Restaurant service is a lost art in Denver

Charcoal-029.jpg
Mark Manger
The service at Charcoal is undermining the hard work of the chef -- but it's not the only place with this problem.
Charcoal, I noted in my review this week, has a service problem.

The front-of-house team is generally a good-natured bunch of people. They're friendly, they're eager, and they seem to want their guests to have a good time. But they missed the boat when they ignored the small details, which not only contrasted with the professionalism of the kitchen but actually lessened the quality of the experience.

This isn't a problem unique to Charcoal. While there are exceptions, well-meaning but unprofessional service is endemic in the Mile High City, and it's something we should fix if we want to reach the next echelon of dining in this town. The quality of food has grown leaps and bounds over the past few years; it's time for the service to catch up.

And the whole "but this is a casual town, and people want casual service" argument is not an excuse. Denver might be a casual town, but casual service is an illusion. That doesn't mean every restaurant should adhere to the strict standards of fine dining. In fact, I don't much care whether you serve me from the left or right, you backhand me when you present me with my food or even if you serve me, the lady (ha), first. But I do care that you get the important details right.

What are the important details? The ones that cause an annoyance when they're missed: Once you've delivered my soup, I don't want it to get cold while I wait for you to get me a spoon. If I order a wine pairing, I want to taste the wine before the food, so make sure my glass is on the table before my dish comes out. If I have a problem with my meal, I shouldn't have to track you down -- check back in quickly, after you've dropped my plate. And when I'm ready to pay my check, act quickly. You'd be shocked how slowly time passes when you're waiting for someone to swipe your credit card so you can leave.

(If you still aren't clear on the important details, go out to eat at a restaurant where you don't know any of the staff. In this town, chances are good you'll have one or two of these details missed, and then you'll know what not to do at your own place.)

Getting to that next level of service, though, takes leadership. With the proliferation of chef-driven restaurants, a strong personality in the front of the house has gone by the wayside. That's a mistake. Restaurants used to exist mostly as clubby social gathering spots where the host ruled and the food was secondary. It's excellent that we've moved past that into an era when we care about what's on our plates. But without a leader in the front of the house -- without that host -- restaurants are missing, at the very least, an opportunity to cultivate their own community. More often, they're setting the stage for an entirely mediocre service experience -- and an entirely forgettable dining out experience, even if the food should be memorable.

A good leader does a couple of things.

First, he choreographs. He makes sure the hosts are greeting people immediately, taking care of diners efficiently and acting warmly (on a side note, hosts are treated too secondarily in Denver dining; it's these people who make the first impression and often color the rest of the evening for a guest. Do you really want that person to be a vapid, unsmiling or unknowledgeable human?). Once guests are settled in the dining room, the leader makes sure their needs are met smoothly, jumping in to assist when necessary. I've waited tables, and I know things can go wrong behind the scenes -- but the diner doesn't want to see that. A good leader ensures that the curtain of serene, friendly, perfect world illusion is never pulled back.

Second, a good leader empowers his staff by instilling knowledge. Servers should know the menu. Bartenders should know the drink list. A good leader makes sure his team can answer most questions, while he professionally handles the more obscure ones when he's called on to do so.

Third, a good leader is a lightning rod for handling complaints. When someone is firmly in control of the front of the house, guests have an easy out when they're not having a good time -- they simply voice their problems to the leader, who can then rectify the issue before the guest walks out the door and never returns. This, by the way, is how you change a complaining guest from a bad Yelp reviewer into a lifetime regular: Blow him or her away by dealing with the problem professionally.

And on that note, a good leader makes sure every guest leaves -- both metaphorically and literally -- with a good taste in his or her mouth. Most of the time that's just a smile and a genuine "Thank you for joining us." Close out the interaction with care; that impression will linger longer than the aftertaste of your carefully selected espresso.

Above all, it's worth remembering this: Great service can make up for bad food, but rarely does it work the other way around.

Denver is turning out great food. It's time we stopped getting in our own way with bad service.

