A little cozy? A little casual? In my round-up of the ten service issues I wish every restaurant would get right a couple of Seattle-specific problems come up, like overly chummy servers. The waiter who touches you and calls you “Buddy.” That kind of thing. Very Seattle.
Other service problems have emerged everywhere, as dining habits and restaurant norms shift. With diners taking increased charge of their eating habits comes a commensurate need for servers to get orders exactly right, down to every last gluten-free-peanut-allergy-with-a-side-of-vegan-cheese detail.
Then there’s the economy, which has inspired many restaurants to look for ways to pass their bottom-line anxieties onto the diner. This explains everything from the rise of communal tables to the increasing request to please keep your messy fork for the next course to that the cutesy invitation to buy the kitchen a beer.
The most egregious of these cheapening measures? Informing diners when they’re seated that they’ll have the table for two hours. It’s happened to me in high-end restaurants four times in the last year. I get the need to turn tables, I just know that it’s not a new problem. For decades restaurants have been handling this just fine without stopwatches. Nobody wants to feel rushed in the business of savoring their dinner—then pay top dollar for doing so.
How do you see service evolving: For better or for worse?