Restaurant Etiquette-Part II

Welcome to Part II of Restaurant Etiquette.  This is written from the customer’s/fellow server’s point of view…sorry, I know it’s been a long time coming.

As background, I wanted to give both points of view; the server and the customer. If you haven’t read Part I, I suggest you click here.

Condiments, water and cold drinks. All very important.

And now, the customer/management point of view….

I have been to a lot of different restaurants, ranging from you dives/diners to the very upscale. I’ve also had to deal with a number of servers as a co-worker and manager…ranging from the very good to the completely awful.

Therefore, as a frequent diner and again, a server, I want to give you a heads up.

*Rule Number One: Smile. 

If you walk up to a table looking like you hate life, it’s going to put a damper on the dining experience. Because we are paying to go out to dinner, try to make it a little more upbeat, rather than a jail sentence. Your attitude has a big impact on everyone around you.

No joke, a smile can be a game changer.

*Communicate with your table. And the Kitchen.

If something is happening in the kitchen, let your table know. If you are out of something, tell them. If food is taking longer than usual to come out, give your customers a heads up. They’ll appreciate it. And they won’t blame it on you.

If a diner asks you a question about ingredients, there is probably a reason for it, so answer it. If you don’t know, find out. It’s better to have a happy (repeat) customer than a disgruntled one who spent the night in the hospital because you were too lazy to check what was in the salad dressing.

If your customer has a special dietary need, tell the kitchen. Or if they want something served in a different manner, let the cooks know! It’ll save you a lot of hassle.

Don’t Complain About Your Tips.

Contrary to what you may think, you don’t automatically deserve a great tip. It’s based on service…which also relates to your attitude and work ethic; Again, if you are acting like you hate your job and life, people notice. Not to mention, it’s completely unprofessional to stand around and complain, regardless of your profession. It’s also a good way to get fired.

Watch Your Language. And be aware of your conversations. 

I brought this up in my last post, watch your mouth! You are in a restaurant, not hangin’ in your bro’s basement, kickin’ back a few cold ones! The F word makes you sound ignorant. And that young couple with a five-year old? They don’t want to hear about who you brought home last night or your urinary tract infection. Neither do your co-workers. Be respectful to those around you.

Don’t Just Stand There.

Again, people notice a lot more than you think. If you are standing around doing nothing, people notice… texting, people will see it. If you refuse to help move a table or if someone comes in looking for a table and you walk away, you guessed it-people notice. Not only is it a turn off to your customers but it will also tick off your co-workers.

That being said, if you’d rather text your boyfriend than take dirty dishes off of your tables, or you’re constantly running to the bathroom to make personal calls, don’t wonder why you only got a three dollar tip. Hello!!! Do you like to sit at a table covered with dirty dishes and empty glasses? Do you like to wait ten minutes for your drinks? Neither do your customers!

I’ll reiterate, don’t automatically assume that you deserve that twenty percent-or more-tip. And you can only blame so much on what tables you have. If you’re not doing your job, it shows.

On the flip side, people also notice if you are busting your butt, helping out your co-workers and going above and beyond, and they will usually say something. Keep that in mind.

Help Each Other Out. 

This goes along with my last point. If you notice one of your co-workers is stressed out, give them a hand. Pick up the salad plates off their table or drop off their appetizer. Take away empty bottles or glasses.You need to work as a team. And if you help someone out, chances are they are going to return the favor.

If you notice that the dressings are getting low, take a moment to refill them. Out of lemons? Chop a few. Like I said, it’s a team effort. It makes everyone’s life easier if people do side work throughout the night, even if it’s just the little stuff.

Pick up after yourself. If you spill something, don’t wait for someone else to take care of it.

Know the Menu

And be honest. If you’ve never tried something, tell them…but also let them know what’s popular, what you would have and what the night’s specials are. If you’re new, tell people. They usually understand.

Pay Attention.

This is pretty self-explanatory. Pay attention to your tables. Make sure you aren’t neglecting anyone. Pay attention to the kitchen. If a plate doesn’t look good, say something.

If someone ordered a salad with no olives and extra tomatoes, make sure that’s how it comes out. Make sure you bring out condiments/extra plates/waters. Little details like this can make or break a dining experience.

If someone orders a steak, make sure to ask how they’d like it cooked…and check to make sure it came out that way.

Remember where certain dishes go on the table. People love that.

Think about what kind of service you expect when you go out to dinner. That should be what you aim for. Sometimes, you’re going to get a table that sucks but try to give them the same service you’d give your favorite diners…they may surprise you.

In short, a good attitude and work ethic will go a long way. And you’ll probably find out that you enjoy your job a little bit more.

