Last night I enjoyed an after-prayer-service meal with my mother at Olive Garden. We got there about an hour before they closed. This is a pet peeve of my mother’s. As a kid, she taught me never to go into a restaurant an hour before closing. That may seem odd to you, but I understand why she set this rule/guideline in place.
Restaurant workers have lives.
Unfortunately, the general public does not realize that because customer service in America reigns supreme. Last night, our server told us a 70 top was expected to come in at 10:30 PM. From my own restaurant work experiences, I knew most of the servers, hosts, and cooks were hot business. Our server wasn’t, and for that I commend her because 21 year old Jarrod would have gone off. You may be wondering why this is a big deal. I’ll explain.
For the restaurant terminology impaired, a 70 top means 70 people are coming to dine. From a non-restaurant worker standpoint, large groups seem like fun. You gather your friends to eat, drink (non-alcoholic), and be merry. Stories are shared and memories are created. Everybody leaves full and ready for the next adventure. Sounds awesome, right? Of course it does! Everyone likes to eat with good company. I know I do. This notion is different when from the standpoint of a restaurant worker.
Large groups can be delightful or painful depending on the temperament of the group. One rude, demanding patron can make what seems a joyful table of four seem completely miserable. Multiply that by about 17 and we’re riding a fine line of happiness and an abyss of awkwardness. Customers don’t understand the work that goes into serving large parties unless they’ve been in the restaurant industry themselves. Large parties are generally more demanding simply because there are more people. Requests for refills, sauces, more soup, salad, and general table up-keep take time. Fortunately, I have experience in this industry. So, I know what it takes to deal.
I was a host at Applebee’s when I was in college. That was one of the best jobs I had during my college tenure. I loved it! I enjoyed my co-workers, managers, and most of all the customers. People were generally agreeable. After all, I was only seating them. So how hard could that be? I do have some stories, but those people don’t overshadow the good times. I didn’t dread going to work at all. However, I did dread when large groups would come in. Actually, I hated it. ESPECIALLY when we were about to close.
If you want to ensure animosity will increase in a restaurant, then walk in there 30 minutes before close and order a full out meal. Go ahead. Order the steak well done with mashed potatoes and broccoli. Cooks, servers, and hosts will be giving you Charlie Murphy face simply because you’re present.
I hear those die heard “I’m a customer so I’m always right” people talking to me. You don’t think it’s rude, huh? Well here you go.
Just because a restaurant is open until 11:00 pm does not mean the employees want you strolling in 15-20, even 30 minutes before closing like you own the place. They want to go! Your presence means prolonging every worker’s time to live their life outside of work. Sleep. Eat. Spend time with their families. Do homework. Relax. People want to live. In other cases, some will have to be back the next day to open after they just closed. They just want a moment of peace before being bombarded with requests again. *Taps glass*
“More water please?!”
In the case of the 70 top, there was a mixture of fans, parents, and high school volleyball players. The prime seemed excited. They more than likely won their games. They vane in with life and vigor which would be awesome of it wasn’t 10:45 pm. They asked if they could connect some tables, and were slightly flabbergasted when they were told no.
Well, I don’t blame the restaurant for a couple of reasons.
- A high school volleyball bus means there will be several tables of teenagers that aren’t paying for themselves. This is a NIGHTMARE for the server when trying to cash out the bills.
- There needs to be some uniformity in order for the servers to keep service tight and orderly for you.
Simple reasoning like the above is not first thought when people go out to eat. People want to have a good time with their family and friends. I understand that. Just remember folks, restaurant etiquette extends far beyond dinner and salad forks. It includes being considerate of the employees who are providing you service. So, put a smile on your face, enjoy yourself, be attentive to their questions (yes, you need to pay attention!), and please do not walk into the restaurant 15 minutes before closing. That’s the epitome of rude.
And please, please tip your server an adequate amount.