Aug 01 2011


Published by at 7:13 am under Food

Greetings, Cool Peeps:

Do you eat out a lot? For both personal and professional reasons, my crazy life gives me lots of reasons to dine in straunts. For the most part, I love them. But naturally, yours truly has just a few picky pet peeves. Yeah, I know, big surprise.

In this week’s blog, I’m going to present peeves from both sides: the customer side and the straunt side.

First, let me share what tweaks me. Recently, I was out for lunch with my BFF Claudia. I ordered a club sandwich that was presented to me in four quarters, as is traditionally the case. After eating the first two quarters, I stopped to take a breather and listen to what my friend was saying.

Within seconds, a server came rushing to the table and with his hand on my plate said, “Finished here?” No, I was not finished. I was pausing to digest my food in a healthy manner and listen to my friend. I am not a human vacuum cleaner. I neither inhale nor suck up the contents of my plate. I was really angry. Maybe if this had been the first time that such a thing had happened, I would have been more understanding. Who hasn’t been out to eat when a server hasn’t prematurely asked, “Still working on this?” as he hovers in a vulture-like stance near the table?

Another peeve of mine is when dishes are cleared while one person is still eating. However, I can’t blame this on most straunts. It’s considered rude to clear someone’s plate if another person is still eating. However, a lot of peeps don’t know this and if the server leaves doesn’t collect their plates immediately, customers will often get angry that their plates aren’t being cleared in a timely manner. So that’s a tough one for both sides.

Before I present the other side, here’s another peeve. Is it just me, or do you also go freakin’ bonkers when you pay the check and the server says, “Do you need change?” Why not just say, “Is this all for me? Do I get to keep all the money? Do I? Do I? Huh? Huh?” The classy thing to say is “I’ll be right back with your change.” If the customer intends for you to keep it, he or she will let you know.

The manager of one of my favorite straunts, Jen, told me that while her place is happy to accommodate special orders, it makes her staff crazy when people aren’t satisfied with what is served. “Why not stay home and cook it yourself?” she says. “And at home, no one will mind that you’re screaming into your cell phone.”

Another biggie on her list is those customers who extend their hands and snap their fingers rapidly to get someone’s attention. We’re all human beings and that’s just plain freakin’ rude. Really, peeps, who responds well to being snapped at? Especially by a dude who looks like this?

My manager friend particularly delights in peeps who call and ask her how long the wait will be on Saturday night at seven-thirty. As she tells it, “Don’t we all wish we could predict business ahead of time?”

One of my fave servers gets crazed when she asks a customer what she’ll have to drink and is given the response: “Nothing for me. I’ll just have water.”

Well, isn’t water something to drink? Is it a solid? What peeps are really saying is, “No, I’m not going to buy a drink. I’ll just have water.”

Back to what irks me. As my regular readers know, I’m very calorie conscious and watch what I eat. I’ve had to train myself well to keep my girlish figure. Filling up with a big salad for dinner works well for me. It’s not gone in minutes, and I feel satisfied but not stuffed when I’m done. I get twisted big time when I order a meal salad only to have the server say, “Oh, our salads are big. Do you want the full-size one?” Why not just freakin’ say, “Are you really gonna eat all that?” Listen, if I order the salad, bring it to me. Unless I ask, or I’m at a family-style restaurant where salads serve eight people, just take my order.

Tell me your restaurant peeves. Whether you work in a straunt or eat in one, what gets your goat?

See you next week.

Yours in pickiness,


25 responses so far

25 Responses to “RESTAURANT PEEVES”

  1. Jen Knoxon 01 Aug 2011 at 8:42 am

    Nothing more annoying than a pushy server! What irritates me even more though are those who don’t check on me at all. That happened the other day. I was in a steakhouse, and it’s been HOT so I downed my water as soon as I got there. I asked for more when he took our order; then, I asked again when our food arrived! Ugh. (Looks like a yummy salad, Molly!)

