Author Topic: When should server begin clearing off the table?  (Read 10174 times)

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Dindrane

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #75 on: January 25, 2014, 01:34:46 PM »
I actually had this happen just the other night. My husband and I went out to dinner to a very popular but rather small restaurant. We had to wait half an hour for a table, but I think the wait got even longer after we were seated.

For the first time in a long time, the waitress asked if she could take my plate away before I was finished. It was just a few french fries that were left, and we were in the process of paying (and I think my husband was finished). But, they have super delicious fries and I wanted to eat all of them, so I told her that no, I wasn't quite done.

That kind of interaction, at that kind of restaurant, doesn't bother me in the slightest. She asked, I said no, and she came back a few minutes later when I was actually done to clear my plate.

I do think that it's important to try to match your expectations to the restaurant type when you eat out. We chose that restaurant we ate in the other night knowing that we would not get a quiet, relaxing meal. We knew we'd have to wait, we knew it would be loud, and we knew that the staff would be trying to get our table turned as quickly as they could. Since what we really wanted was their delicious, delicious food, we decided we were okay with the rest of those things.

If we'd decided it was more important to have a quiet or relaxing meal, we'd have gone somewhere else. If the atmosphere or specifics of the service were the most important factor in our decision, we'd also have made sure that the "somewhere else" was a familiar restaurant where we could be sure it was what we were after.

I'm also another person who doesn't necessarily want a lingering meal every time I eat out. Sometimes I do, but sometimes we're eating out just because we don't feel like cooking and only eating in the restaurant (rather than doing take-out) because the food tastes better that way. In those situations, it's actually a benefit if we can be in and out within an hour.


VorFemme

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #76 on: January 25, 2014, 03:06:30 PM »
Ideally, when you ask for the table to be cleared or move the plate away to indicate that you are done.

Although if you want to put half the food in a container to take home (larger servings in the USA), ask for a container to let the server know that you might be ready even if there is food on the plate....

But the training this decade seems to be to pre-clear the table so that it can be cleaned faster for the NEXT group...instead of encouraging people to linger over good food & possibly order dessert.

Depends on the corporate culture...and the corporate culture more commonly slants to maximize the number of people in & out during a business day and not maximize the enjoyment of people already there so that they WANT to come back.

Corporate culture tends more to the corporate bottom line and not the culture....

Or so I've observed since my first job in fast food in high school about 39 years ago...when we usually had at least a few "spare" tables unless we had three school buses come into the parking lot at the same time (not often).  Or during rodeo week - we were the closest "big name" chain that had drive through and a dining room to the rodeo/convention center....north of us there were places to eat with six or eight tables and a lot of parking spaces with intercoms that let you order from the vehicle & eat in the vehicle.

And one expensive but fabulous steak house....since it's been over 35 years, the mix of dining on the north side may have changed....
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VorFemme

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #77 on: January 25, 2014, 03:51:06 PM »
Also, am I super weird for leaving my favorite bits for last?

No.  I do the same ever since I was little.  The last thing eaten should be the favorite.  I think my sister is weird ;) because she eat her favorite first to make sure there's room to eat it all.  I can't understand why she would leave her taste buds lingering on her least favorite since that's eaten last.   

I also have a friend who save the best for last.  One time she left the best part of her meat on the side of her plate and her boyfriend (now husband) reached over and ate it without asking because he assumed she set it aside because she didn't like that part.  First and only time that happened >:D.

Let me guess, after she TOLD him not to do that again, she knew that she would not have to train that BF to leave her "saved for last" pile ever again...?
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Hmmmmm

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #78 on: January 25, 2014, 04:46:26 PM »
Apparently, I'm in the minority of Ehellions....I cannot stand lingering over dinner, I'm there to eat.  Bring me my food, my drink, let me eat it while it's hot, and I would generally prefer to have my check paid before I'm finished with dinner. 

