Lookin' Good at 58

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What Do You Do When There Is Food Left On The Plate?

A fellow waiter last night brought up something that I thought would make for an interesting post and which your thoughts on what you would do in this situation would be fun to hear back on.

You see the previous night he had a few cook ups on a couple of steaks at his table but it was how they came about that was different. When the food was delivered and after a few bites he went over to do a table check and everyone at the table mentioned that the meal was delightful. Throughout the meal he passed by the table several times and each time noticed that everyone seemed to be enjoying their meal.

Then when it came time to clear the plates he noticed some bits of meat still left on the plate. Then he made the comment , "was everything alright?" Then they started to complain about the meat had some grizzle , not cooked enough bla bla bla. So now they are complaining after the meal is over but while they were eating everything was fine. A dessert was bought for them and then they complained that the cost of a dessert did not do enough to soothe their feelings toward the meal. In other words a bigger discount than that of a dessert should have been offered.

When I heard this I offered that I never , once I have done the table check and everything is fine , ever ask them again how everything is or was upon clearing. Unless they are unhappy at the time of table check do I ever take the plate back to the kitchen to get it fixed up.

The reason I choose not to is because if you ask them a second time then they think that maybe you might be covering up something or in the case above they will find something to complain about and expect something free afterwards.

When I do the one table check I make sure of two things. One , they have tasted enough to make a decision on whether they are satisfied. In other words let them eat a bit and do not table check too early. Second is I make sure I always make eye contact with the guest when asking if everything is to their satisfaction. That is everyone at the table of course. This ensures everyone has heard me.

When I clear and there is still food on the plate I will never ask something that could produce a negative. I assume , because they told me it was fine , that it was.

Now when someone does mention something negative about the meal I will actually respond with , " oh geez you should have told me when I asked you if everything was to your satisfaction and I would have got it fixed , now I feel bad you didn't tell me." "If you don't tell me how would I know." Then I clear the plates and forget about it. Their fault , I am sorry. If I do not tablecheck then it is mine. But I always do.

I do two things though when there is food left on the plate and that is ask if they want to take the rest home with them or just pat my stomach , smile , and say wow are you full?

Always clear the plates on a positive note and of course if their plates are empty I say wow did you enjoy that or what? I think we should send the dishwasher home early tonight or something stupid to illicit a laugh.

Any thoughts from the industry professionals out there or suggestions? I am sure this has happened to all of us at one point.


¸.•*´)ღ¸.•*´Chris said...

I handle it like you do, actually. My thought is this: I am willing to make things right to almost any degree but not to the extent of ripping off my own employer. Diners have a responsibility to tell us when things aren't right so we can improve them and make their dining experience more enjoyable. To come to me after the service and complain about the meal tells me they had an agenda cooked up long before they walked in that door. I'm not buying it. Does my tip suffer? Possibly, but for every dishonest diner there are a few more who have had a few too many martini's and like to throw their money around.

I've been in the business for 30 years. I've seen some interesting things and heard some pretty good tales. Can't pull the wool over this old lady's eyes.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Chris...I am in agreement with you all the way. Tell us the truth so we can be of some help to make the dining experience all the more enjoyable.

banquet manager said...

I have always went by the fact that when there is a screw-up, we appologize for it, then make it right. Then the topic should never be brought up to the guest again.
Don't give the guest an opportunity to complain if they haven't done so already.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Banquet Manager...exactly.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that waiters should check back on the table after a couple of minutes but I don't like to ask 'How is everything or is everything ok' etc as it smacks of fishing for compliments. My problem is that I don't know what I should say? Any ideas

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Anonymous...when the plates are empty and I am clearing I might say boy that was good wasn't it? Say anything that you know will have a positive reinforcement of a good meal. If there is stuff left on their plate maybe I will say would you like to take the rest home packed up. Usually it is a yes but if not then they may speak up about something they didn't like then you can fix it.

Anonymous said...

But what to say to the guest when they are still eating so as to not appear as though you're fishing for compliments.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Anonymous...once you do the quality check once don't say anything else while they are eating. No need to. Just let them eat. Just pop by make sure water and beverages topped up or replaced. I only talk to someone while they are eating to ask if they would like a drink.That is it.
Anyway I like people to eat their food and be left alone. Hope I answered your question a bit better.Service is about service and not talking.