  2. Mollyon 01 Aug 2011 at 3:20 pm

    Hey Jen:

    Great to see you, g/f! Doesn’t that salad look divine? Serve me my big salad and leave me alone! 😀

    You mentioned servers who don’t check on you at all which brings to mind a very funny story that happened many years ago. Around 9 p.m. one night, a friend called and asked me to grab a bite with her. I had already eaten but could tell she wanted company, so I said I’d come along. We went to the local diner. She ordered and then we chatted away. Her meal was taking a long time to come, which is very unusual for a diner, but being patient, she didn’t complain.

    After a very long while, the server did come to our table and put down the check in front of her. She just looked up at him, smiled, and said, “Excuse me, I don’t know if you realize this or not — but I never got my dinner.”

    Unfreakin’ real.

    Thanks for stopping by, Jen.


  3. Lisaon 01 Aug 2011 at 12:56 pm

    Hey Molly,

    Yeah, have to agree with you there on the point where a waiter prematurely comes to clear away the plates while other people are still eating at the table. It really is highly rude and it makes the person still eating feel like they are holding things up or a slow eater. They may have been concentrating more on their friends convo rather than the food. I mean that is why people meet up, not just to share a dish but to chat and converse and enjoy each others company.

    I guess on the few occasions when I have been out to a restaurant, I find it unfortunate when the food arrives but not for all guests. The one without feels awkward because they don’t want their friend’s food to get cold by waiting for theirs to arrive and the other feels awkward because they feel rude starting before the other. Not a pleasant situation. The conversation then seems to shift towards the food and not about catching up on old times.

    Mind you on the flip side. The saying ‘The customer is always right’ is BS. There are some horrible people out there and if they are rude to staff or the establishment, they should be booted out on their ass.

    Thanks for another excellent blog. Being in the drawing game, I have to say I am REALLY impressed by your illustrations. Extraordinary to say the least. Eye candy for me 😀

    See you around Molly. *waving*

  4. Mollyon 01 Aug 2011 at 3:28 pm

    Hey Lisa:

    Great to see you this week. Your comment brings up an excellent point. It really is not the sign of a great straunt when there is a time lapse between serving members of the same party. And you’re so right, g/f — bad service does change the convo. I can’t count the number of times that instead of catching up with friends about our respective lives, the convo turned to the bad service we were getting and bad service we had received other places. The joy of getting together with friends was a now a freakin’ bitch session. Not cool.

    Many times, I’ve told a server not to take my plate b/c the person(s) with me were still eating. I’ve also been looked at like I have two heads. One young woman even said to me, “Why do you want a dirty plate sitting in front of you?” I didn’t want to embarrass her, so I excused myself to the restroom, pulled her aside, and explained. I figured we are all young and deserve a break. But she still didn’t get it. So I just shook my head and went back to my dirty plate and my friends.

    Swansea always rocks when you’re in town.


  5. James Morrisonon 01 Aug 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Hello again Molly,

    Another great topic as usual!
    I’ll start with the customer side 😛 Now, I don’t think I have ever had a server ask me if I am done yet, because I am a fairly (some would say very) fast eater. That said, I don’t hoover it down, but when I enjoy something I’m eating, it doesn’t last long on my plate, so I tend to be the first person finished.

    I do get very annoyed when the server grabs my empty plate before everyone else at the table has finished eating, its just plain rude. Also, this is not really the server’s fault, more the kitchen, but not bringing all the food for each person at the table at or near the same time is very annoying, I completely agree.

    As for the server side, I have never worked as a server, but I have dated a few servers in my time. Seeing them work, and seeing how a lot of people deal with servers, I don’t understand how servers don’t smack customers around 😛

    I don’t think there is anything worse than a customer clicking their fingers to get a server’s attention. Grabbing and actually touching a server as they walk past comes a close second. Servers are human beings, and just cos it is their job to serve you, does not mean you have the right to treat them like shit.

    It’s like people get a little power trippy with the ability to order someone around, you could only imagine what they would be like if they were actually given a position of power in life. I have definitely found in the past, that people who work in positions of power, tend to be the worst offenders when it comes to being a pushy customer.

