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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

The Waiter Chronicles Survey

Saturday, July 21, 2007

This weekend, I'd like to know the mind of NPH readers on a simple matter pertaining to the art of waiting tables:

What are the qualities that separate the good waiters/waitresses from the great ones?

Speed? Courtesy? Cool hair?

Let me know what you think!

Labels: ,

posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:16 AM

14 Comments:

Honestly? Here's my general matrix for how I feel about a waitor;

* Personal attention without coming across as my best friend;

*knowledgeable insight into the menu/wine list when requested (particular within a certain budget wrt the latter);

*not once having to be asked for more soda/water/bread;

*good timing (enough time given to look over the menu without then having to wait long to see the waiter again, for instance, or the right time to place an entree order so that it comes out at the right time, depending on apps or salads or whatever...)

*all of this while seeming calm, happy, in control, wanting to be of genuine help, and a smile helps :) ...
commented by Anonymous kairos, 1:19 PM  
Knowledge of the menu and wine list is crippling me right now, since I have none. I haven't actually tasted anything on the menu, and the wines? Forget it. I can name the ones we sell by the glass (most come from the Trinchero Family Estate in CA), but couldn't describe them for you.

And Kairos, I want to be your best friend.
commented by Blogger Not Prince Hamlet, 1:58 PM  
Well, you can't become a great waiter instantly, man. You'll get there.

The grandfather will help you with the wines. The catch, I think, is to know a few from each category so you can make good suggestions, thinking both about selling up (good for you) and a good "inexpensive" bottle for those who don't know a thing about wines but want something that will not break the bank. Both will increase your bottom line.

It will take time to learn the menu, but it will be worth it.

Ms. Kairos and I went to Jazz Friday for lunch and I asked what "papa vic's pasta" was. With only a slight pause to size us up, he said "its the least ordered thing on the menu. We keep trying to take it off, but its named after the owner. Its chicken with garlic, scallions and parsley in a cream sauce." That's exactly what I needed to hear....

You can be my best friend....... Shucks.
commented by Anonymous kairos, 6:36 PM  
I recommended at Tinchero Family Estate Merlot, 2004, last night, and the lady totally bought it.

But later I totally botched the presentation of the bottle at the table, and Grandpa took over and shamed me.
commented by Blogger Not Prince Hamlet, 10:12 AM  
I HATE asking for freckled lemonade refills...they should know that if I drank the first two in under five minutes each that I really like them.

When they say "bottomless" bread sticks and salad at Olive Garden, they should mean it. Bring the damn breadsticks when you see them empty basket even if it means a couple are tossed! They cost what two cents each?!?

Don't spill on me...that sucks. My kid does that enough.

If ask for recommendations and tell you I don't like fish from the beginning, don't try to sell it to me saying it is just a "light" fishy taste...the fish is what I don't like to taste-light or heavy.

Don't touch me. You don't know me so don't start touching me like you do.

If you see a kid throwing napkins on the floor, like ALL of the napkins on the table, just bring some more with a smile and I'll pick up the ones he dropped before I leave and you won't have to!

Offer crackers or baby friendly fruit to those with small children.
(As you can see, some people are not willing to give up their lives when they have children!)

Oh, and it doesn't hurt to be really hot and a bit mysterious as you serve me...you got this one pinned big guy!

We miss you guys. Hung out on the Plaza this AM and then hit Nelson-Atkins. Very cool. Wish you were here making me smile. Little D is beside himself without his playmate...
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 2:08 PM  
Jenonymous,

Crackers and baby fruit: that's good.

Me as hot and mysterious: even better.
commented by Blogger Not Prince Hamlet, 7:10 PM  
It's all about the plate for me. I like my plate (though empty) to be in front of me so that I don't feel like such an amazing pig as I sit and watch Jules eat over 3/4 of her meal after I have finished.

That, and I may get to eat what she can't. (Insert oinking noises here).

