Ten rudest things servers and bartenders do to guests to make them wish they'd never come in
As a service-industry lifer/professional, I loved Lori Midson's list of the "Ten rudest things things customers do to make servers wish you'd never come to their restaurants." Over the course of my 27-year career in service, I've seen examples of all of her top ten...and more.
But what really gets to me is when people in my industry treat guests like they're doing the guests a favor by taking care of them. In my opinion, the hospitality starts with us regardless of the attitude or actions of our guests. It is our job to turn any poor treatment around; that's what we are here for. So I came up with my own list, of the ten rudest things that servers/bartenders do to make guests wish they'd never come into their restaurants:
10. Not focusing on the guest in front of you.
I know servers/bartenders are supposed to have eyes on the whole room -- but that only applies when you are away from your guests. To maintain hospitality while at a table, you must make those guests feel like they are the only ones in the room; your focus must be completely on the people in front of you. Looking at other tables while waiting on another gives the impression that you are disinterested, and that those guests are not as important as someone else. Save your scanning eyes for when you step away. And on a related note, it is rude for other servers or managers to interrupt you while you are at a table, taking orders.
9. Being too familiar.
I am all about getting to know your guests and building a relationship, but joining in conversations uninvited or talking about yourself without being asked is just plain wrong. My wife and I once had to sit at a local restaurant for twenty minutes while our food got cold and our server told us about her experiences in Lebanon....all because we ordered hummus. If guests ask your opinion or ask about you, that's fine -- but keep your answers interesting and keep them brief. The experience is about the guest, not about you.
8. Sitting down on the job.
This one happened to me just last week. My wife and I went to a Denver restaurant for brunch. When we walked in the door, the hostess was sitting in the waiting area. She got up begrudgingly, grabbed some menus and took us to a table. We felt like we were inconveniencing her by showing up. After we'd been seated and didn't see a server for at least ten minutes, I walked back up to the lounge/waiting area (where another host and two servers had since joined her) and asked if we could order. Her response? "Oh, I figured someone would have seen you by now." Brilliant. Employees should not be sitting down in view of their guests; it gives them the impression that taking care of them is an inconvenience. Break time should be somewhere in the back of the house.
7. Being on the phone/texting.
Sometime last year, at a bar that will remain anonymous, a bartender walked up to us with his cell phone in hand, actively texting. "Hi" he said, barely looking up from his phone, "What can I get you?" My response? "I could text you our order if that would make it easier for you..." That seemed to wake him up, and he put his phone away, startled. Then he took our order. This is a severe example, but I see variations all over town. I love it when I can see a phone lighting up in someone's apron while he's taking our order. That's s just plain rude -- leave it in your locker or bag.