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Old 08-29-2005, 05:44 PM   #41
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All I know is if you do get a chance ato some fine dining you should dress better as its usually a special occassion does not mean go out and buy a special outfit just be decent and of course manners go alot furthur than what you are wearing.I agree if you can not get your kids to behave in any restaurant there is always the drive thru fast food places or better yet a babysitter especially at a fine restaurant where you do no not want the little offspring anyway.
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Old 08-29-2005, 06:32 PM   #42
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Alix reminded me of an incident many, many years ago.

We and another couple had gone to one of the better restaurants in the area at the time. Not a fancy "5-Star", but a nice place with rather average food and service.

After the meal, we were all chatting, and I was opening one of those paper-wrapped sugar cubes (!!) Klutz that I am, it slipped from my fingers and fell into my coffee. No big splash. Just a partially wrapped cube floating there. I put my face in my hands momentarily in mock-exasperation. When I opened my eyes a second later, the coffee cup was nowhere to be seen. And then, before I could even finish inquiring as to where it was, a hand placed a fresh cup of coffee in front of me. From the right rear, I might add!


The waiter, Bob, had already demonstrated unusual finesse in serving us, but this was truly above and beyond! Especially for one so young - he couldn't have been over 25.

Bob got an exceptional tip that evening.

When we again visited that restaurant a few weeks later, Bob had moved on.
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Old 08-30-2005, 03:07 PM   #43
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Oldcoot, isn't that just the best? When you have a server who really knows how to do a good job? I have heard that in Europe being a server is an art form for some people. I experienced a few that were exceptional in Rome and Bari, but couldn't afford to eat out much when I was there. I am always so impressed when I receive service like that.
You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. Robin Williams
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Old 08-30-2005, 03:57 PM   #44
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I remember one time attending a very fancy wedding reception at a posh hotel in San Franciso..I'd only been out of high school a few months and a classmate was already getting married. Well, we were seated at a beautiful table for 8..Seated there was one young lady who during school days was so full of herself, she was impossible to like. She, felt she had the best cloths, car, brains, money, manners.. We all were sitting there and each place had lovely china, silver, crystal and each table had it's own waiter!!! The appitizer was already on the table, it was a stemmed glass on a small saucer and held shrimp and crab cocktail..alongside on the saucer a tiny 3 pronged fork...Miss know it all picked up the dinner fork, and began to eat her appy, not looking to see if the bride and groom had started nor what anyone else was doing...our waiter, moved over behind her pick up that tiney proned fork and handed it to her, at the smae time removing the dinner fork from her hand..Had I laughed as lound and hard as I wanted to SF would have had another great quake but, I knew, I would have embarrassed myself and laughing was NOT done, in fact I was embarrassed for both the girl and the waiter...I felt he was out of bounds as well..But fine dinning isn't all fancy waiters, china, fancy food..It's common sense, caring about others and their feelings, and enjoying lifes little pleasures.

HEAVEN is Cade, Ethan,Carson, and Olivia,Alyssa,Gianna
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Old 08-31-2005, 01:42 PM   #45
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Following is an article I read in the Washinton Post by a restauranteur who had become fed up with the Dining business. It's an interesting and different perspective in light of our discussions.

On Cheapskates and 'Scams'

Ex-Restaurateur: I Just Couldn't Take It Anymore

By David Hagedorn
Special to The Washington Post
Wednesday, August 31, 2005; Page F01

After 25 years in the restaurant business, I have broken up with the dining public. Ours was a dish-functional relationship that had run its courses. We had a good run, but like a stock that had been left on a burner too long, my love for the restaurant business had simply evaporated, and it was time to move on.

The public and I had issues. We communicated poorly. When diners said they needed their space, they meant the tables were placed too closely together. When I said I needed my space, it meant I wanted their table back. The public was not committed to our relationship; diners routinely made dates with me and then either showed up late or not at all, often without so much as a phone call. They grew suspicious of me and talked about me online.