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Charcoal

43 W. 9th Ave., Denver, CO

Category: Restaurant

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I too can can on one hand the number of times I have actually complained to management. They were truly atrocious experiences from top to bottom.  Bad food, wrong food, drinks, horrible service, etc.   I just don't go back.  But what has happened in the few times that I have complained has annoyed me to no end. 

I have phoned or sent emails on these few occasions (after the fact).  What i usually received were profuse apologies and offers for gift certificates or such.  Ok, fine.  EXCEPT, those promised items are never, ever sent.  If you are not going to follow up, then don't even bother with the supposed supplications. I do not appreciate the extra kick in the teeth.   It only makes me hate your restaurant all the more and completely guarantee that I will never go again. 

And in the case of La Sandia, that I will never go to any Richard Sandoval restaurant in any city. 

Chefzoso
Chefzoso

My take is that bad service happens when the servers think of themselves as equal to or more important than the guests. The best remedy is good training, really and leadership from the top.At one time I presided over a restaurant with some of the best servie in Colorado, but as my leadership declined so did the service. A tought lesson. My advice to New fantastic Chef owners such as Ryan and Patrik..realize how important great service is to your long term sucess and don;t be too kitchen centric....

Sirloin3
Sirloin3

I agree that sometimes the service at some places would benefit from better training. I attended Johnson and Wales and the most eye opening classes for me were the dining room classes. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not cut out for that type of work, but it is a lot harder than it looks. After completing those classes, I have a much better appreciation of the job. True, I now notice a lot more things about service, but I have a better idea of the why. Not to excuse poor service, but communicating with the FOH can make a difference. I know my feeble attempts in class got better each class after things were pointed out to me. 

Thymine Hayes  ESQ.
Thymine Hayes ESQ.

The author clearly states she is not expecting outstanding, interpretive or good service.  She is not asking for plates to be served or cleared properly.  She wants a spoon in anticipation of her soup...is this fine dining?  Maybe to servers in Denver who feel an entitlement to that 20 % tip that is being calculated every time they run their sales report during  the shift at the POS calculating income, we can see and hear you...Laura opened up a great dialouge with this post, I have never met her  but feel I know her based on her frustrations...the wine point was great, expecting wine to arrive before a course or tasting, I have heard a myriad of excuses from servers as to why they are not timely...my favorite is "I'm trying to time the guests experience."  This by the same people/person who left a guest to eat soup with a butter knife and took 20 minutes to present check.  Finally, I would like to say to the wait staff of Denver, being nice is not a sign of non sophistication, it means you are nice and are eager to serve, service is a passion and people who dont appreciate your efforts should be treated the same as those that do,service is self inspired, self fulfilling and rewarding. if you are constantly "mistreated", perhaps look in the mirror...OK maybe I'm not a fan of Denver sevice, would love to have my mind changed

mbl
mbl

And by the way, thank you for this article. I will be reading to my staff at our weekly meeting.

mbl
mbl

Being in the business for 30+years, and owning my own for the past 10 I agree with everyone on this subject. When I started in this business back then we took our jobs seriously and with  integrity. I always hear "kids these days". Trying to LEAD people is quite challenging and frustrating especially "when the cat's away". So I think the answer is to have a of couple COOL CATS in the house at all times so we don't end up the litter box

Miss Guest
Miss Guest

I think the leadership you are talking about exists within some corporate restaurant groups, such as Hillstone, with extensive management training programs.  Thorough and complete training is needed to create great service environments, coupled with leadership.  Great service is possible, but it isn't some costless intangible... smaller restaurants will have to eat the cost of more comprehensive training and create a more desirable work place to limit staff turnover.  

Jeff Lane
Jeff Lane

My 2 cents is you can vote with your feet if the service at a particular restaurant does not suit you.  You should, however give them the opportunity to "make things right" if you are not satisfied.  I can say with certainty that an owner of a restaurant that cares will do everything in his or her power to fix an issue.  However there is no way they can fix something if they are not informed by you, the diner.  I can say that service has never been issue for us at any of Frank and Jacqueline Bonanno's restaurants.  When we dine at one of their spots, we truly feel like we are coming to someone's house and welcomed accordingly.  When I complain at one of their restaurants(and I have), they have fixed the issue every time!

