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Etiquette, The Two-Way Street


Audrey2025
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Inspired by the last two Sietsema chats and a recent postings on DCist re: a Colorado Kitchen review, I'd like to start something of a Diner/Dining Staff Etiquette Guide. Just a few suggestions...

For Diners:
1. Never move tables, chairs, or yourselves (to another table) without FIRST gaining permission to do so.
2. Notify the chef/managment of food allergies and special needs BEFORE you sit down to order.
3. If there is a problem...with the food, with the service, with the bill, whatever...speak up while you're still in the restaurant! If you can't for logistical or tempermental reasons, attempt to contact the restaurant before you take your complaint "public."

For Dining Staff:
1. Don't play the disappearing server game! If there is a delay or a problem, keep your patrons up to speed. They'll appreciate the heads-up.
2. Stop posing as Joe Public on Tom's chats. It's embarassing, obvious, and turns savvy readers off. If you're going to plug, plug shamelessly!
3. I may be young and poor now, but I won't always be. And not all of my friends are. I'll remember the restaurants who treated me like royalty when I skipped a course or ordered water. My money's green, I'm a nice person, and I always talk up great restaurant experiences.

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For Dining Staff:

1. Don't play the disappearing server game! If there is a delay or a problem, keep your patrons up to speed. They'll appreciate the heads-up.

Think about this one for a minute. If you don't tell the patrons that the kitchen is backed up, they will think that you are reponsible for the delay and take it out of your hide when it comes to figuring the tip. It's always better to put the turd in someone else's pocket.

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux
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For Dining Staff:

1. Don't play the disappearing server game! If there is a delay or a problem, keep your patrons up to speed. They'll appreciate the heads-up.

Similarly, please give me more than 30 seconds with my meal before coming to my table to ask if everything is okay. I want a chance to taste and assess everything. If there's a problem, I'm more likely to be able to identify it specifically if I've had a few minutes and a few bites. If you come to me too soon to ask how everything is, you'll likely get one of two answers:

"Uh, fine, thanks." Even though it's not.

"Uh, this sucks. But don't ask me to tell you why." And we can guess how helpful to the server and the kitchen that answer is.

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1. if you feel the need to flag me down because you just can't wait 3 seconds while i finish making a drink, be ready to order when I come over not this routine.

Flag Arms frantically! Flag arms Frantically! "Thank god here they come."" Hi folks how may I assist you." "Uh.....Hmmmmmmmmmmmm.....Well, I think I will have a ................................Let me see here, everything looks so good.....wait just a minute while I..............

2. If you don't tell me about seperate checks, don't assume that i can seperate or have already seperated the check into 20 smaller checks. We all graduated from some level of education, do the math in your head.

3. If you don't like something such as beets or turnips, Don't, i repeat don't act like a child and bellow out loud. "beets! YyyyyyuuuuCk!" "No Way! I hate beets!" I don't live with you so don't expect me to know what you like and dislike.

4

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Oh, this could be a fun thread...

Five etiquette peeves:

5. Don't kneel at my table

4. Don't park your elbows on my table

3. Touching me on the shoulder or back - or anywhere - is not going to get you a bigger tip

2. I'm not a guy ("What can I get you guys to drink?") -most people are clued in by the size of my rack, although I'd appreciate your not staring at it

And my (current) number one pet peeve:

1. Don't refold my napkin and place it back on top of the table.

Napkins are properly left on one's chair during one's absence, and placed back on table at the completion of the meal.

True story: dining with a group at a very nice restaurant, unfortunately had to extricate inedible portion of meat from mouth; said morsel ended up in napkin; later had to excuse self, so carefully placed strategically folded napkin on chair; returned to find the same soiled napkin refolded on table... where did the partly masticated meat go?! yuck.

[yeah, I know, it's supposed to exit the same way it went in, but I never got the hang of that]

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4. I pour a great drink, don't ask to have a 'good one' or'a biggie' and not expect to pay for it. Being greedie gets you nada.