My husband usually starts digging for his credit card when the server comes back to ask how our meal is and if we want anything else.  This is even more our tendency now that we have a young child.  We travel frequently as a family for work and need to eat out a lot, so often we are eating at common chain restaurants with a tired and cranky kid.  I don't want to be chasing down my server or waiting 20 minutes after the meal is over to get my check when my kiddo is antsy.  One of the biggest social challenges I have ever had is trying to eat with another family who had a younger kid and wanted to linger....A case of totally differing expectations.  My preference is to be in and out in under an hour, usually we are done in 45 minutes at most.

I am not going to punish a server for asking if they can take my plate if I seem to be done.  I am fully able to tell them that I'm still nibbling.

There is nothing wrong with your preferences and I am sure most servers will be happy to accommodate. But your family should recognize that your preference is outside the norm so should communicate your preferences to your server when your seated. " We are in a hurry so would you mind bringing out all courses together and bringing our check with the meal?"

Elfmama

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #79 on: January 25, 2014, 08:03:10 PM »
I'd find that terribly rude of them.

But I've only heard of it happening in the USA.

In the UK, they'll wait till everyone is finished and then ask if they can clear the table. Also they don't bring the bill until you ask for it.
No, not just in the US.  On a visit to Germany with our two preschoolers, the waitress tried to take away half-filled cups and plates that we were clearly still eating from!  I can't remember any place else that this happened.

Servers here in the US do usually ask, and those who haven't asked are working buffets.  If you've left the table for another run through the buffet line, you're supposed to use a clean plate, so an empty, dirty plate is a signal for the server to take it away.
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Katana_Geldar

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #80 on: January 25, 2014, 08:40:04 PM »
My dad still talks about breakfast at a hotel we went tonight year. It was a buffet, but the staff hovered in a very off putting way.

mbbored

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #81 on: January 25, 2014, 08:52:18 PM »
The angriest I have ever been at a restaurant was when I, a slow eater, had my fork half way up to my mouth.  The waitress said, "Are you done eating?" I set my fork down and said, in an icy voice, "I am now." If I had been in charge of the tip, there would not have been one! She was lucky that my DH was in charge or the tip. I did manage to get him to not leave his usual generous tip, but to leave a more moderate tip.

I get the annoyance, but why, oh why would you stop eating at a restaurant just because of a comment? I don't like to pull this out often, but the people at restaurants are "servers". Their job is to serve you. You get to decide what to eat and how to eat it.

I agree, that seems bizarre. It's not like the server was left thinking "oh no, she didn't finish because of me, my night is ruined!" She thought "okay", bussed your table, and did the rest of her job. I don't understand people trying to "punish" their servers by doing something that only hurts themselves. If you'd replied in the same tone "Of course not, I was in the middle of a bite," then you would've conveyed your message better and actually been able to finish your meal.

I can understand feeling like you're being pressured to stop eating with that comment. For goodness sake, she was in the process of lifting food to her mouth when the waitress asked the question. of course she's still eating!

AnnaJ

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #82 on: January 25, 2014, 11:23:15 PM »
The angriest I have ever been at a restaurant was when I, a slow eater, had my fork half way up to my mouth.  The waitress said, "Are you done eating?" I set my fork down and said, in an icy voice, "I am now." If I had been in charge of the tip, there would not have been one! She was lucky that my DH was in charge or the tip. I did manage to get him to not leave his usual generous tip, but to leave a more moderate tip.

I get the annoyance, but why, oh why would you stop eating at a restaurant just because of a comment? I don't like to pull this out often, but the people at restaurants are "servers". Their job is to serve you. You get to decide what to eat and how to eat it.

I agree, that seems bizarre. It's not like the server was left thinking "oh no, she didn't finish because of me, my night is ruined!" She thought "okay", bussed your table, and did the rest of her job. I don't understand people trying to "punish" their servers by doing something that only hurts themselves. If you'd replied in the same tone "Of course not, I was in the middle of a bite," then you would've conveyed your message better and actually been able to finish your meal.

I can understand feeling like you're being pressured to stop eating with that comment. For goodness sake, she was in the process of lifting food to her mouth when the waitress asked the question. of course she's still eating!

