Sometimes it feels like a war, them against us. Imagine – Saturday night and a waitlist; horde of angry customers demanding food and satisfaction. It is one of those days when half of the staff called in sick , plus you have the worst busser who “doesn’t get it” after a month of training.
How to save precious time at the table? How to spread out your attention equally, so nobody gets left out besides assholes who deserve it? I found the following script or “canned presentation” extremely useful when you physically and mentally cannot spend sufficient amount of time at the table.
1. If you cannot get to table right away, simply pass by, smile – eye contact- and say “I will be right with you”.
2. Approach the table. Smile, but look determined.
Me (M) – How are you today?
Guest (G) – Good. (They will most likely : “how are you?”)
M – Wonderful. Can I start you off with a cocktail or glass of wine? We have a full bar.
(This line is great, because you are pushing alcohol and giving them information of the bet. It prevents stupid questions like “What do you have?” They order or tell you that they need more time to look over the wine list. If they do so, it means they are not in such a rush. If they order drinks right away – offer two signature appetizers to choose from)
3. Come back with drinks and ask them if they have any questions about the menu. You want to have control over the time when you can answer questions, you definitely don’t want to be stopped in the middle of rush to explain the special or elaborate on vegetarian options. If somebody snaps at you or raises a hand to get your attention, NEVER stop at this table before you are done with your previous task. Otherwise, your will loose your focus and the mistakes will follow.
4. Always have two dishes to recommend and make sure that the way you describe them sells. E.g.
Bad: Mahi Mahi is really good today. It is served with rice and vegetables.
Good: Our pan seared Mahi Mahi is SOO delicious. It is topped with a homemade orange Buerre Blanc and served on the bed of wild rice pilaf and fresh garden mixed vegetables. (pause) Will be perfect with your glass of Chardonnay.
5. If a customer is indecisive and stares at the menu for more than 20 sec without saying a word, don’t be afraid to tell in a friendly manner : “Let me give you a couple of more minutes to make your choice”, then move on to another table
6. Learn to say NO. Some special requests are easy, some difficult and some impossible. Know exactly what kitchen can and what it cannot do, especially when it is slammed.
7. Use your floor manager to help present and open wine or entertain guests while you’re in the weeds. That’s what he’s getting paid for, not for standing around.. lazy ass
8. Offer desserts, but have you check ready. People rarely order dessert during a rush hour. The best way to ruin a perfect dining experience is to drop off dessert menu and forget about the table for 15 minutes, when all they want is a check. This often results in at least 5% lower tip from my experience.
Finally, remember, no matter what you do always keep your cool. If you dropped a plate in the middle of dining area or spilled a glass of red wine close to the most scandalous person in the restaurant, apologize first, but then make it clear that it is not a big deal. Shit happens. If you start kissing your customer feet saying how sorry you are, they will take full advantage of this situation and will ask to comp their dinner. Avoid this trap!
Sometimes you just simply cannot handle it and its nobody’s fault. If it comes to this point, you just do your best, but hopefully this little secrets will help decrease crazy moments at work. Waiter doesn’t have to make a list of the most stressful jobs. It is lots of FUN…Really!