5. If a bar decides to offer complimentary snacks, great, but not every bar does so don't roll the eyes when you ask for , i even hate saying this because its horrible grammar "Uh, excuse me, do you have any..you know..nibs,nabs,or nibbles?" You know, like peanuts or popcorn?" This isn't the circus folks, and nibs,nabs and nibbles when I last checked didn't show up on the food pyramid.

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for diners...

do not under any circumstances arrive 40 minutes early for your reservation and then get pissy when your table is not ready. reservations are there for the convenience of the guest and to maximize operational efficiency of the staff. identifying how many tables can be accommodated during a time period is akin to an algorithm. here are some of the factors to be considered:

how much can the kitchen handle

how much can the bar handle

how much can the floor staff handle

how much can the dishwasher handle

building in a little extra capacity to accommodate the walk-in traffic that eats at the bar

how quickly can the table be reset after a guest leaves

at a busy restaurant, if a guest is seated early or late for their reservation, then they have altered the system that reflects all of the aforementioned thought processes. they force the restaurant to overbook a time slot which potentially can have an adverse impact on every other guests food quality, level of service received, and overall experience.

in a small restaurant one table of six being 40 minutes early can have an impact on operations. add one more early table and two late tables and your very well considered plan and your once smooth night has now evolved into "the weeds".

this mini-rant was inspired by a particular group of guests at notti bianche last evening - the full details of which are not appropriate for this thread. i will however share that the worst part about this early table was that their actions were clearly intentional. when they called for a reservation the time requested was not available. the closest available time was 45 minutes later. they agreed to the later time. a confirmation call was made, and the time was again confirmed. and then they appear at the door at the original time they requested.

that is just impolite.

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3. If there is a problem...with the food, with the service, with the bill, whatever...speak up while you're still in the restaurant! If you can't for logistical or tempermental reasons, attempt to contact the restaurant before you take your complaint "public."

Last night we had a doozey! A party walked in around 8 asking for a table of 5. We were able to accomodate them upstairs after a short wait. The wiater approached the table and asked them if they wanted water, if they wanted a cocktail. A few minutes later he asked htem if they were ready to order. He was told they were not ready. He took a dessert order at an adjacent table for 8, which took 10 to 15 minutes. The table had ben spoken to 3 times, given wather and then left alone for too long, but not ignored for 25 minutes.

I was downstairs and the party started walking out. One gentleman told me they were ignored for 25 minutes. I was mortified and said if they would just return to their seats, I would buy them dinner for all 5 of them!. This was rudly ignored as he stomped out. Another of the party said they were ignored and I again offered them a free dinner and said we obviously blew it!. A third of the party walked up and started berating me. "Whats wrong with this place? Don't you have enough waiters or don't they know what they are doing?"

Each time I replied that "Obviously we made a mistake and I am sorry. Please let me buy you all dinner tonight because of that."

As the woman for the fourth time said "What's wrong with this place" I decided I had had enough. I had to ask them to leave, pointing out that I have offered them, 5 times now, to buy them dinner and they obviously were not interested in resolving the problem. We were not going to please them so here is the door and maybe they should go elsewhere. They left at maybe 8:45 so they had been at their table no more than 30 minutes total, allowing for the 15 minutes they spent complaiing to me.

So how about another rule.... if you are going to complain, at least let management do something to resolve the situation! Don't stand and yell at them for 15 minutes.

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Please do not arrive late. I have made space for you in my dining room, prepared the food, trained a staff, educated servers, cleaned, dusted, maintained equipment, basically invited you in to my home where we want you to feel at home just as every other guest should. When you arrive late, you are violating an unwritten social contract, don't piss us off we are here to make your evening enjoyable.

Especiallly do not arrive late and then tell me you only have 45 minutes, but insist on having three courses.

If you cannot make it on time, you should have left earlier. At the very least call, so I can give your table to somebody who wants to be here. When you show, I'll see what I can do.

