Herald and Journal Herald & Journal, Jan. 3, 2000

Poor waitstaff ruins night out

By ANDREA VARGO

Restaurant owners unite. Train your waitstaff.

Don't give them an order pad and just push them out of the their station to sink or swim.

We pay a lot of money to go out to eat, relax, and have some quiet conversation.

Nothing ruins it faster than a poorly trained waitperson.

Ron and I went into a Dassel establishment a couple of days before Christmas.

Our waitress came fairly soon with the menus, laid them down and started to turn away.

"Do you have any specials?" I asked.

She turned back.

"Just the buffet," she replied.

Silence. "What is on the buffet?" I asked.

"Oh, chicken and pork, potatoes and gravy, hash browns with some cheesy stuff, and an apple dessert," she said.

"Well, how much is the buffet?" I asked. This was like pulling teeth, and it wasn't going to get any easier.

"It's $5.50 for adults and $4.50 for seniors," she said.

What? Seniors aren't adults?

So, I asked her how old I need to be to qualify as a senior.

"I don't know," she said.

"Could you find out?" I asked.

Sure, she said, and turned to leave. Silly me, I thought she was going to find out and come back.

Wrong!

The meaning of waitstaff doesn't mean to see how long you can make a customer wait

She only had three tables to work, so I assume she went to eat her own dinner.

Sometime later, as I rested my chin on my hand, trying not to fall asleep, our waitress returned.

She asked if we would like to order. I wondered if she could answer the question about age for seniors.

"I don't know," she said.

"Well, go back and find out!" I said, crossly.

At this point, I wasn't in the mood for an inept waitress.

She did return this time to tell me the age for the senior price on the buffet is 55.

"I'll take the senior buffet," I said, quite clearly.

We only saw her in passing, once she delivered Ron's iced tea. She never came back to see if he needed a refill or to fill my water.

She didn't even offer us dessert. No service, no salesmanship, no class.

Normally, I tip at least 20 percent. Yes, folks, that has been the standard for the past 12 years or so.

Come into the real world of waitressing. It is hard, physically and mentally demanding work. A good waitperson is smart, has a good memory and customer service skills, and has lots of initiative.

They make way less than minimum wage, so, you need to pay them for their service. But, they need to provide that service. For instance, say you and your spouse come into a restaurant with three children.

The person who waits on you shows up the first time with a clean booster chair and menus. She asks if you need a high chair.

She hasn't made an extra trip, and you have a choice. You, hopefully, feel that she really noticed and cared about your needs as a customer right away.

She should know, or have written down, the specials, soups, and desserts. If she is really swamped, she should say so and assure you that, though she will take a little longer than normal, she will be with you as soon as she can.

You are apt to have more patience, if you see her working hard to take care of people.

Orders need to be taken in the order that tables are filled. I have seen teens that wait on friends first.

Watch your grammar!

People judge you by how you speak. I know people had the chance to learn it in high school.

Don't chew gum or play with your hair. I saw both of these in Howard Lake, recently.

I am so disgusted with the quality of the waitstaff in the area, I may give up going out to eat. Maybe I'll stay home and cook . . . or not.

Of course that means I'd have to clean up, too. Maybe I'll just complain and let someone else do the dishes.


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