Monday, August 8, 2011


I think I'm going to agree with Tim and Nina Zagat, publishers of the ubiquitous guides to restaurants, resorts and other things that give the dining and travelling public their own say about the places they choose to praise and boo for dining and lodging. Today the Zagats wrote an incisive screed on the state of declining service in our favorite and not-so-favorite restaurants across the country.

It reminded me why I haven't been enjoying many of the restaurants I've been visiting lately. With few exceptions (places where we're regulars and know the staff and management), restaurant wait staffs have been exceeding even my low expectations. Service timing is a real pet peeve of mine, and although most waitrons blame the kitchen for bringing out your next course before you're done with the previous course, they're just displaying their complete indifference to your dining experience and their lack of training. Even I was a waiter and manager long enough to know how to time a customer's meal to make sure it flowed smoothly. Value-priced restaurants, and even expensive ones, just don't seem to care anymore.

My mom worked in several restaurants over a 40 year career, and she genuinely cared about her customers, treated them with care and good humor and had a large cadre of regulars who made a point of requesting her when they dined at her establishments.

I know of no higher praise that any restaurant or its staff can receive than to 1) HAVE regulars who frequently dine at your place and 2) have regulars who specifically ask for YOU to serve their table.

That's why my mom HAD a 40-year career in the restaurant business. I doubt that any servers I've encountered in the past few years will ever approach that milestone or that distinction.

But what do you think? I'd love to hear your good and bad restaurant service experiences.