“Are you still working on that?”
This is just one of the many trite phases servers dish out at restaurants. Makes me wince every time. I asked my Stew colleagues for their personal hates and, voila!, here’s the 10 most heinous pieces of verbiage that a smart restaurateur should drop-kick to the curb during staff training.
“We can’t do that.” What?? When a place isn’t a temple to molecular gastronomy or haute cuisine, don’t tell me you can’t leave a rich gravy off a piece of meat or sub vegetables for potatoes? How about, “Let me check with the cook/chef/manager.” - Judy Hevrdejs
I’m always put off when a waiter asks me, “Do you need change?” If I gave you a big bill and didn’t tell you to keep it, I clearly want my change back. Then I’ll decide what your tip is. I actually had a waiter tell my grandfather, “Oh, I’ll have to go in the back to get change because I’m poor. I don’t have it on me right now.” He was nice and said, “Just keep it.” Her response, “Oh, if I knew it was that easy, I’d just say that from now on.” She was such a wonderful waitress, but that one comment made me look at her side-eyed. – Shamontiel L. Vaughn
When I ask a server whether something is good, and he/she says, “It’s very popular.” To which I reply, “A lot of people are stupid. Is it good?” – Josh Noel
When I ask about the specialties of the house: “Everything’s really good.” Or conversely when I ask about a certain dish: “I don’t know. I don’t really eat that.” – Monica Eng
“Just one?” Yes, I am alone. I have no friends. Good of you to point that out. Are you a pimp, perchance? – Phil Vettel
I recently had an experience dining out with a friend, who was asked if she was still working on her two-thirds-eaten entree. She replied that yes, she was, and our idiot of a server said, "Oh, c'mon, you can do better than that!" and refused to take it away until she'd eaten more. If you're done, you're done. Force-feeding guests will never result in a bigger tip. - Lauren Viera
“Would you like to Supersize it?” Man, you know I want to Supersize it! What kind of question is that? – Matthew Wood
I hate it when they tell you, “Keep your fork,” especially when they reach down and take it off the plate for you. – Linda Bergstrom
This is awfully nit-picky, and I’m annoyed I’d even think this way, but: “Would you like some fresh ground pepper?” Two things: Pepper should already be freshly ground (it would be like the server asking, “Would you like some fresh refrigerated chicken?”) Second, if the cooks did their job, my dish wouldn’t need additional seasoning. – Kevin Pang
A colleague thinks I’m a pill for disliking, “Hi, my name is (fill in the blank) and I’ll be your server today.” He says it’s just being polite. To me, though, the patent insincerity of it makes me scramble for the Advil. Honestly, I don’t need to know the name – at least on my first time through the restaurant. Greet me warmly but speedily, hand me a menu, tell me the specials, get me a drink and get out of the way. I will return the favor by not making outlandish food requests, not dawdling at-table while hungry customers stand waiting and by tipping you at least 20 percent for decent service. Names? We can do that later. – Bill Daley
Ironically, there’s one all-important line many servers don’t say to customers. Let Denise Joyce, the Tribune’s dining editor, tell you what that is: “The cost of the specials. Forgetful server? State secret? And you feel like a cheapskate when you ask.”
Of course, all this whining about servers' sayings begs the opposite question. What lines do customers deliver that drive servers up the wall? I know there have to be a million of them. So, servers, do feel free to spill right here.