Share your tales of "interesting" service in restaurants

I normally have a great respect for restaurant workers, especially waitstaff. They usually do a great job and hard work for little pay. I tend to tip well.

But once in a great while you get service that is, shall we say, less than stellar. Share your more amusing stories. Though I have a few, this one comes nearly verbatim from my girlfriend.

Dumb as Dust Waitress: May I take your order?

Girlfriend: Can I get a grilled cheese sandwich please?

DDW: Sure, that’ll be right up.

forty five minutes go by

DDW: We’re out of grilled cheese sandwiches. Besides, the grill is about to close.

GF: But it’s still open, right?

DDW: Yeah, but we don’t have any more grilled cheese sandwiches.

GF: Uh… You mean you’re out of cheese?

DDW: Of course not! We’re out of bread.

GF: You’re a restaurant. How can you be out of bread?

DDW: We just are! You have to order something else, like a hamburger.

GF: Um… on what?

DDW: A bun, duh.

GF: OK, let’s try this: Make me a grilled cheese on a bun.

DDW: I can’t do that!

GF: Why not?

DDW: sighs Because, then if someone orders a hamburger at the end of the month, we won’t have enough buns left.

GF: Huh? OK, besides hamburgers, what else do you have?

DDW: We have tuna fish.

GF: Oh, that sounds good. Like a tuna plate with fruit or something?

DDW: exasperated No, ma’am. It’s a tunafish sandwich. :rolleyes:

GF: Served on…?

DDW: Bread! What do you think?

GF: OK, work with me here. You’re out of bread. Remember?

DDW: We’re out of grilled cheese bread. We’re not out of tuna fish bread.

GF: Alright, explain this to me like I’m four. What’s the difference?

DDW: sigh Grilled cheese bread is white. Tuna fish bread is tan.

GF: Ah, now we’re getting somewhere. I’d like a grilled cheese sandwich on tuna fish bread.

DDW: Ma’am, you can’t do that! You can’t put a grilled cheese on tuna fish bread!

GF: Silly me. I’ll just have a tuna fish sandwich on tuna fish bread, then.

DDW: Fine. Would you like that grilled?

GF: Sure, let’s get crazy.

DDW: And would you like cheese on that?

GF: Sounds great. And while you’re at it, hold the tuna fish.

DDW: Sure, coming right up!

tdn You should have added: Hold it between your knees.

My SIL and I once went to a restaurant and ordered salads. After 20 minutes, we asked the waitress where our food was. She responded “You’ll get it when I get it.” Finally 15 minutes later, she brought them to us.

We had planned to order dessert, so I filled out the back of the check noting “Out waitress was rude and very incomptent.” She came back and before we could order, picked up the check, read it, and said “You are very rude making such comments about me.” We got up and left, leaving her holding the check.

Ah, the good old disappearing food thing.

My ex and I went to a pretty new restaurant for Sunday brunch. It seemed like a nice place. We were a little pressed for time, and only had, oh, an hour and a half to eat.

While my ex just got a bagel, I got something a little more elaborate. I think it was pancakes with fruit topping. We ordered. We waited. We waited. We waited some more. We asked the waitress when our food was going to be ready. She said soon. We waited some more.

And then a guy came into the place, and sat down. He waited for service. And waited. And waited. Finally, the (same) waitress took his order. He ordered the same thing I did, exactly. He waited for it to arrive. And waited. At long last, he got it. He ate it slowly, as it was a big meal, but finally finished it. He sat and finished his coffee. Then he got the check. He paid it and left. The waitress cleared his table.

And my ex and I were still waiting.

At a Sweetpeas in Georgia a friend and I ordered our meal and then started having a conversation. We had been seated just after a rather large party so we figured that was why our order was taking so long. So we kept talking and waiting. We were in no hurry so we weren’t really annoyed yet, when suddenly the manager arrived at our table with a huge appetizer we hadn’t ordered. He started apologizing profusely and said the ticket had fallen off the counter and been lost. He gave us the appetizer, comped the meal and gave us dessert without us even raising a stink or complaining once.

We became loyal customers until the restaurant changed to a buffett place.

Mr. Athena and I once went to the local historical hotel to have breakfast in their restaurant. It’s trying to be a ritzy, expensive place. White tablecoths, fancy silverware, the whole “fancy restaurant in a hotel” thing.

I ordered Eggs Benedict. Mr. Athena orders an omelet of some sort.

We waited a while - a bit long, but nothing crazy. The waitress finally brought our food. As she put down my plate, she said “The chef is making the hollandaise right now, it’ll be right out.”

I look down. I have a plate of Eggs Benedict, minus the hollandaise. Which is fine, I ordered it on the side. Waitress runs back into the kitchen, I figure she’s getting my hollandaise.

