Monday, September 15, 2008

Restaurant etiquette

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has had somewhat of an ongoing conversation over tipping, and how that money is distributed. This interesting conversation coupled with the dangerous weather and power outages at the restaurant last night which left us cooking by candle light, without ventilation, for customer who where getting pushy about where their food was, has ultimately lead me to share some of my personal rules of etiquette when I choose to dine out.

If I make a reservation I arrive on time with the correct number of people in my party. I refuse to go to a restaurant within a half hour of it’s posted opening or closing. If I am late, I will do everything I can to not be the last table. From the inside out, I understand by following these rules I will receive the best service available.

Substitutions... if I want to mix and match what I eat, then I go to a buffet. If I would prefer the risotto over the sweet potato hash, then I ask for a side of it. Perhaps if I had an allergy I might be more open minded here, but basically I never ask for substitutions. It’s that much more respectful to the staff.

I adapt to my surroundings. It’s ok to cheer for my team at the sports bar, but that is about it. If my destination requires a certain dress, then I conform to that. I try not to be in the minority with respect to other customers.

Finally, the tip! I believe the tip is a tool to tell the server they did a crappy job. Then again it’s also the best pat on the back. I’m likely to way over tip for good service and inexpensive food. Likewise I’m happy to under tip on good service and over priced food. Unfortunately for the restauranteur, if my service is crap, I won’t return to the restaurant ever again no matter what kind of tip I leave. It’s an easy equation, if the server does a good job, they get rewarded. Since Kari and I are more than likely to know someone where ever it is we go out, more than likely the server. It is always in our best interest to leave a generous tip as we believe it will come back around to us someday. Restaurant employee karma if you will.

Lastly, I push my chair in before I leave. I keep track of my valuables and don’t leave anything behind and if the electricity goes out at the restaurant while I’m are there, I would be understanding.


Scott Sebastian said...

I'll second that. Also make sure to take your receipts, especially if you have to expense them.

Rachel said...

I wonder about the: "I'm happy to under tip on good service and overpriced food." If the food is overpriced because the quality wasn't good (buyer's problem) or the price was overinflated (owner's problem) -- why dock the server? I guess you could take the position that the server could choose to work somewhere with reasonable prices, but I just think the message is ambiguous and might be misunderstood. Why not instead tip the server well and either talk to the manager about your disappointment with the food-price ratio, never go there again, or just give them a bad review on your blog? ;)

Having said that -- I'm a good little customer when it comes to the unexpected. Last week we had power outages at a place I went for lunch. I ordered a salad and a beer before the tap got warm. :)

Michael Walsh said...

Rachel, you make a good point. My verbage within this post has been touchy. In fact i've re-written a few lines already. Let me explain myself with this case;

Suppose I go to two different restaurants and recieve equally good service. Does one of the servers deserve a larger tip based solely on the fact the food where they work is more expensive?

Some of the best, most complete, most attentive service i've ever recieved was at a diner for breakfast on a $6 check.

I guess my point is that I prefer to make the price of food as little a priority as possible when considering a tip.

Beer for lunch, gotta love it!!!

Rachel said...

Good point, Mike!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Michael, I've left tips as large as the bill, when it's inexpensive. On the Ratio it seems excessive but the server and the food deserve it. Just because it's an expensive restaurant doesn't mean the server deserves a larger tip. I don't agree with %7,10 or even %15 tips when service is great and my whole pocketbook went to the check. I eat what I want and tip what I can afford!