Saturday, 19 December 2009

4 Easy Steps to Restaurant Bankruptcy, Server Edition

Four things restaurant managers and owners should watch and listen for (unless they like the idea of one very bad server putting them out of business, one customer at a time). These four statements were made in the very first interaction with a server just last week as I attempted to tap into her knowledge for a little guidance. Unbelievable at a Denny's, unforgivable at the $50.00 - $75.00+ per person price range.

1. "I'll give you a few minutes to decide".
(Translation: "I could stick around and tell you about our specials, my favourite entrees, why we're different and better, why I'm the best and most knowledgeable server you've ever had, but I don't know the menu very well, I forgot to check what the soup of the day is, and I don't remember what the special is. So I'll give YOU a few minutes to figure all that out for yourself.")

2. "Everything's good," as I try and pry a recommendation for an appetizer out of her.
(Well of course it is or it wouldn't be on the menu, would it? Can you narrow it down for me?)

3. "Depends what you like..."as she comes beside you and looks over your shoulder to study the menu as if she's seeing it for the first time.
(Yes, of course it does depend on what I like, since I'll be eating it. And if you ask me I'll tell you, and then you could suggest something that will make me rave about this place to all my friends. Unless you consider customers who don't know what they want to be nothing but a pain in the ass, in which case refer to #1)

4. "It's up to you"
(Yup, I knew that. I just thought that since you work here and I don't you might like to give me a hand deciding how I'll get the best value for the c-note I'm going to drop in here tonight. No?)

No problem. See you around. Don't forget to tell your coworkers what a cheap bastard I am for leaving you such a lousy tip. And tell your next employer how you were the best server that place ever had, too bad they closed the doors.

- Bonus observation - beware the servers who can "handle" more tables than you've given them. You think you can't live without them because you can send all the other servers home and if it suddenly gets busy, superserver can handle it. In the end they will dump you and move on after they've pissed off every last one of your guests with their indifferent efficiencies and the business has become so slow they can't make big bucks in volume anymore. Unfortunately it will not come soon enough to save your restaurant.

- Bonus observation #2 - beware the server who doesn't write down the order. Any fool can remember one order dictated by a customer (at least until the first distraction occurs between the table and the POS computer). A true server guides and suggests their guests' experience through the menu; they have to write it down. They wouldn't dare risk forgetting to bring anything that would complete the perfect meal.

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