Monday Morning Rant: Server Drives Me Crazy

A few weeks ago I was having breakfast at Craft Dallas. There were only three customers in the restaurant which makes me nervous since I’d hate to see Dallas lose this place—the food is really special. However here is the transcript of a conversation I had with my waiter. I pretended to be from out of town.

Jump for the story.

Me: So tell me what your specialty is here?

Waiter: Everything is great.

Me: So you don’t have one thing that you’re famous for?

Waiter: No

Me: Can you tell me about your meats? Do you make any of them here?

Waiter: They are all good.

Me: Do you make the chicken sausage. I heard this kitchen cures some of their own meat

Waiter: No

Me: What about the country ham.

Waiter: Oh, we do that here.

Me: Do what?

Waiter: Cure it.

Me: Well, what dish do you recommend?

Waiter: Well, if you like eggs Benedict, you will like this eggs Benedict. It has Jonah crab.

Me: I was looking for something a little lighter.

Waiter: Well, we have waffles.

Me: Give me a few minutes to decide.

Here is the deal. This restaurant has so much to offer and I gavethis dude  so many opportunities to sell me on their product. I am the customer; show me how good you are! Do not give me one-word answers. When I ask for a recommendation, don’t tell me “everything is good.”  Engage me. Make me hungry. Make me want to tip you instead of hit you. Give me some freakin energy. Chaps my sass when I get someone like this guy. Thankfully the food was fantastic.

Nobody in the restaurant business can afford to slack in this economy. Customers are golden. Anybody else had a server with a bad attitude lately?

45 comments on “Monday Morning Rant: Server Drives Me Crazy

  1. Sounds like he wasn’t even looking at her. How annoying. I hate this no matter where I go to spend money… I enjoy being encouraged to spend more.

    This waiter sounds like the guy at Urbano who told us that when you come to Urbano you have to expect a lot of people to get seated before you do, no matter when they arrive. “That’s just the way it is” he said. Seriously? I should just expect unfair treatment?

  2. I hope your tip reflected the service he provided. He probably orders vanilla ice cream at Baskin Robbins.

  3. A few months back at Sambuca 360 my wife asked the server what options we had for the build-your-own pizza, because there was no list on the menu. He said, “Oh, we’ve got pretty much everything.”

    Then, sincerely, my wife asked for THREE things they didn’t have. Goat cheese, white sauce, portobello mushrooms … reasonable requests, I’d say, of a restaurant that has “pretty much everything”. Of course, this would have been much less annoying had the sever not been so boastful.

    Oh, and Jane, studies have shown that people who prefer vanilla ice cream tend to be dynamic, life-of-the-party types. Same for pretzels.

  4. IMHO, Craft is one of the most overrated restaurants in town. Of course, I have not breakfasted there so perhaps that is better than dinner.

  5. Craft is fantastic and usually the service there is what makes it so memorable. But, you hit on a pet peeve. Here’s another version:

    Q: So, what’s good here? or “What do you think of the X”?

    A: Oh, I just started, I really don’t know.

    or

    A: I am a vegetarian, so I don’t eat here (or eat that if you are inquiring about a specific item).

    or

    A: People say it’s good. I haven’t had many complaints about that.

  6. Don’t blame the server. The server is only a reflection of the ownership and management. Either the server is not ready for this level of service or improperly trained.

  7. I had the same experience at Craft. I had never been there and let the server know so she could help us decide on what to order. I didnt receive any guidance. It was horrible. The same thing at Ocean Prime. At an expensive restaurant that is unacceptable to not give guidance to first time diners. I have gotten more guidance at Chuy’s.

  8. I don’t think a server has a bad attitude because they don’t make recommendations. It just means they aren’t sales people and don’t realize the benefit of taking care of their guests.

  9. So, RT – an adult who is employed as a server at a high-end location isnt responsible for doing their job poorly in any way? No blame can be assigned to the person actually underperforming? Sure, there can be other areas to point blame towards, but to absolve the offending party completely is off the mark, especially since other servers there seem to know how to cater to their guests accordingly.

  10. I had the same level of service one Sunday when my friend and I were the only people in the place and the waiter DID NOT want to be there. We had to struggle to even finally get a check. It was a laughable, but memorable, experience.

  11. We lunched there a few weeks ago and had a similar experience. Server disappeared for long periods of time, drinks went unfilled. Orders took a long time.

    There were 5 covers in there at the time.

  12. Had lunch at Craft last week. We were 1 of 3 tables. Service was mediocre, food was good, but overall nothing special.

