Originally Posted by kennethpollock
It appears to me that some of the posters on this thread, mainly ex-waiters, really do not have much knowledge as to this topic, other than their own limited personal ones, because they have not been fortunate enough to have eaten in many of America's grandest restaurants, nor have they traveled outside this country much.
So to sum up this disagreement between the two "camps," it appears that there is basic agreement that the service at the finest USA restaurants (French Laundry, Jean-George, Le Bernardin, etc.), along with many ethnic establishments where use of English is limited, is pretty much like all European restaurants, in that waiters do not exhibit the behavior I have complained about. It also seems pretty much admitted that my claim that 30-40 years ago, any other type of behavior was virtually unknown here, too.
So, it seems that it is acknowledged that the behavior that I dislike stems from "studies" that giant restaurant chains have done about what appeals to, or could be fostered upon, middle-American and lower types of customers (not the French Laundry, Jean-George, Le Bernardin, etc. type of patron), to put them at ease to some extent, but perhaps most importantly, get them to order more and out more quickly (increase "volume"), and thereby increase profits.
We are down to a disagreement as to whether the former type of service (at the finest USA restaurants, European restaurants and in all USA restaurants in former times) which I will hereinafter call the Old-Europe Service ("OES") is right and whether the treatment that giant restaurant chains foster on everyone, because they assume them to be terrified hicks, which I will call giant chains' hick service ("GCHS") is wrong.
I am not kidding. I submit that it is wrong to offer GCHS to the giant restaurant chains' customers. More money usually buys better things and better service. Since French Laundry, Jean-George, Le Bernardin, etc. cost more, it is apparent that the OES that they offer is "better" service. So why cannot everyone get the OES treatment? If you think that the middle-American and lower types of customers do not deserve the OES treatment that the richer and more sophisticated customers at French Laundry, Jean-George, Le Bernardin, etc. receive, I submit that you are a snob. Giant restaurant chains deserve to be continually criticized for putting increased "volume" and increased profits ahead of having their waiters give everyone the OES treatment that the richer and more sophisticated customers in this nation receive.
I wrote the BOR to try to end this problem. If thousands would copy it, or something similiar, and leave it behind at restaurants that offend; or orally complain to management, things might improve.
Okay, I'm going to try this one more time, without any sarcasm (or at least I'll try to do it without sarcasm). I will admit up front that I have not eaten at the same number of upscale restaurants as you, nor have I had the pleasure of visiting continental Europe. I have also never waited tables. However, I have dined in my fair share of "good" (or "fine" or "grand" or whatever) restaurants. In some of those restauarants, I have observed the behaviors you listed. In some, I did not.
The topic you have posted on is a legitimate and interesting one to me. Should "good" service in American restaurants mirror that which exists in fine European restaurants? Further, should every restaurant with wait service in the U.S. (presumably other than a diner-style restaurant) have the same level of service, regardless of whether the restaurant in question is a "chain" and regardless of the socio-economic status of its usual patrons?
To me, this is where you went wrong with your arguments:
- Categorizing the behavior of the wait staff as "the worst." Sorry, but the items you listed might annoy you or might even annoy all of us, but they are not "the worst" things a waiter or waitress could do. I listed some of what I considered the worst in a previous post, so I won't rehash those here.
- Attempting to label as fact that because service is done a certain way in Europe (or even in certain restaurants in the United States), that this is the only
correct way to do it. In everything (from technology to wait service) there will always be innovation. Sometimes this innovation is good, and sometimes it isn't. However, to simply dismiss something new or different as bad, in my opinion, demonstrates a narrow mind, a lack of experience, and an unwillingness to learn.
- Making the assumption that any culinary styles or advances made in the United States are per se
inferior. See the above regarding a narrow mind and a lack of experience. I particularly like the portion of your bill of rights relating to coffee. Sorry, but from time to time I enjoy an espresso, and from time to time I enjoy an American style coffee. I want the option to be there. Frankly, if espresso is the only coffee you're drinking, you're missing out on some wonderful coffees (might I recommend Kona or Jamaican Blue Mountain? - probably not Kona, as it is American in origin). I'll even have a cappucino from time to time in the evening (and, by the way, one of the finest (if not the finest) Italian restaurants in Hartford, Connecticut's South End was serving cappucino in the evenings more than 25 years ago, and continues to do so to this day). And, yes, Hartford is not New York, so please save your comments regarding my inexperience.
- Not grasping the simple fact that the wait staff in restaurants do the things that annoy you because they've been instructed to, at the potential cost of their jobs. Further being unable to grasp the fact that the reason restaurants require their waits staff to do these things is because they've conducted surveys and focus groups and are responding to the opinions expressed therein. Do you honestly think that American restaurants are doing all of these things to spite their customers? Does this seem like a good business plan to you?
- Attempting to turn the "snob" label around by stating that those who disagree with you are snobs because they think a different level of service is appropriate for the "lower classes." To me, this shows your utter failure to grasp most of the arguments that have been put forth in this thread. You seem to feel that there is a large group of people in the U.S. who are ready to revolt due to poor wait service in restaurants. As has been stressed here time and time again, restaurants engage in the behaviors you detest because their patrons, on the whole, like it
. No one was saying that everyone doesn't deserve equal restaurant service. What was being said is that people deserve the service that they want. Many restaurants in the U.S. have determined that such service includes some or all of the behaviors you find so objectionable. You seem to think that everyone wants the service you prefer, but that they simply aren't complaining about it. I would argue that you are in the minority here. People either like the service or just don't feel that the behaviours rise to the level where a complaint is necessary.
- Having a holier than thou and condescending attitude toward everyone in this thread who takes a position different from yours. Perhaps this is the way you treat people on a daily basis. Perhaps you only do it on internet message boards. Whatever the case, it is rude behavior. I was raised to treat everyone with dignity and respect, regardless of their social standing. Given your behavior toward people in this thread, I think I should put together a "bill of rights" regarding how to raise a child and submit it to any parents with whose children I am forced to interact.
To conclude a long post, I think your attitude and pronouncements have turned what could have been an interesting thread into a fire storm. It's a pity. Perhaps you'd like to try again sometime.