Monday, January 11, 2010

faux pas after the foie gras?

Last night we attended a surprise birthday party at a swanky restaurant for a very dear friend. It was one of those birthdays that “ends in zero” so a very fun reason to celebrate…and surprised she was! Her husband said he nearly told her earlier in the week because she seemed depressed that her birthday was going to be low-key and she wanted a party. He was on the fence between spilling the beans to lift her spirits and congratulating himself on pulling it off. Ultimately, he kept mum and her reaction is what every surprise-party-thrower wants. The night was lovely, the guest of honor was happy and she had tears of joy from time to time throughout the night.

It was understood that each couple was paying their own dinner. We were to tell the waiter what orders belonged on each check. So after the cake was finished, we figured we should get the bill and get home to relieve the babysitter so Donnie asked the waiter for our check.

We followed up a couple of times but it was fifty minutes (yes, ten minutes shy of an hour!) from the initial request until we received our check. There was no “I’m sorry for the delay—we’re working on it” or anything just a disappearing trick by our waiter. When the checks were finally delivered put on a nearby table for the attendees to sort through on their own--some were duplicates, others were incorrect and at least one (ours) was nowhere to be found.

When we were finally able to get a check by repeating our order to the waiter, he said, "you don't know what it's like to be in my position." But I do. I've been a waitress before at a few different restaurants and I know it's a hard job, which is why I generally tip well (although this wasn't an issue last night--18% was automatically added on because we were part of a large group). I know that separate checks can be time consuming and annoying (but it wasn't a surprise and each couple pointed out what should be on their individual check when ordering). I know that technology can be a help and a hindrance in these situations (the waiter seemed to be having a hard time entering separate orders into the computer).

It was a fun night with a very happy birthday girl and good food...yet I feel like I left with a bad taste in my mouth.


  1. Totally a bad taste in your say the least! Have you considered calling the restraunt and complaining?
    However - glad you friend was TRULY surprised and had a wonderful time! :)

  2. Having also been in the service industry, I too tip well and am quite forgiving of mishaps. However, he really said to you, "You don't know what it's like to be in my shoes..."?!!!

    What the...?
    Seriously. You should call. That guy isn't in the right business, and shouldn't be in a fine restaurant. He should go help out in some fast food joint instead.

    Glad you had a great time (except for the ending) and your friend had a wonderful birthday ending in 'zero'!

  3. Oh, yeah, I totally get it, it's hard to be a waiter or even in the fast food industry it can be tough. Well, I don't know about nowadays, but back when I worked it, it was. Anyway, what a dork he was, do you think he was slacking because he knew he was already for sure getting a big tip??

  4. Wow..what a "fine" experience to go through, hope that never happens again. Other than that crappy part of the festivities..hope everything was wonderful and glad the zero something friend was pleasantly surprised.

  5. When I'm ready to leave a restaurant, I'm really ready to leave and waiting on the check is maddening.

  6. Ok, even when I was waitressing 15 years ago it was pretty simple to do separate checks, so that guy had no excuse. Especially given the advance notice. I completely concur with blueviolet on that waiting (we usually have kids with us who've been good as long as they could by that point). I hope the birthday girl didn't pick up any bad vibes at her bash :(

  7. In this day in age I would think that a restaurants would have a good system for divvying up a large group. Sorry your fun was spoiled.

  8. You would think that being able to enter the orders into the computer would make it simple to do multiple orders at one table? Apparently Im mistaken...

  9. You would think getting the checks would be the easiest part of the meal? Turn the table equals making more money - no brainer.

    I waited tables for several years too. It's definitely a tough job, but the money can be very good.

  10. You're totally right: I've waitressed too, and I DO know what it's like to be in his shoes, and so I ALSO know his behavior was really really off. Part of waiting tables is apologizing for delays that aren't one's own fault (for example, when the food is late because the cook screws up the order). His job incompetence was the problem here. Er, so perhaps we DON'T know what it's like to be in his shoes, but perhaps then he should find different shoes since these evidently don't fit him.

    How nice that the surprise party was a success!

  11. Yeah - for me a little apologetic behavior would've gone a long way - seems like HE was looking for the apologies. Sorry, dude.