It's not that I didn't have a passion for cooking; I cashed out a tony degree from Georgetown University for a $6-an-hour job as a line cook. Ten years later, I owned a restaurant.

Don't get me wrong; the demise of my relationship with the public was as much my fault as the public's. My cooking got a little sloppy, and sometimes dinner wasn't ready on time. I said I was sorry and even gave things away for free, but diners felt they deserved more. My marriage with the public was on the rocks.

The plain fact is that diners do not carry their weight in the diner-restaurateur relationship. My own shortcomings aside, restaurateurs everywhere face this problem.

Upon the waters of the Internet, diners cast aspersions on restaurants perpetuating "scams" on the unsuspecting public and then feed on those "revelations" like sharks.

The convivial atmosphere of restaurants induces the public to relax the standard of good manners and responsibility that it maintains in other professional settings. The boundaries between customers and service staff are less definite in restaurants than in other businesses. Some diners treat servers as pals; others treat them as servants.

Servers are professionals whose primary duties are to promote and sell a restaurant's products: food and beverages. Many diners mistake salesmanship for trickery and treat wait staff with suspicion. I'll never understand why diners would think a restaurateur or members of the staff would want to deceive the very people who keep them in business.

The following is a list of "scams" that in reality are not scams at all:

The Bottled Water Scam: When a server asks, "Would you like sparkling, still or ice water?" the server is not trying to pad the bill with a sneaky sale but is merely offering the guest a choice. Bottled water is not free in restaurants any more than it is in sandwich shops or gyms.

The "Call Brand" Scam: In restaurants, as in liquor stores, Grey Goose Vodka costs more than Kamchatka Vodka. A server who asks which brand of vodka a guest prefers rather than if the guest prefers a particular brand is a good salesman, not a con artist.

The "Make Them Wait at the Bar" Scam: To maximize profit, a restaurateur wants diners to come and go as quickly as possible, but the greater priority is to serve people well. That's why, at busy times, even if a table is available, new arrivals might be sent to the lounge to avoid overwhelming the kitchen and service staff. More often than not, the owner offers the first round of drinks on the house, preferring to eat the cost rather than risk bad service. The restaurant is not trying to "make its money on the booze." More than 60 percent of restaurant sales is food, not alcohol; restaurateurs make their money from volume.

The "Most Expensive Item on the Menu" Scam: Diners asking for menu or wine recommendations often leap to the conclusion that servers push costly items to "jack up" the bill and therefore the tip. In fact, servers usually recommend mid-priced items to avoid being perceived as greedy. Sometimes lobster just is the best dish and the Chateau Gruaud Larose the best wine. A guest, fearful of looking cheap, might ask a server for a "good" wine without mentioning a price limit. Rather than accusing the server of "trying to pull a fast one" for suggesting an expensive wine, the guest should swallow his own false pride and simply ask the server to suggest something more moderately priced.
Restaurant folk endeavor to maintain a good reputation. They understand only too well the Basic Rule of Restaurant Word of Mouth: that a guest will share a good experience with a few people and a bad experience with a few hundred -- and the bad experience will be more outrageous with each retelling.

Today, a guest who feels mistreated expects to be remunerated. Diners have come to believe that every day is Christmas in restaurants. A restaurateur is by nature a generous person who entertains patrons as if they were guests in his home. Unfortunately, many patrons do not exercise the manners of guests receiving hospitality. Instead, they accept the host's generosity as if they deserve it. This sense of entitlement takes several forms:

Stealing: Many people rationalize theft with the belief that restaurants build its cost into their budgets. Not true. Taking a book of matches is accepting a gift; taking 20 is stealing. And the offer of a book of matches does not extend to the ashtray, salt and pepper shakers, napkin rings, silverware, steak knives, sugar packets, sugar bowl, bud vase, votive candle holder, soap dispenser, toilet paper, martini glass, artwork or the server's pen. These things disappear with alarming regularity from every restaurant; the nicer the restaurant, it seems, the higher the rate of theft.

