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  #1  
Old 09-25-2009, 08:20 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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Do French waiters resent being called "garçon"?

I've been told yes, and so would I. Resent being called "boy" in the same situation.
Do french people routinely call waiters "garçon"? What would be the proper address?
Good food, for sure.
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mangeorge
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  #2  
Old 09-25-2009, 09:00 PM
don't ask don't ask is offline
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Do French waiters resent being called "garçon"?

No, but they resent you for not being French.
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  #3  
Old 09-25-2009, 09:21 PM
RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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No. "Garcon" for a waiter, though it translates at "boy," does not have the same connotations that the English word has. It is merely a name used to call a waiter and AFAIK, no one sees anything more in it.
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Old 09-25-2009, 09:51 PM
Kobal2 Kobal2 is offline
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No. "Garcon" for a waiter, though it translates at "boy," does not have the same connotations that the English word has. It is merely a name used to call a waiter and AFAIK, no one sees anything more in it.
Unless the waiter is a she. Then you might get a lecture.

That being said, it's been a long time since I heard anyone call out "garçon !" in a restaurant. Most people just try to catch the waiter's eye and say "s'il vous plaît ?" to sidestep the aforementionned problem.

In my mind, garçon is reserved for those old fashioned/tourist traps restaurants and cafés where the formal black pants + white shirt + black waistcoat + white cloth over the arm attire is still observed.
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  #5  
Old 09-25-2009, 09:54 PM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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Dunno, but some American waiters resent being called "waiter". The term is server now.
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  #6  
Old 09-26-2009, 12:08 AM
tr0psn4j tr0psn4j is offline
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The waitress in the diner you're plotting to rob will say "garcon means boy," if you call her that.
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Old 09-26-2009, 12:14 AM
Stringer Stringer is offline
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Dunno, but some American waiters resent being called "waiter". The term is server now.
This still baffles me. Isn't "server" a more degrading term?
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Old 09-26-2009, 12:19 AM
friedo friedo is offline
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This still baffles me. Isn't "server" a more degrading term?
But it has the advantage of being gender neutral. You see this in lots of professions now.

Policeman/woman -> police officer
Fireman/woman -> firefighter
Mailman/femailman -> mail carrier
Waiter/Waitress -> server

I've noticed there are fewer and fewer actresses left. Everyone seems to be an actor now. Interesting that this profession went to the masculine form instead of something neutral like "performer."
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Old 09-26-2009, 01:36 AM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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And "flight attendant" has replaced "stewardess."

(I once heard someone use the term "male stewardess.")
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  #10  
Old 09-26-2009, 04:23 AM
Oukile Oukile is offline
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No one calls a waiter 'garçon' in France. That would be totally old-fashioned and quite inappropriate.
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  #11  
Old 09-26-2009, 05:05 AM
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No one calls a waiter 'garçon' in France. That would be totally old-fashioned and quite inappropriate.
So what do they call them?
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  #12  
Old 09-26-2009, 05:42 AM
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So what do they call them?

Do you want to know how we refer to serving staff or what you need to say to grab their attention?

A waiter is a "serveur" (male) or "serveuse" (female) but you wouldn't actually call them anything as such. Just like in other countries you'd either try to catch their eye with a hand movement or just say "Excuse me....."


At a guess I'd say that garçon hasn't been used as a term for waiter in at least over 50 years. Using it will more than likely result in you being ignored.
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  #13  
Old 09-26-2009, 09:09 AM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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But it has the advantage of being gender neutral. You see this in lots of professions now.

Policeman/woman -> police officer
Fireman/woman -> firefighter
Mailman/femailman -> mail carrier
Waiter/Waitress -> server

I've noticed there are fewer and fewer actresses left. Everyone seems to be an actor now. Interesting that this profession went to the masculine form instead of something neutral like "performer."
All that and we still have to choose between "he/she" and "they" when we don't know gender.
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  #14  
Old 09-26-2009, 09:11 AM
Bill Door Bill Door is online now
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And "flight attendant" has replaced "stewardess."

(I once heard someone use the term "male stewardess.")
Hell, I've heard them called "sky waitresses."
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  #15  
Old 09-26-2009, 10:03 AM
Balthisar Balthisar is offline
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If they're calling waiters servers now, then what do you call the people in restaurants that bring you your food, for such restaurants that do so? They're the servers, and are distinct from the waiters.