    Anyways, better get back to work 😛

    Great blog again Molly!


  6. Mollyon 01 Aug 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Hey James:

    You know I love it when you stop by!

    It absolutely is rude to clear plates around someone who is eating. Peeps just don’t get it — not all servers, not all customers.

    But yeah, those finger snappers are just horrid. Just because you’re ordering dinner does not mean a person is your freakin’ slave. They’re bring you a MEAL — they’re not there to be devalued or talked down to for the duration of your meal. Not on the menu! People who are power trippy like that are always lacking something in their own lives. Really, James, who needs to treat other people like #!@$ to prove one’s self worth. I think my best days are when I can make someone else feel good, you know?

    Always love hearing from you! Say hi to the cool peeps in Oz for me.


  7. Marta Moran-Bishopon 01 Aug 2011 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Molly,

    Sorry I have been away a bit. Just now catching up on all your lovely posts.

    Restaurant peeves’. Oh my I really shouldn’t get started. I am with you and Lisa on picking up the plate before the other person is finished. Or not bringing everyone’s food at the same time. Having worked in restaurants I must admit this is usually poor timing in the kitchen.

    I also hate absolutely hate it when you can’t find your wait person. Having sat there sometimes fifteen or twenty minutes before anyone even shows up to offer you that drink.

    But, I truly think my pet peeve is both the establishment not telling the customer with the child to control their child and when a child is either allowed to wander around stopping at peoples tables or leans over the back of their booth staring at you as you attempt to have convo with your friends or date.

    This has happened to me on occassion and I must say I absolutely can hardly wait to leave. I have even mentioned the issue to the management and received the “we are so sorry,” and nothing is done.

    Love you Molly. 🙂 I have missed you.

  8. Mollyon 01 Aug 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Hey Marta:

    Always makes me happy when you come by. That is a real tough one about the kids running around. I agree: it totally ruins my meal. I was on a date once and had someone’s kids underneath my table playing dog & cat. Yeah, that was romantic. Loved having a four-year-old bark at his meowing three-year-old sister as he banged against my knees. I had to stand up and wait until the parents got a clue and told their kids to come back to the table. Not even an apology. We were steamed.

    I think it’s a real wicky sticket 🙂 for the straunts because telling peeps to control their kids is not something a lot of them take kindly to hearing. It’s a real fine line for the straunts to walk. That said, I think that if peeps who should be controlling their kids aren’t, someone needs to step in. But it’s really tough.

    Once I was with my ex on a vacation in New England. We were at this charming toy shop in New Hampshire. It was a delightful little shop with the coolest toys imported from all over. This couple came in with their kids and let them run wild. The kids broke one toy, and the owner said nothing. They then knocked over a display and she said nothing. On the third strike, the lovely shop owner said, in the nicest tone ever, “Could you please control your child?” With that, the father said to her, “I will not be spoken to this way!” And turned to his wife and said, “Let’s get out of this horrible place!”

    OMG! I was so stunned. My ex had to hold me back. I wanted to give those peeps a piece of my mind. The shop owner was so sweet and so tolerant. So yeah, it’s a real difficult thing — for sure.

    You’re the BEST, Marta.

    Yours in pickiness, g/f.


  9. Janeton 01 Aug 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Hey Molly,

    haha love your peeves.. but word of advice: Don’t eat in Hong Kong or China. My all time favorite restaurant in Hong Kong is this restaurant called Australia’s Milk Company.. they have the most fantastic egg sandwiches and spaghetti… but the service there is absolutely horrible. The second you sit down, you must order your food, if you add an “um” or even hesitated to decide for a second, they would yell at you. The second they serve you the food, (even if it’s too hot) and you don’t eat it right away, they would stare at you and tell you to hurry up. After you’re done, you pay on your way out, but everything is so quick there that sometimes, I don’t even know what just happened and before I knew it, I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. Despite being treated like the lowest person in the world by these servers, they still have a line out the door and often have to wait over an hour to grab a seat. Crazy right?

