A reader going by the alias, “Good Tipper” asks what you would do if you were put in their recent situation. There are so many great customers out there and no good server ever wants to see them unhappy with their restaurant visit. Good servers, who have regulars who tip well, certainly never want to lose their regulars due to a coworkers lack of adequate server skills. I’ll chime in with my advice after you read what “Good Tipper” has to share.
Okay, I have a question here:
I’m a good tipper – 20% is my default, and if I’ve been by myself and ordered a small meal, I’ll tip 30%-35%, knowing I took up space.
We have a nice restaurant in my small Midwestern town where we’re regular customers. The kitchen can back up pretty quickly, and we know it, so it’s not unusual for us to get there a bit before the dinner rush if we have plans after dinner. Otherwise, we get their later and just let our usual waiter ply us with baskets of the great bread and transcendent garlic butter and drink wine. It’s a place we go to enjoy our meal, not rush through it, so we’re fine with the kitchen issues since the servers are good about checking in and giving you updates.
On a recent mid-week visit (when we did have post-dinner plans), we got there early, and had a different server – one we’ve never seen before. In a room with at least 20 tables, she only had two – ours and the two-top next to us. All other waiters – including our favorite who came in later – had at least three or four tables, and they were a mix of anywhere from 2 to 8 customers.
We get our drinks, we get bread, we get our appetizers, no problem. And then, the waitress disappears entirely for a solid 25 minutes. We were in a place where we could see the in/out flow of the kitchen and bar, and we simply never saw her. But we did see all of the other servers actively doing their thing, and larger tables getting their appetizers and entrees, even though they were seated 10 minutes after us.
She finally shows up with a water pitcher, and we asked about our entrees. She said “the kitchen backed up – you know how it is here.” We got our meals 5 minutes later, and they were just on the threshold of cold – just warm enough to be palatable, but certainly not the nicely hot temp they usually are coming out of that kitchen. The table next to us looked to have the same problem, so we’re pretty sure our entrees were under warming lamps for quite some time.
Normally we’d complain, but we wanted to get out, so ate our meals and paid the check (with a 18% tip, low for us). Now maybe she had a minor personal emergency. Or maybe she lost track of time on her break. But we are about 99% positive that our meals weren’t late to our table because of the kitchen, but because the server left our food in the kitchen.
I don’t deny there are many crappy customers out there. But what do you do when you have a crappy server? Do you undertip? Do you talk to management? I don’t want to be a bitch, but I would think the manager would want to know that a new server annoyed one of their regulars.
Personally, I think you should always speak up. While you don’t have to alert the manager for everything (because I understand not wanting to get someone “in trouble”), you should always be able to ask your server what the problem is. In that situation, I would have flagged down a different server. Just notify one of your server’s coworkers to the fact that it’s been some time since you’ve seen your server, and you want to know if everything is okay.
Why did your server go missing? Well, it could have been for many reasons. I don’t know what the layout looks like at the restaurant you visited, but maybe she had tables in a different section of the restaurant. If this was the case, maybe one of those other tables held her up. I’ve had large parties take in excess of 10 minutes to order there meal. That can be a really tough spot for a server to be in. It’s usually why I get “in the weeds”. Other than that, maybe she had an emergency phone call, hurt themselves and was applying first aid, or had a bathroom emergency that took a lot longer than expected. In any of those instances, she should have notified a fellow server, or a manager, of her situation and to request help with her tables.