Did I miss anything? What are some of your pet peeves when you dine out? OR with your restaurant co-workers?

Again, if you missed the first post, here it is.  Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!

Just Keep Movin’!

Oh, well…hello there! It’s snowing you say? What?! No!

It snowed today. Am I surprised? No. Am I happy about it? Yes. But don’t tell my husband. He’s not a fan.

Anyway, on a completely unrelated note, I’ve been having trouble focusing lately. I can’t seem to multi-task. I’ve also been stressing because I haven’t been getting in as many quality workouts as I would like…and I haven’t been eating as clean as I’d like…working in a pub does not help… so it means that I need to make a conscious effort, starting with taking time to make healthy snacks/meals, and taking another few moments to throw a container in my bag. I did this today. So proud of myself.

It also means I really need to befriend 5:00-7:00 in the morning. With my schedule, that’s the best time for me to pound the pavement. Lord help me. Seriously.

I can do this. I know I can. The biggest part is just… starting!

A good friend of mine (Hi Liz!!!) joined me on myfitnesspal (find me: nre820!)  and has been super motivational. We have been trading inspirational photos/words of wisdom over the last few days and I’m trying to keep all of these things in mind.  ~Side note: Liz, you’re rocking this. You’re amazing. The end.~ 

Also, shout-out to my friend Kristy. She’s been posting updates on her workouts/half marathon training. She’s unstoppable. You go girl!

Anyway, here is one of my favorite little motivators:

Taken from Tumblr-motivationintohabit.

Another awesome motivator? I joined the March Burpee Challenge-Thanks to Kim P. for this idea!!! The goal is to do burpees everyday-100 per day or…as many as you can. If you’re not sure what a burpee is, go here:

Anyway, that’s all for today. Keep movin’! Here goes nothing!

Restaurant Etiquette-Part I

Alright, prepare yourselves. This will probably turn into a mini-rant. I’ve decided to break it up into two pieces for that reason… and because I want to give both points of view; the server and the customer.

Update: Click Here for Part II.

Terrible picture, but this was taken on a busy night at one of our favorite dinner spots..

First, we have the Server’s Position….

Having worked in the restaurant business for a few years now, doing everything in the front of the house from hostessing/busing, serving/bar-tending, managing the floor and planning big parties, I feel that I have some expertise when it comes to knowing how a restaurant works.

Therefore, as an insider, I want to let you (the customer) in on a few things.

*First-and this is probably my biggest pet peeve-if you go out with more than 6 people and arrive during the busiest time on the busiest night of the week, call ahead. If you walk in without a reservation, don’t get ticked off if you have to wait ten minutes for a table. In fact, don’t get ticked off if you wait fifteen minutes. If you pull into a full parking lot, you should expect that it’s busy. I understand, sometimes, people do spur of the moment dinners with a large group of friends-and that’s fine.  But even if you call a mere ten minutes beforehand, it helps. And you’ll be seated a lot faster….just make a reservation.

*On that same note, if you see that every table is full, don’t be surprised if you have to wait more than five minutes for your food…especially if you are at a non-chain, where actual cooking occurs. You’ve probably also noticed that your server is stressed out, give them a break if they can’t deliver your dirty martini or your extra cocktail sauce in less than 15 seconds.

*If you make a reservation for a large party, call to confirm. If you can’t come, then call to cancel. It’s a waste of time, money and space to set up a large section for you and to schedule extra staff, just to have you pull a no-show. Not to mention it’s rude.

*Speaking of reservations, let’s say you call for a table of “about 6-10 people,” it would be nice if you could confirm that number…again, even ten minutes ahead of time. If you are coming on a busy night, tables go quickly and other diners get ticked off seeing 5 people sitting at a table set for fifteen.

*If there is something wrong with your food, tell someone. And make sure to tell them before you clean your plate. If your steak is overcooked, let your server know after the first or second bite, not the twelfth. It’s not very convincing if you complain about your meal when there is nothing left, and honestly, there isn’t much we can do about it at that point.

*If you’re picky, ask questions. That being said, don’t try to order a special entree and then ask for 321146356434134234 changes to be made. Asking for no mushrooms is one thing. Asking for no mushrooms, sauce on the side, stuffing on the side, a different kind of meat and broccoli instead of peppers is ridiculous. If that’s how you roll, stay home. Or order something else.

*If you have allergies, let us know. Again, ask questions. If we don’t know, we’ll find out for you.

*Please remember that you are in a restaurant, not at a frat party. If you are telling a story that would make your grandmother blush or your five-year-old  should not hear, it’s probably not appropriate to yell across the table at your bros. I once listened to a group talk about watching a girl who had too much to drink show off things she could do with a bottle. I’ll spare you the details, but it was absolutely revolting and I was pretty offended. Remember that you aren’t the only people in the room.