    Til next time, xoxo

  10. Mollyon 01 Aug 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Hey Janet:

    OMG, g/f. That sounds like a sitcom — Seinfeld style. Are you freakin’ kidding me? I can’t even imagine anything tasting good enough to be treated like that! I’m just reading your comment over and over again trying to make sure I read it right. Sheesh! It’s too funny thinking of someone yelling at you to order right away and yelling at you to eat right away. LOL! And the idea that there’s a line out the door is too much.

    Does this same kind of thing happen in other restaurants in Hong Kong? I’m just making a wild guess here, but this wouldn’t be a place one goes for a leisurely catch up with friends. ha ha. Wow, that’s really interesting. You do have the BEST stories, g/f.

    Thanks for taking time out of your busy day to share with us.

    You rock!


  11. Lupearon 01 Aug 2011 at 3:35 pm

    I am an artist but also supplement my income as a server in a restaurant.

    As a server these are my thoughts.

    I know that it seems improper to clear the table while someone is eating but many owners mandate that the area be kept as manicured as possible during the meal. If it seems that it is uncomfortable for the guest of course we discontinue doing that.

    When people sit in my station I make sure that in any possible way they feel attended to in all areas. If that means working any dish around to what they like, I am lucky enough to work in a place that is accomodating in that way. I am thorough about asking for the size of a salad so that the guest does not feel like I am trying to upsell everything in order to get a bigger tip. My focus is repeat business. I am not trying to second guess anyone’s order, but people do not know the portions or the menu as I do. (Some people actually have a difficult time when the portions are too big.)

    When a guest has too much to drink or has had a horrible day or is in fact rude that is life. The best route is to be efficient and find a way to make it work for all involved. There is not a job out there that gives one the opportunity to love everything and everyone you come in contact with.
    Being rude back is never the answer.
    If for some reason all else fails, there is nothing that says the guest can’t be turned over to another server with a seamless transition. The house wins and the guest has a more pleasant encounter.

    No guest has snapped their fingers at me in many years but on the last occasion I mentioned my name in a kind way three times and told him that I would be happy to help in any way. When he snapped a fourth time I told him I was not Lassie and to stop calling me like I was. It worked…so he whistled next time. (just kidding)

    In a final note respect on both sides goes a long way.

  12. Mollyon 01 Aug 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Hey there:

    Nice to meet you. You’re absolutely right: respect goes both ways.

    I hear what you’re saying — it’s a difficult thing with plate clearing because everyone has a different opinion/method and it’s tough for a server to know what to do, especially when a boss mandates doing something one way and a customer has feelings another way. The best way to handle this is to do what you mentioned and figure out what works best for the customer. While I prefer not to have a dirty plate in front of me, I do find that having it cleared puts pressure on the other people at the table to finish more quickly. So, I’m not so cool with having my plate taken.

    I don’t have any problem with someone asking me if I want the half salad or the regular-size salad. That’s way cool with me. I just don’t dig it when I order the regular-size salad and have the server tell me, “Well, it’s really big.” As I said, unless it’s a salad meant to serve eight, telling me that just makes me feel uncomfortable ordering it. And the irony of that is: the salads I’m told are “so big” are always just normal-sized meal salads.

    Ha ha ha. Funny you made a joke about the “snapper” whistling. One of my besties in college used to wait on this dude who came in with his mother. A couple of times he whistled to get the attention of the staff, and that did not go over well. She often came in by herself and her lady friends, and the staff always referred to her as “Whistler’s Mother.” She didn’t whistle, but she was a snapper.

    I bow to everyone who works in straunts. Serving food to the public is not an easy thing to do. You have my respect, for sure.

    Yours in pickiness,


  13. Sheri Wilkinsonon 01 Aug 2011 at 4:12 pm

    Very good topic. Since I was a server at one point in life, I have to start there first. Bad tippers, nothing worse than working your butt off to have no tip or a few pennies, major insult.

    But what I hate is rude servers, one who makes you wait, messes up the order, or rushes you along….