Ponster, I find your answer dissatisfying (even if it's accurate). You really have nothing better to call out other than excuse me? In the 'States, you could say "excuse me," but it's not uncommon to just say "waiter" or "waitress," and in low- to upper-mid establishments, you'd just call the waiter by their name (you know you can do this if they tell you their name). Then of course there's the old standard "miss" or "ma'am," but I don't know how I'd call out a guy. Maybe, "buddy"?
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  #16  
Old 09-26-2009, 11:18 AM
BleizDu BleizDu is offline
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Ponster, I find your answer dissatisfying (even if it's accurate). You really have nothing better to call out other than excuse me?
But why use something else when it works well enough?

What I do is similar to what Ponstar said. if I want a waiter to come I catch their eyes, do a little hand sign and silently mouth (or call out, if they don't directly look at me) "s'il vous plait!" or "excusez moi!". But really, unless I want some more water or want to pay at the table, I have usually no need to call the waiter.

My brother has been a waiter for 20 something years in a wide variety of places, I'll ask him if folks call him garçon sometimes.
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  #17  
Old 09-26-2009, 11:25 AM
Hunter Hawk Hunter Hawk is offline
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If they're calling waiters servers now, then what do you call the people in restaurants that bring you your food, for such restaurants that do so? They're the servers, and are distinct from the waiters.
"Runners", IIRC.
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  #18  
Old 09-26-2009, 11:29 AM
Oukile Oukile is offline
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What I do is similar to what Ponstar said. if I want a waiter to come I catch their eyes, do a little hand sign and silently mouth (or call out, if they don't directly look at me) "s'il vous plait!" or "excusez moi!". But really, unless I want some more water or want to pay at the table, I have usually no need to call the waiter.
Ja, that's the proper way to do.
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  #19  
Old 09-26-2009, 11:53 AM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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I usually say "doctor" as they frequently have PhDs.
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  #20  
Old 09-26-2009, 12:48 PM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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Originally Posted by Balthisar View Post
If they're calling waiters servers now, then what do you call the people in restaurants that bring you your food, for such restaurants that do so? They're the servers, and are distinct from the waiters.
Not all restaurants have them, but the one I worked in did and they were called expediters.
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  #21  
Old 09-26-2009, 04:33 PM
Götterfunken Götterfunken is offline
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I usually say "doctor" as they frequently have PhDs.
I realize this is probably a joke about PhDs who are unable to find employment in their field of research... but I feel obliged to point out that many European waiters (especially the ones you'd encounter at a nice French restaurant) are full-time professionals who don't regard their job as a temporary means to an end, nor as a last resort when other career aspirations fall through--so they most likely do not hold doctorate degrees.

Let the wooshing ensue...
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  #22  
Old 09-26-2009, 04:51 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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Originally Posted by Götterfunken View Post
I realize this is probably a joke about PhDs who are unable to find employment in their field of research... but I feel obliged to point out that many European waiters (especially the ones you'd encounter at a nice French restaurant) are full-time professionals who don't regard their job as a temporary means to an end, nor as a last resort when other career aspirations fall through--so they most likely do not hold doctorate degrees.

Let the wooshing ensue...
Yeah, the doctrate holders work at Starbucks.
Is Starbucks in France?
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  #23  
Old 09-27-2009, 09:16 AM
Ponster Ponster is offline
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Yeah, the doctrate holders work at Starbucks.
Is Starbucks in France?

40 stores with 39 of those opening in the past 5 years.
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  #24  
Old 09-27-2009, 12:02 PM
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Yeah, well, in Spain to get a waiter's attention, you hiss at them or say, "Oiga!" ("Hey!"). I can't imagine an American waiter's reaction if you tried such a thing on them.
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  #25  
Old 09-27-2009, 12:20 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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Yeah, well, in Spain to get a waiter's attention, you hiss at them or say, "Oiga!" ("Hey!"). I can't imagine an American waiter's reaction if you tried such a thing on them.
Well, you can ask Basil Fawlty about them Spaniards.
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  #26  
Old 09-27-2009, 12:29 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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By the way, hissing somehow found it's way to The Philippines (From Spain?). It's common, and not rude at all. I got used to it, and found it very useful.
That's just "sssss". No "p", no "t".
I was there in the mid sixties. Dunno if they still do it. I hope so.
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Old 09-27-2009, 01:16 PM
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Is Starbucks in France?
Starbucks is everywhere, man.
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  #28  
Old 09-27-2009, 02:42 PM
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Then of course there's the old standard "miss" or "ma'am," but I don't know how I'd call out a guy. Maybe, "buddy"?
"Sir" works extremely well -- particularly in the sort of establishment where the guy doesn't get "sirred" very often.
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  #29  
Old 09-27-2009, 02:49 PM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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I always say, "Monsieur" or "Madame". Actually, restaurants tend to be noisy, so I try to catch their eye and beckon them over. Or do the writing in the air thing if all I want is the bill.
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  #30  
Old 09-27-2009, 02:59 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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Starbucks is everywhere, man.
As in "My Name is Legion, for I am Starbucks"?
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  #31  
Old 09-27-2009, 03:12 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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If they're calling waiters servers now, then what do you call the people in restaurants that bring you your food, for such restaurants that do so? They're the servers, and are distinct from the waiters.
Um, do you realize that there is a difference in culture between the US and France/ Europe? As Götterfunken already said, waiter is a real profession (in Germany, you learn it for three years like other professions, in an apprenticeship; I presume France is similar.)

