Originally Posted by kennethpollock
No one seems to dispute my claim that about 30-40 years ago virtually all US restaurants gave the type of proper service which I like. Now only a few of the very best do.
What are your thoughts about the reasons for the change.
Has the change been an improvement?
If not, why is that (other than the fact that I am old enough to remember the way things once were) I am one of the very few complaining?
Is there any rule or reason why lesser restaurants have to serve customers any differently from the best ones?
Jesus Fucking Christ, KP.
From your chickenshit gripes, I imagine you as Grandpa Simpson shaking his fist at the teenagers playing in his lawn.
Look, Americans are much richer than we were 3 decades ago. More Americans than ever before can afford to eat out. I'll bet in that Golden Age you're imagining, eating out was done only on special occasion or something families did when they were traveling. In fact, a staggering and growing fraction of our food dollar is spent eating away from home, with home-cooked meals becoming increasing rare. For many Americans, the norm is eating out (or ordering in).
So griping about today's casual dining because people are too busy/tired to cook at home versus fining dining 30 years ago to celebrate your kid's college graduation is an apples-to-oranges comparions.
(Which reminds me of my mom griping how nasty air travel is compared to how nice and gracious it supposedly was in the 1960s. Yes, in the 1960s only the rich flew. Everyone else took greyhound. The minute Joe Blow and his kids could afford to fly, the experience changed for everyone.)
Is the change in how Americans eat out an improvement? Of course it is. Our greater willingness to eat out and to afford it more means our choices have expanded. You can get sushi anywhere, in places that shock me. (Incluidng the boonies of South Texas, as I recently got to experience. As a fraction of the ordinary American's income, eating out is probably cheaper than ever before. How can that be bad?
You, KP, would probably disagree. But then you strike me as fussy as hell. Someone who looks for reason to get all pissy when some servers inadvertently does something to offend you. Because what's running in your head is that tape of what eating out was like in your imaginary Golden Age of Fine Dining in America.
(You might consult some the books about the post-1945 history of fine dining in the US. It really wasn't as wonderful as you imagine.)
I could say more about this but I don't have the time.
As for why different restaurants treat their customers differently, it's finally all about economics. It's a brutal business. Margins are non-existent. (It's also the only industry where diners expect to be comped for the slightest thing. Like having to wait -- to be seated, to be served -- for longer than they like. Can you imagine a supermarket manager knocking 10% off the bill because you're pissed that the checkout lines were jammed?)
Low-dollar places (coffee shops and casual places, especially) make their money turning tables. During a 11am-2pm lunch rush, a single table might turn 5 times. No one has time to wait, neither the owner, the server, nor the diner. That's why the check comes the moment the food arrives and you pay the cashier not the server. And why they loathe campers who linger, linger . . . and linger after finishing their food. It's eat and get out so we can seat the next person.
Fine dining, where a table might turn 2x/night is another matter. Gross margins are higher. Customers are paying as much for the experience as for food. The server knows that if you stiff him on the tip, he's screwed. (He's probably tipping out the busser, the bartender and other workers you the diner may never see.) So, yes, he's going to be more solicitous that the server in the coffee shop who calls you "hon" when she takes your order.
Ok, I have to hop.