I could understand being startled or a bit bemused and thinking, still food on fork, headed toward mouth...yep, still eating...but angry and speaking icily to a server and insisting the server's tip be cut?  Nope.

Raintree

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #83 on: January 26, 2014, 12:26:44 AM »
I hate having dirty plates sitting in front of me but I do mind my manners. If I came to your house for dinner and was left sat there with a dirty plate for an hour you'd never know I was screaming on the inside. I do know how to behave, for the most part... ;-)

But if you went to someone's house for dinner with 5 other people, and three of you were finished, and the other three were still eating, surely you would expect to sit there with your plate until everyone was done and the host/ess got up to clear the plates and prepare for the next part of the meal. I'd wager most people would be pretty surprised if dessert was served to some of the guests while some were still eating the main course. (At a sit-down dinner, that is...not potluck, or a BBQ). And I'd think there'd be at least a few minutes to breathe after everyone had taken their last bite.

And if you were hosting, surely you wouldn't leap up and take away plates if a couple of your guests were still eating?

The taking away of plates signals to me, "This part of the meal is over" and if I'm not finished yet, that makes me feel rushed and I can't enjoy the rest.

I'm not sure what you're saying. I said I would sit with the plate in front of me and not say anything even though it really bothers me!

But you said you'd be screaming inside! I think if everyone was done eating and then you all sat there for an hour with the plates in front of you, yes, I wouldn't blame you for thinking, "Gee, it would be nice if plates were all taken away and we could all go sit in the living room now." But this thread is about waiting for a bit till others are finished eating. I am sure you would be perfectly polite, but screaming inside because you can't stand to have a plate in front of you while the others finish speaks of impatience and not really enjoying the meal and company. So all I am saying is that plates should be left alone until everyone is finished. I, too, have felt impatient waiting for excessively slow eaters, but in general, if someone finishes a bit early, it's not terrible to sit back, wait a bit, and enjoy the conversation with a finished plate in front of you while the rest of the party finishes, whether at someone's home or in a restaurant.

KenveeB

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #84 on: January 26, 2014, 09:28:10 AM »
The angriest I have ever been at a restaurant was when I, a slow eater, had my fork half way up to my mouth.  The waitress said, "Are you done eating?" I set my fork down and said, in an icy voice, "I am now." If I had been in charge of the tip, there would not have been one! She was lucky that my DH was in charge or the tip. I did manage to get him to not leave his usual generous tip, but to leave a more moderate tip.

I get the annoyance, but why, oh why would you stop eating at a restaurant just because of a comment? I don't like to pull this out often, but the people at restaurants are "servers". Their job is to serve you. You get to decide what to eat and how to eat it.

I agree, that seems bizarre. It's not like the server was left thinking "oh no, she didn't finish because of me, my night is ruined!" She thought "okay", bussed your table, and did the rest of her job. I don't understand people trying to "punish" their servers by doing something that only hurts themselves. If you'd replied in the same tone "Of course not, I was in the middle of a bite," then you would've conveyed your message better and actually been able to finish your meal.

I can understand feeling like you're being pressured to stop eating with that comment. For goodness sake, she was in the process of lifting food to her mouth when the waitress asked the question. of course she's still eating!

Sure, not questioning that. But what's the point of stopping eating to spite the waitress? All you do is end up not eating what you wanted, and the waitress isn't hurt by it at all.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #85 on: January 26, 2014, 10:35:47 AM »
The angriest I have ever been at a restaurant was when I, a slow eater, had my fork half way up to my mouth.  The waitress said, "Are you done eating?" I set my fork down and said, in an icy voice, "I am now." If I had been in charge of the tip, there would not have been one! She was lucky that my DH was in charge or the tip. I did manage to get him to not leave his usual generous tip, but to leave a more moderate tip.

I get the annoyance, but why, oh why would you stop eating at a restaurant just because of a comment? I don't like to pull this out often, but the people at restaurants are "servers". Their job is to serve you. You get to decide what to eat and how to eat it.