Therefore, you don't have unpaid servers carrying empty dishes and waiters taking orders and hostess serving drinks and young girls bringing the menus before somebody else takes the order or however things are done in US restaurants.

The upper-class restaurants might have a sommelier in addition to the normal waiter, but otherwise, the waiter do all the interacting with the customer. Cooks and dishwashers and whatever are in the kitchen.

There are also no teenagers working part-time in a low-class restaurant. Waiters who work in low-class restaurants will earn less than in a one-star restaurant (and will need less skills), but they are still professionals.

Quote:
Ponster, I find your answer dissatisfying (even if it's accurate). You really have nothing better to call out other than excuse me?
No, it's not that there's nothing better, it's what considered more courteous and modern than calling "Garcon". It's the proper way to do it in France / Europe.

Quote:
In the 'States, you could say "excuse me," but it's not uncommon to just say "waiter" or "waitress,"
But this isn't about proper etiquette in the States, but in France.

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and in low- to upper-mid establishments, you'd just call the waiter by their name (you know you can do this if they tell you their name).
I can tell you right away that calling strangers by their first name is a serious breach of etiquette and considered very rude. In a good restaurant, waiters won't wear plastic buttons with "Hi, my name is Sally" on them, and they don't usually say "My name is Pierre, I'm your waiter for the evening" always, either. I certainly would not call my waiter by name directly, when a simple "Please excuse me" is far more polite and less rude.

Quote:
Then of course there's the old standard "miss" or "ma'am," but I don't know how I'd call out a guy. Maybe, "buddy"?
Miss to a grown woman? That's insulting, at least in Germany, where all adult women are Frau (Mrs.) regardless of marital status. Although in Bavaria the old term for addressing a waitress actually was Fräulein = Miss, it's fallen a bit out of favour precisly because it sounds condescing and silly to adress a 50 year old woman built like a Dutch peasant, carrying 10 liters of beer in both hands, a Miss.

And buddy? You would insult a professional adult man you don't know with "buddy"? Really? Wow, how rude. (Dude is not apprioate, either). Professionals in a professional setting expect respect, just as they treat their customers with respect (those who know how to behave themselves, that is).
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  #32  
Old 09-27-2009, 03:46 PM
Colibri Colibri is online now
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Here in Panama, the common word to call the attention of a waiter/waitress is joven (young man/young woman). It's not quite "boy"/"girl", but close. It does not seem to be resented, as far as I can tell. However, I can never bring myself to use it when the server is 40 or 50 years old.
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  #33  
Old 09-27-2009, 10:32 PM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is online now
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Originally Posted by Ponster View Post
A waiter is a "serveur" (male) or "serveuse" (female) but you wouldn't actually call them anything as such. Just like in other countries you'd either try to catch their eye with a hand movement or just say "Excuse me....."
But if the waiter hasn't been around for a while, and you have to catch the eye of the host to ask him to send your waiter out, you would use the term "serveur" or "serveuse"?
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  #34  
Old 09-28-2009, 12:15 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Yeah, well, in Spain to get a waiter's attention, you hiss at them or say, "Oiga!" ("Hey!"). I can't imagine an American waiter's reaction if you tried such a thing on them.
Actually the literal translation is "hear, sir!" Less literally "excuse me, sir." Kind of interesting when combined with "mozo" (never "moza," it would be "señorita") which means "young man," or with "jefe," which means "boss." Now, whether the person doing the calling is rude enough to hiss or not and whether in that case the waiter suddenly gets deaf in one ear, would be a different question.

In Spain waiters usually don't get specialized training and you do find people doing it part-time or during holidays, but it is a real profession with a real salary.