"How would you like it if I came to your house, late, criticized the decor, called your wife fat and then disparaged the meal"

-Marco Pierre White

I'm in this business to take care of people, it is a service industry, but I, and more importantly my staff, are not your servants.

Had some no-show issues yesterday.....

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Last night we had a doozey!  A party walked in around 8 asking for a table of 5.  We were able to accomodate them upstairs after a short wait.  The wiater approached the table and asked them if they wanted water, if they wanted a cocktail.  A few minutes later he asked htem if they were ready to order.  He was told they were not ready.  He took a dessert order at an adjacent table for 8, which took 10 to 15 minutes.  The table had ben spoken to 3 times, given wather and then left alone for too long, but not ignored for 25 minutes. 

I was downstairs and the party started walking out.  One gentleman told me they were ignored for 25 minutes.  I was mortified and said if they would just return to their seats, I would buy them dinner for all 5 of them!. This was rudly ignored as he stomped out.  Another of the party said they were ignored and I again offered them a free dinner and said we obviously blew it!.  A third of the party walked up and started berating me.  "Whats wrong with this place?  Don't you have enough waiters or don't they know what they are doing?"

Each time I replied that "Obviously we made a mistake and I am sorry.  Please let me buy you all dinner tonight because of that."

As the woman for the fourth time said "What's wrong with this place" I decided I had had enough.  I had to ask them to leave, pointing out that I have offered them, 5 times now, to buy them dinner and they obviously were not interested in resolving the problem.  We were not going to please them so here is the door and maybe they should go elsewhere.  They left at maybe 8:45 so they had been at their table no more than 30 minutes total, allowing for the 15 minutes they spent complaiing to me.

So how about another rule.... if you are going to complain, at least let management do something to resolve the situation!  Don't stand and yell at them for 15 minutes.

WOW. Just WOW. Were you being set-up? Or, is this simply a case of rude people who are not fit for civilized society? :lol:

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A third of the party walked up and started berating me. "Whats wrong with this place? Don't you have enough waiters or don't they know what they are doing?"
There just seems to be a common personality-type in DC that LOVES to berate any service situation which isn't "up to their standards" - I hear them give a BIG HARUMPH, HARUMPH!!

Speaking of etiquette, I was brought up to be POLITE!! Gee, I'm old-fashioned...but at the same time, I disagree with people who are too polite and walk away from a situation feeling ignored/cheated and miserable...so when there's a service problem POLITELY ask the server or manager to fix the situation to your liking...old expression "you get more with honey than with vinegar!"

And what about an occasional COMPLIMENT-I try to use them before, during and after a meal, from the time I walk-in and mention great things I've heard about the chef's new dish, to the bartender who I always tell my guests is "top of their game" to the finale when I walk out and make sure I've either spoken with the manager or chef (depending on how busy they are..) and told them how great/wonderful my meal was - WOW, a little pleasant treatment of people seems to get me the best food and service!!

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Servers:

When dining out, I value my drinks almost as much as I value my food. Please don't ask me before I've even sat down what I'd like to drink--it's a tough decision! red or white? cocktail or beer? girly drink or manly drink? maybe a bit of bubbly? And if I tell you I'm not quite sure yet, I likely only need 3-5 minutes to decide, not TWENTY.

Speaking of drinks... I went to a popular neighborhood bar a few weeks ago to meet a friend of mine. Bartender asks what I want. I ask for the beer list. She gives it to me, then walks away. Ten (!) Minutes (!) Later (!), she came back and took my order. (It was not busy.) Five minutes later, she returned to tell me that keg was dry, what else would I like? Darn it, I really like that beer... Eh, I guess I'll take the $6 pint of Ho-Hum. So just as I got my beer, my friend arrives. The bartender pops over and tells her it's ladies night and all blah blah blah really, really cheap drinks.

Note: I am ALSO a woman.

On another occasion, same bar, I asked if they had any IPAs. The bartender recommended Pilsner Urquell. Sigh.

I used to be a regular at this place, but not anymore!