Special-Occasion Freebies: Whoever the first person was who gave a free "birthday" dessert to a patron should be shot. What started out as a good promotion and an expression of goodwill has somehow turned into a requirement. The public has come to expect, even demand, a free dessert for a birthday or anniversary. Diners have been overheard telling tablemates that they always say it's their birthday. Indignant diners will point out the "error" of being charged for birthday desserts they ordered. It is the prerogative, not the obligation, of a restaurateur to give things away.

Compensation for Mishaps: A few months ago, a woman planted a human finger in her food at a well-known restaurant chain. She viewed this as an acceptable way to earn a living. And why not? Our society has come to expect compensation for any inconvenience. Chip a nail on a glass? Free appetizers! No toilet paper in the restroom? Free desserts! The waiter spilled some water? Pay my mortgage! Enough. Restaurant employees are human beings whomake mistakes. A misstep should not be an opportunity for a shakedown. The correct response from a guest given something on the house is, "Thank you," not, "Is that all?"

Compensation for Patronage: Restaurateurs are besieged with requests for donations and cannot afford to donate to every cause. Reminding the owner that "I eat here all the time" is a tacit form of extortion. If a restaurateur chooses not to donate a dinner to the "Spring Fling Auction" for the second cousin of a diner's next-door neighbor, the patron's reply should be, "I understand," not "I'll never set foot in this place again."

There are lessons to be gleaned from any break-up. My relationship with the dining public taught me that good manners and the Golden Rule are the cornerstones of a tranquil life. Ending that relationship proved something to me: The best thing about working in the restaurant business is talking about it in the past tense.
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 08-31-2005, 06:55 PM   #46
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I grew up around the family dinner table. We had sit down meals and were expected to converse with our parents nightly. I attended a boarding school which had sit down meals, each table headed by a faculty member...lunch and dinner. My college had a real dining service, and students sat in groups but were expected to be neat and tidy, leave the sporting gear outside, and behave like human beings. I still carry on this expectation with my family and friends. Even at a holiday buffet, at some point we pause and give thanks for being together and sharing a meal and good times.

I suppose some people dropped all this but look where it has gotten them? Parents who don't know their children. Dysfunctional families. Putting the burden of "civilization " on the schools...etc etc.

Seriously, I am as liberal as they come except on this issue, the importance of the table to the needs of the human being: mind body and soul. Conservative reactionary on this issue! lol
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Old 09-01-2005, 04:53 AM   #47
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Ironically, this one happened to me twice. I'm notorious for having a lousy sense of direction. In two separate restaurants over the years, I've gotten up to leave the table, and accidently walked towards the kitchen rather than the exit. Both times I was greeted by a waiter, and very happily given a tour of the kitchen! I loved it. In one (Commander's Palace (oh, dear, under water now?)), I later learned that people get tours of the kitchen all the time, they may even have a table there for the curious. I don't remember where the other one was, but it was an upscale place somewhere in my history. In both cases I don't think they realized I was just lost, and all they needed to do was point me to the exit or wait a few seconds for hubby to catch up with me (ladies before gents, and my longer stride). Instead I had a couple of great experiences. And imagine a restaurant that has that confidence in their kitchen!
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Old 09-01-2005, 05:03 AM   #48
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In reply to the Hagedorn list of scams: They are not scams if you're asked first, and you're given the option of saying "just iced tap water please", or "the bar brand is fine, thank you." I guess a lot of diners/drinkers don't have the confidence to specify they want the less expensive options. HOWEVER, there are times when the more expensive option is served w/o the waiter asking, or worse yet, asking for the less expensive option and finding the more expensive on your bill. THAT ... well, what would anyone call it?

That said, the latter has happened to me maybe once or twice in all my years of eating out. I've found there are a lot of "on-a-date-trying-to-impress" who feel they have to order something more expensive than what they want or can afford, then they feel bitter and blame the restaurant. Hardly the waiter/restaurateur's problem.
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