  13. The last time I went, service was wonderful. Of course, Tom Colicchio was present as well.

  14. I only go for dinner, but have had excellent service and great food each time (maybe ten visits by now). Truly, one of my two favorite places in town at the moment.

  15. @Gipson- no offense to vanilla ice cream! Or pretzels!

    My hubby went to Tom C’s street food concept in NYC 2 weeks ago and could not finish it. He said it was so bad, and believe me, my husband is like Dagwood, he never met a sandwich he didn’t like.

  16. We went to Craft about a month ago. The service was really off. They forgot a side dish, brought me a wine “upgrade” that I didn’t order, didn’t clear a plate so that food couldn’t be placed on my side of the table (family style does not excuse putting food out of reach of the person who orders it). I called the restaurant, and the manager was sort of apologetic, but not really. When you spend $250 for a meal, you shouldn’t have to ask for your side of potatoes.

  17. @Jane – and none taken. Hey, I’m not a fan of either, actually, unless those pretzels happen to be Auntie Anne’s (I guess that means I’m not the life of the party).

    The wife and I have only been to Craft once, about 18 months ago, and no doubt we had a fabulous time. Based on the food, definitely in our top five meals ever. The service was hardly bad, but perhaps too formal for our taste. Instead of “Would you like more bread?”, it was “Would you like to continue your bread service?” Ummmm, yes!

    The trip to the bathroom was also strange. I asked where it was, and instead of a location, I got “Please follow me and I’ll lead you there.” The server didn’t take me all the way, though. I was handed off at the hostess, relay-style, who then directed me the rest of the way.

    Again, nothing wrong with it exactly, but it was so unnecessary. We were one of the only tables seated at the time, so the quiet atmosphere only added to the sense of austerity.

    If the money ever works out, we’d definitely eat there again, though. The food itself was unforgettable.

  18. Annoying at the far end of the spectrum from Craft – Macaroni Grill. Service & food both satisfactory, but servers style was too rehearsed and robotic for me. It seemed like there was a sales contest to up the check. “Would you like an appetizer, calamari is my favorite”. “How about some Italian olives (featured on tent card), they go nicely with our complimentary bread.” I just wanted to get it over with and get out.

  19. I like coconut paciugo personally, not really a vanilla fan…i think i am going to start being from out of town at every meal and inquire about the goddess NN, and if there might still be a wine glass with her lipstick stain on it…

  20. Oh, my favorite! I told the Los Angeles waiter upfront; that, trust me, I am a foodaholic hound who can erase a sizable platter of chow and that I was jet-lagged & starving for a great slab of beef. When I asked the waiter (this was an Al Biernat’s upscale semi sorta steak house) which cut he particularly reccomended; the porterhouse, the strip, filet, ribeye? His answer? “I don’t eat flesh”.

  21. PF – I wouldnt be shocked if you are referring to the Plano location near Park/Preston. There is a specific server that is unrelenting with the upselling and extremely formal tones that my wife and I started avoiding it altogether.

  22. I agree with many others, Craft is completely overrated. I have dined there for both brunch and dinner. While I did not have a problem with the service, I thought the food was mediocre, and would have thought the same even if the price was significantly less. Spend your dollars elsewhere.

  23. I try to separate service from the product. The service assessment gets direct feedback in the form of the tip.

  24. Didn’t I hear that Tom Colicchio isn’t associated with the Dallas Craft Anymore

  25. Oh the restrooms! After our mediocre visit (described above), my husband and I both were surprised that the restrooms were in terrible shape. When i called the hotel and the restaurant, both people with whom I spoke defended the situation because of the high volume of visitors to the hotel. Lame.

  26. Cantina Laredo in Inwood Village is horrible! The last time I ate there the waiter couldn’t have been more bored. I decided to order a margarita after we had already put in our food order. It was neon colored and horrible. I said it wasn’t very good and maybe I should have ordered a top shelf instead. He took it away and quickly brought back the same thing poured into a different glass. I told him I would just stick to my iced tea after all. It was really just a whim. I didn’t really care and could take or leave a drink. I was perfectly pleasant and didn’t give it much thought past that. Then the manager came over and demanded to know what was wrong with the drink. And he wasn’t being at all kind about it. In fact he was down right pissy. And I hadn’t complained or asked for his attention or anything else. He actually tried to start an argument with me! And the food was terrible. It tasted like everything came out of a Sysco package. The cheese for the fajita set up was for sure!

  27. Just to clarify I only took 2 sips from the drinks. They were still so full he had to be careful not to spill them. I didn’t complain. I didn’t ask or expect anything comped. It was pretty much a non issue for me. Just said I didn’t like it. The fact that the manager decided to stop by for a confrontation was what shocked me.

