full of quirks, but I believe that when you pay for a meal in a restaurant two things have to happen. The meal has to be better than what I can make myself, and the service has to be worth my time. If the service in any way detracts from my experiecen, I will seriously consider taking my business somewhere else.