*Continuing with this, using the F-word does not make you cool. In fact, it makes you sound like a moron. It’s also offensive to the people around you. Remember-restaurant. Not a frat party.

*Control your children.

*I admit, this one is a personal thing; there are two kinds of zinfandel. White and red. If you order a pink zinfandel, I’m going to judge you. Just a little bit. That’s just how it is.

*Don’t forget to tip: 12-14 percent is a no-no. IF you had terrible service, then…maybe. 15 percent is okay, but if your server did a hell of a job, going above and beyond, you need to leave at least 20 percent of the bill. The “dollar per number of people at the table”  method does not fly. I have actually stopped going out to dinner with some friends because of their issue with tipping. Servers depend on that money. Bartenders, too. Not only that, but you will get better service. Amazing service. Trust me.

*If you get especially bad service, talk to the manager. They will usually bend over backwards for the customer.

*DO NOT SNAP YOUR FINGERS to get your server’s attention. They are a person, not a dog. Your server will probably tell you their name, therefore, snapping or yelling “waitress!” across the restaurant is unacceptable. And again, just plain rude. I had someone do this to me once and I promptly informed him that my name was Noelle, not waitress. He remembered after that. I cannot tell you how much this irks me.

*If you are in a large group and ask for all separate checks, it may take a few minutes to ring everything in and then run the 326 credit cards. Especially if they have to hand-write tickets and there is only one register and/or credit card machine. Please be patient. Another solution? Pay with cash.

*If you are finished with your meal, place your knife and fork at the 4-5 o’clock position on your plate, this signals that it can be taken away.

*If you are waiting for your card to be swiped, place the book upright on the table or move it toward the edge, again, this signals it is okay to take away.

*Be nice to your server.  I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Waiting, but things like that do happen in real life. I, personally, would never do that, no matter how angry someone made me, but I’ve seen and heard some questionable things done by others. Just…be nice. Trust me.

*Have fun. Chat with your server, ask questions about the menu and just have fun with your dining experience. It makes our lives easier and the entire dining experience will be more enjoyable for all involved.

Thanks for reading. Did I miss anything? What are some of your pet peeves with dining out?

Again, this is a two part post. You can read Part II by clicking here.

This is Why…Part Deux

Dear Friends, 

Monsanto=Bad News Bears.

 They are the gangsters of the agricultural world, trying to stomp out local farming…and sneaking GMOs into everything. 

…even though their own people in charge eat organic. There is probably something wrong when the people in charge of a company won’t eat their own product.

Please take a moment of  your time to sign this petition: Tell Obama to cease FDA ties with Monsanto.

Then, pass it on. Please.



Just in Case.

It’s going to be a short one, but I want to start out by saying that I have so much to tell you! December has been a busy month. Unfortunately, it’s been so busy that I haven’t had much time to sit down and actually talk about it. Forgive me. I will catch you up on the happenings in my life soon… Unfortunately, today is not the day.

Because I have to work today and tonight, continue baking, shop and sing tomorrow and have family things to do the rest of the weekend, I am taking this spare moment for you. The holidays are about spending time with friends, so here we are.

I can tell you that I am very thankful for a good job and great co-workers, Christmas food/baked goods, time off from work, new tires-finally, a wonderful family and my new husband. The last year has been crazy, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

It’ll be my first Christmas as a Mrs., so I am wondering what sort of traditions we will start…so far, we have waiting til the last minute to do…everything! What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? Or favorite memories?

Some of mine are having dinner at my grandmother’s house with all of the family, or going to Boston and having the Christmas Eve party at my Uncle Paul’s house-complete with Chinese food. There was also the time spent watching Christmas movies with my siblings. I also fondly remember singing in Christmas programs at my church, including one special Christmas where I threw up in the middle of singing “Oh Holy Night” with my sister.

I want to take this time to say “Merry Christmas,” in case I don’t have another moment. I hope you all have a safe and happy holiday, full of baked goods, wine and time spent with loved ones. God Bless.

Simple Food. Good Times. Great Friends.

Hi Friends! Sorry I have been MIA for a few days… life has gotten in the way.

Anyway, it’s been a bit of a crazy week. Ben and I are finally working on the Thank-Yous for the wedding (we’ll only be sending them out a month or two late…no big deal) and we are finally turning our lovely little home into a lovely little home…and not just an apartment full of boxes. Yippeee!!!

