When Restaurant Service Sucks

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Let’s face it we’ve all suffered from terrible restaurant service whether at a top restaurant or local take away. Not all restaurant service sucks, to me though there are 3 different types of bad service. I can normally spot which type pretty quickly. I suffered the lazy server type tonight which led me to refuse to pay and walk out. Only the second time in my life!

Poor restaurant service
When restaurant service sucks it can ruin not just a good meal but the whole evening. The knock on effects are also felt right through to the kitchen. People rarely go back if the service is poor even if the food is good.

The lazy server

By far the most annoying for me. Considering that you are keeping them employed it beggars belief when they can’t be bothered. Tonight the food was below par and my wife asked for some chili to try and revive the bland almost tap  water tasting noodle soup. No problem let me first go and sit down and chat to my 2 friends (the other 2 waiters). The remaining meals came out and still no chili. Tasting my son’s rice to find it old and off was the last straw. I explained and then walked.

The under trained server

I feel for the under trained restaurant server even if they can still ruin that special meal. As a restaurant owner or manager it is their responsibility to train staff to the level required. Too often I see kids thrown into the deep end barely surviving. Of course when they are explaining my daily specials god alone knows what they are offering? Everyone has to start somewhere but there is a time and a place. The ladder is a simple affair. Start by running the food from kitchen to waiter, then start with a quiet section on a quiet night and then finally bigger sections on bigger nights. That way the server is exposed to all meals and can see them before having to sell to the public. Resulting in a professional server who is confident to deliver you that perfect special meal.

Not Enough Staff

This final is one that I have experienced from both a kitchen and a customer point of view.  We have all been there and it does annoy me no end. Owners/managers have to shoulder blame on this one. While many cry foul due to lack of trained staff the reality is that most keep the ratio so tight that when extra staff are needed it is too little too late. It takes at least 4 weeks to replace a good staff member so waiting till they have left isn’t good enough. I have watched this play out numerous times as an executive chef and still the lessons aren’t learnt for the next season. The knock on effect is customers get rubbish service and don’t return or worse bad mouth the restaurant and the server stays long enough to get another job and leaves. The viscous circle  continues till either the restaurant closes or a decent manager drives the restaurant back in the right direction.

Restaurant Service Sucks

Thankfully this is a minority that shouldn’t stop you venturing out to try new and exciting places to eat. It certainly won’t stop us as we eat out at least 2 times a day 7 days a week. When we find somewhere nice we tend to return and make sure that they know we appreciate the great job that they are doing. You see it is a two way street and a server will like nothing better than to feel appreciated by the customer.

Have you experienced a restaurant where service sucks?

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Chef is James Long, a professional chef, world traveler and endurance athlete. He has spent almost a decade traveling and working internationaly.

3 thoughts on “When Restaurant Service Sucks”

  1. Oh dear the family don’t look happy! Hope you have better luck with tomorrow’s eatery. Maybe you should write your own recommendations for travellers plus places to avoid.
    We find it’s part of the travel experience as I’m sure you do too, win some, lose some!
    The food and service at the Alford Arms at Frithsden near where we live is WONDERFUL!


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