Good service can rescue a bad meal, industry insiders will tell you, but nothing makes up for bad service. That's why the bulk of restaurant complaints boil down to poor treatment at the hands of thoughtless staff. Clevelanders, of course, aren't the only people who struggle with indifferent, rude, or downright hostile waiters and waitresses. The lack of professional servers is a problem nationwide, and it spurred Phoenix restaurateur and culinary instructor David Rothschild to write The Main Course on Table Service: Skills & Tips for Becoming a Confident, Efficient, Professional Server. The slender volume ($19.95, available at www.EATiQuette.com) is not only a good training resource, but it also offers diners an objective look at what constitutes proper service. Here are some pointers for servers:
Do . . .
· Greet diners no more than one minute after they are seated.
· Know your menu, the daily specials, and details of preparation.
· Be courteous: "No problem" is not a substitute for "You're welcome."
· Serve all food from a guest's left; clear from the right.
· Wait until all guests are finished to clear a course.
Don't . . .
· Refer to guests as "You guys," especially if they are women.
· Slouch, squat, kneel, or grab a seat to take orders.
· Place fingers inside the rim of the wine glass or your thumb on the plate.
· Allow empty glasses, bottles, condiments, and paper scraps to accumulate.
· Disappear after presenting the check.
Happy days for hash heads . . .
After a four-month, fire-inflicted hiatus, Macedonia's Zachary's (759 East Aurora Road, 330-467-3927) reopened on January 3. The tiny deli, home to first-rate corned beef hash as well as thick potato-pancake sandwiches, has been treated to a thorough sprucing up; even better, a no-smoking policy has been put in place. In a nod to time-pressed working stiffs, the eatery is also moving away from traditional table service. Instead, guests now have an option of either ordering at the deli counter or helping themselves to a lunchtime buffet. Since reopening, Zachary's popular Sunday breakfast has been buffet-style only. But owner Sam Sarkisian says he's heard so much griping from folks craving their weekend spinach omelets that he's considering a return to a fuller menu. Zachary's is open daily for breakfast and lunch.