Unknown
Unknown

Agree with @Blank. Try having 10 tables with at least 2 people at each (this rarely happens). Then for you Joe Blows, remember every persons drink, what they're eating, and where the table is at in their dining experience. MATH TIME! 10 tables 2 people at each(luckily), water and drink per person per table 4 * 10 = 40, now food, 2 entrees plus app, 3 * 10 = 30, that's 70 things your server is juggling at once that is all different and let's not forget getting double sat and triple sat. Then throw in all the things needed by people who didn't say they needed it at time of ordering, plus running food, busing tables, refilling drinks, order ringing, running CC, dropping checks, pen not working, other tables flagging you down that need something another server forgot, looking for the manager... juggle all of this constantly for a typical dinner rush 5 hours straight! Next time you're waiting for your check to be ran, time it! I dare you! 10+ minutes... Bet you waited no more than 5... Add it all up what your server is doing at once next time you're in busy restaurant on a Friday night and remember you're not the only table. Yelp about it you amazing food critics you!

Blank
Blank

As a FOH server, I feel this article is somewhat a punch in the face. Your (The Author) points you make are valid to say the least. Yet I feel that people who go out these days are expecting and even demanding fine dining service with a $30 tab for their evening out. This simply isn't going to happen. You want fine dining service? Go to those restaurants then and pay the $200+ for that kind of service where each server only has a four table section.

ClaireWalter
ClaireWalter

Front of the house maestros: the late Doug Fleischman at Mizuna (still very much with us) and Corky Douglass (still very much with us) at the late Tante Louise. Or, for unfailingly outstanding service, there's Boulder's F-team: Frasca Food & Wine with Bobby Stuckey always in control and the Flagstaff House, where Mark Monette handles front-of-the-house matters. 

Dave Lovelace
Dave Lovelace

I've always been impressed with the service at Panzano

Jon S
Jon S

Yeah, I suppose this post is correct overall. But honestly, name me one city where this isn't a problem. I've never found a city where the service noticeably stands out across the board. That includes the usual food meccas of NYC and San Francisco.The great restaurants have great service, otherwise it's all hit or miss.

And I do think Laura has a point about service making up for food shortcomings. Frasca does have amazing service (and a wine program to match). That seems to drive it's reputation, considering I've only had just above average food there.

Foodandwine1975
Foodandwine1975

I have eaten at some fantastic restaurants around the world, I've spent 25+ years in BOTH FOH and BOH, most of that time in Denver working for some of the best in the biz (both then an now) I am the Chef/Owner of my own restaurant and host weekly FOH training/education classes... I would like to believe my service is solid as my reviews lead me to believe, but at the end of the day, the problem is universal, or at the very least nationwide. It stems from the expectations of both diners and owners, and the "everyone is a critic" type of online media/social networking...  The restaurant business has changed, more people eat out and the labor pool gets more and more slim. I can honestly say, I had spent 10+ years as a professional fine dining server before working for Kevin Taylor and learning that I didn't know the first thing about service. There is just simply not enough education because there are not enough sources for education.

The Irony is I can give you examples of long since shuttered restaurants which had service/food/value all in their favor, and the general public wouldn't support them over the hyped media darlings with a trendy chef and virtually no service. I completely agree (for the 1st time ever) with Laura, but simply want to state that the lack of educated diners supporting the lack of educated service will continue to perpetuate this "trend" as it is simply more expensive to "do it right", and the ones who are tying to, are few and far between, as a 25+ year lifer, trust me on this!

Sbuckyl
Sbuckyl

My wife and I had an experience at Trillium that completely confirmed this post. The food was incredible but the service made us feel as if we were at a sports bar.

However, I have never had anything but exceptional service at Potager, Table Six, Fruition and Village Cork.

I would have to agree though that Frasca trumps them all.

