Wednesday, August 4, 2010

How To Be VIP

Last night we had the unpleasant experience of needing to tell a group of particularly unpleasant young people it was time for them to leave. This brought about some reflection on my part that since kids aren't raised right anymore it is impossible them them to know how to behave when dining out. They feel far too entitled to even begin to know what is appropriate.

Face facts- all customers are not equal. There are people it is a pleasure to serve and there are people that you grit your teeth and bare it and then there are people you tell to get the fuck out- then hang the pictures you took of them with your camera phone up in the back so you will never forget who not to let back in.

The rewards of being categorized as "a pleasure to serve" are many. They include preferred seating, being bumped up on waiting lists, having your special occasions remembered, getting nice little freebies, being served items that aren't on the menu and having exceptions to policy made for you. Also, we in the industry chat amongst ourselves- if you dine out frequently you have a reputation. Your actions determine your reputation.

Here is how to be the customer that gets fawned over:

1) We are open to the public but a restaurant/bar is in fact private property. You are a guest in someone else's space. Be respectful of that.

2) Special requests are like sex- it doesn't hurt to ask but no means no. A request being denied is not bad service. It is policy. It is also fine to politely ask why a request is being denied. But don't make a stinkin' big issue of it.

3) It is fine to request seating other than where the host offers you. But again- it is their space not yours. If the host explains they can't offer you the space you want deal with. Working a summer at Dairy Queen does NOT mean that you understand the intricacies of the human Tetris game that is restaurant seating.

4) Being rude to my server will most assuredly not get me to change my mind about accommodating you. I promise you it won't. Not ever. My server is here because I respect how she does her job. She is more important to me than you are.

5) If you have been told that your request cannot be accommodated and you choose to stay anyway don't make us regret seating you. Being passive aggressive and loudly complaining for the rest of your meal is just an asshole thing to do. You chose to stay. Grow the fuck up or leave.

6) There are some things it is completely unreasonable to request. Such as changing the entire environment just for you. That means lighting, room temp, sound level. Your momma told you you are a beautiful wonderful unique snowflake. To her you are. But not to me.

7) Not catering to dietary requests is not horrible service. It is a business decision. Not every place is for everyone. Get over yourself. That said if Rob Zombie ever shows up at my door I will crawl on my hands and knees through glass to make him something vegetarian. Are you Rob Zombie? No. I didn't think so.

8) Do not EVER touch your server of grab her arm to get her attention. Not ever. Do not whistle or snap your fingers either.

11) Realise that while we are endeavoring to serve you we are not your servants. Treating the people who are waiting on you and cooking for you as inferiors is not only rude it is a deep seated character flaw.

12) This should go without saying but the golden rule applies. Treat people in the service industry as you would like to be treated. If you wouldn't enjoy having a 20something smelly hipster getting shitty and personally insulting with you over something that is either beyond your control or is simply a matter of policy then don't do it to my server either.

13) On that note- when you choose to write an amateur online review be circumspect. Do not lie. We read those things. When you lie about your experience you are admitting to the world, if not yourself, that it was in fact you who was the jerk.

14) Do not tell the people at a business what they "should" do. It is fine as a regular to tell them what you would like to see. There is a difference.

15) When dining at an "ethnic" restaurant do not start inquiring about the ethnicities of the staff. Inquiring about such personal matters of complete strangers is rude. In fact- respect boundaries in general. I don't know you. Do not ask me personal questions.

16) This is a new one since the widespread scourge of "foodie-ism". Do not loudly disparage a restaurant at a restaurant. We tend to know each other. You could be talking shit about the chef/owner's best friend. This will not endear you.

17) Do not mistake being high maintenance for being sophisticated. Do not put on airs. Anyone worth impressing will not be impressed. You get a mule all gussied up in racehorses harness but it is a mule nonetheless and you aren't fooling anyone.

18) Ready to order means that everyone at the table knows what they want. Do not hold your server (and hence the other customers) hostage making them stand there while you decide.

19) Do not go to Armani for a Harley bandanna and vise-versa. That a place isn't what you want it to be does not make it bad. Again- private property. You want to make decisions buy your own place.

20) Do not "camp out" at tables. You are hurting the business and most especially the server whose section you are hogging up.

21) Some big "Dos" here
Be courteous and receptive to courtesy.
Know what you want from your experience, choose the venue accordingly, find out if the place can accommodate your needs BEFORE you show up.
Remember you are a guest on someone else's property.
Realise that no one is perfect. Mistakes will be made. something can only "ruin your evening" if you are willing to allow your evening to be ruined.
Be respectful of boundaries with the staff. They are serving you for money.
Tip well.
Say please and thank you.
Understand that you are not the center of the universe. No, not even on your birthday.

This list is common sense really. All of this should have been taught to you by your parents or guardians. If any item of this list is news to you your parents brought you up wrong. Take it out on them, not me.


  1. Nice summary. Frightening that you had to do it.

  2. I am amazed, almost daily, by how uncommon common sense seems to be these days.

  3. OH... MY... GOD...
    I have never seen this blog of yours before because I detached myself from the online foodie universe for so long out of spite.

    I came across it tonight and read this post somewhere between tears and laughter.

    I had forgotten your way with words regarding the craft!