Waiters serve up their side of the story: The worst customers

This customer didn't smudge or lean on counter tops.

By Mary D. Scourtes

I’ve trampled over restaurateurs’ egos by pointing out their missteps for a long time.  I turned the table to allow restaurateurs and servers also to vent. A few griped about not wanting bad publicity for their eateries, so I  let their tongues wag and their spleens vent without sharing with you any identities.

One restaurateur grits her teeth when she picks up the check for a customer who complains about over- or under-cooked meat, and then sees that same patron stiff the server. Pl-l-l-ease, the server didn’t char the Chateaubriand and his poor hourly wage doesn’t pay the rent.

Another gripe comes when a customer nods and smiles when asked how the curry or chops were, only to cry later and complain when it’s time to ante up for the dinner.

One deli employee keeps her eye-level counters pristine and has to grit her teeth when customers loiter, lean and smudge them up with their germs.

Where are manners? One server seems to go most of the night waiting for a simple “thank you’’ or  other pleasantry. The oafish patrons who never stop talking long enough to hear what a waiter is asking bothers him too. Another says he could watch grass grow while waiting for the woman on the telephone to recite an order to go.

One guy loves the challenge of angry customers, but would rather not be yelled at from across the room. Restaurant personnel say they also believe in the golden rule.

That said, and while we should be more forgiving of those diligent servers who work hard to give us good service, there’s another side to that equation:

It’s an order, not an auction: Guests are out to enjoy their night out and need not be expected to digest evening specials enumerated so incomprehensibly fast that a server winds up having to start all over.

No coaching, please
: Let me be the judge. Unless it’s the French Laundry, don’t tell me how great everything is; we can taste, too.

Thirst first: It’s a simple rule of hospitality to allow guests to decompress and receive drinks ahead of  appetizers.

Pressure cooker tactics: Higher priced wines, waters or whatever shouldn’t be pushed just to get a higher check average, and corresponding, higher tip.

Peer pressure: Italian entrees are mi
ghty big: Please don’t look down on guests who order two appetizers, one dessert, drinks, and split an entrée.

Have I left out important dos and don’ts? Write me about your gripes.


Succulent samples: Parkshore Grill, The Melting Pot, MadFish, 400 Beach Seafood & Tap House and Bella Brava New World Trattoria are among the restaurants cooking for A Taste of Pinellas.  The annual food and music festival   which features an assortment of restaurants, live music and a Kids’ Zone,  — is in a stellar Bayside venue at Vinoy Park this weekend. The times are:
Friday, 5 pm – 10 pm
Saturday, noon – 10 pm
Sunday, noon – 7 pm
All proceeds go to the annual All Children’s Hospital Telethon. More information


Chef out after launch: TBO reports that chef Chris Ponte has left Front Burner Brands, which brought us The Melting Pot, GrillSmith, and Burger 21, which opened last year in Westchase.  Another Burger 21 will open on Tampa’s Dale Mabry Highway, 1 mile north from competitor Burger Monger. Ponte also  runs Cafe Ponte in Clearwater, which was named one of the 10 Best Tampa Bay restaurants.


I don’t drink milk shakes anymore… calories and all. I splurged and had one yesterday and it brought back none of the memories I had as a child. Are pizza and hot dogs better in memory than adulthood? An item about how to tweak  recipes to appeal to a more sophisticated palate caught my eye.

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No comments yet to Waiters serve up their side of the story: The worst customers

  • rishi ramkissoon

    Peer Pressure:
    I often do this quite a bit as I can sample a bit more, not be as full and even return for more. I love the Tapas style of eating. I do this quite a bit at Osteria natalina (as I did in Italy) and I am actually encouraged to do this instead of wasting food. It is good feedback. if patrons do this, take advantage of their need to get a taste across the menu and offer up a nice variety. Small and tasty always leaves the patron wanting to come back. Sometimes a large filling meal over-satiates and it may be a month before you returb

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