I have been busy online shopping (I’ll tell you about that this weekend), scheming (more on that next week), catching up with good friends, making biscuits  and looking for a part time gig, to go along with my already full time gig…mostly to alleviate winter time boredom, but partly because, well, I’m broke. Aren’t we all?

I’ve been very fortunate this week to have had time to catch up with some good friends. This was ideal…especially because I have become a bit of a hermit as winter takes full effect in the North Country.

Two of my favorite people (Hi Tina and Vanessa!) came over for dinner earlier this week. Although it was nothing fancy,  I did make it classy: I put some Frank on. Mr. Sinatra holds a special place in my heart-I firmly believe that he is the ideal dinner companion, whether it be a romantic dinner or an evening with friends…or just …anytime. He’s my go-to-guy.

The food was great, too. I broke out the stemless wine glasses we received as a wedding gift (You rock, Carrie!) and the awesome Spanish red from another friend (Thank you, Liz!!!) then I sliced up a sourdough round (it was baked with rosemary and garlic from our local organic bakery).

Quick Snack/Party Food/Dinner Side: 

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Take the slices of bread (sourdough is great, so is a nice multigrain baguette/french bread. You’re gonna want something crusty) and place them on a cookie sheet-line with parchment paper for super easy cleanup.
  • Drizzle slices with extra virgin olive oil
  • Sprinkle with your favorite herbs/spices. I used some garlic powder, cracked pepper and sea salt. Parsley or Basil would be really good as well.
  • Place in a preheated oven at 350. Broil/bake until nicely browned. If you do use the broiler, just be sure to pay extra close attention.
  • Serve hot. If you want to jazz it up, top with tomato slices (when in season, of course) or avocado.
  • You can also sprinkle/slice some cheese (Manchego or Parmesan would be glorious) on top of these before you place them in the oven. It is hot gooey deliciousness.

I love olive oil toast. Not only is it super easy to make, but it also reminds me of my days in Sevilla. I was studying abroad. Life was beautiful. I was tan… I miss those days.

This is also a bit lighter than your standard garlic bread, loaded with butter. Everyone will love it. Try it.

Anyway, I served some leftover Turkey Noodle Soup with the toast. It was wonderful. A nice hot meal, good wine and a lot of laughs. It was a great night and made me nostalgic for the days of crashing on Vanessa and Tina’s futon. And high school. But then I thought about how much I love my nice comfy bed. And how I really don’t miss the  collar that Vanessa put on her cat…I still get twitchy when I hear bells jingling. Or thinking about it. Ugh.

Moving on…

This simple dinner shows that you don’t have to go out of your way to have a good time…or good food. I love this. They loved it too…or at least that’s what they told me.

Alright kids, have a great weekend! Stay tuned for an awesome biscuit recipe, some holiday baking ideas and a great gift idea!

Back Pocket-1: Noelle-0

So, I’m finally telling you about Philadelphia! I had a great time. It was a much needed break from work and my somewhat boredom with November in the North Country. I was craving drama and.. activity-excitement-but I think I got a little more than I had anticipated.

I drove down to Troy on a Thursday night and stayed with my favorite sisters, Daniela and Angela. We spent the evening catching up and made a late night shopping trip-just like college. The next day we were up bright and early so I could catch my bus to NYC. Now, normally, I have horrible luck with buses. They either show up late or get stuck somewhere, so I scheduled my buses an hour and a half apart… just in case… my bus was set to arrive in the city at 10:45 am. I stepped off the bus at 10:00.

Did I forget to mention that I was toting my giant red backpack? It is kind of my signature travel bag… mostly because I never plan ahead when I pack… and is a giant backpack… not knowing what the weekend would bring, I overpacked. Having two and half hours to kill before my next bus, I was now rethinking this decision. I ventured into a Starbucks thinking I could find a corner and camp out with a coffee. It was packed. I had not been in such a busy Starbucks  since living in DC so I was preparing myself for an awful experience. Let me tell you, it was the best Starbucks experience I have ever had. I was so happy when I walked out that I nearly forgot I still had to entertain myself for two hours and twenty two minutes.

I decided to walk. I am newly obsessed with mapmyrun (it’s an app that allows you to track and map out your workouts) so I decided to walk. I turned the app on and just wandered around… I ended up walking about 6.5 miles… all while carrying my backpack, a giant purse and wearing my winter coat. Did I mention that I was regretting this decision? Let’s just say that was a much warmer weekend than I had anticipated.

I was getting ready to call my friend Christina when I nearly walked into her, talk about luck! Then we waited for our bus… We were due to arrive in Philly at 2:45, by the time we finally got off the train by Steph’s house, it was nearly 5:00.

