Small Actions Restaurants Can Take to Ensure I'm Less Grumpy in 2013

A few tweaks to ensure my continued happiness

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By David Hammond

I spend a lot of my time thinking about restaurants, and what those who manage and work at restaurants can do to make me happy…or at least less grumpy. Surely such thoughts are not far from their minds, either.

Here, as a public service and as a help to restaurants everywhere, is a brief list of how those who run the places where I eat – and who serve me what I eat – can make a few small tweaks to ensure my continued happiness through 2013. Doubtlessly, nothing could be more important to any of us.

1. If you don't have a website, you're just being ridiculous: get one. Many, perhaps most, people do a little research on purchases before they put down their money. Me, I like to get a little background on a place before I eat there. The very least restaurant patrons can expect is that you have a website with your contact information and a menu. You don't need fancy videos, links to reviews or any other extravagant through perfectly acceptable additions. But, you can't really be in business without a website. They're not expensive. Register a domain and get one up. Like now, capisce?

2. How about I let you, the server, do your job? This is a two-part request; both parts relate to my strongly held belief that servers should serve. I don't ask to be sucked up to, I don't ask for undue deference, I'm just looking for service from servers. Reasonable, right?

o When my entrée arrives and I still have my app plate in front  of me, howzabout you remove my app plate rather than relying upon me to do it for you. We're not in my kitchen, or your kitchen. We're in a restaurant. I'm the patron; you're the server. When it's time to move plates, you do it. Don't stand there waiting for me to bus the table for you. I spent the Sumer of Love, 1968, bussing tables at Steven's Steakhouse in Elmhurst. I'm not above the job…except when I'm a paying customer, I shouldn't have to do it. You do it.

o If I want to take some uneaten food home, you need to put it in containers and then, for the love of god, do not put the damn bag on the table. When I order food from any place other than a quick-service restaurant or a diner, and I ask to take food home, I expect restaurant servers to put the food in the container and deliver it to my table. I shouldn't have to stuff containers myself; it makes a mess, it's an inconvenience, and sheesh, I'm the one being served, right? I don't work here: you do it! And after you've packed the bag, I ask that servers not place the "doggie bag" itself on the table. Doing so makes the whole eating surface feel cluttered; put the bag on an empty chair, or on the floor, or somewhere, but not right in front of me while I'm finishing dinner or paying the bill. It's not too much to ask. Glad we clarified that.

3. If you don't have a clothes closet, a cloak room, or a simple rack, maybe you should get off your butt and have one installed. I cannot believe that some very respectable (meaning good food, not cheap) restaurants do not have a closet or some room for coats. Hanging my coat on the back of the chair while I eat is fine at McDonald's, but if you're a real restaurant, you should have a place for people to store their wraps when they're eating. And if you do have one, and I walk in with a coat, I expect you to offer to take it from me and keep it safe while I enjoy your food.

Okay. Got all that? Good.

I'm waiting.

And you might consider setting up a hat rack, too.

You're welcome.



Reader Comments

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Dan Haley  

Posted: December 5th, 2012 5:10 PM

Dear Full Stomach,Impaired Memory, which of our bloggers are you taking a shot at here? Hubbuch or Hammond?

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 5th, 2012 5:05 PM

Lucy Mercer, let me get this straight: You eat the food from a kitchen but don't trust that same kitchen to box the food for you in a way that's consistent with health codes?

Full stomach/impaired memory  

Posted: December 5th, 2012 5:02 PM

@concerned: Clearly Mr. Hammond's blog account has been highjacked by John Hubbuch!

concerned from OP  

Posted: December 5th, 2012 4:24 PM

Is this a bit? David usually seems so nice and friendly. If I was his friend and read this, I'd go over to his house and make sure he doesn't have a gun. I mean, it sounds like a person who has lost it.

Dale Fitschen from Oak Park  

Posted: December 5th, 2012 3:16 PM

Doing what is necessary to reduce noise to a level that I can hear the friends across the table from me that I came to eat with is my first and only request. There are very nice places we don't go to because of the volume of noise

Tired of Taxes from Oak Park  

Posted: December 5th, 2012 11:49 AM

I get grumpy when my dinner is topped off with a parking ticket. This has happened a couple of times, once when we had to wait to be seated and found that our meter space had converted to permit parking.

Jake from Forest Park  

Posted: December 5th, 2012 11:38 AM

One thing I should add is, if you put out a coupon or advertise a promotion, honor it! Don't try to weasel out of it by creating fine print the moment I arrive. All you're doing is ensuring I do not return and I tell everyone you really needed my $7.

Jake from Forest Park  

Posted: December 5th, 2012 11:33 AM

This is funny and so true! PS if you need a web site I have a shameless plug for a company I used to get mine: Chris Byrnes and Jeah Communications. They also own Fyne Domains. Their web site is :-)

Lucy mercer  

Posted: December 5th, 2012 6:08 AM

What a silly article- so petty- in fact for health and cleanliness recommendations are that you put your own leftovers in the containers- why send them back to a kitchen where you don't know what is going on- Maggianos on Clark gives you a choice

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 4th, 2012 11:26 PM

MJ, it'd also be nice if restaurants provided hooks for purses that affix to tables. I've seen that at some places. In restrooms, women aren't the only ones who'd appreciate hooks, believe me.

MJ Hampel from Oak Park, IL  

Posted: December 4th, 2012 7:07 PM

Here's my pet peeve: how about a hook in the restroom? Putting your purse and sometimes even your coat on the floor in a public restroom is just plain nasty. You can tell when a man has designed the bathroom.

Anne from Forest park  

Posted: December 4th, 2012 6:28 PM

I get grumpy when I'm finished eating but others are not. The server wants to pack up my food. I won't let them until the others are done. I feel rushed out with the To go bag in my face. Thanks 4 your thoughts.

Sherry W  

Posted: December 4th, 2012 6:21 PM

Advice from david hammond. What a joke. I'd do the complete opposite of what he says. He's nothing but a hack writer. He must have awakened on the wrong side of the bed of nails. You sound rather superior to the people who have to serve you, don't u?

Lisa Miller Browdy from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 4th, 2012 5:25 PM

I actually like putting my own leftovers in the container. First, because it just feels more hygienic using my own hands/cutlery, and second because that way the sauces and side dishes I want to have come come with me and the stuff I don't want stays behind.

Full stomach/impaired memory  

Posted: December 4th, 2012 4:33 PM

I agree with most, but I'd say even when it's right there on the table I forget the doggie bag about 30% of the time. On a chair or floor? We'd be talking the 70+% range. Maybe they can build a doggie bag shelf on each table's dedicated hat rack.

David Hammond from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: December 4th, 2012 4:15 PM

Sarah, thanks; Dan, yes...though there's a lot more grumpiness where this came from.

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: December 4th, 2012 2:51 PM

OK, David, while I agree with several of your points -- especially about not being the one to stick my leftovers into the styrofoam shell -- it is possible you sound just a bit grumpy.

Sarah Corbin from Oak Park  

Posted: December 4th, 2012 2:30 PM

David, I love this. Great advice.

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