Restaurant Pet Peeves
Authentic Connections is constantly working to meet new people throughout the NC Triangle in order to increase our pool of wonderful singles. Recently, I (Kate) met a fellow named George who has been a restaurant manager for over 25 years here in our lovely state. George and I talked about restaurants that might be good for Mother’s Day and his advice was to treat my mother to a home-cooked meal!! Because of the multiple college graduations going on simultaneously, there are few seats available at our local eateries. George also complained about Mother’s Day bringing out all the “amateurs” to his restaurant. I was VERY curious about this and asked him to tell me about signs of being an unsophisticated diner: He came up with the following top ten list that you might find interesting. Ever the psychologist and Wanna-Be-Eternal-Optimist, I have followed each item in italics with a George-Approved solution so you don’t fall into the “inexperienced diner” category anymore.
Top 10 Restaurant Pet Peeves Your Server Won’t Tell You
George: #1 Faking Food Allergies: Please do not claim to be “deathly allergic” to certain ingredients if you simply prefer to avoid certain foods. Implying that the server and kitchen staff is responsible for your survival, when in fact, you simply “Don’t like onions”, is completely unacceptable!
Kate: Our dear friend, Ruth, has extreme food sensitivities and she simply brings her own food to events. If you are going to meet a group at a restaurant, buy what you can eat off the menu or ask for reasonable accommodations. If you eat ahead of time and don’t eat the restaurant food, you should still tip your server as you would have if you had eaten a meal.
George: #2 Ready, Set, Stop!!: Please don’t frantically flag down your server and say you are “ready to order” if you aren’t. It is OK to ask questions about the menu, but you need to place your order without staring into the menu for another 5 minutes as the server stands idly by. This wastes the server’s time and affects other diners. Super pet peeve: Don’t try to order while on your phone. Most servers are trained to walk away if you are on your phone.
Kate: If you are an inexperienced diner like me, you might want to review the menu on-line before you get to a restaurant, especially if you are on a first date. If you do your homework, you’ll reduce at least one form of stress on that first date.
George: #3 Whine about Wine: If you are not a wine drinker, DO NOT order wine! Busy restaurants suffer severely due to servers scrambling to provide inexperienced wine drinkers with multiple samples of wine that will eventually be rejected by guests at the cost of the restaurant.
Kate: My solution: get a glass of wine, just don’t expect it to change your life. It is a learning experience! If you make a bad choice out of ignorance, don’t make that someone else’s problem. Just learn and move on. To really improve your skills, take a wine tasting class where the whole purpose is to give you a chance to sip lots of varieties of wines so you know what you like. Authentic Connections is hoping to offer such a class in the next few months. Stay posted!
George: #4 Food Poisoning: Unless you have specifically been diagnosed by a licensed physician with this condition, and you have undeniable evidence that a particular dining establishment is to blame, do not call with your complaints or spread rumors that restaurant XYZ caused your GI distress! Stomach bugs are rampant all year round and affect everyone! Wash your hands!
Kate: I do remember that correlation does not equal causation. Germs are truly everywhere. Obviously, cooked foods are less likely to cause you a problem than uncooked.
George: #5 Read Your Menu: Pay attention to menu descriptions and ingredients. It costs restaurants thousands of dollars per year when patrons send back $30 entrées in exchange for another because they simply want “something else” or they didn’t pay attention to the ingredients listed on the menu.
Kate: For most of us over 40, bring your readers. Many menus have small print and restaurants often have low lighting. Know what you are getting!
George: #6 Restrooms: Seriously? What the hell is going on in there?
Men: Are you freakin’ blind? Women: I’m simply speechless.
Kate: George would not elaborate (thank goodness!), but we’ve all seen horrors with our own eyes. If you clog the toilet, do not allow your personal embarrassment to prevent you from doing the right thing. Let the management know so they can do something about it. Better yet, fix the problem yourself if you can.
George: #7 We’ve got a stake in your steak: Let’s make sure we are all singing out of the same hymnbook. This is the International code of red meat preparation:
Rare: Cool red center
Medium Rare: Warm red center
Medium: Hot Pink center
Medium Well: Thin pink center
Well Done: No Color. Fully Grey!
If you ask for something like “rare to medium rare”, you will get rare.
Kate: Learn how you like your meat cooked so you can ask for that with confidence. Practice at home.
George: #8 The “Bad Day” Syndrome: If you’ve had a bad day, or, if your life just sucks in general, please leave that at the front door. We are not licensed psychologists, nor can we administer lethal doses of poison at your request.
Kate: If you are truly out of sorts, it might be a good day to get take-out, have a pizza delivered, or eat ice cream right out of the carton! If a nice meal might improve your outlook, go out and allow yourself to be cheered by nice people who really want you to have a great experience.
George: #9 Take Out Orders: Calling in for a 10 item pick up order at 12:15 p.m. during Mother’s Day Brunch? If you think your order will magically leapfrog the two-hour wait at the front door, you clearly need some schooling.
Kate: ‘Nuff said.
George: #10 Mass Media: The posting of unreasonably exaggerated complaints and unsubstantiated poor reviews on Yelp, Yahoo, City Search, etc. is truly the most unacceptable empowerment of the dining community. 70% of Americans are classified as “inexperienced diners,” yet many voice uninformed opinions which can really hurt businesses.
Kate: Perhaps there are better ways to channel our BFOs (Big Fat Opinions) than blasting an eating establishment on the internet. If we are all following the Golden Rule (as 90% of people believe they are), we should privately let the management know of any problems encountered at their restaurant. This gives them a chance to make corrections and allows them to stay in business – which benefits us all.
George: Thanks for your time. I hope y’all learned a little something’.
Kate: Thanks for the great advice, George!
I hope this information was helpful to our readers whether you are single or “attached.” Almost all first dates happen in restaurants, so you might as well get schooled in the proper way to handle yourself while you are there so you make a good impression!
-Dr. Kate Freiman-Fox