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Old 09-30-2008, 12:51 AM   #1
Server-AMel
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Question Serving in a fine dining setting

I work as a waiter in both a casual and fine dining restaurant. I don't have a problem waiting on tables at the casual restaurant. I would really like to improve my knowledge of etiquette for when I work at the fine dining restaurant, but I can't seem to find anything about serving. I've found many resources on dining, and I know the basics such as; the setups, serve from the left pickup from the right, serve and pickup beverages from the right. But there doesn't seem to be many website or books I can find on actually serving customers in a fine dining atmosphere.

Any tips or suggestions to help me improve my work performance would be greatly appreciated!

Last edited by Server-AMel; 09-30-2008 at 12:52 AM. Reason: Adding E-mail notification for responses
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:02 AM   #2
jamesglewisf
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I can give you some opinions.

I will compile them and make some posts sometime today or tomorrow.
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:15 AM   #3
jamesglewisf
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Write down orders. Special orders do not upset waitstaff at finer restaurants, but they often get them wrong. The only thing more annoying than a waitperson who won't write down an order and then gets it wrong is one who does write it down and still gets it wrong. You have a much better chance getting the order right if you write it down and repeat it back.

Have a system so that you can remember who ordered what. This is especially important if someone else serves the food. At finer restaurants, they never have to ask who ordered what, regardless of the size of the party.

Pay attention to details. When you are writing down the order, it is important to listen carefully. I usually drink iced tea. I always order it with no lemon and lots of ice. Usually what I get is warm tea with a few melted ice cubes, plus a lemon. Getting the drink order wrong sets the tone for the whole meal. It tells me that the waiterperson does not pay attention to detail.

Remember the details - if I asked for lots of ice, pay attention to the level of ice during my refills.

When you bring the drinks, they go on the right - above the knife. Look at the place setting diagram - http://www.findalink.net/diningetiquette.php

Don't serve bread or appetizers without a small plate. Bread plates go on the left.

Another example of getting the details wrong is sauces. Frequently at seafood restaurants I observe someone ordering coctail sauce or extra tartar sauce. You almost always have to ask twice. Write it down and make sure it comes with the food. If I ordered a sauce or condiment, I will most likely wait to begin eating until I am fully served. That means my entree gets cold while I wait to ask for the item a second time and have it delivered.

Pace the meal. You should not be bringing my soup when I haven't finished my appetizer. My salad should not come before I finish my soup. And my entree should not come before I finish my salad. On the other hand, don't make the customer wait an inordinate amount of time between courses.

Leave the customer's dinner knapkin alone if he gets up from the table. I often ask for a second napkin at meals when I am eating something messy. Inevitably if I get up from the table, some well-meaning waitperson decides to fold my napkin. He will either drop my second napkin on the floor or assume it was an extra and get rid of it. Then I get to ask for a second napkin a second time. It also doesn't seem to matter where I leave my napkin. If I fold it up and leave it on the table, it will get moved to the armrest of the chair. If I leave it on the armwrest, it will get moved to the table. Leave my napkin alone! End napkin rant.

If I have my wallet out or if I ask for the check, don't ask me if I saved room for dessert. Give me my check.

I'll try to think of more tips and post them.
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:20 AM   #4
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It is interesting. There are many restaurants that I go to - such as Carrabba's Italian Grill that have excellent food and quality waitstaff. The only thing that separates them from a fine dining establishment is that they don't train the waitstaff on the finer details.

They get the food and drinks correct. They are attentive and well-mannered. They just don't know how to serve. I often wonder why the management doesn't take the little bit of extra time to train them better.
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:22 AM   #5
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I thought of another one - unless the customer strikes up a conversation with you, don't be too chatty. Politely answer questions, but don't hang around to visit. If there is more than one person, they usually have their own conversation going. If it is just one person and he doesn't initiate chatting, he probably wants to get in and get out, or have some peace and quiet.
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Old 09-30-2008, 01:22 AM   #6
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Keep the music down low or don't have any at all. There is nothing worse than trying to overtalk loud music.
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Old 09-30-2008, 03:38 AM   #7
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I do agree with the write down orders comment. Our restaurant has no certain requirements when it comes to writing orders. My normal method is to write down orders on any party of 3 or larger. I believe that if you can't remember specifics on only 2 people, then you may not want to wait tables. I completely understand the stress of having your order come out wrong simply because the server wanted to practice their memorization skills

We do have a table numbering system and we always leave the kitchen with everyone assigned a seat to serve to.

On the comment concerned with the drink order,, it sounds to me as if that person was not really fit to wait tables. I always order my tea without lemon as well and I can relate with you to how it can offset a meal. I pay particular attention when it comes to specifications of orders because I know if they're going out of their way to tell me how they want it,, I should go out out of mine to pay attention and make them happy. Not to mention I love it when they request no lemon, it takes less time to prepare the drink.

We serve bread off of a large trey from which we use two large spoons as tongs if you will to put 2 pieces of bread on each person's bread tray which is setup to the left.

Sauces are one thing can get very confusing. I know many times when I'm working at the more casual restaurant,, I will put "sauce on side" on the ticket of our Baja Fish Tacos (which are delicious). But another server often comes to my food right as it comes out and I'm with a table,, not even look at my ticket,, then put the sauce on them, ruining the tacos. I appreciate other servers trying to help me,, but I don't appreciate their inconsiderateness when it comes to the details of my customers food and their requests.

As each course comes, we pick up the dishes soon after the customer finishes them, but we wait for all plates to be finished and taken up before continuing with the next course, so all customers are served at the same time. However, we try not to pick up dishes early if people finish them quickly simply because we don't want the others at the table to feel rushed.

As much as I wish I could leave the napkin alone,, our restaurant policy requires that when a person leaves the table, we push their chair in and fold the napkin loosely and place it on the table, normally to the right since the bread plate is on the left. Yet if I do drop the napkin on the floor, which I have on occasion, I quickly replace it with a new one. I never assume it is not needed and only remove napkins from the table upon request.
In my personal opinion, a napkin seems to me as if it should be considered more of a personal item and not be handled by anyone else. Since it is used to cover your mouth while coughing and wiping your mouth and hands, I do not like people to touch my napkin at restaurants and I'd rather not touch theirs while I'm working. But,, as previously stated.. restaurant policy = /

The wallet or card on the table brings me back to people who shouldn't be servers. When I see a wallet or card on the table I know they want the check. Either they weren't interested in desert, I waited too long to offer desert, or they have somewhere else to be. At that point, I get the check as soon as possible and deliver it to the person with the wallet/card out.

I suppose with Carrabba's they simply don't pursue the "fine dining" environment. It isn't part of the concept of Carrabba's. Although I do agree that the serving part is basically the only quality lacking to consider them so.

I very rarely get conversations out of my tables. I know 2 or 3 of my co workers initiate conversations with them and by the end of the night,, they've made new regulars out of them. I guess it really just depends on how the server presents the conversation and how the guests receive it. We encounter so many various attitudes, some are obviously open to a conversation, some will after they warm up a bit, but others just keep to themselves and talk as little as possible.

Music is a part of both restaurants where I work. It is turned off during business meetings and it never goes over a soft, yet audible volume.
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Old 09-30-2008, 05:23 AM   #8
Dude111
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Welcome to frappydoo my friend!
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