By Doni Glover, Publisher
(BALTIMORE – November 29, 2022) – For the record, I am old school. I believe in busting your butt to learn a skill or craft and then taking initiative to apply it to some type of legitimate job or business. On that note, I have to agree with Chuck Harrison of the former Harrison’s Pier 5 when he said he thought that every American ought to work in a restaurant for 2 years. Why? I’ll tell you why; because the education and skills one receives in the restaurant business are applicable to almost any profession out there.
I worked in restaurants from the age of 16 until about 32 or so. This included stints in Atlanta and Downtown Baltimore, including time at the Center Club, one of the top 10 private dining clubs in America. Truth be told, my father and great-uncle worked there, too.
In my restaurant career, I did everything from wash dishes to front-of-the-house duties, like waiter. I am one who tends to think that the dishwasher is the most essential position in the house because, without clean dishes, you’re not selling diddly-squat. So, a smart waiter always takes care of the dishwasher.
So, let me get to the point of this piece. I’m in a spot with my daughter. This was supposed to be a moment to catch up. She’s extremely busy as a mompreneur college student working diligently to wrap up her undergraduate career and get on with her life. We ordered what we always get.
I’m going to say something. It may be offensive, but I’m just trying to understand the mentality of the restaurant business today. I know we are coming through/out of a pandemic. I get it. Everybody is stressed. The masks have done a number on us Americans and folks just want to get back to some semblance of normalcy as we knew it before COVID. I get it.
What I don’t get is the State of Hospitality.
For instance, this particular establishment puts the tip on the check.
As a former waiter, I must say I’m insulted by this because back in my day, a tip was earned by providing attentive service. In my day, you didn’t have to ask for bread and water, but you often do today. Again, I’m old school. Bread and water were basic back then, but not so today. I’ll tell you something else. I didn’t know that tips have gone from 15% to 17%. I certainly missed this memo.
The worst part was none of this. As for the pre-recorded tip, it saves me from tipping 20%, standard for most of us who worked in the profession. The worst part was that the waiter had no clue as to the order of food in most American establishments, or so I thought – or so I’d like to think (Okay, maybe a bit too wishful on the thinking). Appetizer, soup, salad, and then entrée: That’s the order, amigo!
Here’s my thought. If you get an automatic tip, then I get automatic basics when it comes to service. Right? I mean, damn! Okay, so, you bring the soup out first. Okay, fine. Let me eat the soup. Right? But noooooooo! My dear waiter then brings out the appetizer and the salad. And about 5 minutes later came the entrée. Meanwhile, I find myself cramming this food. I’d much rather take my time, you know? To boot, I’m swatting at a pesty fly like I’m on the plains of Africa protecting my kill.
Maybe, I should get my food to go next time. Ya think? And I’m fine with that. I just think that while the standard American tip has increased, the quality of service has gone in the other direction and topped off with either ignorance from poor training, good ol’ American entitlement, or a combination of the two. Whatever the case, it’s a turnoff!