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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Shamelisted: Wait Staff Who Don't Know Their Own Menu

Don't get me wrong. I like waiters and waitresses in general. I used to be one myself at IHOP's. Yes, complete with the light blue and white striped dress (the one with the puffy short sleeves) with dark blue apron and white nurse shoes (they don't wear that anymore, though). It's great when you get a competent waitress (okay, I'm just going to use "waitress" in the rest of this entry to refer to both waiters and waitresses), but when you get one that isn't competent, it's kind of a drag.

The worst is when the waitress doesn't even know her own menu. Last night, I went to Carrows to pick up some dinner. I called ahead to place my order. Chinese chicken salad for me with a bowl of cream of broccoli soup, and a Mile High chicken teriyaki sammich for Mr. Nonny Nu with fries and ranch-style beans. The waitress on the line says that there are no ranch-style beans on the menu. Okay, now I didn't see the menu, but Mr. Nonny Nu told me that the ranch-style beans were a side item, and I didn't think he was hallucinating (we're out of shrooms at the Nu residence). So, I asked her to look in the sides section of the chapter on sammiches, and she hems and haws and, after about a full minute, reports back that she doesn't see any ranch-style beans on the sides menu.

Hm. Okay. So, I tell her to nix the beans, and just give me the fries on their own (with the sammich). She says okay. Two minutes later, I arrive at Carrows. I go to the counter and tell the waitress (I recognized her voice) that I'm here for the to go order and ask nicely to see the menu. She hands me the menu and I turn to the sammiches chapter. As I told her on the phone, the ranch-style beans were on the sides section of the sammiches chapter of the menu. So, I naively point to it and exclaim, "Oh, there it is! May I have some ranch-style beans with my sammich, please?" Here's what ensues...

nn: Oh, there it is! *points at clearly printed text of "Ranch-Style Beans" in sammich chapter* May I have an order of Ranch-Style Beans in addition to the fries for the Mile High Teriyaki Chicken sammich I just ordered?

"waitress" (I'm using quotes here because a real waitress would have known what is on the menu and would have known how to cause the kitchen to produce the item for the customer's consumption): Oh! Of course. I thought I saw it before but I couldn't find it just now. I'll just add it to your order.

...One minute elapses as she gazes into the computer screen...

"waitress": Um, oh, I can't give you the beans unless you order another sammich.

nn: Oh, well, can't I just order it as a side on its own?

"waitress": *giggles* Oh, no! See? The beans are part of the "Build Your Own Mile High Lunch." The lunch is a half sammich plus a side--that's when you can order the beans. Oh, and you have to order either the Grilled Cheese, Tuna Salad, Turkey, or Roast Beef sammich for that. So, no, you can't have the Teriyaki Chicken sammich and beans.

nn: Oh, but what if a customer comes in and just wants a bowl of beans? How would that customer get just beans?

"waitress": I don't think we could serve it to him because it's not on the menu.

Long, agonizing story short, the manager finally wandered by and overheard the conversation and ordered me a stinking side of beans.

What can be more basic for a food server than to know what's on the menu? It's in English. Read it while you're standing there waiting for the bus. I'm not asking you to excel. I'm just asking you to be competent. More and more, it seems like people come out of a dining experience feeling lucky for having a competent waitress. That should be the norm. We should only feel lucky when we get an exceptional waitress, but nowadays, exceptional simply means competent.

12 comments:

Mr. Nonny Nu said...

i'd fire her ass. (but only because i would have trained her to know better beforehand.)

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Nonny Nu said...

Yeah, that was the first time a restaurant refused to sell me food. Go figure.

stillman said...

Unless you count Blue Rock Shoot in Saratoga, which refused to give you the amount of sammich you paid for.

Cl. Panic said...

Wait a minute, why did you need to pay for them anyway? You only ordered fries because that dumbass was wrong.

It REALLY annoys me when people let the frigging computers get in the way.

Walk in back, scoop up some husband-pleasin-beans and put them in a takeout container. If you can't figure out how to charge, then they're free.

Oh crap, that would be customer service!

Nonny Nu said...

We wanted the fries, too. It was the double sides that whipped her brain into a frenzy.

Nonny Nu said...

Stillman, talking about Blue Rock Shoot brings back bad memories for me. It reminds me of my bacon-less tummy on that fateful day...

Cl. Panic said...

You know the other thing that bothers CP? That we feel lucky when we actually get a decent server, but a 15-18% gratuity is expected no matter what.

F that!

Mr. Nonny Nu said...

what'll really fry your banana is to learn the dingbat waitress is a college grad.

~ ~ ~

Cl. Panic said...

what'll really fry your banana is to learn the dingbat waitress is a college grad.

Yeah, probably from MFU.

Man from U.N.C.L.E. said...

" Cl. Panic said...
what'll really fry your banana is to learn the dingbat waitress is a college grad.

Yeah, probably from MFU.

March 27, 2008 12:18 PM"



Hey!

Cl. Panic said...

Hey!

The other MFU. You, know the one where Reverend Doctor Terry Valentine handled admissions for a time being?

Reverend Doctor Terry Valentine said...

yeah, i remember the h--the young lady. said she wanted to study math. i queried, 'counting dollars good enough?' so we fast tracked her on the dance pole program.

wound up a waitress? now that's a damn shame.

*sucks teeth*

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