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When dealing with restaurant staff, there is one simple fact that is often forgotten. Guests and servers are not dealing with each other from the position of equality. Someone behaving rudely or crassly toward me at, say, a party, would get seven degrees of verbal undressing, but when confronted with the same behavior at a restaurant, I am simply not in the position to respond as I would like. For instance:

At a party:

"Is that you on that nekkid woman photo poster?"

"Piss off, you unimaginative cretin."

At a restaurant:

"Is that you on that nekkid woman photo poster?"

"Ahahaha, that's very kind of you. Excuse me."

Some people interpret that inequality to mean that no standards of polite behavior apply and you are in fact no longer human. Don't be like that. I may not be in the position to reduce your balls to shriveled walnuts under my scathing wit as your date looks on, but I still have the same feelings when you are being rude or crass.

And more importantly, I know people who carry your food.

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Not so much an etiquette issue as Something Restaurants Should Really Pay Attention to: What is playing on the huge plasma screen behind the bar. Also they need to give better estimates as to when pick-up orders will be ready. If not 'They', then at least the particular Thai place near me from which I ordered dinner Saturday night. I put in the order and was told to swing by in ten minutes to pick it up. So I wait a while and go. The restaurant is absolutely packed, which I count as a generally good thing since sometimes it's kind of quiet in there. On the other hand, it doesn't bode well for my satay and curry being ready. It's not. So I park it at the bar and watch news and sports highlights. Time passes. The girl next to me orders dinner, then recieves it. Bet whoever picked up the phone didn't even put my order in! Watching tv, watching tv...the news ends and CSI: New York starts up. Imagine, if you will, the following scene: a bustling industrial laundry facility somewhere in New York or possibly Jersey. Lots of big machines and steam and grunting people moving around multi-hundred-pound bags of sheets on overhead cranes. One bag, as it turns out, is multi-hundred-pound plus about 120, but not for long, as the sheets and the body of what I presume, without the benifit of audio, to be the body of a dead hooker tumble out of the bag and into the machine. Somebody on CSI takes Old World pride in their work. The ear-to-ear slit across her throat was, I dare say, lovingly detailed and multiple ancillary stab wounds or streaks of blood were also crafted with the greatest of care. And the guy on the camera, clearly a friend of the special effects wiz, was going to give his work the lengthy attention it so richly deserved. The couple at the table at the end of the row were mortified. The bar staff was oblivious. I was relieved: Having sat around for the better part of 25 minutes, being frankly not dressed for the occasion having expected a quick in-and-out (Pff...socks! Who needs them!), my food arrived and I made my exit!

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I was born in Italy, and have only recently moved to the northern Virginia area.

Since moving to northern Virginia, it is surprising to see how rude and disrespectful both diners and waitstaff can be. From my perspective, the lack of manners tends to be on the customer and for whatever reason cannot understand why effort is not made on being polite and being grateful for the opportunity to eat in such a fine establishment.

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while i am sure that none of the members of this forum would do this...

restaurant guests:

do not under any circumstances walk into a restaurant ask for assistance with the wine list and then make horribly rude, uneducated and misguided statements about that list to the person who you asked to assist you. especially do not do this in vain attempts to impress your boss who in your absence had the grace to admit that "the size of your prick and how big of a prick that you are have an inverse relationship".

surely there is a special spot in hell reserved for such people.

Edited by starfish
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Servers:

Don't make me feel like crap for ordering tap water.

Please don't take my partner's plate away while I'm still eating or vice versa.

In return, I will continue to show up on time for reservations, be polite to you and thankful for your considerate service.

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Please don't take my partner's plate away while I'm still eating or vice versa. 

This is about my single biggest gripe, and it happens to me several times a month.

Fine-Dining Restaurants: STOP CONFUSING "EFFICIENCY" WITH GOOD SERVICE. My silverware is in the resting position. Please learn what that means. I'll put them parallel when it's time for you to clear.

However, I've never had a problem intervening, slightly leaning forward, with a friendly, "actually, I'll keep the plate until my friend is finished."

