Restaurant Etiquette [Over Attentive Waiter]

I recently ate a restaurant and had just placed my order and the waiter went and gave the order to the kitchen. My appetizer arrived and soon after my entree arrived in excellent time. However my waiter also arrived and stood at my table watching me eat for nearly the entire meal.

I let the waiter know that the food was delicious and met my expectations other than being a little spicy. The waiter acknowledged this and went away and about four minutes or so came back to my table and just stood there maybe 2 feet away and watched intently as I ate.

Now mind you I am not a sloppy eater or a gross eater. I chew my food with my mouth closed and I don’t drop my food on my lap or make a mess. For the life of me I could not figure out why the waiter stood there watching me eat so again I acknowledged that the food was very good and the waiter went away but returned three or so minutes and stood there just watching me eat my food.
And it continued when I got my check, the waiter stood and watched as I calculated a tip on my phone. And only went away when I handed him the check with payment in it and then returned and stood there again for a few minutes.

The whole thing was just wierd

Is there a way to politely let a waiter know that you are fine and don’t need them to stand there? Is there a better way I could have handled this? I felt ackward eating and having someone watch me while I ate.

Moderator Action

Since this concerns the enjoyment (or perhaps rather the lack of enjoyment) of the dining experience, let’s move it over to CS.

Moving thread from General Questions to Cafe Society.

Why not just say excuse me, I don’t like people watching me eat. Please don’t stand there.

Honestly, you’re never going back to that restaurant, and in the future you’re never going to know until the end of your meal that the waiter was going to hang around for so long. And then you’re not going to go to that restaurant again either. So, I don’t think there’s even a way to know when this is going to happen.

Well, by your own admission you “recently ate a restaurant”. I’d stand there and watch, too.

This is such a bizarre situation, I’m not sure why you would need advice on it as it’s not likely to happen ever again.

Unless you’re like a really attractive female that likes to wear low cut tops or something. In which case, I don’t know what to tell you.

Was it an upscale restaurant? Sometimes at upscale restaurants the waiter will stand near your table to await anything you may ask of them. I find it very awkward too, but I’ve only had this happen at nice steakhouses in Vegas.

The waiter wasn’t covering any other tables? How many were there in your party?

Somebody probably recently complained about him being inattentive, and their having to go to the kitchen to get assistance, or ask the hostess to corral their waiter, so the manager told him when he wasn’t busy with something else, he needed to stand where the customer could see him, in case he (that is, you) needed anything. Why he picked you to stand sentinel, I don’t know. Maybe you were closest to the kitchen, or maybe the spot where he could see every table happened to be right next to you. Or maybe you looked like the person who complained, and the waiter wasn’t entirely sure you weren’t the same guy again.

My husband and I got treated like absolute crap by a waitress once only to discover she’d mistaken us for people who’d stiffed her on the tip the night before. We finally asked her what the hell we did, and if the minor substitution I’d asked for was that big a deal, and she just kind of sighed, then another waitress came over and told us we were pretty brazen (that wasn’t the word she used; I don’t remember what she did say) to come back the night after stiffing her, and we said we were from out of town and had never been there before, and just for proof showed our out-of-state drivers’ licenses. All of a sudden, the waitress was really, really nice.

We get how much being stiffed sucks, and we gave her a regular tip.

Anyway, I would have said something to the manager. He needs to know if this waiter is ruining people’s appetites. What he did would bug me too, and I would have said “You don’t need to stand so close.” I’m not claustrophobic, but I have a thing about being crowded by people specifically.

Apparently the restaurant wasn’t busy. Maybe watching you eat was more entertaining that the kitchen chatter.

At an upscale restaurant, the waiter knows better than that. In fact, it reminds me of dancing with the dancing instructer. It was like dancing with a cloud – no matter where I put me feet her feet were somewhere else :slight_smile: And their is a another reason I think of dancing: it’s choreographed: The bus boy and the waiter and the drinks waiter don’t trip over each other because they all know where the other members of the team are, and they are all cued by the table waiter and the head waiter.

At restaurants where the waiter stands and watches you eat, maybe the floor walker has told him to. Maybe he’s protecting you from a hyper-active waiter who will swoop in at the earliest chance. Maybe anything. At the restarants I know where the staff don’t know any better, they just don’t know any better: tell the waiter to go away.

No it wasn’t upscale probably mid market (close to $20 for lunch but that was including appetizer, drink and entree).

The restaurant had probably 12-15 other people eating in there with most of the people eating buffet line (Which I didn’t do). Perhaps because I ordered an item from the menu instead of buffet they decided to give me “extra attention”?

I did notice some of the other tables being hovered by waiters but they mostly ignored the waiter who was hovering. I suppose I could have just ignored which I tried to do but it was ackward because it made me self conscious.

In that case, I’d definitely say it was a case of management with a stick up its ass about waiters being more attentive, and remaining “available” to customers any time they weren’t doing something else. The waiters probably weren’t any happier about it than you were, but management was watching them watch you.

I should have mentioned it was an Indian restaurant, part of me thought perhaps this was something cultural within India or “authentic” Indian dining which gave me a little more apprehension to say anything so as not to be insensitive or potentially rude because of ignorance to a different culture

I can’t speak to whether it’s a cultural thing or not, but IME a lot of Indian restaurants tend to have a lot more employees than they seem to need, especially during the lunch buffet.

Also, Indian food tends to involve a lot of refillable items, like rice and sauces and water and ordering more naan, so it’s helpful to have someone around to ask (not that that’s unique to Indian food, but IME they bring you like an ice cream scoop’s worth of rice at a time and you keep needing to get more; why are they always so stingy with the rice?!).

I wonder if he was fishing for tips? most people don’t tip servers at buffets, because they “just” bring drinks and clear dishes. My husband worked at a buffet-style restaurant in college for a while, so we always must tip the servers at a buffet, albeit, we usually tip just 10%, instead of the 20% rounded up that we tip when we order from the menu.

You say you ordered from the menu-- maybe he was worried he wouldn’t get tipped anyway, because it was “buffet time,” even though you ordered from the menu, so he was trying to be extra helpful.

I would’ve said, “Thank you, but I’ll call for you or wave when I need you.” If he didn’t take the hint, I would say, “I’m sorry, but you’re making me nervous. Please go away until I signal for you.”

I’ve always liked this cartoon, too:

The best waiter is the one you never see. You arn’t there to see the waiter, or to learn his name or for him to entertain you. You are presumably there to enjoy your food the way you wanted it cooked and served in a timely manner and with your guest.

Also that bit about the waitress punishing a table cause she thought they’d stiffed her the last night? And another waitress saying “You’ve got nerve”??? That’s outrageous. And you must be the guys identical twin and maybe you should ask mom if you were adopted, cause I’d have to be 110% sure it was the same guy before i gave a table attitude so strong the guest could tell.

Hee. Who could look away?!
Anyhoo, the only time I’ve had this problem was at one particular Chinese buffet place. The staff stand at more of a remove than two feet, but you do feel them standing there watching the whole time.