It appears this NY Times piece, which ran back in October, may have escaped Barry’s attention. [BR: I saw it and forwarded to a friend who owns a restaurant.]
Titled 100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do, it should be the Holy Grail for any restaurateur. I have not yet found the restaurant with a spotless compliance record, and wonder if anyone else may have? Any restaurateurs out there — if so, what say you?
The entire list is a worthwhile read; I’ve culled it down to some of my own personal hot buttons (I’d consider it a home run to find a restaurant that adhered to just these). 17, 75, 76 and 77 are probably what drive me craziest, and will ensure a sub-par tip every time.
Here are some select rules (and here are the best comments, as selected by the column’s author):
1. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.
3. Never refuse to seat three guests because a fourth has not yet arrived.
5. Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.
8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials. Wait for the right moment.
12. Do not touch the rim of a water glass. Or any other glass.
14. When you ask, “How’s everything?” or “How was the meal?” listen to the answer and fix whatever is not right.
15. Never say “I don’t know” to any question without following with, “I’ll find out.”
17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.
21. Never serve anything that looks creepy or runny or wrong.
31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong.
33. Do not bang into chairs or tables when passing by.
52. Know your menu inside and out. If you serve Balsam Farm candy-striped beets, know something about Balsam Farm and candy-striped beets.
56. Do not ignore a table because it is not your table. Stop, look, listen, lend a hand. (Whether tips are pooled or not.)
58. Do not bring judgment with the ketchup. Or mustard. Or hot sauce. Or whatever condiment is requested.
60. Bring all the appetizers at the same time, or do not bring the appetizers. Same with entrees and desserts.
62. Do not fill the water glass every two minutes, or after each sip. You’ll make people nervous.
62(a). Do not let a glass sit empty for too long.
63. Never blame the chef or the busboy or the hostess or the weather for anything that goes wrong. Just make it right.
64. Specials, spoken and printed, should always have prices.
68. Do not reach across one guest to serve another.
69. If a guest is having trouble making a decision, help out. If someone wants to know your life story, keep it short. If someone wants to meet the chef, make an effort.
75. Do not ask if someone is finished when others are still eating that course.
76. Do not ask if a guest is finished the very second the guest is finished. Let guests digest, savor, reflect.
77. Do not disappear.
84(a). Do not let an empty coffee cup sit too long before asking if a refill is desired.
85. Never bring a check until someone asks for it. Then give it to the person who asked for it.
89. Never patronize a guest who has a complaint or suggestion; listen, take it seriously, address it.
95. Never hover long enough to make people feel they are being watched or hurried, especially when they are figuring out the tip or signing for the check.