I suppose that if I was really old-school polite, I'd try to time finishing my dish to the exact moment my dining companion finished. Not always easy when you're scarfing at McDonald's with opposing bags of fries, however.

Does anyone remember the cartoon a few years back about the server who tried to take away the plates, and the diner turned purple, held up a knife, and started screaming "if you take that plate away, I'll cut your arm off at the elbow!" It was hilarious and I've been looking for that on the web to no avail. Can anyone send it to me?

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Does anyone remember the cartoon a few years back about the server who tried to take away the plates, and the diner turned purple, held up a knife, and started screaming "if you take that plate away, I'll cut your arm off at the elbow!"  It was hilarious and I've been looking for that on the web to no avail.  Can anyone send it to me?

I'd like that, also! It sounds like a great cartoon to print out and slip into visibility when needed while dining out.

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...especially do not do this in vain attempts to impress your boss who in your absence had the grace to admit that "the size of your prick and how big of a prick that you are have an inverse relationship"...

I think this just made my day. What a morsel of the human comedy!

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We are having quite a week....

I was talking to a table and they seemed really nice and enthusiastic being in the restaurant. I went away think "Nice, maybe they will be regulars...."

Apparently after I left, they made some comments... "What's up with that guy with his skeim of fat hanging down from his pants?" This comment was loud enough to be heard by my chef (about 8 feet away) and their waiter who was at the next table. His comment to them was that "its not cool to talk about anyone at the restaurant like that". They went balistic saying that they thought he was spying on them etc. It devolved from there.

So folks, if you don't want someone to hear your comments, don't make them. If someone at another table can hear you, or someone 6 feet away or more, you don't have any expectation of privacy.

Unfortunately the waiter didn't let me in on the situation until the end of their meal, when there was really nothing I could do. I would have loved to go to them right after the comment and say, "Excuse me, I understand you have a personal question for me?" If these folk had spoken about any of my staff like that, they would have been immediately asked to leave!

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So folks, if you don't want someone to hear your comments, don't make them.  If someone at another table can hear you, or someone 6 feet away or more, you don't have any expectation of privacy.

This is true EVERYWHERE. I was in line at a market the other night, and the guy behind me, who seemed nice enough but was obviously stretching to impress his (I think) first date, started going on and on about my government agency and how every single person who works there is a terribly pretentious, incompetant poseur who has no interest in helping anyone but him or herself. I turned around and, laughing, said, "Oh, we're not ALL so bad..." Poor guy's face turned every shade of magenta.

To make this post food-related, I'll add that I purchased a jar of dry-roasted peanuts and a bottle of grapefruit juice, my deadly caloric, go-to, post-bar craving.

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Sigh...

Don't tell me I can't have the table I requested because "the investors" have reserved it, stick me at a dinky and too small table and then not two minutes later seat a couple there who aren't "the investors." (And that the table is always reserved on that day for the investors when I've sat there on that day of the week multiple times!)

And when I share this observation with management don't tell me that the hostess feels terrible when she hasn't walked over herself to apologize.

Grumble....

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Sigh...

Don't tell me I can't have the table I requested because "the investors" have reserved it, stick me at a dinky and too small table and then not two minutes later seat a couple there who aren't "the investors."  (And that the table is always reserved on that day for the investors when I've sat there on that day of the week multiple times!)

And when I share this observation with management don't tell me that the hostess feels terrible when she hasn't walked over herself to apologize.

Grumble....

Did this occur here in DC? Spill it...

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This is off the chain topic, but on the children in restaurants topic (new thread, perhaps?), but this article in the Times yesterday was very interesting.

At Center of a Clash, Rowdy Children in Coffee Shops  

A cafe owner in Chicago put up a sign requesting that children use their indoor voices while in his cafe...which led to a huge backlash among parents in the neighborhood, who felt entitled to bring their rowdy children into his cafe. My impression is that the sign was done in a playful manner (it was placed at kid-level and had paint handprints on it).  It reminds me of a little note that Gillian Clark puts on her menus, asking that parents keep their children under control.

