Pay to Play

By Leah Blewett
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jan. 24, 2007

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Come on, guys. We've already had the tipping talk. I even received my first piece of hate mail for that column, which is now hanging in a place of honor on my wall. But there are certain behaviors you're going to have to pay me to indulge, and clearly it's time I outlined them for you, lest they continue.

I agree our country's liquor laws--and particularly this state's--are puritanical and outmoded and frankly more trouble than they're worth. But if you're going to bring your teenager into the restaurant and ask me to serve her a cocktail, you're endangering my job. And while I'm happy to oblige the both of you with a harmless little beverage, leaving me a subpar tip at the end of your meal isn't exactly a glowing display of your gratitude.

And it doesn't stop there. If you occupy a table in my section for four hours on a Friday night, preventing anyone else from dining and forcing the hostess to scramble around like the proverbial chicken with her head cut off to find room for the reservations you've displaced, you can at least offer me a little monetary compensation. After all, when you're paid on commission, the accounts that take longer pay a higher amount, or they're not worth taking at all. Your butt in that seat means someone else's butt can't be there. And butts mean dollars in this business.

Let me throw a disclaimer on this one: My little sister is a vegetarian, and for many years my mother was a notoriously picky eater. So when I say asking us to prepare items that aren't on the menu is a big fat bother, I mean it with love and respect.

You don't eat meat? Great. You're probably healthier than I am. But you're also more likely to get your server chewed out by an irate chef when you send back your food because it was prepared in the vicinity of animal protein.

Save us both a lot of time and aggravation on this one: If you can't identify a component of a dish on the menu, ask. If you have dietary restriction´┐Żs--whether it's a life-or-death nut allergy or a strong aversion to the flavor of parsley--let me know in advance. And for crying out loud, if it's really so serious your meal be prepared in a certain way, call us in advance and let us know. If we're able to honor your special request, a couple friendly dollars go a long way.

I'll be honest--I feel much better with all that off my chest. Bring on the hate mail!

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