  28. Nothing upsets me more than poor service. It is a job and if you don’t like your job, find another. That being said, who goes to a restaurant and plays 20 questions? Would you go to a car dealer and ask what do you recommend? Obviously you read up on the place if you heard they cure their own meats so what’s with the interrogation? If I were the waiter, I would be annoyed. It almost seems like you were looking to be disappointed. There are several really good places in town with amazing food and crappy service and some with really good service and mediocre food.

  29. Nothing makes me angrier than bad service at an expensive restaurant. If I am spending a large amount of money for a nice dinner out, I think everything needs to be almost flawless…including the service, the order of dishes that comes out (I once had my entree come out before my appetizer at an upscale Dallas restaurant), timeliness, flavor, quality, etc. etc. I could go on and on about this. For me, these are the things that cause me to not go back to a restaurant.

  30. @Kam – so if I want to know about what I’m ordering I can’t ask questions, lest I annoy my waiter…who is paid to help me? Menus change with the seasons at places like Craft. It’s only natural to ask questions. Asking what the waiter recommends is not exactly a lengthy Mensa question. It seems the issue is more the apathetic work ethic the waiter displayed. He needs a new job if serving people is not what he enjoys.

  31. One final comment about my Craft dinner. JB, you won’t believe this. Our dinner check for four came with the gratuity INCLUDED, with no mention of it by the person handing us the bill. The manager said it was some sort of computer glitch. Craft uses a team approach to service. I much prefer having one person in charge of your table.

  32. @anan

    If you were with a party less than 6, I bet the waiter knew he/she blew it and tried to pull one on you. I think everyone should work as a waiter once in their lives. I have; and I try to empathize but if I’m purposely getting snow jobbed at restaurant, I say make a scene so that other patrons will feel uncomfortable about their experience as well. Go for the comp from the manager on duty.

  33. You know what my pet peeve is, it’s people who go into a restaurant and ask the waiter what’s good or what do you recommend… What do you expect them to say? You have a freaking menu in front of you and you’re obviously hungry because you’re AT the restaurant. Make up your own freaking mind. Do you expect the waiter to channel into your body to see what your likes and dislikes are? Just order something YOU think would be good for YOU!!! Geez!!!

  34. In my previous life as a server I once had a a group of men as what vegetable I recommended! Really? Corn, green beans, or broccoli… and you still need my help? I’m pretty sure I was a smartass about it, and they are still complaining about the lousy service too!

  35. I hate to hear this about the service. As for the negative posts about the food, my experience has been totally different. I think Craft is one of the very best restaurants in Dallas–never had a bad bite. I agree with Nancy that I would hate for Dallas to lose Cradt. And for the record, I have never had bad service and have eaten there for brunch, lunch and dinner many times.

  36. As a server, I understand when a first-time guest asks certain questions about the menu. But don’t ask me “What’s the best thing on the menu?!” Right, like we only have one great thing on our entire menu. Get real!

  37. Loftygirl and James, when people are asking what’s good, what they’re really doing is trying to make sure that they’re not getting something that’s crap. Sometimes the waiter will actually steer you away from something that’s only going to be a disappointment if you’re the kind of person with discriminating taste. Like say the fried okra is 2 year old frozen sysco stuff, don’t tell me it’s as good as whatever the freshest side/vegetable on the menu is. There’s no way for me to know this sort of thing as an outsider.

  38. Craft is amazing and I am thrilled it has survived so long in a lame city with a ridiculous identity crisis. People who think they are “foodies” but aren’t will never appreciate the simplicity in coaxing the very best qualities out of the highest possible ingredients.

  39. JB, I did call the restaurant after the meal and spoke to the manager. He told me to call him the next time we were coming, and he’d “take care of us.” No comps offered. Since Craft uses a team approach, it’s hard to know what they were thinking. Also, I purposely did not complain during dinner because of the people we were with. It was one of those meals where it would not have been cool to do anything but smile and say everything is fine. I know I said I’d stop, but here’s something else they did. Both ladies at the table asked for the uneaten portions of their entrees to be packed up. A few minutes later, they tossed down two numbered tickets onto the table in front of only one of the ladies. When presented with the bags after the meal, we had no way of telling what was in each bag so one person took both. Max, the manager, defended it by saying that they want to be classy by not bringing packaged food back to the table. Who cares? Sometimes, things are just off for a particular table, and maybe it was just our unlucky night.

  40. Thats why when I go out, I enjoy restaurants like The Capital Grille, where the service and food are always consistent and top notch. The servers and management always seem happy to do anything for you which is rare these days it seems.