So, I’m going to add another section to the blog.
I want to add some restaurant reviews to share what I think about some of the local places.
I’m not a trained restaurant critic but I worked at a restaurant for over three years. I was a Trainer, Head Wait and I started training to become a manager. While waiting to hear if I got into ultrasound school, I started the prep for the Manager in Training course. I was also a “Key”, where you are a pseudo- manager to help out during busy shifts. So, I feel that I have a good grasp on certain concepts that make up a good restaurant.
I have a little category list that I tend to take note of at each restaurant we go to. It’s not even that I necessarily want to take note of these, it was just ingrained in my brain to pay attention to certain details for my job and it has stuck with me since leaving the restaurant industry.
Starting with the initial walk in of the restaurant, I first pay attention to the Host stand. Do they have proper greet time and do so with a smile? It’s the first appearance that customers get. I don’t think many hosts/ess think about it that way and don’t take it as serious as they should.
Walking up to the table we are being sat at, I pay attention to table and seating appearance. Is the table clean? Is the silverware already there?
And, you’re going to think I’m crazy for this one, but, is the salt on the right of the pepper. In the restaurant business, there’s a saying “white on the right“. They say this so that the salt should always be to the right of the pepper. This is to stay in compliance with the ADA regulations.
As for the silverware, if it’s rolled, are the fork tips up. When you unroll the silverware, it should unroll so that the utensils end up in the correct direction…. See, it’s the smallest details that were ingrained in my brain. I think it helped me to remember them for my job because of my OCD. Once my brain new what was “right”, I couldn’t be okay with it any other way. Maybe that’s why my manager wanted me to go into management. 😉
Once seated and table is checked out, the next thing on my mental list is initial server greeting. At our restaurant, we were trained that we have to greet a table within the first two minutes of them sitting down, the sooner the better. My big question is, does the server tell you their name?
We’ve ordered and are waiting on food. Timing is the huge question at any dining facility. Appetizers are to come out before salads. Salads are to be before entrees and dessert is to follow entrees. Seems simple, right?! Somehow these aren’t always followed in restaurants. It’s frustrating to sit down, order multiple courses and get them all at once. You can’t enjoy each of the courses when that happens. Not only is the timing of huge importance, the way the server handles each course is very important.
As a server, they should be clearing the previous course prior to the next course. It’s called pre-bussing. Our restaurant was strict on this. They didn’t want appetizers still on the tables with salads coming out. Salads should be gone before entrees and you sure as heck better have the bread off the table by the time you bring out dessert. It keeps tables clear and easier to clean at the end.
As a server, the quicker you can turn a table, the more money you can earn. For customers, the less crap you have on the table, the easier it is to enjoy your meal. So, I constantly pay attention to if a server clears stuff out or not.
Obviously, the knowledge of the server is high on the list. At the restaurant I worked at, we had an extensive menu test. One of the reasons behind that was, we had a scratch kitchen. Meals were made in house not prepped somewhere else and reheated there. We could customize orders so we had to know what was in things and what could be taken out. Food Allergies were also becoming something that we were more aware of. So, knowing the menu items and what can be modified is becoming more and more important.
While I was Dairy and Soy free for my daughter for a bit, I needed a knowledgeable server or manager to help me navigate the menu any time we went out. This wasn’t always an easy feat. But, any time we did find one who was helpful, I made sure to thank them like crazy and compensate them for it when it came to tipping. To find out more about why I had to go Dairy and Soy free for my daughter, read my post about MSPI.
Food quality is obviously something I care about at each restaurant. If a meal tastes like crap, we won’t be frequenting there again. Drink service was key at my old job too. If a glass was half empty, it needed to be refilled if it was a soft drink, tea or water. If it’s half empty, it might as well be empty according to my old manager. A customer will never be in need of a drink if you follow that…. this has stuck with me… especially with my dad. He slurps down drinks like crazy and tends to make that obnoxious noise because he knows it drives me nuts. If a server kept up on that rule with my dad, we’d never have a problem. Hint, hint servers!!!
If a server is Check Ready. This was such a huge deal where I served. As a server, being check ready meant that I could turn the table quicker and in turn, make more money. Besides, you never know the needs of your customers. I had tables who had family emergencies and needed to leave quick. I had tables with kids who became too rowdy and wanted to leave immediately. It helps to be able to drop the check quickly for both customer and server.
Bathroom Cleanliness. So, I’m a little paranoid about this one. I have issues using a public bathroom as it is. So, if I dare step in a restaurant bathroom, it better be clean and have plenty of toilet paper and paper towels. Hello, OCD kicking in.
So, these are my categories and things I notice when eating at a restaurant. I’ll be leaving my thoughts about each restaurant with these key points in mind. Feel free to check them out and let me know what things you liked and disliked at each restaurant.