Most of you will agree, there is nothing worse than gazing longingly across a crowded restaurant, fixated on the one person in the room who has everything you want and need, yet unfortunately, their attention belong to another – The Waiter.
You find yourself entirely switching off from the conversation you are having with your evening’s company (tonight, it’s Sandra from accounts) about how you can hit the ground running when the next financial year starts. You become obsessed with half-saluting and half-mumbling, desperately ogling the only person assigned to you who can refill your empty glass with the Gisborne Chardonnay you so desperately desire.
So here are my five easy ways you can always make sure you get the VIP service you so rightfully deserve:
1. Know your waiter
This sounds rather basic but believe me, Pedro from South Colombia has spent the last four hours on his feet running from table to table, putting everybody’s needs before his own. He’s tired, he’s gagging for a fag break and he’s worrying about the table of 20 arriving in half an hour, as he has nowhere to put them.
Taking the time to show a little interest in him immediately lifts his spirits; the smallest compliment, “what a lovely accent,” sets you aside from all the other tables of two he’s spent the night running around for. Instantly, you’ve gone from regular customer to BFF and Pedro’s gonna be putty in your hands for the rest of the night.
If Aretha Franklin taught us anything it was respect (and that silver eye shadow is NOT okay). Treating both yourself and the waiter with respect is going to get you places. Ever watched in horror at the scene that unfolds when a patron clicks their fingers in a restaurant? No? Well, you’re lucky. Believe me: yelling, snapping fingers or insulting your waitperson is most likely going to leave you ignored. And not just momentarily.
The restaurant dining scene can be a small place and it’s easy to get a big black mark against your name – you can wave bye-bye to those tasty little after-dinner mints that come with the bill, that’s for sure.
3. The 5 Ps: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance
“Uuuuuummmmmm” is probably your waiter’s least favourite phrase. As soon as it’s uttered, they’re immediately filled with regret. “I should’ve gone to table three,” Pedro will think.
As you peruse the menu, wondering whether to go for a bottle of house Pinot Noir or splash out on the second on the list (it’s Sandra’s Birthday, after all), Pedro is thinking about is how he dropped water on table three ten minutes ago, and the clock is ticking to grab their entrée order.
Knowing what you want does everyone a favour. By all means sit back, relax and discuss the day’s events, but if you want to be looked after, have your order ready when Pedro swings by. Or, if you’re super casual (and brave), you could ask Pedro to order you his favourite dish from the menu. At this point, you’re his favourites and that glass of Chardonnay will be literally overflowing.
4. Name-drop the owner.
Okay, I get it, this can sound a little cringeworty. I mean, you’ve never even met Gordon Ramsay. But what Pedro doesn’t know won’t hurt him.
I remember once reading a review of a new restaurant that had opened on the harbour of a lovely little Spanish town where I lived. The headline read, ‘Don Julio Does It Again’. Whoever Don Julio was, I had no idea, but, when ordering my mains, I casually dropped it into conversation: “wow, Don really did a great job with this place”. What followed was a wonderful assumption that I, Mr Joe Bloggs, might have a direct line between myself and the owner and therefore be providing acute feedback to ‘my mate Don’ about my experience.
5. Celebrate Good Times – COME ON!
We’ve all been there, the lights dim, and immediately your back straightens. The soft glow of a thousand tiny pink and blue candles creeps out of the kitchen and you hold your breath, hoping that the sing-song of “happy birthday to you” isn’t coming in your direction. Then wonderfully, a wave of calm washes over you as you remember that your birthday was six months ago, and that you spent it on a lilo in Fiji drinking Cava; that is, definitely not here.
Fears of unwanted attention aside, it’s sure that if you mention to Pedro you’re ‘celebrating something’, he instantly switches to Premium Waiter mode and he starts to think about how he can add value to both your evening, and his tip amount. I’m not saying lie –that would just be uncouth wouldn’t it? Though that doesn’t mean we can’t be a little creative: “I’ve just finished a big project at work and we’re celebrating” can give you just the edge you need to get the VIP service.
What Pedro doesn’t need to know is that the last project you successfully completed was collecting the final $5 from Geoff in HR and put it towards Sandra’s birthday whip-round.
Et voilà! Five sure-fire ways to take you from plain old Table 14 to Table Bound to be Adored!