50 Things a Server Should Not Do: Part 1

by nofrillsfood

Hello, feeling festive still?! How is the detox working out for you? Seriously though, I hope you all had a lovely time!

So, the title of this is ‘50 things a server should not do‘ Some points are ridiculous, obvious, elementary and some are serious pointers that I believe a server should be able to pull off.

It says server in the title but I’m going to include in that bar tenders, bar-backs, baristas, management, sommeliers basically anybody who has a face to face interaction with customers. I think that’s fair!


1. Managers Cunting off your Staff on the Floor

I could have chosen a different word to put in there but I thought as it’s the most commonly used     phrase ascribed to receiving a telling off on the floor, I thought it only right I would put it down. If you’ve witnessed it, been on the receiving end of it, or worse, delivered it, then you hopefully know how terrible it looks for all concerned. Nobody gains anything from reducing a member of staff to a bumbling wreck of an individual and it does no favours to hospitality and our reputation. Preaching aside, but if you do see it happen as a customer, say something. You may not think its your place to do so but it is. Same goes for those of us who see it happen to a colleague, stand your ground and have there backs.

2. Chef’s leaving the kitchen to do a Coupe de gras floor sweep.

Now its one thing to be asked to come out to accept the thanks from a grateful dining room. But to leave the Kitchen to go and talk to customers is just plain ego. I guess the exception to this is if it’s your own gaff when I suppose you have every right to do so. Having said that, I still think it’s a minefield best left alone. If a guest is really insistent on speaking with the chef, accompany them unto the pass! The Chef will then have the element of control and a guest is less likely to say something toxic!

3. Do not let anyone enter the restaurant/bar without a warm greeting.

Sounds simple, it is! The meet and greet is everything, it’s the fore runner to how you welcome people into your establishment and it sets the tone for the rest of the meal/drinks.

4. Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.

By level I mean wobbly. Why should a guest have to sort this tedious job out? The answer is they shouldn’t  It’s lazy floor management. It’s not always financially viable to replace furniture continuously, sometimes we have to make do with what we’ve got. But a guest shouldn’t have to feel this is the case.

5. Do not announce your name.

There are many facets of the American service industry I admire, the honest charm, openness of servers, efficiency and professionalism I have witnessed are a testament to our American cousins advancement of hospitality. However, I absolutely detest the faux loose charm of introducing ones self at the start of a meal. By all means if a guest asks your name, give it, it would be rude to refuse. But it just feels so false to introduce yourself to some one you do not know. Also, it puts pressure, meant or not, on your tables to remember your name, and it is not about you the experience is ALL about the guest.

6 The ‘check back’

When you ask, “How’s everything?” or “How was the meal?” listen to the answer and fix, to the best of your ability, whatever is not right. In the UK, in general, people are very reluctant to complain, so its up to the server to pick up on the body language of what isn’t said, whats not eaten etc. Push it but don’t push to much, often its all it will take, and there is an issue pounce on it and rectify it immediately and to the best of your ability.
Every guest should be made to feel relaxed and that they leave with a good impression

7. Don’t shit in the customer toilets when guests are in the building.

Some places I’ve eaten and worked in don’t have a ‘staff’ toilet. It is imperative the 15 stone larder chef de partie is not allowed to let his bowel movements out anywhere near the time a guest is in the building. It’s filth (mildly amusing I wont lie) but still not very good for your guests is it!

8. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what.

Again so, so simple. A simple mark on the order pad is all that’s required. Yes not every gaff that does food is Michelin in service standards and I’m all for equality but what’s so wrong in making a lady feel special even over her lunch?

9. Never touch the rim of a glass, any glass, any cup.

Now this is one of those floor service pieces of snobbery that I totally agree with. It looks horrible, is horrible. Not it wont cause an Armageddon on the floor but it will look shite.

10. Never assume that the man will order the wine (Or assume the lady will be drinking wine!)

As more and more people are dining out the mix of who has an interest or knowledge in food and drink is increasing. Many of my female friends and colleagues have as good as knowledge if not better than mine. Lose the assumption that men know best as a server and watch your tips sky rocket!

11. Call a woman Sir!

If in doubt (of a guests gender) a simple afternoon, morning or good evening greeting is probably best thus avoiding the mortifying embarrassment of assuming a person is of a different sex, trust me I’ve done it one time to many and you want to disappear!