I don't see this owners' actions as anti-child (and neither did the many who wrote letters to the editor today), but apparently these parents did.  I don't have children, and I have no problem with children dining at any restaurant so long as they are appropriately behaved.

I cannot believe the umbrage taken by the quoted mothers. Do they truly believe their disquieting offspring were behaving in proper form and that the proprietor is a Mister Meanie-Pants for asking them to display a modicum of responsibility.

The mom who took the screaming child outside to cool off was the only one who made sense. Personally, I feel like sending Mr. Meanie-Pants $10 for fighting the good fight.

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No kidding, logan. This quote, from a mother complaining about the "inside voice" rule, floored me:

"You go to a coffee shop or a bakery for a rest, to relax, and that you would have to worry the whole time about your child doing something that children do."

Now, I don't have any kids, but when parents need to rest, do you seriously take your kids out in public and let them loose? And then it's my fault if I can't "rest and relax" with your kid under my table, drooling, screaming, and kicking me?

Crazy lady. I'd go to that guy's shop every day if I could, in solidarity. Power, brother!

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Here, here! I'm tired of parents who think that it's not necessary to disclipine their kids' public behavior. What, they just think that when they grow up they grow out of it? Hardly.

Have mercy, don't even get me started on how rude people can be to you if you work in a carry-out restaurant. Amazing how rude people can be just because they're consuming their food at home...ai.

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This place is so on my list for if/when I visit Chi-town. I recall a time (regrettably long ago) where keeping a watchful eye on the little ones was the regular expectation for parents taking their children anywhere.

To that one lady: You know what, you may be out for a break, but guess what? The gentleman that owns this coffee shop isn't being paid to babysit your kid, and neither are its patrons!

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Once over Xmas in college I put in some hours in at a toy store owned by a friend's family in a small mall. Many parents thought nothing of dropping their kids off at the toy store while they went shopping elsewhere for an hour or so. As instructed, I would escort unaccompanied children out into the mall hallway and leave them there. When this was discovered, more often than not, the parents would start screaming at me or the store manager for endangering their child.

Edited by JPW
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Once over Xmas in college I put in some hours in at a toy store owned by a friend's family in a small mall. Many parents thought nothing of dropping their kids off at the toy store while they went shopping elsewhere for an hour or so. As instructed, I would escort unaccompanied children out into the mall hallway and leave them there. When this was discovered, more often than not, the parents would start screaming at me or the store manager for endangering their child.

When I worked as a page at the Reston Regional Library in the late 80s, we had regular problems with parents dumping their kids off in the children's books area and just leaving them there. Not while they were somewhere else in the library, mind you, but when they were going to work or off to shop somewhere.

The problem disappeared almost completely when our higher-ups just started calling the cops when we found abandoned kids. Nothing like strolling back in to the library hours later with your shopping to find Child Services has your kid, and you're being arrested.

You'd think the dips might've predicted this as a consequence... since the RRL is right across the street from the police station, but then again they may have just moved to Chicago. :lol:

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To that one lady: You know what, you may be out for a break, but guess what? The gentleman that owns this coffee shop isn't being paid to babysit your kid, and neither are its patrons!

One of my former (Thank God) neighbors was a divorcee with a three year old girl. She expected everyone to look after her kid when she was out by the pool. Worst of all, she would take her kid to Timberlake's, sit at the far end of the bar, and let the little girl run amok. One time the girl when out the front door and was halfway down the block before her Mama noticed that she wasn't around. Then she came back in with the child in tow and started berating all the people sitting at the bar for not keeping an eye on her.

I'm glad I don't have that woman's nerve in my tooth. :lol:

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our children were generally well behaved in restaurants because they were so deprived at home. i recall one time, however, where the peace was threatened at a french cafe in adams morgan, when the waitress offered our four- and six-year-old sons refills on their hot chocolates, not once but twice. of course they took her up on the offer, and we didn't say anything because we knew that a terrific scene would have followed with the youngest if we had interferred. at that age we never allowed them to do the ordering themselves, but this one time we got a taste of what the check would look like if we had: half of it was for hot chocolates. whether she knew it or not, probably not, the waitress was playing with fire.