I agree, that seems bizarre. It's not like the server was left thinking "oh no, she didn't finish because of me, my night is ruined!" She thought "okay", bussed your table, and did the rest of her job. I don't understand people trying to "punish" their servers by doing something that only hurts themselves. If you'd replied in the same tone "Of course not, I was in the middle of a bite," then you would've conveyed your message better and actually been able to finish your meal.

I can understand feeling like you're being pressured to stop eating with that comment. For goodness sake, she was in the process of lifting food to her mouth when the waitress asked the question. of course she's still eating!

I could understand being startled or a bit bemused and thinking, still food on fork, headed toward mouth...yep, still eating...but angry and speaking icily to a server and insisting the server's tip be cut?  Nope.

I wouldn't have told her I was done but I certainly would have been icy with her.  Food on plate, fork on the way to my mouth?  It is patently obvious that I'm not done eating.  And her tip would have reflected that.
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KenveeB

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #86 on: January 26, 2014, 12:58:22 PM »
The angriest I have ever been at a restaurant was when I, a slow eater, had my fork half way up to my mouth.  The waitress said, "Are you done eating?" I set my fork down and said, in an icy voice, "I am now." If I had been in charge of the tip, there would not have been one! She was lucky that my DH was in charge or the tip. I did manage to get him to not leave his usual generous tip, but to leave a more moderate tip.

I get the annoyance, but why, oh why would you stop eating at a restaurant just because of a comment? I don't like to pull this out often, but the people at restaurants are "servers". Their job is to serve you. You get to decide what to eat and how to eat it.

I agree, that seems bizarre. It's not like the server was left thinking "oh no, she didn't finish because of me, my night is ruined!" She thought "okay", bussed your table, and did the rest of her job. I don't understand people trying to "punish" their servers by doing something that only hurts themselves. If you'd replied in the same tone "Of course not, I was in the middle of a bite," then you would've conveyed your message better and actually been able to finish your meal.

I can understand feeling like you're being pressured to stop eating with that comment. For goodness sake, she was in the process of lifting food to her mouth when the waitress asked the question. of course she's still eating!

I could understand being startled or a bit bemused and thinking, still food on fork, headed toward mouth...yep, still eating...but angry and speaking icily to a server and insisting the server's tip be cut?  Nope.

I wouldn't have told her I was done but I certainly would have been icy with her.  Food on plate, fork on the way to my mouth?  It is patently obvious that I'm not done eating.  And her tip would have reflected that.

Which is exactly what I suggested. (See bolded.) It's the stopping eating that's cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #87 on: January 26, 2014, 01:00:31 PM »
I was responding to Anna's comment that she wouldn't have been icy or allowed it to reflect in the tip.  That kind of obliviousness deserves a low or no tip, IMO.
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White Lotus

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #88 on: January 26, 2014, 02:03:53 PM »
Except, had I had my plate grabbed with a fork of food on its way to my mouth, my stomach would have clenched, I would have been unable to eat more, much less enjoy it, and the restaurant would have lost my custom.  Yes, indeed, I have had this happen.
Yes, I have a chancy stomach. And, yes, since I am paying them for not just a meal but a dining experience at a particular level, it IS their problem.  Check to see if there is a clue that someone's done or not before grabbing dishes.

AnnaJ

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Re: When should server begin clearing off the table?
« Reply #89 on: January 26, 2014, 02:58:43 PM »
I was responding to Anna's comment that she wouldn't have been icy or allowed it to reflect in the tip.  That kind of obliviousness deserves a low or no tip, IMO.

Perhaps it's just a perception difference - I'd see this as simply a brain glitch moment, which I think would be better dealt with by pointing out to the server that no, since I'm still eating I am not done with my plate, and assume it was a 'doh!' moment on the server's part.  I truly do not understand why an icy tone of voice would be appropriate or why a tip would be reduced unless the server reacted badly to the correction or tried to ignore it.