12. Comment on a woman’s figure.

The following is a true story based on my own inexcusable fuck up!
I used to have regular guest, a lovely couple in fact. Always smiling, knew each others names, took an interest in my studies as did I in there jobs and lives. Then Mrs X fell pregnant. I continued to serve them throughout the first 6 months of the pregnancy and was kept informed of events. Then Uni got hectic, I was travelling a bit over the summer and working around various other sites for my company so I hadn’t seen them for ages.
Then one busy Saturday lunch time they popped in, it was great it was like seeing old friends (genuinely, no sarcasm, it just is like that sometimes with guests you bond with) they were seated on a colleagues section so the tip wouldn’t be mine but I served them anyway and willingly gave the tip up. So, halfway through the meal we were talking I asked Mrs X “when is the baby due it must be soon”,……. silence……. Mrs X looked mortified …. Mr X replied “ She had it two and a half months ago son, but you’re right she’s still not shifted any of the baby weight so she’ll be having salad for main and no pudding”!!!
I was devastated, Mr and Mrs X thought it was hilarious. Mrs X left laughing her head off that lunchtime and I have never ever commented on a woman’s pregnancy ever since.
Save yourselves too people, just don’t do it!!

13. Give out your number to a guest.

By all means accept it (obviously it depends where you are working) but don’t give it out even if it’s a certainty. The skill is in getting it given, any monkey can give a number out. On serious note, it can cause quite a lot offence to both parties if declined.

14. Stink of fags, booze or have cocaine on your nose

The coke and booze aren’t so common but I’ve witnessed them all the same. That said the fag stench is a common occurrence. I’m a smoker too and I hate it. Surely as pro’s we can all wait until the end of service for a smoke? I can, no one needs a ciggy that much. Ever.

15. Have Last nights club ‘stamp’ on your wrist.

D12 or any decent glass or window cleaner removes those pesky stubborn marks. All keeping it on does is highlight your love for tech house and an absolute game giver, to a switched on manager, that your last drink or intake of narcotics was probably less than 2/3 hours before starting work.

16. Festival Wrist bands.

Possibly one of my biggest pet hates of all time. Unhygienic, not cool, (yes I realise work isn’t a catwalk but you are on display), and who really gives a shit that you’ve been to Leeds festival last year? I don’t nor do your guests.

17. Never mention the tip, unless asked. `

I’ve written before, in length!, about the politics of tipping so I wont waffle on to much. It is so insincere to discuss this, it’s also actually rather gauche to discuss money in this way with a guest.

18. Saying, “No problem” is a problem.

It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm. “My pleasure” or “You’re welcome” will do.

19. Send your GM your CV and a cover letter with an open application letter .

The following is a true story. Don’t send a CV to various restaurants in your city enquiring about work only to cc your current boss and forward the same CV and cover letter. (The person involved received a very warm welcome upon there next shift and lasted another 4 shifts, I actually felt sorry for them!)

20. Steal Tips from other waiters.

This includes and is not mutually exclusive to waiters friend, pens, shirts, shoes. Ask, borrow by all means, these guys are like your family they’ve probably got your back but you’ve still got to ask.

21. Never slag off colleagues, managers or competitors to your customers

Even if you have a relationship of trust with a particular guest, for instance you’ve met them for a beer or some such chatting shite about others only makes you look the dick and even worse, untrustworthy

22. Never answer a question with “I don’t know”.

You look stupid, your establishment looks stupid. If you genuinely don’t know, go and find some one who does. Show some sodding initiative!

23. Never say, “Good choice,” to a guest.

Sounds unreasonable. Think on it. All you’re doing is implying that other choices are bad!

24. How to Impress a Wine Snob if your not that clued up.

If someone likes a wine, steam the label off the bottle and give it to the guest with the bill. It has the year, the vintner, the importer, etc. Shows you may not have their ‘knowledge’ but you have the appreciation of some thing decent

25. Do not compliment a guests attire or hairdo.

All your doing again is mocking/insulting somebody else.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my first post of 2013! I will be posting Part 2 next week along with my review of Michael Caines @Abode in Manchester very soon