Last edited by Nava; 09-28-2009 at 12:18 AM..
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Old 09-28-2009, 12:26 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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But if the waiter hasn't been around for a while, and you have to catch the eye of the host to ask him to send your waiter out, you would use the term "serveur" or "serveuse"?
In languages with no common gender, it is customary for the masculine form to be used to identify a person of not-yet-known gender (serveur, here) or in the plural to include a mixed group (Tengo tres hermanos: Maria, Jose, y Rosa -- literally, "I have three brothers [but in context 'siblings'], Maria, Jose, and Rosa.")

It might be taken as sexist by a purist, but everyone comprehends that the masculine plural means either multiple males or a mixed group, the masculine singular may mean a female person of that description if one is not aware of which sex the person answering to the appelation might be.

Last edited by Polycarp; 09-28-2009 at 12:28 AM..
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  #36  
Old 09-28-2009, 03:39 AM
BleizDu BleizDu is offline
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But if the waiter hasn't been around for a while, and you have to catch the eye of the host to ask him to send your waiter out, you would use the term "serveur" or "serveuse"?
If I wouldn't see my particular waiter, I would simply ask another waiter nearby to bring me water or some bread or the bill (I don't know what you mean with the host), then this waiter would get me whatever I need or he would alert "my" waiter. There is no way there wouldn'y be any waiter at all in the place at one particular moment.
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Old 09-28-2009, 09:13 AM
Tom Tildrum Tom Tildrum is online now
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In languages with no common gender, it is customary for the masculine form to be used to identify a person of not-yet-known gender (serveur, here) or in the plural to include a mixed group (Tengo tres hermanos: Maria, Jose, y Rosa -- literally, "I have three brothers [but in context 'siblings'], Maria, Jose, and Rosa.")

It might be taken as sexist by a purist, but everyone comprehends that the masculine plural means either multiple males or a mixed group, the masculine singular may mean a female person of that description if one is not aware of which sex the person answering to the appelation might be.
Thanks, but I was unclear. I wasn't asking about the gender question, but simply which word one uses when describing one's waiter to a third person.

If there are no hosts in European restaurants, who seats you when you arrive? Does the wait staff manage arrivals as well?
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Old 09-28-2009, 10:33 AM
BleizDu BleizDu is offline
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If there are no hosts in European restaurants, who seats you when you arrive? Does the wait staff manage arrivals as well?
In my experience here, often yes. I was about to say always but I seem to remember some times where we weren't seated by a waiter.
Here, often it goes like that: you arrive in a restaurant, a random waiter sees you and inquire what you want and then proceed to seat you. It may not be the same waiter who will then be in charge of your table.
There is a host in more upscale places though.
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  #39  
Old 09-28-2009, 10:57 AM
Really Not All That Bright Really Not All That Bright is online now
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So what do they call them?
Steve.
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  #40  
Old 09-28-2009, 11:54 AM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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At Romano's Macaroni Grill your server writes her/his name in crayon on your (paper) table cloth.
I'm not sure why, but that really annoys me.
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  #41  
Old 09-28-2009, 11:55 AM
constanze constanze is offline
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If there are no hosts in European restaurants, who seats you when you arrive?
Well, we are considered big enough to sit down ourselves. Only small kids need to be lifted into the special kiddies chair.

