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