The plate and good recommendations (esp. brutally honest bad ones as indicated above) are my biggies.
commented by Blogger Scott, 6:46 AM  
Scott,

This is an area where my co-workers have given me instructions that I don't intend to follow. They've said that they clear a person's plate whenever they're finished, regardless of where the rest of the table is at. I don't like that.

There is a real anxiety to clear dishes, though, because there's precious real estate on the table top, and those plates are huge.
commented by Blogger Not Prince Hamlet, 7:10 AM  
I whole-heartedly agree with the crackers and fruit thing - one place even presented it beautifully which sort of made me feel like a celebrity mom or something - I'm sure Madonna's kids get fruit that pretty.

Goes without saying that the glass of water shall never be empty (remember at Mama Taiwan's in Hutch - those dudes wrote the book on water-filling).

Lastly, I like a waitor with an opinion - I like to tell them the two menu items that I'm trying to decide between, and have them give me a definite answer for which I should choose. Ultimately, I want them to make a decision for me.

Cool hair does help, too. Oh yeah, and PLEASE don't hang out and chat too much or tell me stories about your life - especially if I'm on a date... with my husband, of course.
commented by Blogger Jerilyn, 12:27 PM  
Jer,

I like giving an opinion about the menu, because I haven't had anything on it yet. When I say a certain dish is "amazing" or even that it's better than another dish, that opinion is based entirely on what I've seen on plates.

As long as you're okay with a less-than-authentic opinion . . .
commented by Blogger Not Prince Hamlet, 12:37 PM  
having spent some time myself in the service sector which you currently find yourself, for me, it really comes down to the golden rule... wait unto others as you would have them wait unto you.
oh yeah, and pay special attn to the foodies - cause they'll not only recommend and repatronize the restaurant, they'll also be recommending and re-tipping their fav waitperson.
commented by Blogger KP, 11:25 PM  
KP,

That golden rule is perfect. I think that once I get to where I'm not thinking about a hundred things at once (did I take their entree order? does that water glass need refilled? Did I ask how they want their meat cooked?), I can actually apply it.

Charm, I think, covers a multitude of sins.
commented by Blogger Not Prince Hamlet, 7:12 AM  
You're working on all the wrong things. Quit focusing on waiter skills and start working on your abs. Charm may go a long way to cover up inadequacies, but with a killer midsection and tight ass you could pour hot soup down my back and I’d giggle like a school girl. Grow out your hair a bit and learn how to run your fingers through it in a seductive way. Who cares if you haven’t refilled my water or bread, you’re providing entertainment that normally costs big money in a peep show booth. You also need to work on your image. Being “that slightly quiet metrosexual with a ring” will create all the intrigue you need to bring in the repeat customers. It will work on women and gay men. Considering the population of southern California, that’s definitely your target demographic. Your gym membership will start paying off within the first month, and you get the tax write off since it’s a business expense.

Guaranteed Ways to Triple the Tips (a.k.a. Flirting Pays the Rent):
 Drop a napkin or silverware, yell, “oops” to draw attention and bend over slowly.
 While explaining the specials, make eye contact, pause like you were just lost for a second in his/her eyes, and then shake your head a bit like you’re coming back to reality. Cha-Ching!
 Buy your clothes two sizes too small and cut off the sleeves (another business expense)
 Describe the food in slightly sexual ways. It’s an Italian restaurant; you’re working with noodles, sausage, plump tomatoes, and cream sauce; come on it practically writes itself
 Work on your own “signature move” – the Rocky version of the Bend and Snap would work (Legally Blonde reference)

And hell, if I’m wrong at least you’re getting yourself ready for other possible careers. Two words that can make you uber-rich – GAY PORN!
commented by Anonymous Guess Who, 7:18 PM  
Guess Who,

I'm thanking you through my crunches.

Son-of-Grandpa epitomizes the waiter you're describing, so I have a good model to emulate there.

Thanks for stopping by. And I am guessing, by the way . . .
commented by Blogger Not Prince Hamlet, 10:38 PM  

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