Absorbing the warmth in a small cafe in Amsterdam, I desperately searched for our waiter. This was my first time being in Europe and among taking in the full experience, there were some cultural norms that I needed to get used to.
Apparently, it’s customary to take your time eating and digesting your food before the waitstaff approach and hand you the bill. Unfortunately, that’s not the norm here in the U.S.
I’ve lost count of how many times that I’ve been out dining and magically the check appears on the table without any of my dining companions having summoned for it. Even when accompanied by a well-meaning, “For when you’re ready” still comes off as unwelcoming and pushy.
There’s got to be a happy medium between waiting an hour for a check and getting it while I am still chewing my food. I don’t know too much about business, but basic logic makes me think that the happier I, the customer, am, the more money you, the business, will make. If I have a great experience at a restaurant, I will write about it on Yelp, tell my friends about it, and visit frequently.
I know that time and space are very important, especially in a city like New York, but if allowed more time, I could order more food and most likely give a bigger tip. Restaurants in New York, take heed, an extra ten minutes could mean an extra $10! I’ve noticed this particularly in chain restaurants, such as T.G.I. Friday’s and Applebee’s.
My college roommate in freshman year was a waitress at Friendly’s and told me about their rule of thumb for checking in with customers. About two bites into their meal, waitstaff are expected to check in with diners to see if they’re enjoying their food. To know that there’s an actual formula to this bothers me. “After x amount of bites, hand diners the check whether or not they actually asked for it”.
I know that some people would just sit around forever, but I think a humble balance and a bit of common decency would solve this problem and make a better dining experience all around.