Jeffrey
Jeffrey

Somebody below mentioned Frasca.  It's funny--I didn't think that I cared about service (unless it was horrible) before eating at Frasca.  Now, I seem to notice when the finer points of service are missed by a restaurant.  Sometimes I wonder if my new sensibilities are a blessing or a curse.

Guest
Guest

Sushi Den's service really took a dive a few years ago when they did their big expansion -- impossible to get drink refills, empty appetizer plates left on my table,  every faux pas you can imagine. After it happened a third time I emailed the manager and said "hey, this is where we bring all our out-of-town guests but you're really slipping." I got an immediate reply with no excuses, a humble apology and a request that we stick with them, that they'd get it together (he also offered me free drinks, which I declined). The next visit it was better, and for the past couple of years the service is back at the same great level it was before. So you're right -- the leadership really has a lot to do with how the place is run.

Rose
Rose

Small-but-important details that matter most to us have to do with beverages. If it's breakfast time, get some coffee in front of us quickly and offer to refill it regularly. If it's dinner time, take a beverage order as soon as possible and offer another round when drinks start getting low. It's pretty easy, and we can deal with almost anything else as long as we have something to sip on. Staring at an empty coffee cup or beer glass is almost as bad as waiting for a credit card to be run.

Brian Martinez
Brian Martinez

"And when I'm ready to pay my check, act quickly."

This is my (and my wife's) number one pet peeve, and it's happened at every level of dining that doesn't require you to pay up front.  Damn never every restaurant I've been to in this town has been painfully slow to present the check when we're done eating.  It's like they don't want our money.  Quite often, I've been happy to oblige by not returning there.  And don't get me started on downtown restaurants that make you wait when you're trying to leave to make a 7:30 show!

Having to wait for the check can ruin an otherwise excellent dining experience.  It's just inexcusable.

offdisc
offdisc

We have the same discussion every year (at least) and nothing really changes. Some examples from a quick search (the "Cafe Society" search is broken and does globla cross all Westword, otherwise I'd show more):  http://blogs.westword.com/cafe...http://blogs.westword.com/cafe...We can complain and rant about the lack of quality service until we're blue in the face, the problem lies in the number of restaurants needing workers. It is great that Denver's scene is growing so rapdily, but with that expansion comes the fact that anybody that can carry a tray and remember and (usually) remember and order, will be hired.

CB
CB

Totally agree w/this. Its not just the Frasca's of the world that benefit from focused front of the house attention, its any and every sort of restaurant.

I am not a complainer, i dont even need the fingers on one hand to count how many times ive gone to a manager to complain..If the service is terrible that place will basically never see my money again, regardless of how good the food/drink might be.

Only exception is if i am stupid enough to go to a brand, spanking new place, than i will often be willing to give a second chance, otherwise, no.

Joey B
Joey B

I agree wholeheartedly Laura.

eldaveablo
eldaveablo

"This, by the way, is how you change a complaining guest from a bad Yelp reviewer into a lifetime regular: Blow him". Now that's what I'm talkin about. 

tropicalchrome
tropicalchrome

Thanks for this - I don't think many restaurants understand how much lack of coordination hurts the experience.

Several months ago we were at a highly touted new restaurant when it finally happened to me - the glass of ice water accidentally spilled into the lap. Our server was quick to respond with towels and apologies, but absolutely *no one* else came over to help deal with it - and while she did offer a comp, it was obvious she was winging it, there was no training on what the restaurant's policy was or what she should say/offer. And I was the one who ended up having to warn the other servers who delivered our food that the floor was wet and they needed to take care. (And no, I wasn't mad at our server. Crap happens. It's how you deal with it that makes the difference.)

Why did I not mention this to the manager before we left? As far as I could tell, there wasn't one on duty.

Yeah, the food was great, but what I remember most is that they had real service coordination issues.

Ashley
Ashley

Looks like you're not the only one who thinks so: http://www.5280.com/blogs/2012.... I saw that a few weeks back, but definitely agree with the points mentioned in both yours and theirs. One frustrating practice is absolutely no host at all -- so the servers are left to haphazardly greet people and seat them.

