Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Timid Server

I don't like to be interrupted while I'm enjoying good conversation at the table with friends. Some servers are too obtrusive--always inquiring to make sure everything is okay, that the food tastes right, that you don't need a refill or dessert or coffee. Not so the case with lunch on Saturday.

I had the great fortune of having a girl day on Saturday. Chad cut me loose that morning to get a massage with a gift certificate I'd been sitting on a while, so I took advantage of the time. Afterward, I met two of my college roommates at the Puffy Muffin for lunch. Although there were a handful of men there, it's a very girly place. There was even a man in a pink sweatshirt. Go figure.

Our server looked a little unsure when approaching our table. We were catching up with each other and talking 90 to nothing. He hated to interrupt. But we were hungry (and thirsty.) He timidly approached, got our drink order, and disappeared into the kitchen. After a few minutes, he returned with our drinks and stepped back, waiting for us to tell him we were ready to order. He should have just asked. We were ready and had to tell him not to back away so that he could get our order in.

I tend to be a creature of habit. The last several times I've eaten at the Puffy Muffin, I've ordered the Tea Room Sampler--a scoop of chicken salad, tuna salad, and pimiento cheese--but I request that all three be chicken salad. (So sue me! They have REALLY good chicken salad.) Lindsey ordered the Tea Room Sampler, too, but without the special modification, and Tiffany ordered a chicken salad sandwich. Not a difficult order, right?

The Puffy Muffin is usually full on Saturdays. Tables flip (guest leave, bussers clean them, and new guests are seated) quickly. Many of the tables around us had new guests who were already getting their food, but we had been sitting there for quite a while just waiting. Our server had been refilling our drinks, but not giving us a chance to ask where our food was. The timid guy came out of the kitchen finally at one point and noticed that we still didn't have food. He zipped back into the kitchen and re-emerged with our plates. No apology for the delay.

We inhaled our food and continued to catch up. Our drinks continued to be refilled covertly, but our server never cleared plates or picked up on cues that we were done and were ready for our checks. We finally had to flag him down and ask for checks and boxes. At this point, a server should have already asked if we wanted dessert (the upsell, if you will).

When I was a server at the Cooker (Ah, the Cooker. I miss you so!) we had standards of service. A table was to be greeted within 30 seconds of being seated, drinks brought within 2 minutes, order taken when drinks delivered, food brought within time indicated by item's cook time, check on the guests 2 minutes (or 2 bites) after food is delivered to the table, and (in most cases) a check delivered at that time in case the guests are in a rush.

Not all restaurants have the same time standards and these standards can be different at lunch and dinner. But in my opinion, all restaurants should have these standards. The server must be keenly aware of the timeline for each of his or her guests so they have something to expect and those expectations are met.

As for timidity, I appreciate that our server wasn't disruptive, but he needed to find the balance in order for us to have a seamless dining experience. All in all, we had a good meal and enjoyed the precious time with good friends.


Mylie and Me said...

hey girl, loving the blog. Just wondering if you could include more discription of the food as well. Some of these places sound so good. I have not been to the Puffy Muffin and may have to put it on my list, chicken salad is one of my favs. Hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving day!

The Vein Centre said...

That joint sounds like a cool little spot to check out. One day you should swing by Grogan Jewelers and see what kind of food oriented pendants they have in stock.