A guide to better service


Food, oh how eating it can be truly glorious and the best way to eat it is when it is prepared by someone else. Finding a friend with sufficient will and talent to actually cook for you on the other hand can be tricky. If your friends let you down then the next best place to get your fix is a restaurant, however these places of business require certain decorum. One such convention that is often poorly understood is the correct way to tip. H-Rex informs Heads Will Roll of proper tipping etiquette…

As a rule I don’t believe in tipping. Tipping for the sake of tipping just isn’t part of Perth restaurant culture. However, if you go to a restaurant and start making special requests and your waitperson accommodates you, then it’s appropriate to tip.

Because people lets be fair. You go to a restaurant and what’s on offer is written on the menu. You take or leave it. There’s no negotiating.

You don’t go into a shoe store to buy a pair of kitten heels and then ask if you can have the left shoe replaced with a size 8 ballet flat. A shoe store would tell you to buy 2 pairs of shoes. And yet both are service industries. When you make a special request at a restaurant, you are taking time away from the waitpersons other customers, they have to make special requests of the chef and then follow up, as well as negotiate with the supervisor about how to charge the meal on the till. It’s extra work that their boss doesn’t compensate them for and if they accommodate you, they are doing you a personal favour.

And while many waitstaff try to provide good service to make sure your dining experience is pleasant (to encourage your return to the restaurant they work at) many customers are unaware of the difference between sub-standard, standard and above-standard levels of service.

At a casual dining restaurant you should expect to receive this level of service:

A greeting at the door

A table to be ready at the time you have booked it

Free water offered

An offer to hear the specials

Your order taken within 15mins of your arrival (or later if you request more time)

Drinks to arrive promptly

Meals delivered to your table

Plates cleared when the meal has finished

Offering of desserts

An itemised bill upon request

And a Thank you at the till.

Anything above of this can be considered special service and while I don’t encourage automatic tipping, if you have asked for extra or different sauces, food substitutions, extras for your kids of anything not listed in the menu or if you waitperson have been particularly friendly or attentive, why not consider a small tip?

Also please remember, most waitpeople don’t expect a tip. If they are providing good service it’s because they are good at their job. And as a waitperson a “Thank you” can be as good as a tip, but a tip if like achieving a work target and receiving a bonus.

Large Table Bookings

And as a general rule for table bookings over 6 people, you should always leave a tip unless the service has been terrible, large party bookings often tie up tables for an entire evening reducing the possible number of customer being served by the restaurant. The amount spent per person on large tables is the same or less then average, so the restaurant often loses money by taking your large table booking. Customers on large tables can also be more demanding on their waitperson if a there is not a designated table host who basically takes charge of the table (This would usually be the person who knows how many people are coming and can indicate to the waitperson when everyone has arrived).

Also, for tables of more then 6 people, the kitchen has to co-ordinate a large amount of meals to be ready at the same time. If you are on a large table it will take longer for your meals to come out as smaller tables will be pushed through to avoid tables of 2 waiting 40 minutes for their food.

Other things that can delay your meal when you’re a large table booking:

If someone on your table orders a well done steak, all your meals will be delayed at least 30 mins.

If someone on your table forgets what they ordered and accepts your meal, your meal will need to be recooked.

If some of the table order entrees, your waitperson will not call your table away until the entrees are eaten.

If there are still people to arrive and your waitperson has been asked to hold the meals until they turn up, your meal will be delayed.

If you have food allergy requests or pregnancy requests, your meals will be delayed as the kitchen takes them seriously and takes extra care when preparing the meals.

Hopefully this clears up the question of whether to tip or not. The amount is obviously up to you, but in a city where I hear so many complaints about bad service, lets start to reward and encourage good service.



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3 responses to “A guide to better service

  1. Mule

    A “thank you” is never as good as a tip. You have obviously never worked in hospitality.

  2. alexdarkly

    I guess that just depends on how they “thank you” =]

  3. alison

    i feel uncomfortable taking tips. it’s lovely, but just someone verbally telling you they appreciate what youve done for them is great.

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