So the Washington Post has two articles on their food section. One from a disgruntled restaurateur about the rudeness of customers (complete with a guide on n how to show restaurants respect) and One (THANK GOD) from Phyllis Richman. As a frequent diner I really take exception to the characterizations Mr. David Hagedorn makes about diners. As if these crazy unreasonable folks speak for me and all the diners of DC. Judging by what I see from the Food Blogs, the diners are a fairly considerate and appreciative group. I know there are the crazies out of the world but there are crazy restaurateurs in the world. Complaining about people stealing or expecting freebies is focusing on such a tiny swath of diners. How often does that happen? Because most diners are fairly gracious as are most restaurant staff. Phyllis rocks the house as show goes through each of David Hagedorn's complaints. The two things I will focus on are his water complaint and the complaint about being hit up for silent auction donations. The first is his complaint about people being offended when as server asks: Would you like sparkling, still, or ice water." I think that's a crappy argument because if the server at Belga cafe gave me THAT choice (as the wonderful servers did at Sonoma and Corduroy), I would never complain and I don't. While I would never call that a scam (more like an honest mistake), it's a shitty feeling to have seven dollars added to your bill. But as the esteemed Ms. Richman so eloquently says, "Let's address that bottled water scam. Why do so many waiters ask whether you want "sparkling or still water" . . . as if tap water didn't exist? Selling water is clearly the point of the question. After all, the waiter doesn't ask what kind of bread you want, or how you prefer your napkin folded, or even whether you want your salad before or after the entree." Well said Phyllis.
The second is the "compensation for patronage" issue. I am on the silent auction committee for three organizations' fundraisers and hit restaurants up for donations all the time. And the thing is, I don't feel entitled for a donation. It's a DONATION. Something someone gives of their own free will. If they can't, no problem. When we bring up that we are a regular diner, it's because we have a lot of enthusiasm for your food and want to share it with others. We know that a gift certificate from you would be a hot seller because of our own experiences there. This isn't extortion, it's admiration.