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We were allowed to order at restaurants when we were kids, but what we were going to say was discussed at great length with our parents before we were allowed to talk to the server. And it was quite clear to us that if we acted out or order something that hadn't been approved, we would either get no Shirley Temple or be forced to sit in the car alone while they finished their meal. (Of course, they never made us go sit in the car; the threat was sufficient.)

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Another tip:

Do not show up at a restaurant with more people than the number for which you made the reservation. PLEASE call ahead, and be prepared that you might not be able to be accommodated. If your reservation is for 3, coming in with 4 would usually never be an issue, as you are most likely assigned to a 4-top anyway, but making a reservation for 4 and showing up with five, six, TEN just won't do, people!! Just do everyone a favor (yourself and your party included) and call ahead.

Recently, we had two 7:30 reservations for 10. One party called ahead and said they would be thirteen, so we scrambled and made it work. When they showed up, they had 15 in their party. The other "party of 10" showed up with 14 people. It was a mess; both parties were taking chairs from other tables, which left us really scrambling! We literally ran out of chairs. So, please, always try to make a reservation, and always call if the number in your party changes, or if you're going to be late...

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Here, here!  I'm tired of parents who think that it's not necessary to disclipine their kids' public behavior.  What, they just think that when they grow up they grow out of it?  Hardly.

This article showed up on a parenting list I'm on and for the most part, parents were supportive of the shopkeeper. There were a few parents, however, who didn't understand why people had such high expectations of children in public. These are parents who don't seem to understand that practicing good behavior in more casual venues is good practice for the more formal ones.

This probably sounds wierd, but we actively avoid restaurants with lots of children because it's much easier for our two year old to model good behavior when she's surrounded by it. The few times we've been to a place with lots of kids, it was very confusing for her because there are invariably at least a few kids who were allowed to run around and play in the restaurant. I don't claim that my daughter is the model of good behavior, but at least until she's old enough that we can explain that some parents have different rules than us, it's just much easier to do it this way.

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We went to the concert at the Shrine last night.  Just when people start understanding that they must turn off their cell phones at such an event, we are faced with crying babies.  What moron would bring an infant to listen to an orchestra and chorus perform Beethoven's Ninth?  Why, there were TWO of them.  Execution is too good for some people.  Lord, I'm crabby today.

Okay, I was wondering when I became one of those people who thought their kids were cute when fussy but others not so much. Then I realized that no, I was not one of those people. If I am with a baby/toddler who is not in the mood (is tired, hungry, bitter or in pain from teeth coming in), it is not the time for me to drag them into my world. Today at lunch the restaurant was teeming with babies. One was sitting at the very front of the restaurant. I was very far away, in the back. The baby cried, whined and otherwise made loud noises the entire lunch. I could hear that baby when I was in the ladies room. The other babies/toddlers were well behaved but it was clear that the little one up front just did not appreciate being away from the crib/jumper/whatever. I could not see but I never had the sense that an adult took the child out of the restaurant once. Sometimes adults have to change their plans when there are babies. I am not a bad person for wanting to enjoy my concert/movie/meal without the incessant crying of a child. Yes, I have thought about this issue quite a bit!!! :-)
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Okay, I was wondering when I became one of those people who thought their kids were cute when fussy but others not so much.  Then I realized that no, I was not one of those people.  If I am with a baby/toddler who is not in the mood (is tired, hungry, bitter or in pain from teeth coming in), it is not the time for me to drag them into my world.  Today at lunch the restaurant was teeming with babies.  One was sitting at the very front of the restaurant.  I was very far away, in the back.  The baby cried, whined and otherwise made loud noises the entire lunch.  I could hear that baby when I was in the ladies room.  The other babies/toddlers were well behaved but it was clear that the little one up front just did not appreciate being away from the crib/jumper/whatever.  I could not see but I never had the sense that an adult took the child out of the restaurant once.  Sometimes adults have to change their plans when there are babies.  I am not a bad person for wanting to enjoy my concert/movie/meal without the incessant crying of a child.  Yes, I have thought about this issue quite a bit!!! :-)

I had a nice dim-sum lunch last Sunday at China Garden in Arlington. This is a very large and super-busy restaurant. I have never seen so many babies in one restaurant in my life. Not one of them made a peep that I could hear. Dim sum: the secret baby charmer.

