12/12/2012 03:00:00 PM

Service Pet Peeves: LA's Chefs, Somms and Restaurateurs Weigh In

Waiter Tim, we're ready. Tim? Tim??!
Yesterday we honored the best service in town for Service Week, but we can't ignore the fact that hospitality isn't second nature to everyone in the restaurant and bar business. As previously noted, at least 61% of our readers say service is their number one gripe when it comes to dining out. But they aren't alone. We all have our service pet peeves.

We personally get itchy when it's "shift change" at a restaurant, when the daytime crew tries to wrap things up for the nighttime crew, and they use that excuse for lack of concern for our empty water glasses, dirty dishes or bill. And don't even get us started on the non-multitasker, the server who fails to do the sweep around their section before leaving a room (one table needs a bill, they get the bill and come back; another table needs a menu, they get the menu and come back, etc.). Come one: it's not rocket surgery. So we asked some of LA's chefs, restaurateurs and hospitality heads for their thoughts on service. Here are a few of their gripes, peeves and even a few solutions.

Adam Fleischman, founder Umami Restaurant Group: "Bad service is a higher end restaurant that doesn't care about their customers, have rude staff at the door, charge for valet parking when they can't get you in (even though they are a third full), blame you when you call and complain, and then don't answer your complaint letter to ownership. Not naming names."

Matthew Kaner, general manager/wine director Bar Covell: "Bad service is constituted by any of the following scenarios: not creating a comfortable environment; no greeting upon arrival and saying thank you upon descent; failure to explain what your establishment excels at...definition is KEY; delivering something other than what was ordered by your guest(s); intruding into the experience of your guest(s); failing to answer elemental questions asked by your guest(s). And one that I personally fall victim of...trying to over-educate your guest(s). Apparently people don't want to know things. it's a gentle balance, I suppose."

Lee Maen, co-founder Innovative Dining Group: "I dislike a server who can't read the table. They should know when to hang and talk or when to leave us alone."

Michele Grant, former co-melter Grilled Cheese Truck, currently founder aed Executive Chcf of The Kosher Palate: "Bad service is ignoring your guests (forgetting that your customers are your guests), even if it's a table touch or a check in while their waiting. It's never ok to leave people hanging either at the table or at a truck. Simple professional decorum goes into this category as well - leave personal nonsense in the back of house."

Santos Uy, owner Papilles and Mignon: "Arguing with the guest really gets them pissed."

Brooke Burton-L├╝ttmann, Food Woolf and service guru (Milo + Olive, Sycamore Kitchen, Fritzi Dog): "Bad service is when you ignore guest needs - the basics like greeting, taking order, delivering food, check back, clearing, and dropping the check - and are slow to respond when things have clearly gone south."

What are your service pet peeves? Let us know in the comments, and continue the conversation via social media using the hashtag #serviceweek.


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