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Okay, Who Gets the Meatloaf?

Okay, Who Gets the Meatloaf?

I've recently taken heat from a few of you who believe I don't appreciate all the work that goes into what you do every day. Granted, there is a level of frustration in many of my editorials, but that comes from the folks in your business who seem to have given up or simply don't care anymore. Let me assure you that I greatly admire what you do when you do it well. And most of you do it very well. If you didn't, I wouldn't spend so much of my free time hanging out in your restaurants.

Your profession, more than just about any other, provides refuge from a world that's seems to be spinning out of control. And, one other thing: I'm not bitter, as one reader suggested. The smart-ass tone I take in my editorials is for the fun of it all. I hope to put a smile on your face every once in a while. If I'm poking my finger, it's at D-level restaurant operators who just aren't in your league. And I have no problem making fun of them.

With that said, isn't it time for me to bitch again? You know what annoys a lot of your customers: when servers auction off plates. In most cases, when plates are delivered to a table of multiple diners, high-end restaurants know what each customer at the table ordered. They quietly place the correct meal in front of each customer with a minimal amount of distraction.

But servers at too many casual restaurants have no idea who gets what at the table. I know this for a fact because server and runners clearly announce their cluelessness when they arrive at a table. Who gets the meatloaf? How about the fried chicken? It's an unnecessary interruption when it happens. All conversation at the table stops so customers can explain to servers what they should have known if servers employed a simple numbering system.

They aren't to blame, of course. It's management's fault for not insisting that servers take note of orders. I know it's a question of training and turnover. Servers come and go and each new one has to be trained to do multiple chores. However, if someone isn't smart enough to figure out the order numbering system the very first day they are on the job, then they shouldn't be entrusted with your most valuable commodity — your customers.

Certainly, plenty of your customers don't care or take much notice of your servers asking who gets what, but many of them do. Here's an opportunity for you to establish a point of differentiation between your restaurant and your competitors'. I'd be willing to bet that if your customers don't notice the higher level of service you offer on a conscious level, they will on a subconsious level. And when they go to your competitors who are still doing things the same old way, they'll appreciate you place even more.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this matter. Email me. I can't promise, but I'll try not to be bitter if you don't agree with me.

Michael Sanson

E-mail me at [email protected]

Follow me on Twitter @MikeSansonRH