Archive for August 8th, 2011


Restaurant Rules in General

While living in Florida the past 2½ years, I made the following observations about restaurants.

CROWDS: Pick a crowded restaurant over an empty one. Busy places usually have lower prices, tastier food, and better service. If the parking lot is empty, drive on.

COST: Keep driving if you see valet parking: you can’t afford it.

CHAINS: The problem with chain restaurants is they generally charge more for less.

TABLES: You don’t want to sit outside when the temperature is too hot, the humidity is too high, or the wind is too strong. Go inside. There is nothing appetizing about eating next to road kill.

MUSIC: Chose a place with a relaxed atmosphere and soft background music. Customers should never have to raise their voices over loud or annoying sounds. Clarinet and violin players went out when the Beatles arrived–someone should just tell them.

MENUS: The menu should be no more than 4 pages. Big chains, like Applebees, Chilis, and TGI Fridays, now use massive picture books, instead of old-fashioned menus. The one at Applebees was actually 14 pages, filled with pictures of food one can only dream of eating. Some have even gone to the point of sticking one menu inside another, as if we didn’t already have enough to read. The menu should simply tell us in plain English what they do best.

DRINKS: While restaurant menus should be short, they should never delete the drink prices. Since more and more restaurants are now doing this, consumers need to fight back. One way is to order nothing but water, until they get the message.

CLEAN DISHES: Kitchen helpers just have to get the soap out of the coffee cups, before they put them back in circulation. Cream in coffee is ok, Borax cleanser is not.

SERVERS: Table servers, known as waitresses in the day, can make or break the experience. I do not care for those who ask how is the food is tasting, because I am always this close to giving a serious long-winded answer. I also don’t like it when they come around too often, since I don’t want to be pampered. I do however expect a few things.

ORDERING: I sometimes don’t know what I want to eat, so I ask what they are good at. I am disappointed when the server is dumbfounded. It also troubles me when they direct me to the most expensive item in an attempt at increasing their tip.

COOKING: After ordering, the food should be prepared within a reasonable time. If they are going to microwave everything, the least they could do is not tell us. One place made it painfully obvious by serving everything in microwavable bowls.

DELIVERY: Before delivering the food, the servers should be sure the kitchen prepared what was ordered. If it is supposed to be hot, please don’t serve it cold. If the order is totally screwed up, the server has to take it up with the kitchen. At a Chili’s, I ordered a pita with steak, but received no meat or lettuce, too many onions and peppers, and no sauce at all. When the server failed to even offer to solve the problem, my disappointment turned to despair.

FINAL THOUGHTS: I don’t mind busy places, if the food and service is good, and the prices are reasonable. Just give me a table where I am not subjected to excessive heat, freezing air, or noise. Give me a simple menu that says what the restaurant does best. Post all prices. Clean all dishes. Hire table servers who are interested in their jobs. And most of all—serve what was ordered.