Saturday, January 19, 2008

Are You Still Working on Your Salad?

One of my pet peeves is waiters who ask if I'm still working on my meal. First of all, I'm on vacation today, so I'm not "working!" But today when my husband and I went to lunch at the Cabana Cafe in Destin, FL, the waitress came to our table and asked me if I was still working on my salad. This is a very common misuse of the word work. Most people work to eat, not the other way around. And if I was working on my food, I'd be the one doing the cooking in the kitchen, not the one going to a restaurant so I didn't have to work to prepare the meal!

After she walked away from our table, my husband asked me why I didn't tell her that I wasn't working today. I usually return a comment back to servers saying something like, "No, I'm not working right now, but I am still eating." But it's a hopeless solution. For starters, some waitresses look at me confused when I say this, so what's the point anyway? I can go on correcting servers throughout the United States the rest of my life and not solve this linguistic faux pas and national epedemic.

Another interesting thing happened with the same waitress. After I placed my order for the Asian salad, she told me that this was a very bland choice and she suggested that I change my order. Huh, I thought? I thanked her for her opinion and glanced over the menu again. Nothing else on the menu looked as good as a salad with lettuce, fresh mandarin oranges, sliced almonds, cucumbers, red onions with ginger soy dressing. It sounded great to me!

"I prefer vegetarian, so I think I'll stick with this salad," I said. Since she said it was bland, I asked, "can you please bring extra dressing on the side?"

"Would you like chicken or shrimp with that?"

Huh, I thought again! "No thank you," I said.

I wonder if Wayne Anderson, the owner/manager is providing enough training for his staff? I know that Wayne is the owner because when we got our bill, it was attached with a clothes pin to a Cabana Cafe post card. The post card includes a picture of Wayne with his general manager, Mandy, and his coffee roaster, Sophie. I really like the gesture with the postcard and the wooden clothes pin with a joke written on it:

It's good for a man to believe in something. So I believe I'll have another beer.

Wayne's restaurant might survive simply because it's near the beach in an area that draws a lot of tourism. But Wayne's restaurant might not make it if he doesn't start asking his customers the two magical questions:
  1. What is the one thing that you enjoyed most about your experience at the Cabana Cafe today?
  2. What is the one thing we most need to improve?
If Wayne doesn't ask his customers these questions, he will be running his business blinded by the opinions of his own semi-loyal employees. I'd like to send my feedback to help Wayne with his business, but he has made it quite difficult for me to reach him. I didn't see or receive a feedback form when I was there today, and this evening when I looked at his website, I discovered that the website doesn't have a contact us area. I did, however, find an e-mail for a Wayne Anderson who is on the Board of Directors for the YMCA of Florida's Emerald Coast. If it is the same Wayne Anderson, then I'm impressed that he is giving to his community not only through a small business, but also through his community service to the YMCA.

The salad was very good. I wish Wayne the best with his business venture into his not-so-specialized coffee/cafe, pizza/salad buffet, lunch, dinner and everything-about-food ice cream shop.

The next time a waiter asks you if you're still working on your food, can you please help me out and tell them that you're paying them to work on your food? I think I'll ask Susie Ross of Waiter Training to help too.

Cabana Cafe on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Lottie said...

I too find the service lacking in many restaurants I visit. When I find good service, I'm pleasantly pleased. When I find GREAT service, I rejoice and tell others! Of course, I generally tell others when I do NOT experience great service, as well. One thing I am sure to do when I find exceptional service in a restaurant is tip very well - and let the management know of my server's performance. I have always believed that customers will put up with food that is simply average when it is presented in an attractive, clean environment and with excellent service.
I have enjoyed reading your posts!