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What moron would bring an infant to listen to an orchestra and chorus perform Beethoven's Ninth? 

The same people who bring babies to a two hour movie and think that just because they are standing by the door watching the movie that we can't hear their wailing offspring.

Dim Sum is the secret baby charmer. Can't fuss if your mouth is full of baked pork buns.

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Pardon me while I laugh out loud at the previous entries.

I think the difference between going to a restaurant--where, after all, you intend to TALK to your dining partners--and a musical evening is that at the second, you are expected to sit in silence and appreciate the performers, whereas at the first making some noise shouldn't be that big an issue. I can certainly tolerate babies at the first, but not the second. After all, I am the person perfectly happy to bounce JPW's Peanut on my knee at any occasion DR.com wants to organize.

And, OH BY THE WAY, I thought that the adults (read: much older folks) getting up and walking out in the middle of the performance to be INEXCUSABLE. Especially since anyone who knew anything at all should have known that the program would have been finished in 10 to 15 minutes. Couldn't they wait?

I'm afraid Mr. Rocks will think this is getting Off Topic, delving into general bad manners.

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...

Dim Sum is the secret baby charmer.  Can't fuss if your mouth is full of baked pork buns.

Mind you, most dim sum restaurants are so noisy you can't even hear your own thoughts, much less hear some kid crying.

Pet peeve - people who go to restaurants and constantly talk on their cell phone in a LOUD VOICE LIKE THIS. Last night I wanted to pitch the bottle of fish sauce at this woman who was nattering away on the phone. @#$! :lol:

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It is during the pasta course that the night's service abruptly veers from a cool, graceful waltz into a perilous tango.

securing a wedge of parmesan with a towel in her right hand, the server begins slowly sliding the cheese over the microplane onto a medium-sized plate of papardelle with lamb ragu. There is a light accumulation, and she continues grating. the swaying motion of her hand, mesmerizing, quickens. Seconds pass into what seem like minutes until time eventually stands still. there is only now the pendulous sawing of the server's grating arm, an incessant flexing over what has intensified into a raging storm, a blizzard of parmesan.

sensing that a crucial moment has been lost, the diner looks up from his lap, up from the blanketing torrent of swirling cheese, into the astonished, exasperated face of his wife, who, he imagines, meets his gaze, joining his perplexity over how the two of them together have become so totally lost, so unexpectedly, so suddenly bound in the eternal cascade of the parmesan.

the noodles, fading under a heavy cover, all but disappear. banks of parmesan grow insurmountable and the onslaught is shifting off the plate, onto the utensils, subsiding into drifts, and the steady, angry pulse beats faster still, impelled by a heart of rage with a mechanical intensity.

and then, the inevitable gesture is reached and the hand, knotted, moves off. "can i take a break now?" the server inquires rhetorically, ironically, before shoving back into the dining room grasping her diminished remnant of parmesan.

what had she done to escape with a mere dusting of her ravioli, i asked my wife. "i said thank you when i had enough," she said. i sent my fork in rescue of the pasta, preparing to gorge, grateful to think that the server had not been standing over me that night when the clouds of all hell broke.

Edited by giant shrimp
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Starbucks-Tenley Town--this afternoon. Tried TWICE to order a chantico. First visit, the clerk ignored me for two minutes while I stood there holding my money and trying to make eye contact.

Second visit, after picking up Thursday's Dinner, there was no clerk. A line but no clerk.

Clearly, if there is a god, she is telling me I shouldn't have a chantico today....

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