“There is nothing better than seeing guests tucking into a fabulous meal with a good wine and enjoying our show. We honestly really care that people who come to Proud Cabaret have an exceptional evening and will want to come back and my staff and I work really hard so that this is possible.”
However, says Alexander Proud, there are always a few (and Alex says it’s a small minority maybe 0.1%) who seem to want to ruin both their own evening, and the night of all the staff who come into contact with them.
Alex says “people who are rude, demanding, dismissive, sometimes even threatening to young waitresses and waiters. People who sit on their mobile phones instead of appreciating the performers and who refuse to tip after their server has spent all night running around to meet their needs. This kind of behaviour undermines the unwritten social contract that should exist in every public space and human interaction. At the very least, Alexander Proud says “Be respectful, be kind and when you want something… ask nicely.”
Alex emphasises that of course most people are decent, and not deliberately unkind, but it’s easy to be thoughtless and it’s the little things that make staff’s lives harder. So, Alex is here to offer a little bit of advice to help you get quicker service and a happier waitress.
Don’t use the threat of a bad review to demand free stuff. Alex Proud says this happens all the time. “Honestly, Tripadvisor has been weaponised. People threaten staff with bad reviews and ask for upgrades or find fault and ask for free booze. Or people fail to communicate things they’re unhappy with in the restaurant at the point that the service team could actually help them and then leave a truly cruel and malicious review without giving us the opportunity to resolve the issue. Trying to get an unfair review taken down is impossible because TripAdvisor doesn’t really care. Tripadvisor, like so much of the trolling that goes on, on social media, allows people to condemn without accountability. It masquerades as the voice of the people but is just another platform for hate mail.”
“This happens more often than you’d like to think”, says Alex Proud.
“Propositioning, leering, shouting…the list goes on. You wouldn’t do it in a shop or a bank or a hospital. Somehow we don’t respect waitresses and waiters the same way that we respect other professionals. The restaurant is their workplace, and believe me they work bloody hard, so give them the space and respect they deserve, particularly as they are very likely to be younger than you. You are in a position to make their evening easy or really uncomfortable. You don’t need to be funny and good looking (and after one too many you are neither), you just need to be polite.”
Alex Proud says: “Try to imagine what it’s like to be a waitress with 10 tables to deal with, each with perhaps 6 or 8 people, all needing your attention, with food flying out of a kitchen and people waving at you asking for your attention, and then imagine that every table of ten wants to split the bill equally and they all want to pay on ten individual cards. So you have to stand there helping them calculate how to divide pennies and pounds and then take ten individual payments when you’re already under enormous time pressure. Don’t be these people. Respect someone’s time and agree that one or two of you will pay, and sort it out between yourselves later, or pay in cash”.
He continues…“But even worse, don’t be the table who wants to argue about who ate more or less and try to split the bill proportionally. Honestly life is too short and you make yourself look cheap. For the love of God, split the bill equally and go home, or accept you might pay a few quid extra and consider it good juju.”
Alex Proud says this one is possibly the most important. “People in the service industry break their back day and night, so that wealthier people can dress up and have a fancy meal whilst their server will, in the course of an evening, probably have to clean toilets, mop floors, sweat as they run up and down stairs carrying greasy plates, stay late to clear up their mess, and get up early to do it all again. Much of the work they do goes unseen, so give up this nonsense about only tipping when your waiter or waitress ‘deserves it’. Let me tell you. They always deserve it.”
Alex Proud reserves particular condemnation for the people who are lovely and chatty to their waitress all night, demanding more of their attention than other tables and then leave a fiver on a £150 bill.
“That’s just mean. Your server earns minimum wage and works very long, unsociable hours and despite exhaustion and over-work still manages to smile and chat and make you feel special. The least you could do is show a basic appreciation.”
“Your server might have ten or twelve tables they’re looking after with 6-8 people on each. They have to take and remember hundreds of dishes and requests from people they have never met before. You will only need to remember the two things you pointed at on the menu. Just focus and remember your order, it will speed up service and your waiter will be your new best friend, and you can consider it as a useful memory improving technique, like doing a crossword only with a yummy meal as a reward.”
“Even if you know the manager or the owner of the business, says Alex Proud, it is fatuous to mention it to your server. If you want to be looked after and you think the owner will actually want to know you’re coming in, then call them up and let them roll out the red carpet. If you don’t know them well enough to do this, then you probably don’t know them well enough to pull a cheap power play on a waiter who genuinely doesn’t know if you are their boss’s best friend or a freeloader. Don’t put a young staff member in an awkward position just to boost your own ego. It’s not fair.”
“Remember your waiter is a human being”. says Alex Proud. “Don’t shout, don’t click your fingers, don’t be snooty with your server about a wine that you don’t like even though you chose it. Look at them when you order, put down your mobile phone and say please and thank you. They don’t belong to you, they’re not your slave. They’re there to bring you a meal, but they are not obliged to be your punch bag if you’re in a bad mood and if something isn’t quite right with your order, just point it out factually and give them a chance to remedy it.
And a ps from Alex Proud: “This is not special advice for dining in restaurants. This is mostly just how to be a good human being.”