28 January 2005

7. Restaurant Customers

Dear restaurant customers,

You may or may not already know this, but there's a good chance that the last meal you ate out was cooked by someone like me: someone who, without even knowing you, personally hates your guts.

Okay, so that's not exactly true. Most of you are probably pretty cool, but some of you are such whiny bitches that they make the rest of you look bad. For instance, some whiny bitches waste time and money by sending servers back and forth to the kitchen to ask questions instead of simply reading the menu. The ones who don't read the menu are among my favorites. "I didn't know this had bacon in it" when that's the first ingredient listed among the fillings in an omelet? We get to deal with you bastards, and you're why I can never be a server because at least in the kitchen you probably can't hear me cursing your mothers. In fact, I think I hate you extra on behalf of the floor staff, who aren't allowed to cuss and throw things nearly as much as I am back in the kitchen. The servers don't seem to believe me when I say I could never do their job, but it's true. I would laugh at stupid customers constantly. I know part of why you people come out to dinner is to have someone else take care of you, but that doesn't include remembering the details of your diet or reading the menu for you. Nor does it mean putting up with your shit when you're having a bad day, especially if you don't tip well. Waitstaff are simply not paid well enough to pretend they're your best friend, or your mom, or your shrink. But back to me in the kitchen.

I'm not really trying to write this letter for you customers who are good enough to know your dietary requirements and pay attention to the menu descriptions of food, and order carefully based on what you know you can and will eat, and make small changes before the kitchen's already started your order (more on sending plates back in a bit). Even people who, before ordering, send servers back to make sure a given food doesn't contain an allergen or whatever are okay in the grand scheme of things. I'm fine with "I'm lactose intolerant; please hold the cheese and sour cream"; in fact when I see orders come back asking for no cheese, I check for other possible trouble ingredients in the item because it would be really rude to accidentally put mayo on a vegan's soyburger, especially when the new menu's got a typo so it looks like the avocado burger doesn't have mayo on it. But ultimately we have a menu for a reason; it describes what the kitchen is set up to produce. If we wanted you to make shit up, we'd just give a list of ingredients and tell you to go hog wild. But it would slow service down even more than you people who put back nonstandard orders ("No toast, no home fries, substitute three strips of bacon and a side of sausage links? I can probably get you a whole dead pig, you Fatkins freak.") And we'd definitely have to charge you more for the privilege of writing your own menu, and then you'd probably complain about that instead. There's no winning with you people, is there?

Now. About sending back a plate. It's one thing if I made a mistake; most of the time it'll end up becoming somebody's employee meal for the shift and I'll remake your food correctly at no charge. But if you didn't read the menu right, or better yet you changed your mind about what you wanted after the food got to your table, then that's your mistake and it cost us money. It probably cost us more money than we'll make on your whole party, unless you ordered some really expensive drinks. And that's just ingredients. We're not talking about the time it cost to send the server back and forth, and for the kitchen to remake the order. And then of course there's the karmic cost of all the hate you've generated, which is pretty huge.

Long story short (too late!), part of going out to eat is that you have to trust the people cooking your food to do their job, not second-guess their every move. If you're so particular about your food that you don't trust the kitchen to make it right, you're in the wrong restaurant, or maybe you shouldn't even be going out to eat when clearly you could do better for yourself cooking at home.


P.S. Tip your servers well or be destroyed.

started 18 January 2005, published 28 January 2005, last updated 8 September 2013 (just formatting on that last).