I went out to a steak place last week (group party - ladies only). Background - party room set up for 40; some 35 or 36 had phoned in a "yes" for their RSVP; and two extra place settings (that I saw) were added when extra people started showing up. It was not hosted - the person setting things up had made the reservation ONLY, we ordered off the menu, and I ordered my meal with onion rings. In Texas (well, the American South & Southwest), you expect to find tomato catsup or some other sauce for onion rings on the table or in a small container on the plate - even if it is little plastic pouches to be torn open at a fast food place.
They looked fabulous - large slices of real onion, separated into rings, dipped in seasoned batter, and fried just right...but....no catsup on the plate. No catsup on the table (bottle, jar, ramekin, carafe, or plastic pouches in a container).
I asked the waiter at least three times for catsup. Finally walked out of the private party room to the bar to ask for catsup. I found out that they don't have catsup bottles in the dining areas, they serve it in ramekins from the kitchen, the bar tender explained this like bottles of catsup were lower class service...well, maybe it is, but you have some catsup while your onion rings are HOT!
Finally got ONE small metal container, about half full, dropped off by one of the two waiters assigned to our group. It was enough for 2/3 of the onion rings, if I skimped on the catsup. Half if I'd dipped them "properly". They were still "warm" but no longer hot. I don't usually plan to eat my onion rings as dessert - but without catsup...I waited to eat them.
Never got a refill on the catsup. Ate the last two They were handling the tea & water by dropping off wine carafes with water in them and keeping the carafes replaced,, as needed.
Still tipped $4 on a $14 bill (drank water so I could sleep before 2 am - no caffeine with my evening meal) - but had been thinking of $5 (because I had a $5 bill on me). Instead I added the $4 to the tip line and charged it. Not a huge difference. But I'm still wondering why I was brought a plate with onion rings on it that did not have a small container of catsup already on the danged plate?
And remembering why I don't go to this place for lunch on my own, just when I'm going to a party with the ladies in the group.
The bolded is why the tip would have been about a dollar. I shouldn't have to not only ask for something repeatedly and then still have to get it myself.
Two waiters, 42 women (all of us 55 or older - about a third of them in their late 70s and really, really indecisive about what to eat - it took a while to get all the orders with both waiters working and by that time some of the food was starting to get ready - I was literally order #2 - so the cooks were finishing the other 40 plates fast once mine came in....), and since I was a waitress in college - I had an inkling of the handicaps they were working under. (Larger group than planned - whole menu rather than limited one to simplify knowing what would be more likely to be ordered, no preordering, and some of these women wanted the menu read to them....I heard one waiter explaining the same three dishes to one lady three times, then twice to the lady next to her, and again to the lady next to HER...by the time he got to the end of the table - he had to have explained the menu over forty times to the 20 people on our end of the table - maybe seventy times).
I did figure the price of a drink into the total (drank only water) before writing down the $4 to make sure that they didn't LOOSE money waiting on me (average plate cost considers at least a plate & a beverage)....I had that happen a few times when I waited on elderly people & got left twenty five cents on two lunches with a beverage - so roughly $10 thirty years ago. Granted, you could buy more with a quarter, but 10% to 12% of the bill it was not.
I just don't plan to go back there until the next annual party...service might be better outside the party room - but there is food at least as good other places & I don't MIND the low class touch of a bottle of catsup on the table!
I know how the IRS in the USA figures an approximate tip on every sale, figuring that you'll average X% off of that. I learned to keep records of my cash tips in college just to be sure that if I reported income 2/3s of what they were going to tax me on, I could support it in case of an audit. I didn't like it - but I found a better place to wait tables, too!
The planner (group leader) had set ups for 40 and when I got there (RSVP #36) there were already ten chairs "folded" against the table to "save" them for various groups to sit together. Once all the chairs that weren't "saved" got filled - the leader talked to the women who were saving seats...turned out that the people having the seats saved for them were already there & seated on the other side of the (large) room.
We still had at least two more place settings needed, as more people showed up than had RSVPd. There at times when I think that she should take orders from a limited menu & pass out colored name tags for people to leave by their seat (giant U shaped table set up - but it's her group and some of these ladies looked at their plates & didn't remember what they'd ordered twenty minutes earlier - they would have been really upset if they'd sent in a pre-order with their RSVP & changed their minds in the ten days between RSVP & event).
I was the first person on our side of the U to order - so I was glad that I had been looking at the menu....there were ladies who stopped talking & started reading the menu as the waiter was taking the order of the person next to them. The 42 of us probably took over 45 minutes to order even with two waiters (I don't know if they took 21 orders each or if one waiter took more orders than the other).
I do know that once the plates started coming out of the kitchen, there was another 45 frantic minutes as trays were carried in & out with three & four plates on each tray (the manager or hostess was helping - didn't see a tag to know her title - she was also the one behind the bar who told me that they didn't have bottles of catsup).
Her tone of voice wasn't dripping with condescension - but it did seem to be the slightest bit like she was pointing out something to her grandmother that her grandmother SHOULD have known. I did the Spock eyebrow lift...I have no idea if she even noticed.
Young whippersnappers....but I digress.
I really think that we've outgrown the party room (or at least the U table arrangement) but there are a limited number of places for 34 to 45 people to eat with a "reasonable price range" of food. I might point out a couple of options over the next few months (11 months until the next planning session for the leader) - but being right off a major highway & close (or at least not out of the range of reasonable driving distance in town) is a HUGE consideration.
And a buffet might be easier in some ways - but she'd never get everyone sitting down at the same time to make any announcements or play a Bingo...because there would always be a few people refilling drinks, getting food, getting clean silverware, or wandering over to talk to someone who came in later & sat down on the other side of the room.
We have monthly meetings at a buffet...I *know* how things go at a buffet.