Read Your Guests

The other night we got slammed and the kitchen was running behind. I had this couple who had a some appetizers and salad and were waiting for their main course to arrive.

My other table got their food and I was running food all around in that area to different tables. I saw them start to have that look on their face like when is mine arriving? I head back to the kitchen and I see it on the pass waiting for the steak to be put on the plate. Asking how long it will be I went back to the table and said to them it will be a couple of minutes.

Now here is the deal if you say it is going to be arriving in a couple of minutes it better arrive in a couple of minutes. Any longer and the guests really begins to wonder what the heck happened.

I go back to the kitchen and it is still not ready. I give a heads up to the kitchen manager and he checks the time and sees it is running way late. Knowing it may take a couple of minutes more he heads to the table to speak with the guest.

The guest is fine and the meal arrives shortly thereafter. It was a great thing the manager did by going over there to speak with the guest. He said thanks for letting him know and we put out a potential fire by letting the guest know that we were sorry for the delay and it will be out shortly.

Here is the deal and that is when you are waiting a longer than usual time for something and you feel the guest starting to lose it by changes in their facial expression or a total lack of silence at the table let your supervisor know. Chances are they are peeved off.

Don’t try to remedy the situation by yourself. If you have done all you could and you see the guests’ face going sour tell someone. By someone who is higher up going to the table not only will things get smoothed out but they will know that you the waiter are doing your job by showing you care enough to have someone come over and explain the problem.

A waiter who puts out fires before they go full out is on top of his section and communicating all the time. This is providing excellent service!



  1. It`s a good a idea to make the mgr talk to the table but it could be a little risky too when it comes to our tip..Sometimes i think if people feel too important they all start acting like drama queens and make such a big deal cause they have to wait 15 minutes for their meal..People are always impatient and i feel like if we send the mgr to them its going it might make it worst, but all depends on the table..Now if the food its taking like half an hour or something its almost obvious we are not going to get a tip so i will definitely do it, other wise i try to deal with it myself and not make them think they are the big deal..thats my point of viewI love your blog!!!! you should have a facebook group ill be your first fan!!!

  2. Anonymous…I did it as a last resort. I will only do it if I see that it has gone beyond anything I can do. Glad you like the blog. Not sure about Facebook though.

  3. Your theory only works if you have a manager that is astute enough to not create a problem where there isn't one already. Managers need to read the table too. Time passes more swiftly at different phases of the meal for servers than it does for guests, and vice versa. Two people embroiled in conversation may not even notice what you would consider a "long wait". Grumpy old folks, sitting with arms folded and looking around, Yikes! Knowing what not to say and when not to say it is "Manager 101"; and apologizing for food taking a long time may only draw attention to a situation that the guest may not consider a problem (yet). If it is pointed out to them, then it's like "Hey, yeah you know, it IS taking forever now that you mention it…"

  4. Native Napkin…I alerted the Kitchen Manager to the long time it was taking. I wouldn't have if I thought it wasn't going to be a problem. That is the waiter's job really. When there are 10-20 tickets on the line and running a bit behind the waiter can figure out who doesn't mind and who does.

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