I eat out a lot, and I've come to see that there are a number of rules for running a restaurant that are honored in the breach more often than the reverse. None of these are rocket science, but I thought I would write some of them down because a lot of restauranteers really need to read them.
1) Honor Your Posted Hours
I can't over-emphasize this item. Your posted hours are part of your contract with the public. Nobody forced you to post a particular set of hours on your door, but having posted them, you need to honor them. If I have made myself work until 9:30 with the lure of a nice supper based on your promise to be open until 10:30 and I show up to hear "Well, it wasn't very busy, so we closed the kitchen at 9, it's too late for me to go elsewhere. You have ruined my evening.
I try not to be a jerk. I will not waltz in at 5 minutes before closing and order an elaborate meal, but if I show up at least half an hour before posted closing, I expect to find your establishment in full operation.
2) Make More Tea
This is a related point. If I come in at least half an hour before closing, and you are out of tea, I expect you to make more. Yes, some of it will go to waste, but it is on your menu and only costs you pennies to make. Besides, if your staff weren't so hellbent on closing before you are supposed to, they wouldn't have dumped the urn.
3) If My Glass is Empty, Fill it Up
Really what more can I say? Is this so hard to do?
4) Don't Bring the Bill While I am Still Eating
If you bring the check before I have finished my meal, it implies that you want to get rid of me, and is somewhat rude. It also implies that you are washing your hands of me, and that I can expect no further refills. It is also not in your best interests. If I have been contemplating dessert, having a finalized bill pretty much kills the chance that I will ask for anything else.
5) Don't Let the Bill Sit
This is the inverse of the last rule. If I am not ready to go, I will not put cash or a credit card on the check you brought me. When I am ready, and do place my payment, I don't want it to take twenty minutes before you pick it up.
6) Never Ask: Do You Need Change?
If I have a check for $8.21 and hand you a $20 bill and you say "Do you need any change?", it implies you are angling for a $11.79 tip. It's even worse if what I would be getting back is close to (but more than) what I would be leaving you for a tip. In that case it makes me feel stingy for begrudging you an extra eighty cents.
The correct phrase is "I'll be right back with your change". This gives me the opening to say "That's OK" if I intend you to keep everything.
7) Make Sure the Staff Instructions Agree with the Menu
If your menu describes an item of food in one way, make sure the instructions given to the kitchen and wait staff agree with the written description.
For years, the menu at Shoney's described the spaghetti as coming with mushrooms. So I would order spaghetti, and it would invariably come without mushrooms, leading to the following exchange:
I didn't get any mushrooms with my spahgetti
You didn't say you wanted mushrooms
Well, the menu says it comes with them..
The same goes for El Chico, and the guacamole that is supposed to come with the beef burrito..
8) Don't Let the Waitresses set the Thermostat
They are walking around and carrying stuff. It's a hard job, and they are working. I am not, I'm just sitting there gradually freezing to death.
9) If You Must have a TV, Mute It
Sports bars are excluded, I suppose, but if I walk into a general restaurant, I either want to talk with the rest of my party, or if I'm alone, think my own thoughts. I don't want to hear about the news, a soap opera, an infomercial or even the weather I just came in from. On most modern TVs, you can activate a close-caption mode that lets the staff follow their programs without annoying the patrons.
10) Don't Argue
It amazes me that I feel I have to list this one, but it has happened, and flabbergasts me every time.
If I say I need a new fork, don't ask me "What's wrong with that one?". Just get me the fork.
I'm sure you have your own rules that are violated all the time. Leave me a comment, and if I agree, I'll add it to the list!