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Room for dessert

I enjoy taking my family to On The Border Mexican Grill & Cantina. In fact, I look forward to it. The restaurants are clean, the food quality is excellent and the value for price paid is fair.

My wife, however, has one problem with On The Border. This single issue has caused us to choose competing restaurants on a number of occasions. Her problem: Servers consistently allow tables to become overrun with used side plates, chip bowls and salsa, sour cream and guacamole ramekins.

During college, my wife worked at her father’s restaurant and learned early on to never leave a table empty-handed when there were items to be cleared. By observing their surroundings and paying attention to detail, the most effective servers would spot discarded straw wrappers, empty appetizer plates or depleted breadbaskets. In this way, the dining tables were kept neat and orderly.

Servers at our local On The Border restaurant appear to be completely unaware of this protocol. With four children, the dishes add up. It’s not long before our table surface disappears behind a pile of used plates, dirty napkins and other clutter. Near the end of the meal, even if we had room for dessert, we wouldn’t have the space for it.

One of the benefits customers cite when justifying the added cost to dine out, is the ability to enjoy a dining experience they would otherwise be incapable of reproducing at home. My family is perfectly capable of producing a cluttered dining table at home. When we dine out, we appreciate an attentive server who maintains a clear table.

Sure, I could stack the used plates, move them to the side of the table and request their removal (I do this routinely at On The Border) but I don’t want to. That’s why I’m out to eat. If I’m going to accept responsibility for stacking plates and clearing table space, I’ll save my money and eat at home.

Restaurant guests appreciate being looked after—even pampered. Servers, by observing their surroundings, paying attention to detail and committing to never leave a cluttered table empty-handed, reduce table congestion and maybe, just maybe will make room for dessert!

What are your dining out pet peeves?

Order Delight Your Customers: 7 Simple Ways to Raise Your Customer Service from Ordinary to Extraordinary by Steve Curtin or purchase from select retailers, including Barnes & Noble.
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