Uncledave8
Uncledave8

Completely agree with the need for more training for all front of the house staff.  You can't hire a bunch of kids and expect that they "get" fine dining service.  On the other hand, I hate the Hillstone service model.  Who is my server?  Service at Hillstone and Cherry Creek Grill feels exactly like what it is - corporate.  Pass.  I guess I'd prefer sincere hospitality, if occasionally clumsy, to the totally corporate automaton model.

Diner
Diner

I agree with Blank as well - there are levels of dining and service that ideally would go hand in hand with diners' expectations, and those are the expectations we have chosen to manage in the restaurant industry.  

But Unknown, your tone and comments reveal your contempt for your guests and the burden of the duties required of your job.  Making an excuse for a guest waiting even five minutes to pay the check is unacceptable.  Great (or even just pleasant, good) service is an emotional endeavor - both the giving and receiving.  It's not about math or the busywork of the job.  Rub some dirt on it, get back into your section for the two hours of the dinner rush, put a smile on your face and remember who pays you.  It's not your manager, the owner, the chef - it's your guests.  Treat them as such.  

Guest
Guest

 Please tell me which restaurant you work at so that I never ruin your day by showing up and ordering food and expect to be treated decently.

Guest
Guest

The final sentence here pretty much sums up service here in Denver.  The high level of disdain that servers (and owners) hold for their customers is apparent in a lot of the restaurants you walk into in Denver.  

Most people who walk into your restaurant work pretty hard for their money too.  

Kimberly
Kimberly

I have to agree with you. It seems that Denver has been plagued with a small (but albeit incredibly annoying) population of people who feel that they have ascended to food critic status simply because (a) they have a smart phone so they can post all of their food pictures to Facebook or Instagram, (b) an account on Open Table or Yelp!, and (c) a vocabulary that includes words like 'reduction', 'demi glace', and 'sous chef'. "I demand" and "I expect" seem to be the norm, and nobody seems to take into account all the other things that go into doing what you, as a FOH server/greeters, do on a daily basis.

I agree, people deserve to be treated well, but most commenters on this thread would probably be insulted by the service afforded at Buckingham Palace during a state dinner at this rate! "Oh, the Queen was lovely, but damn....my tea was way too cold for my delicate palate!!" 

If you don't like the service at a particular place, don't go back. Don't bitch simply to get 'comped' (that would be YOU, guy I sat next to at Barolo Grill a few weeks ago who wolfed down an entire steak but thought it was "awful" and wanted his money back...), and don't take out your frustrations in your own life on your waitstaff. If you want Frasca-like service...go to Frasca. If you want Table 6 quality, go to Table 6. Wish the servers at X restaurant were more like the servers at Y? That's not the server's problem at all...that's squarely an issue that you, the diner, need to reconcile. 

If you insist on impeccible, fault-free service 100% of the time with no glitches or no hiccups, then try staying at home and cooking your own meal. For the vast majority of us who aren't suffering from an entitlement complex, I'll take your best and be happy with it while simultaneously avoiding the new-found hobby of demonizing an entire segment of the dining industry in the process.

Uncledave8
Uncledave8

You said it Claire.  The "hostess" (most commonly defined as some little 22 year old bimbo with a smokin' hot body whose fine dining experience consists of a stint at McDonalds) has replaced a mature, experienced professional host/hostess in virtually every restaurant in town.  The people you mention (and, I'd add Mel Masters, Pierre Wolf, & Harry Lordino, to name a few) really know how to make you feel welcome, never forget a name, and take care of any problems with style and grace.

caviar_and_chitlins
caviar_and_chitlins

Brian,

This is kind of a no-win for restaurants.  For every person that's trying to make a show, there is another (like me) that doesn't want to feel like a table is being turned and they are rushed or in the way by the waiter dropping the check while they are having dessert or after dinner drink.  I HATE the early check-drop.  One thing I love about dining in Europe is that they never drop the check unless asked.

If you have a time constraint, tell your waitperson.  If they ignore that, you have a legitimate complaint.

