This could be so win-win if you only knew!
February 24, 2012 2:50 PM Subscribe
tl;dr: I’m an easy restaurant patron who tips well. How can I benefit from that fact at the beginning of my meal?
posted by ericc to Food & Drink (37 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
(Preface, I totally get that this is a first-world problem. It’s not really a problem as much as a tiny annoyance, but the expertise of others here might alleviate that tiny annoyance.)
I enjoy eating out, and do it a fair amount, both alone and with others. I enjoy good service, and I’m willing to pay for it. And even when I get bad service, I’m still happy to pay for it. (I mean, other people are making my dinner and bringing it to me? How awesome is that!) The smallest I’ll tip is 20 percent, but on a $15 or $20 bill (if I’m eating alone in a not-too-fancy place), I’m happy to leave up to 50 percent. My thought is that it’s just a few bucks on a bill that small, so the additional cost should be trivial. If it’s not, I shouldn’t be eating out. It’s trivial to me, so I’m happy to do it, especially if it’s not trivial to the server.
The problem (as much as this could actually be considered a “problem”) is that while I know that there will be a good tip, the server doesn’t, and the restaurant doesn’t. This matters because there are a few extras that I really appreciate when I get them, and the server/restaurant might want to indulge me if they knew I was a good customer.
For example, I often have reading material that I bring with me. If there’s any way to not sit next to the group of ten loud teenagers, that would great. A booth in the corner next to the light, wonderful. I don’t expect to be seated in a closed section, but something out of the way would be appreciated. As another example, I’m also vegan, so if I can’t tell from the menu what’s vegan, or what can be made vegan, I’ll ask the server. If he or she knows, or is willing to check, wonderful! If it’s a hassle because you haven’t asked the kitchen before, or it’s going to take an extra trip, that’s okay—I’m a good customer.
The problem is that that’s not clear until the entire transaction is done and the bill and tip are paid. It is not at all uncommon that only after the bill and tip have been picked up by the server, and I’m finishing up my reading, when water glasses are immediately and continuously refilled, an extra drink or sweets come out, or just demeanor changes. So how can I benefit from that at the start of the meal?
There are a few places that I frequent enough when they know that I’m a good customer, so that helps. But I also enjoy going to a wide variety of places, so becoming a “regular” at more than a few places is impractical.
So my real question: For those in the service industry, are there clues or cues that you see that indicate a good customer? This is for servers, but also to hosts, as they’re the ones who pick where I’ll sit. When I ask, “Is there quiet booth in back?”, is that annoying? Is there a better way to ask?
Any advice would be welcome.