  14. Mollyon 01 Aug 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Hey Sheri:

    Love when you and Tweety Bird stop by! I think there are so many things on both sides of the straunt coin. Bad tippers, indeed. A friend of mine used to work in a bar/restaurant by LaGuardia Airport. She constantly got stiffed because peeps came in from foreign countries who thought the tip was already included.

    I always tip well if the service is good but I don’t think a certain percentage should be guaranteed if the service isn’t right. I just treat others as I would want to be treated.

    It’s a tough world out there, but we all have to live in it.

    Thanks for stopping in, Sheri. You’re the best, g/f.


  15. Stuart Ross McCallumon 01 Aug 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Hi Molly,

    A wonderful topic (as always) to blog about this week, one that we can all relate to. I have a pet peeve with establishments that rush you out, making the special occasion last 10 minutes!

    Imagine this – For our anniversary last year we decided to spoil ourselves and booked a table for 2 at an upmarket restaurant in Melbourne city. We arrived at 8:00pm prepared to spend an average week’s food budget. We placed our orders and by 9:00pm. We had eaten, entree, main meal, and sipping our coffees. In essence, our special occasion lasted an hour. The only thing left was to pay for the ridiculously under-sized and over-priced dining experience.

    Thank you Molly, for the entertainment and giving me an opportunity to vent. 🙂

    Have a great week, Stuart 🙂

  16. Mollyon 01 Aug 2011 at 10:41 pm

    Hey Stuart:

    Great comment! I so feel your pain. Special nights out are supposed to be just that — special. To spend that money and be rushed really sux. That has happened to me, too. We never know when we’re going to get bad service, but after having a similar experience to yours, I always make sure that the straunt is open a good deal of time after I/we get there.

    Hope you’ll have lots of very special dates in the future to make up for that.

    Always makes me happy when you come by!


  17. Talathaon 01 Aug 2011 at 11:27 pm

    OMG, Where do I start? Molly, you’ve got my blood boiling again. Okay, I better stay on track. I hate it when you get bad service and they expect a tip. I got a tip for them. Molly, but that wasn’t the question. I can’t stand it when the waiter/ waitress says, do you want your change, hell yeah, it’s mine. I want all of my change, and how stupid to ask me that question. Honey, you have to work very hard to get my change. “Just bring all of the condenments out from the back there,” and don’t get shady on the portions either.

    That’s just downright mean.

    I do not like being bothered while eating. The minute I place food in my mouth, they want to ask me how the hell is it. I feel like spitting it out to answer them, because they aren’t going to let me eat in peace. So, I just wave when they come near me, and give them a nasty look on my face. That scares them away.

    Take my plate now! and for what? I still have food on it. Where do you intend to take my food, waiter? Once I get it, I’ll never give it back. I was always taught to clean my plate, and I mean that in any way possible. Going out to dinner is so hard to do these days.

    Thanks for posting Molly.I enjoyed it thoroughly.


  18. Mollyon 01 Aug 2011 at 11:53 pm

    Hey there Talatha:

    You’re so awesome, g/f! I’ll have you as a part of my army any day! I love your passion & take-on-the world ‘tude. You rock n’ roll. Thank you for sharing your incredible spirit. You’re the best.


  19. Christa Polkinhornon 02 Aug 2011 at 2:51 pm

    Oh, yes, Molly, most servers are polite and professional but I do so hate it when they snatch your plate away when others at the table are still eating or you yourself have barely finished. I wonder if a lot of waiters don’t get any real schooling in how to serve or perhaps are indirectly encouraged to get rid of their customers as fast as possible and make room for new ones.

  20. Mollyon 02 Aug 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I agree, Christa. No secret that it makes me freakin’ crazy. But some servers are trained to do that and sadly, some peeps want their plates cleared — so it’s mass confusion all around. But confusion or not, clearing my plate too soon or a friend’s plate while I am eating just makes steam come out of my ears.

    Thanks for stopping by. Always a delight.

