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Plate-Clearing Golems


DonRocks
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Todd Kliman:

Thanks for chiming in again ...

Pushiness has many manifestations.

The constant asking to clear plates is one that drives me and my friends and family crazy. Are we alone here?

Still working? Still working? Still working ...

Beyond the fact that I hate that phrase -- does management really believe that a good meal is something to be worked at? -- I hate the hovering, the asking, the neediness to snatch my and others plates.

Seriously: does anyone else out there dislike this as much as I do? I am not exaggerating in saying this, that it greatly diminishes my dining experience to have to fend off servers who want my plate. And even just to have to answer that awful question.

This exact scenario (some yappy twit going, "Still workin' on that? Still workin' on that?" every five minutes) is probably my single biggest service complaint, industry-wide.

Yes, child, I'm still "workin' on it" even though there's nothing left on the plate, and if you really don't get it, then here's why:

1) I should have paced myself to finish at exactly the same moment as my dining companion, but I was a just a little bit too fast.

2) If you clear my plate now, then my dining companion is forced to eat while I sit there and watch, and feels compelled to rush.

Is this really that difficult?

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1) I should have paced myself to finish at exactly the same moment as my dining companion, but I was a just a little bit too fast.

2) If you clear my plate now, then my dining companion is forced to eat while I sit there and watch, and feels compelled to rush.

Is this really that difficult?

I am a really fast eater and I always feel bad because people rush to clear my plates then look at my companions and ask if they are finished, they can even be mid-bite. No they are not finished, I just have bad control on pacing myself in bite format, especially when I'm hungry. I know some people want plates cleared right away so they don't eat more, but I think the majority would prefer it stay until their dining companion is finished, but perhaps I am wrong.

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2) If you clear my plate now, then my dining companion is forced to eat while I sit there and watch, and feels compelled to rush.

I may be the slowest eater on the eastern seaboard and I generally do not give a damn if the rest of the group has to wait and watch me eat. It is not my fault if they rushed their meal and did not maximize their enjoyment. Also, I generally make sure I finish all the items on my plate at more or less the same time. It really annoys some people which accomplishes nothing but reinforcing that behavior in me.

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Dishes should never be cleared until everyone is done eating.

I am failing to understand why the complainer expected a free dessert without making some kind of advance arrangement with the restaurant. Is this the norm at fine dining establishments? Maybe at TGI Fridays, or Bennigan's, or Farrell's (does Farrell's still exist?) but I wouldn't expect free dacquoise at Citronelle just because I pull the waiter aside and mention that it's my companion's birthday.

This whole discussion takes me back to my high school days as a busboy for a fancy waterfront steak/seafood establishment (not in this area). My marching orders from the owner/manager were to collect empty plates as soon as they were finished regardless of the other diners at the same table. If he saw a single empty plate in the dining room he'd whisper the table number in my ear, and heaven forbid if he saw multiple cleaned plates in a section. So, so misguided, but out of fear of reprimand I became damn good at yoinking plates off of tables one at a time, oblivious to the looks of confusion at the table.

Knowing what I know now I'd like to go back in time to (1) slap the owner/manager and (2) apologize to so so many tables.

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This whole discussion takes me back to my high school days as a busboy for a fancy waterfront steak/seafood establishment (not in this area). My marching orders from the owner/manager were to collect empty plates as soon as they were finished regardless of the other diners at the same table. If he saw a single empty plate in the dining room he'd whisper the table number in my ear, and heaven forbid if he saw multiple cleaned plates in a section. So, so misguided, but out of fear of reprimand I became damn good at yoinking plates off of tables one at a time, oblivious to the looks of confusion at the table.

Knowing what I know now I'd like to go back in time to (1) slap the owner/manager and (2) apologize to so so many tables.

is it possible some restaurants are running without enough dishes? i have occasionally been left with that impression.

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This whole discussion takes me back to my high school days as a busboy for a fancy waterfront steak/seafood establishment (not in this area). My marching orders from the owner/manager were to collect empty plates as soon as they were finished regardless of the other diners at the same table. If he saw a single empty plate in the dining room he'd whisper the table number in my ear, and heaven forbid if he saw multiple cleaned plates in a section. So, so misguided, but out of fear of reprimand I became damn good at yoinking plates off of tables one at a time, oblivious to the looks of confusion at the table.

Knowing what I know now I'd like to go back in time to (1) slap the owner/manager and (2) apologize to so so many tables.

I must have been working for his twin brother down at the Virginia Beach waterfront one summer.

According to his math:

Fiendishly clearing the plates = A table that eats more quickly (and possibly a lower tip for the wait staff, but irrelevant for purposes of this logic)

A table that eats more quickly = Higher turnover

Higher turnover = A quickly moving line out front, where people could easily saunter over to the next restaurant (plus, during quieter nights, reduced labor costs through earlier staff cuts)

Moving the line quickly = More covers, and more profit per evening

He knew the fine dining rule about plate clearing, and made a business decision to bypass it every time. Due to the location, the customers were going to keep coming, anyway.

(i've gone off topic)

(feel free to bounce this over to a new thread entitled)

(restaurateurs profiting through hospitality fail)

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