Last year a new burger joint opened up that I fell in love with at first bite. Their meat comes from local farmers and is top quality, their veggies are locally grown when available, and their chefs work magic in their kitchen. My husband and I go whenever we have an excuse to drive into the city.
Unfortunately, our last visit did not meet the high standards we had become used to. As we scanned over our menus and talked about the movie we were seeing afterward, I kept my eye open for our server as the minutes ticked by.
As I was about to ask the hostess if she could assist us in finding our server, the bartender came by and asked if we had been helped. I replied in the negative and, with a smile, she offered to track our server down. After a short disappearance in the back, she returned with a man in tow.
The bartender introduced our server, laid down coasters, and bid us farewell with a smile and a small wave. Our server then said, “So, what are you getting?”
Ignoring the strong smell of cigarettes, we both went to order. My husband requested beers for us, to which the server replied, “Is that all?” I requested two waters, getting another “is that all.” My husband said, “No, we’d also like to start with the shrimp appetizer.” Our server sighed and left the table without a word.
A couple of minutes passed before the lovely bartender brought our beers, and upon noticing we still had our menus, asked if we had ordered. We let her know the entrees had yet to be ordered, so she took our order and told us she’d get them in. She brought us our waters, the appetizer, and eventually our entrees. We were not seated in the bar area, but she went out of her way to help us anyway, which I thought was fantastic.
As my husband and I were digging into our burgers, our server finally reappeared. He took a sip of a soda and asked, “Hey, where did you get food? I didn’t take your order.” I said, “The bartender came back after our drinks and said she’d let you know the order so you could put it in.” Server replies, “whatever” and again walks away.
As we finished, the bartender came back to bus our table and talk to us for a few minutes about the movie we were going to see later. As we spoke, our server popped up and slapped the bill on the table, asking “you ready?” I gave him cash ($40 on a $38 bill) and he vanished again without a word. As he entered the kitchen, I heard a voice I assumed was his say “cheap f-ing a-holes.”
The bartender gave us a sympathetic look and apologized for his attitude. We let her know that this was a first for us and we love the restaurant. She grabbed us to-go waters and when she returned, I handed her a $10 bill, thanking her for helping us. She did the work and I felt she earned the tip.
I glanced at the six $1 bills I had intended to leave as the rest of his tip (I like to get my change back prior to leaving a tip in most cases; if the server says “I’ll be right back with your change” I always increase the tip because I think it’s the better response over “do you need change?”). Unfortunately, due to his careless attitude, his lack of service, and being made to feel as though we were annoying him by being seated in his section, I decided not to leave a tip.
People like that server cast a black cloud over amazing restaurants, but thankfully they are outnumbered by fantastic people like our bartender. We will of course return, as it’s a favorite spot for us, and we hope that when we do, that server is nowhere in sight.
- Jamie Baker
My blog: The Sanity of a Mad Woman