As a professional server often our biggest gripes over the job are dealing with people. That may sound silly since our entire income depends on people showing up for dinner at our restaurant and liking the food and service enough to tip us.
What I mean is REALLY dealing with people. The biggest challenge of all to servers in any establishment are disgruntled guests. This is where our hospitable side and our human side clash.
On the whole guests who come in to dine generally interact with us kindly. Sometimes a guest has special requests or needs accommodated and a happy server is patient and obliging. But what happens when the guest and the server’s “chemistry” as I like to say, just simply does not match up?
When I’m in uniform, it’s my job to determine what the guests expect from me. My favorite tables are courteous, gracious and seated at the table for a pleasant, enjoyable and delicious diner. In the most gratifying of scenarios they want my guidance, experience and suggestions on the menu, both for food and drinks.
As a general rule I am always as professional, calm and patient as I can be but sometimes challenges present themselves which test the common theory that the customer is always right. The question then, when the customer is in the wrong is, is it ever okay to let them know that they are in fact wrong?
I try to hold my tongue and my opinions in most situations and put the restaurant and the guests’ satisfaction first. But then there are nights when a six top walks into a steakhouse after closing time and you’re kind enough to seat them only to discover they are all vegetarians who seem shocked by the lack of meatless options. No, that’s not the punch line to a bad joke. The “impossible to please” guest is a constant in my world. This is when my patience can begin to wane and my perma-grin fades to a flat line.
Just once I’d like to candidly tell my guests what’s really so asinine about their gripe with me and/or with my restaurant and why their requests are outlandish. Servers are humans too and “service with a smile”, doesn’t leave much room for the occasional aggravation thrown at us in the restaurant world.
So, how bad should I feel when the cheery disposition I maintained all night long falls apart and my disdainful tone starts rearing it’s ugly head? What would it take you to lose it and tell a vegan to go to Lotus Café, who happily offers a full vegetarian menu?