Quote:
Does the wait staff manage arrivals as well?
Well, we either look for an empty table ourselves, or a waiter comes up and asks how many people, and then shows us an empty table.
If we called ahead and reserved for a bigger party/ fixed event, I will ask the first waiter who comes up "We reserved for the name of Smith" and he'll say "Over that corner".
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:57 AM
constanze constanze is offline
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At Romano's Macaroni Grill your server writes her/his name in crayon on your (paper) table cloth.
I'm not sure why, but that really annoys me.
Good lord. How old is the main focus group of this place - 6 years? I can't imagine a European waiter putting up with this!
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  #43  
Old 09-28-2009, 12:11 PM
Canadjun Canadjun is offline
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Good lord. How old is the main focus group of this place - 6 years? I can't imagine a European waiter putting up with this!
Well, "Macaroni Grill" sounds pretty strange already - trying to picture what grilled macaroni would be like.
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Old 09-28-2009, 12:16 PM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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Good lord. How old is the main focus group of this place - 6 years? I can't imagine a European waiter putting up with this!
There's a chain here in PA called Pizza Oven that does the same thing. It never bothered me - except some of the guys from the office insisted on doing their names as well. I don't guess it hurt anyone, but I'm sure the waiters had seen it before.
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  #45  
Old 09-28-2009, 12:18 PM
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I believe the term 'garcon' went out in the 50s or 60s. If you want to address them, just call them Monsieur. Women do not wait tables in France, as a rule.
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  #46  
Old 09-28-2009, 12:25 PM
Vinyl Turnip Vinyl Turnip is online now
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There are also no teenagers working part-time in a low-class restaurant. Waiters who work in low-class restaurants will earn less than in a one-star restaurant (and will need less skills), but they are still professionals.
I knew Europe was a magical place, but I had no idea---even at the lowliest, rat-dropping encrusted greasy spoon, I'll have my prandial needs attended by a highly-trained, well-paid career professional? That settles it: I'm packing my straw hat, bermuda shorts, knee-length white socks and sandals and heading for the Old World! Do they have direct flights from the U.S. to Europe these days?
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Old 09-28-2009, 01:14 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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I knew Europe was a magical place, but I had no idea---even at the lowliest, rat-dropping encrusted greasy spoon, I'll have my prandial needs attended by a highly-trained, well-paid career professional? That settles it: I'm packing my straw hat, bermuda shorts, knee-length white socks and sandals and heading for the Old World! Do they have direct flights from the U.S. to Europe these days?
I'm sure you're joking, but I thought we were talking about restaurants? Rat-dropping encrusted places are shut down, it's against hygiene laws. And greasy spoons are small family business, with mom and pop frying at the counter, a dozen chairs around four tables, with mom or one of the teenage /twen kids helping out the family business.
They are not considered real restaurants.

As for flights: do you mean aeroships or do you want to take a Blue Line steam ship instead?
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  #48  
Old 09-28-2009, 01:49 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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Well, "Macaroni Grill" sounds pretty strange already - trying to picture what grilled macaroni would be like.
It's a real place.
Food's okay. The servers tend to try to be chic, and are definately tip oriented. Single diners are last in line.
BTW; the Italian people I knew in Little Italy in NYC called just about any pasta "macaroni". And they called the tomato sauce (ragu) "gravy".
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  #49  
Old 09-28-2009, 02:14 PM
Xotan Xotan is offline
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Never Garcon!

This is my first posting, so hello to all.

I live in France, in the Languedoc; that curving piece of land along the Mediterranean from Spain to the Mouths of the Rhone.

Eating out: here is the way it works.

First your waiter will greet you. Even before you shake hands, you smile at him - obligatory - then press palms and wish him (it's usually a man) 'Bon jour, Monsieur. (Garcon would now be considered disrespectful and uncouth, and guarantee lousy service.) This ritual establishes that you are not being hoity-toity. When you have firmly established your sense of goodwill, ask for a table for as many as are in the group, indicating a preference - au soleil, al'ombre (sunny/shaded).

As soon as you take your place/s the Carte (menu) will be produced, with a flourish. Study it well, but without undue delay. If you have a question, your waiter will be delighted if you call on him for help and advice. But he doesn't have all day, so be conscious that he has other clients. A carefully pitched level of voice is best when you call him - never too loud. And the term to use, is 'M'sieur, si'l vous plait!'

When it comes to wines, if you do not know the produce of the region, it is invariably a good idea to ask for advice. There are many pleasant experiences I have had by taking that advice. The waiter will not think you a fool; rather he will mentally compliment you on your good sense.

If there is a problem with the meal, politeness invariably wins the day. Even in the best establishments there can be an occasional meal that is less than it should be. But this should never lead to an unseemly situation. The waiter is called and the unfortunate situation is explained with regret. Handled like this, I have never known it not to be made right with extra care and attention.

When paying the bill, it is always a good idea to allow the waiter to handle the transaction. Then one will make one's thanks, with handshakes and smiles. This is the moment when one's appreciation can be shown for the service one has received. Of course this is a delicate matter, so one is discreet in passing one's appreciation to one's new friend. And it should adequately reflect the service and extra attentions you have received. This way you will be welcomed back as an old friend, and even more attention will be lavished on you.

So, it is a combination of respect on both sides, and also a social game to be enjoyed. Dining in France, if one observes the niceties, is always a great pleasure. And the waiter, even in posh places with Maitres d'Hote, is never something to overawe. He want's you to be impressed with the establishment and it's culinary delights, and with him too.

Bon appetit!
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  #50  
Old 09-28-2009, 03:25 PM
mangeorge mangeorge is offline
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Berkeley, CA
Posts: 14,089
Aha, a newby

Directement de la bouche du cheval.
Welcome. Your reply makes me want to run out and purchase an airplane ticket.
As soon as I learn a little proper french, that is. Don't blame me, blame google.
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