    Yours in pickiness,

  21. Marta Moran-Bishopon 03 Aug 2011 at 1:19 am

    Hi Molly,

    I do understand just what you mean with the management feeling uncomfortable. Yet if a family never shops or goes back to that restaurant, one family is gone. But how many do they lose by all the ones who will never go back as a result of that incident.

    I know Ken and I won’t go back there.

    Oh by the way there is a trend now to the parents dropping the children off at a big box store and going to do their shopping else where. Yep you got it they don’t even tell the management.

    Ken had this happen in the store he works in. Management had to call the police, the mother was over at the local book store. LOL what is happening to this world.

    Love you Molly

  22. Joy Katzen-Guthrieon 03 Aug 2011 at 6:26 am

    Worst restaurant offense ever in my experience: being seated and served outdoors on the patio, then the server turns on the fan pointing directly at our table and puts it on HIGH. The fan is soaking wet from an earlier rain and spews dirty water all over us, our table, and our food. We call the server over and point out (quite angrily) what he has done and what has happened to us and that we cannot eat our food after what he has done, and his comment: Well, the other customers wanted the fan on, so there’s just nothing I can do about it. Then he walks away. No apology, no offer to replace the food, no interest. We ask for the manager, he arrives and says the very same thing. Last time we dined at that restaurant, and we’ve taken every opportunity to tell locals not to dine there.

    Things go wrong in business and sometimes there are issues that cannot be controlled. In my business, if an error or misunderstanding occurs, even if I feel it’s the customer’s fault, I apologize, offer a full refund or ask the customer what I can do to correct it immediately. Most people, when faced with an apology or genuine desire from the seller or service to make the situation right, will gratefully accept it and will leave with a positive feeling and share it with others. It costs a restaurant an infinitessimal amount to replace a meal for the customer if it is not right, or to provide that meal at no charge or at a discount. It costs a restaurant a fortune to anger a customer and inspire that individual never to return as well as to spread negative reports of the experience.

    This is very basic human information that is on the ABC list for running a business. Anyone who doesn’t operate by this principle ought not to bother to operate a business. This is my biggest business peeve, not only in the restaurant world, but in all business. Fortunately, I’ve had the pleasure of dealing with many restaurants and businesses that go out of their way to make it right, distinctive, and excellent in the first place, or to correct the situation when I feel my standards haven’t been met. These are the businesses I continue to support.

  23. Mollyon 03 Aug 2011 at 3:32 pm

    Hey Joy:

    Wow, I’m freaking out just READING about your worst straunt experience. Are you freakin’ kidding me? OMG! Whether we’re talking straunts or not, it’s amazing how inept some people are. Just apologize. Do something special for the customer. Say you’re sorry. Stand on your head. Apologize! Peeps don’t have a clue how fast bad news travels. I would FREAK if that happened, but my BFF coworker Randy would have made them front page news. In more ways than one. BTW, he’s the arts & entertainment editor so he tends to get excellent service around town, and for the most part, so do I. Most experiences are great, but bad service really does get peeps talking.

    One of my fave things to do in a straunt, especially when a new, inexperienced, but great server does a wonderful job, is to go to the manager and leave a rave review. Nothing like making a new employee (esp. one new to the work world) feel great about themselves. I love doing that!

    I so agree with you, Joy. There is a basic ABC list for running a bizz — and it doesn’t matter what the bizz is — peeps IN bizz should have a clue.

    Thanks so much for stopping by.

    Yours in pickiness,

  24. Leigh Annon 04 Aug 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Wow . . . finger snapping? Fans on turbo? Without a doubt, “y’all” have nailed it — respect and kindness goes both ways . . . I don’t have my own tale to add to this episode, but I truly feel for the servers. They never know who they are going to end up serving and are really at the mercy of whomever walks in the door. I sure couldn’t do their jobs without going batsh!t.

  25. Mollyon 04 Aug 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Hey Leigh Ann:

    Respect and kindness is absolutely a two-way street! I worked in a straunt right after high school for a short time and it really tested my patience. If I wore a hat, I’d tip it to all of the fine peeps who provide good service with a smile.


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