Amateur Night

amateur-night.jpgLast night was a big, big restaurant night. Across the nation (maybe even around the world?) restaurateurs looked forward to pulling in big receipts, as millions of couples celebrated amore in one of the most romantic of ways. But most of the restaurant people that I know couldn’t wait to get through this evening. As well as all the other big dining-out days; Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter, and even New Year’s Eve. Why? Because those are the times when the very occasional diner emerges from his burrow and attempts to remember how things are done in civilized restaurants (if he ever knew how at all).

Amateur Night.

At these times restaurants are jammed full of people who feel no more at home than they do in libraries. Few of them understand that when a reservation is for 7:00 that means the entire party should arrive just a little before 7:00 and not in dribs and drabs over the next 45 minutes. (at least on Valentine’s Day that is not much too of a problem). Nor do they realize that it is best for everyone to catch up on old times after the dinner selections have been made, not during the 6 or 7 attempts of the frustrated waiter to get their order. And when a waiter does approach the table, that is the time to take a break from the conversation and give him full attention. In this way the guest should not have to wait for that essential glass of wine that was ordered when the entree was being served. Besides, ordering in this piecemeal fashion is called ‘running the waiter to death’ and is unkind to your fellow man. Remember, they probably have other tables to take care of as well.

On normal nights it is common to see folks lingering over coffee and after-dinner drinks, unhurried and conversing in a relaxed manner. On Amateur Nights you will see people doing this same thing, but with nothing on the table, sometimes for hours, preventing other diners from being seated. Sometimes this will take place while their young children are playing Fort Apache with table clothes and tray jacks. (BTW moms, leave the Cheerios at home. Or if you must bring them see that they end up inside the child and not all over the floor.)

If this malingering occurs at the end of the evening it may be preventing an exhausted server from going home to their family, after a long shift. Some might say that since the server is working for tips they had best be patient and attentive. But this points out another problem with Amateur Nights. These are the times in which more people require the most attention and leave the least money on the table. Guaranteed. Tips are terrible on these high volume days.

Now, this probably does not describe you or your friends. You may be very adept at dining and you always leave a good tip (unless the server has done a poor job, of course). But did you go out to a restaurant last night? Or were you one of the millions of professional diners who shudder at the idea of going out on these busy days, for many of the reasons just cited? Ah-hah, just what I figured.

Oh, and by the way. Separate checks are gauche, particularly on Valentine’s Day.



  1. #1 by Christian on February 17, 2008 - 11:07 am

    I dispute your touche’ yet admit that I have an affinity for some ‘nasty’ people. 😉 However, if these people were seated in my restaurant I would delegate someone else to take care of them. In fact, I often have.

    I think that if someone finds that they can never seem to get good service just about anywhere at any time they may need to start looking a little closer to home for the source of the problem. Just as if a customer service professional only seems to get ‘nasty’ customers the problem most likely resides with their own attitude. I think this can be extrapolated through out just about all avenues of life.

  2. #2 by logiopath on February 17, 2008 - 11:12 am

    Wow. Constructive retrospection–How deep. Did Dave teach you that one?

    On the other hand, some places simply have bad service, regardless of the attitude of the customer. Like Sears auto in CENSORED Mall, or the shoe department in the same store.

    Yes, you do have an affinity for the nasty, don’t you

    Heh heh heh heh heh heh

  3. #3 by logiopath on February 17, 2008 - 11:13 am

    Put your hand in the hand of the Man who stilled the waters . . .

    Take a look at yourself and you can look at others differently, by puttin your hand in the hand of the Man from Galilee (Galilee).

  4. #4 by ric booth on February 18, 2008 - 4:38 pm

    Many years ago we went out for Mother’s Day. What a train wreck. During the meal I tolk my wife the only thing I wanted for Father’s Day was to not go out. Since that memorable moment, we’ve avoided the ‘amateur nights’ as you describe them.

  5. #5 by inWorship on February 18, 2008 - 10:55 pm

    I secretly throw cheerios under tables just to see what happens 🙂

    Not really. Tam is one to clean before we leave though. She’s pretty dang cool…

  6. #6 by jeb on February 25, 2008 - 1:09 am

    Kids will be kids. They are going to make a mess. I ask you as a restaurant person, would you rather we stay home? I am always worried about the mess my small children make when our family goes out, and we go out a lot. Just today, when out for pizza with my kids, I thought, $2.50 for a coke? Why am I cleaning up? I cleaned up anyway. I think I am putz.

  7. #7 by Christian on February 25, 2008 - 1:21 am

    Sure kids are kids. I wouldn’t expect them to use coasters or even napkins. But there are kids and then there are kids.

    In answer to your question, in all honesty, and meaning no disrespect – sometimes, yes. It depends upon the restaurant. If you are in Pizza Hut, Denny’s, Friendly’s etc it matters little. That is the norm. If the place is a little nicer, a little quieter, maybe a bit more expensive – then get a baby sitter. It’s not just the restaurant staff that need be considered, but the other diners as well. I’ve seen folks who let their (little) kids get up from the table and wander around on their own. Not cool.

    Hey, I raised a couple kids myself. And picked up a lot of Cheerios (or if I couldn’t, I left a much bigger tip). BTW- did the Coke come with ‘free’ refills?

  8. #8 by jeb on February 25, 2008 - 1:38 am

    The wife is away. The place we went to today is more than Pizza Hut, but cerainly nothing special. We had no choice. I can’t cook. In any event, we made a mess. I did tip good. Hopefully the waitress, who essentially only carried over the pizza and the $2.50 cokes took care of the buss boy who did all of the work.

  9. #9 by Christian on February 25, 2008 - 7:27 am

    Well, that’s the way the system is supposed to work. In theory.

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