Restaurant staff are trained to be friendly yet professional, handle problems discreetly and efficiently, and make expert recommendations regarding food and wine. Ideally, your night out with these trained professionals should go off without a hitch. Very few things in life, though, go as smoothly as they should, despite your careful planning.
Sometimes the restaurant gets overbooked, or a waiter trips and spills food or drinks. Sometimes the kitchen runs out of a key ingredient, and sometimes other diners are more aggressive than you are, which would make it seem that they’re getting better treatment as a result (trust me, if staff are bending over backward for a rude guest, it’s more likely because they want to get them done and gone than out of respect for their rudeness).
Yes, things happen. How you react is crucial. Many incidents are out of anyone’s control, but there are things that you can take into your own hands to kick your culinary experience up a notch.
The staff at Cafe L’Europe treat every diner like a superstar; however, it is possible to cultivate an even deeper relationship, ensuring a meaningful interaction every time you visit.
Here are a few expert tips for getting the VIP treatment at any restaurant. Trying out even a few will almost always net amazing results.
Sit at the bar. Try having appetizers or a meal there. Chat with the bartender; ask if the owner is around and introduce yourself to him or her. Pro tip: eating at our bar ensures that you get happy hour pricing on eligible drinks – ask your bartender about times and menus.
Ask the waiter these two questions: What dish is most popular? What is a dish that almost no one orders but the chef thinks everyone should? Order them both! Chefs take pride in all of their dishes, but often have an item on the menu they are especially proud of and want people to try.
If you like it, come back for two more meals that same week. The staff will remember you, and you’ll get automatic VIP status (as long as you’re nice to them!).
Be forgiving. As I mentioned earlier, sometimes we have to wait, get spilled on, or get the wrong dish. Diners who were good sports when all didn’t go as planned are remembered positively by the staff. A little patience goes a long way; if the restaurant knows it messed up, you can score major points by not making a big deal about it (or using it as an excuse to try to score freebies!).
Send compliments to the chef – especially when you are specific about what you like. It sounds way too simple – but it’s almost always appreciated. You could also mention the chef by name in your online review of the restaurant. Not everyone does so, but it’s a simple courtesy that people notice and remember.
Tip 25% if you like the food, atmosphere, and good service. This is rule of thumb. If you can’t afford to tip properly, then you can’t afford that restaurant. Note: if the service was great but you didn’t love the food, don’t penalize the server for what was not under their control. If you have a food-related complaint, let your server know as soon as possible, so that they may correct the problem and get your meal back on track.
Ask for wine recommendations. Unless you see a wine you know and like on the menu, put your waiter’s training to good use – and then take the recommendation! The waiter will remember you on subsequent visits and be more than happy to grant you top-shelf service.
Ask to be treated like a VIP. SO OBVIOUS. But it works. Call the manager, talk to him/her about your love of the restaurant, and mention that you would entertain there a lot if you could be sure your party would be nicely looked after. And keep your word!
Ideally, you’ll always receive top-notch, professional service at any decent restaurant you patronize; however, by following these insider tips, you’ll ensure that your experience goes above and beyond each and every time. – Bobbilynn Hollifield
Source: Will Schwalbe (former editor-in-chief of Hyperion Books)