Monday, March 11, 2013

Things I wish customers at restaurants understood

In today's world, with social media, there are plenty of places for those of us in food service to share their opinions.  I feel like some of them are written in a very negative way and give us all a bad rap. Most of us that choose to work in the food service industry do so because we get off on the thrill of it.  The crazy chaos and rush of it all is exciting.  And we do like people!  I meet tons of awesome people at work and the majority of people are nice and good people.

I feel like everybody should have to work at a restaurant at some point in their lives.  The experience will give you a new-found appreciation for what people actually do.  I'm not here to say that my job is harder than yours or more stressful, or anything like that.  Every job has its own set of stressors, good parts, and bad parts.  But I feel like many people have no idea how a restaurant works and have unrealistic expectations about what we can and can't do in a short time frame.

Where I work, we have a menu unlike any other local menu. We also have an open kitchen, with 3 people at most working at any time.  Everything we do is right out in the open, right there where you can watch it all happen. This is good and bad.  It's not a common restaurant with your average food items and therefore it's confusing to many people.  And that's fine.  I know the menu, I can explain it to you, I enjoy suggesting items to you and telling you what you really should try!  But it'd be nice if when people asked questions they listened to the answer too.  That would make things run much smoother, that's for sure.  When you say you want pork ribs, and I ask which pork ribs, and tell you the two options and you answer "Yes," or "the pork ribs," we aren't getting anywhere.   Same goes for if there are 3 of you ordering together....if you are all getting ribs, and I asked one person which ribs, I'm going to ask you too.  Maybe have an answer ready? Or make me repeat myself to every single person with you.  That's fine too.  I can do it in my sleep.  But your order will be put in quicker if I don't have to.

Here's a few other things that I wish I could say, but don't because you are the customer and I am here to work and help you:

  • When we are really busy, please don't take offense to the fact that we cannot engage in a full conversation with you during the entire time you are here.  I assure you that if you come in on a day where we don't have a line out the door, we will discuss your trip to Kansas City, how your ribs were, and your grandmother's grits recipe.  But when we are crazy busy, talking to you or anybody that much just isn't an option if we want to actually get everybody's food ready in any sort of a timely fashion.  You may not realize but at every second we are concentrating and have a running list 15 things long of what we are doing or will be doing next.  It's difficult to break that concentration, figure out where we were, and start over while getting your food ready quickly enough that you don't get angry. We can either chat with you about your life, or get food cooked quickly.  Although you may not be in a rush, the other people waiting may be.  If you want to fully chat, come when it's slow! We will talk with you, we'd love to!
  • When there is a line out the door and you wait twenty minutes before it's even your turn to order, please know what you want!  If you have questions, that's fine, but when it's your turn and you haven't looked at the menu, you are holding up everything and everybody.  The urge I have to say "Go to the back of the line and come back when you are ready" is overwhelming.  The urge the other people in line have to say that to you is probably stronger than my urge.
  • If we run out of something, we are out of it.  We try our hardest to never let this happen.  But we also cook fresh food and sometimes the demand is far more than we anticipated.  We feel awful when this happens.  Yelling or being rude about the fact that we ran out of something isn't going to make it magically appear. Whining about it is even worse, especially if you are a grown man.  If your entire day is ruined because we ran out of something, maybe call before you come so your day isn't ruined next time.  Same with driving here.  We love that people drive over an hour to come get our food.  That's awesome.  But if there is only one thing you like, maybe call before you make that drive, just to be sure we have it.  Also, when we say we are out of something, we are actually out of it....even if you can see it. The reason there is probably some left is because all the people in front of you ordered it and  I haven't finished packing their orders yet.  I'm not holding out on you waiting for you to express anger or whine before I will give it to you.
  • When you are standing with 30 other people waiting for your food, I assure you, we are doing our absolute best to get everything out quickly. Although you can see the cook, asking him, or anybody else where "YOUR" order is isn't going to make it any quicker. Everybody wants their food quickly, and we are trying to please all of you, not just one of you.  First of all, I don't know where YOUR order is because I honestly cannot remember who YOU are. There are 30 of YOU that all want your orders.  Secondly, if I have to go through all the slips, find "yours" and try to guess a time, everything is going to be held up, including YOUR order.  Have a little faith that we are working as fast as we can (which you may have noticed while watching?) to ensure that you have good quality food, and we put your entire order together correctly.  We are doing this for you and everybody else standing near you.  If wait time really is a big concern, it may be best to call your order in before you come.
  • We have our full menu available online. If you are going to phone in an order, please know what you want.  Read the menu, pick your fixens', write it down, then call.  I cannot read the entire menu to you when you call. What you can't see is the 20 people waiting to order their food and the 20 people waiting for their food to be bagged while I sit on the phone with you.  We can answer questions without a problem, then you can call back when you know what you'd like.  Please don't call and continually say "hold on," while you read off things to your family and they decide what they want. Also, if you ask how many people something feeds, and I tell you an answer, say 4-5, trust that I'm not lying.  Remember, I work here and I know how many people our dinners feed.  When I tell you this and you tell me about your family, in depth, and how much they eat, then ask me again, I want to hang up on you.  I don't know your family.  I do know how many people our food can feed generally.  You probably know how much your family eats better than I do. Figure it out and call back.
  • Groupons have a price amount on them, for example $45.  The entire menu has prices on it.  Simple math can help you add up these items before you are ready to place your order.  If you do this, you won't have to wait at the register, trying to spend $15 more by adding 1 of everything on the menu.  You also won't have to continually ask, "what's my total?" after every item. Another great idea is to ask how you can spend it.  I always offer a half rack of ribs, cold, that can be used as a quick dinner later in the week when you are rushed and haven't made any food. It's quick and easy for us and you too!
  • If you are in a rush, let us know when you order.  We can suggest things that are very quick and can have you leaving soon. If you are in a rush and order the things on the menu that take the longest, you are going to be waiting. Everybody is busy and has places to be.  I'm not able to put your order first, unless you'd like to ask everybody else waiting if they don't mind because you are in a rush!  It can go either way, and you can decide. Either order what I suggested will be done quickest, or order what you want and wait. It can't go both ways.   
  • If you ask me what's good, I will tell you what I honestly think is worth eating!!  It's all good, but I will tell you my favorite.  Try it!!  I'm not lying! Don't make me go through an entire suggestion for your family for you to simply say "No, we want....blah blah blah" If you knew what you wanted, why bother asking me???
  • If you don't like something, let us know!  We want everybody happy and we think our food is great.  Maybe you don't.  If you come and tell us why you don't like something, or that something is cooked wrong or doesn't taste right, we can give you something else to try. But we have to know.  We can't just guess.  If you don't tell us, then go and write a bad review that isn't really giving us a fair chance.  Let us fix it.  
  • Keep in mind that we are all only human.  We do our best every day.  We work our asses off and we sit afterwards and think of where we messed up or what went wrong and how to fix it for next time. I'd love to say we go home and forget about this place, but that's a lie. We all get upset when we hear bad things, or we know the night just didn't go well.  We try to get everybody's food quickly and correctly, but on some occasions, like events ending, game days,etc., everybody has the same great idea to eat at the same time.  And you all come at once.  And order at the same time. And want to eat at the same time.  And there is only so much we can cook at one time. So give us a little bit of extra time. You can see us working our tails off.  Interrupting up or giving us death stares doesn't help you get your food quicker.
  • Lastly, although we may know all of you by face, we don't all know what you order.  Please be helpful when you order and tell us what you want.  If you think the cook knows and feel the need to not tell the person taking your order and simply say "he knows how I like it" the chances you get it that way are slim.  The person cooking may not even see you standing there, may not remember how YOU like it, or may not even know which slip is yours because we are so busy. And yelling it out to the person cooking isn't going to help.  It will slow them down, and by time they even get to your slip, they probably won't remember.  But if it's written on the slip, when you order your food, they will see it. So tell us any changes or specifics when you order.   It's not personal. We appreciate that you think we can remember 100 people and the specific way they like their food, but really, we aren't that good!  Sorry.  