Kyle
Kyle

While I appreciate the concerns expressed over waiting for a check, I don't think it is always necessarily a reflection of bad service. As a former server, I can say that many customers actually take offense when servers bring them their check before they have explicitly asked for it. Servers undoubtedly should pay more attention to the type of guests they have to determine what is appropriate, but that is not always easy to do. 

Also, and I don't mean to imply that this was the case with your example Brian, but a lot of customers have unrealistic expectations with regard to the timing of their food. I used to work at a restaurant near Coors Field and on game day we would consistently have people come in 30 minutes before the game started, order a medium well steak, and then furiously complain when they were running late for the game. 

I think that more attentive servers combined with customers with manners and realistic expectations would go a long way toward improving dining in Denver--and in any other city for that matter. 

Laura Shunk
Laura Shunk

I think this is a really good point -- and I think it's what makes cultivating leaders so important. Leaders also train other leaders, but you need professionals in place to do that.

I also think, though, that there are more committed service professionals in Denver right now than ever before, and I think there are leaders out there who really get it. There's still plenty of turnover in the industry, and there always will be. But now's the time to up the ante.

steveville
steveville

You failed to express what more you expected from the employees.  As for wanting to speak to the MOD (manager on duty), just ask any employee.  Ask the host or hostess. There's always an MOD available.

ndolbeare
ndolbeare

Couldn't agree more with your first sentence.  While we've had great food many times at Rioja, Cholon, Coohills, etc the service almost seems to get worse every visit and it finally reached a point where we've stopped visiting those restaurants.  It's a shame because those restaurants have talented kitchen staffs but their skill is overshadowed by a poor FOH.

Not every restaurant needs to be as finely tuned as Frasca but some small degree of their attentiveness would work wonders for the restaurants named above as well as many others.

And for my major pet peeve - I absolutely hate being asked if we've been to a restaurant before.  We make our reservations on OpenTable, all you need to do is look down and you'll not only have the answer to your question but you'll also be able to say something like "welcome back" which works wonders on getting me to come back again and again.

Diner
Diner

Amen Kimberly - well said and right on!

Uncledave8
Uncledave8

Totally agree.  It is considered extremely rude to "drop" a check before it is asked for in many countries.  If you're in a hurry inform your server that you would like the check as soon as you have finished eating.  I hate the "early" check drop - you think I'm doing to dine and dash?

Brian Martinez
Brian Martinez

 1.  I'm not expecting servers to be clairvoyant.  I agree it's a matter of paying attention.  Many of them simply disappear for 15 minutes or more after we've finished eating, and I'll end up flagging down someone else so I can ask for the check.  I shouldn't have to do that.

2. I set reservations for at least an hour before showtime (more, if we have to drive to the venue), and will let the server know, and even ask if they think the food will take longer than normal.  I don't mind ordering something else if it'll be prepared more quickly.  I give them reasonable opportunities to make sure they can serve us in the time frame allotted.  And they will still drag their ass in bringing us the check!

I'm sorry, but being too busy isn't an excuse.  I know restaurant owners can be assholes and overload the wait staff and what not, but don't blame the customers for having certain expectations when they are upfront about it.

Luke
Luke

Agreed to the fullest

CB
CB

 @Kyle - i think a real issue is servers disappearing in the back to do side work or hit on the hostess once the check is dropped. I regularly find myself waiting 10+ minutes for my CC to be taken once someone delivers the check. Its ridiculous.. I always change the location of the bill to make it obvious to any server who isnt a reptile that i have addressed the check, leave my CC sticking out, etc, and still wait forever to get my card run.  

CB
CB

 I think leading is a poor excuse for knowledge. Maybe you mean that a leader has FoH expertise but i dont find that necessarily to be teh case. Running FoH is hard and exacting work and a good attitude and "leadership" doesnt mean shit if the person doesnt know wtf s/he is doing.