It was a great weekend, I loved catching up with my college friends (Hey Steph, Pato and Tina!) and just relaxing. Saturday morning was brunch, complete with an amazing Bloody Mary. On Saturday night we went to Max Brenner’s for dinner, complete with some chocolate concoction of a drink. It was awesome and I ended up picking up some chocolatey goodness to bring home to the hubby. Then we went to get our dance on.

Did we ever! I am not typically the girl who starts the party, but when in the mood to dance, I definitely bring it.  Basically, I’m Beyonce underneath it all. No big deal. Well, yeah… kind of a big deal.  It can be a little intimidating (or scary…I don’t mind making a fool of myself!).

As the night wore on, my dancing got more and more crazy and the establishment we were in got more and more packed. It was hot and stuffy. I had the beginnings of a cold and I started to feel a bit lightheaded so I headed to the bathroom for a break from the noise and the people.

You will probably judge me for the next part of this story. I honestly didn’t think it happened to anyone in real life except for drunken idiots, but now I realize this is not the case.

Nature called while I was in the bathroom, so I answered. As I pulled my pants back up, something didn’t feel right… “Was that a splash I heard?”

I brushed my hand across my back pocket and it felt smooth…“Wait …where is my phone?!” 

I quickly turned around and glanced down. There, nestled in the bowl was my brand new cell phone. The expensive smartphone that I had gotten less than two weeks before.

“NOOOOOO!!!!!” I screamed. I scrambled to scoop it up, quickly unlocked the stall door and  ran to the sink where I disassembled my phone and was trying to dry it. I had a feeling that it was too late. I was not happy.

I put the random pieces of my phone, the battery and the cover in random pockets and headed out of the bathroom, pushing my way through the mass of people and headed back to my friends. I told them what happened and they did what any good friend would do; they laughed. A lot.

It wasn’t until a few hours later that we got back to Steph’s house. At this point, my cold had taken full force, and I was coughing and sniffling, my voice was gone, my feet were killing me and it was cold out. I had reached my “I’ve been up way to late and I am not happy about it” point.  We put my phone in rice and went to bed, I had a long day ahead of me so I was praying that my phone would be working. Rice would work, right?

It didn’t. It was too late for my poor little smartphone. In the morning I had to figure out how to get phone numbers of the friends in Troy who would pick me up and take me to my car. Thank God for me memorizing mutual friends’ phone numbers. And for Facebook. And Steph and Christina. It could have been a lot crappier of a situation.

I called Ben and told him not to worry about me, I had dropped my phone and broken it. Then we got ready to leave and headed to the bus station. As I was exiting the bus, the strap on my purse broke and it spilled all over the floor. I managed to scoop it up pretty quickly, but not before getting some evil looks from the eager college kids who I was holding up.

Once I got off the bus, I called the hubs again from Christina’s phone and let him know about what time I’d be home. He asked what happened to my phone. I said “it got wet.” In response my wonderful and loving husband burst out laughing. Then he asked “so, what kind of water did you drop it in?” 

I told him I would tell him when he got home, to which he replied “Was it the toilet?!” followed by more laughter.  I cracked a smile then told him he was a jerk and that I would see him at home. He hung up, still laughing at me.

The trip back to Albany was pretty uneventful and I managed to get back to my car without any major issues. I drove home, blasting angry girl music and singing along.

By the time I got a few exits away from my house, I was exhausted. My head was pounding, my throat was scratchy and my nose running. My whole body hurt, especially my feet, from my performance the night before. It had been a good weekend, but man, it really wiped me out! Apparently I am getting too old for this stuff.

Now, I don’t know if you’ve ever driven on the Northway before, but the last few exits are killer, it feels like they are hours apart. It’s a little maddening.

I finally pulled in my driveway, grabbed my broken purse (which held my broken phone), my giant backpack and my new boots (forgot to mention those, sorry!) and hobbled up the stairs to my apartment…but not before noticing that my shampoo had leaked onto my car seat and all over my backpack (UGH!).

I walked in, dropped everything in a heap in the middle of the floor and looked up to see Ben trying really hard not to laugh at my pathetic appearance.  We stared at each other for a minute, then he just smiled at me, walked over and scooped me up in a big hug.

He had made his famous chicken noodle soup and while I ate a giant bowl, he tasked himself with emptying out my backpack and rinsing everything that was covered in shampoo goo. Then we put my phone in rice one more time and I gave him the full details of the weekend.

Overall it was a perfect end to a pretty stellar weekend. It was nice to get away, but it’s always nice to come home to chicken noodle soup, a great big hug and a husband who is trying really hard not to laugh at your mishaps. I’d say I am a pretty lucky lady.