That's all for now folks...what did I miss?? Obviously, I missed tips, which itself is a different story for a different day!  Anything else?? Share it in the comments, I'd love to hear it!


  1. This is great. More people should read this.
    Thanks for sharing

  2. Welcome to the world of "retail" and dealing with the public..

    1. To the critic with 'Welcome to the World of Retail'
      Was that intended as a witty reply? Or as helpful thought provoking morsel of constructive criticism? Or did you just want to hear yourself talk?
      You contribute nothing with your unnecessary garbage. You'd be worth more if choked on your food, never to fill the air with your snarky bullshit comments again.

    2. Wow, take it easy! I've worked in retail, restaurants and whatever in my time...dealing with the public can be the greatest joy...and the biggest pain. Faloughi made a small quip, which anyone who's worked with the public can identify with. I suggest that you (a) pour yourself a couple fingers of booze; (b) sit in a comfy chair; and (c) ruminate on what could cause you sto snap at so innocuous a comment. Your customers will be better off for it.

    3. Did you seriously just suggest that that gentleman would be worth more if he choked on food and died?

  3. For those in the floral industry, we can totally relate.

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  5. Thank you all for reading :) You have all made my day great!

  6. This is why we love ya Rambling Girl... From across the way. I see someone took the hint lol!

  7. I'm not too sure how some simple suggestions for helping everybody get their food quicker turned into one person wishing death on another.
    I'm a bit lost and feel the original comment could have been taken a few ways. I chose to go with taking it as a simple statement and not find offense in it because drama isn't really my thing.
    Clearly somebody else chose to go another way with it. I don't get it, but to each their own I guess.

  8. Wow.

    I followed the trail from your comment on my blog, and in a word, YES.

    My husband worked his way through college within the food service industry, and boy, does he have some stories to tell.

    Let's just say that I say "thank you" an awful lot and also realize that people who are jerks to the wait staff may be eating more than :)

  9. Thanks Rachel!
    When I posted this my boss shared it with everyone on his page. I was petrified to open the comments on my work's page. Luckily, I had no reason to be.
    But damn, some people are so harsh and the people knockin you for finding the positives in a bad situation really just need to go back to their "perfect" lives.