Brian Melton
Brian Melton

Gonna post what I did on Facebook....just for good measure (and added room):

Denver still does not treat its front of the house force like professionals, yet clamor for professionals to give great service. You can't simply just pay someone enough hourly to cover taxes and then let the tips figure the rest out. That's not how a professional environment conducts itself.

Think back to Prop 300 and the backlash that came from it. Now, that bill might have not been perfect, but what's wrong with treating your employees well? If you offer incentives to learn, develop and grow (such as health care, sick leave, educational opportunities, etc.) then seasoned professionals might want to stay on board. Currently, the only way to get sick leave or health care is to become a manager. But managers are the most stressed out, over-worked (60+ hours a week) fall guys/girls in the industry. I repeatedly turned down management opps because I made more money and had less stress by just remaining a bartender. When the only option to take care of a family is to either leave the industry or become a manager who never sees their family, it's no wonder people get the hell out when they can.

And that is just honestly the tip of the iceberg. I could write a novel. Seriously.

offdisc
offdisc

I 100% agree with you, Laura. However, the cynic in me says that the majority of owners aren't going to concern themselves with the service complaints from a handful of people. Those chefs/owners going for Michelin (-style) ratings will, of course, but your everyday "I'm a chef and want my own place" or "I'e always wanted to open a restaurant" owner will be more focused on keeping enough staff to manage his covers, and not care as much about discovering the "leader" (it surely isn't them!) and encouraging that person to spread knowledge to the rest of the staff.

tropicalchrome
tropicalchrome

I have started a response to this multiple times, and haven't quite been able to write anything to my satisfaction, so I'll leave it at this: if I thought that searching for a manager would have helped the situation, I might have, but the very act of having to search for the missing manager was going to make the situation even worse.

offdisc
offdisc

Brian, I was about to respond somewhat negatively to your original post, but I whole-heartedly agree with this one. Personally, I hate being rushed out of a restaurant unless their is a wait for tables, or they are about to close. Let my food digest a few minutes, or at least let me see the dessert menu. If a server would like to start closing the table, ask "Anything else?" before dropping off the check (even as the last plates are cleared), and leave the opening for me to request the check right then.  Check back every 5 minutes or so... I'll get the hint and if you aren't busy and it's not close to closing time, I may ask for a longer period between asks, but Thanks for remembering us! However once the check is down, come back for it!  I've signaled that I am ready to move on by requesting the check, I don't need another 20 minutes. My credit card comes out pretty quickly, or cash is distributed among the table. Not hard for a server to glance over a couple minutes later and see if the check has moved, is stuffed with cash, or has a card sticking out of it. Come by when it's ready, process it, and Thank us for visiting, Hope you Enjoyed the Meal.   It isn't rocket science to be corteous, and to let the customer run the show a little. It's "our" time to spend at your place, let it be "our" time. If the place is jammed, we understand things run a little slowly, just don't make it obvious that you've forgotten us. And try to avoid dropping a check and immediately waiting on the 10-top that just walked in!

eCurmudgeon
eCurmudgeon

Speaking of credit-cards, I'd really like to see American restaurants take a page from Europe and start using portable card-reader terminals, so that the card never leaves your sight, nor suddenly has "extra" charges added...

offdisc
offdisc

Agreed... but only to a point. Yes, it would be great if all employers could afford to "treat their employees well" by giving them those benefits. However, on the other hand, the current situation is those benefits are NOT included, and yet the choice to join the industry is still made. The history of the industry has been more tip-focused than wage/benefit-focused. So trying to use the lack of something that never existed as the basis for the decline in good service is backwards logic. General life advice: If a person decides to join the industry, ANY industry, ANY job, they should be devoted to doing their best, learning everything they can, and rising to whatever level best suits them. If they don't have the willingness to do these basics, they've picked the wrong industry to be in. You CAN simply pay someone enough hourly to cover taxes and let tips figure out the rest. Happens all ofver the country that way. You know how to make it work? Do A DAMN GOOD Job and earn the BIG tips! If you're going to just go through the motions, the customer will see that and respond accordingly. The opposite applies as well. (usually -- Denver does need to learn to tip better for good service).

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