Mr. Athena doesn’t touch his breakfast, because he’s a polite guy and doesn’t want to eat in front of me.

Waitress comes out of kitchen. I’m thinking she’s got my hollandaise. Nope, she goes to another table and gets their order. She disappears again, then reappears. Is that my hollandaise? Nope, she delivers another tables breakfast. Back in the kitchen, back out to do something else. At this point, I’m getting antsy. Our breakfasts are getting cold.

After about 5 more minutes, waitress comes to our table. Great! My hollandaise!

“Um, I don’t know how to tell you this, but the chef says he’s too busy to make your hollandaise.”

WTF? Too busy to make my hollandaise?!? Eggs Benedict, without Hollandaise is, well, not Eggs Benedict.

Waitress offers to get me another breakfast. I ask “If he’s too busy to make hollandaise, how can he possibly fit another breakfast into his schedule?”

Waitress gives me a blank look. I’m not happy. Waitress mumbles something about getting a manager and runs off. Mr. Athena and I look at each other, and both stand up. We start leaving the restaurant.

As we approach the front door, waitress comes running out. “Look what I have!” She waves a ramiken at me. In it is a few tablespoons of a tough looking orangish sauce. “Your hollandaise!”

We left, and didn’t look back.

Same hotel, different restaurant. This time, we’re in their ritzy cocktail lounge. We were celebrating something or other, and ordered a pretty expensive bottle of champagne. It comes out, sans an ice bucket. We like our champagne cold, so we asked for one. Cocktail waitress says “sure, no problem.”

We hear her call down to the main restaurant for an ice bucket. A few minutes later, we hear someone go to the back door into the cocktail lounge (it’s a small place) and the waitress say “Oh my God, no, that’s NOT what I meant!”

Hubby sticks his head around the corner, and sees a drudge walking away with a drywall bucket full of ice. Waitress comes running over to our table. By then we were both laughing so hard that she saw that we knew what happened. She was really nice about it, and we finally did get our ice bucket, but we’re now always very careful about what we order at this place.

I’ve never had anything like this happen to me, but my parents did:

1.) They went out, with several other my relatives, to an ethnic restaurant way off in the boonies. After taking their order, the waitress disappears. Literally. They don’t see her again, anywhere. She’s not waiting on other tables. More to the point, she’s not bringing out their order. It turns out that she quit between taking the order and delivering it to the kitchen.

2.) In a restaurant in Greece my parents ate at every day (it must have been part of the hotel), the cost kept coming up high. One morning my mother took the check, showed it to the waiter, and added u the individual items herself, triumphantly showing the difference between her figures and his to the waiter. Unruffled, he took the check and added another figure to the end of her column. Adding this brought the totals to the same value.

“What’s that for?” she asked.
“That? That’s gfor nothing!” he replied.

So when you go to Greece, don’t order the nothing. It’s expensive.

Okay, from someone who has worked at various restaurants in the past few years, I have to say that you were a bit unfair to the waitress. At most chains, we’re not allowed to do crap like that. You can ask us to take stuff away from the order, but we can’t really add stuff. So, asking for a grilled cheese made with the bread that’s designated for tuna/hamburgers is a no, no. The waitress was just following procedure. Also, your GF came off sounding just a bit snarky, IMO. Just sayin’.

And, you know all those stories about disgruntled kitchen staff doing “things” to annoying customers orders? In most places, everyone is too busy to care but… in a few places I’ve worked, that wasn’t the case. This one time, I had to have another person on staff take the food to a table I waited, 'cause I just couldn’t do it knowing what was in it. Not trying to make anyone paranoid, just pointing out that it pays not to be an ass in the long run. =\

The snarkiness was more in my own telling of it. And really, only white bread can be used for grilled cheese and only wheat can be used for tuna? Is it really against policy to make a sandwich with a different bread color?

It doesn’t really make sense, I know. If you were to come into the place I work and asked for a grilled cheese with whole-wheat or sour-dough or whatever, I couldn’t do that because the X bread is reserved for making different (and more expensive) sandwiches. If we’re out of the bread for grilled cheese, that means we’re out of the supplies to make the grilled cheese you see on the menu, and therefore can’t technically make you one. What you’re GF did with the tuna melt is what I’d advise in such a situation if you’re craving a grilled cheese.

Ah, I see, more expensive bread. Sort of makes sense. In that case, the waitress should have suggested an alternative or charged more. As it was, GF had to do a serious amount of detective work just to get what she wanted.

And Hollaindaise sauce is actually time consuming and relatively difficult to make. If they were too busy they should never have brought it out at all.

“Time consuming and relatively difficult”? Hollandaise? I make it all the time - takes 2-10 minutes depending on method, and I can’t in any stretch of the imagination consider it a difficult sauce to make for a high-end kitchen (which this was). Maybe if you’re talking the kind of place that assembles food from Sisco cans, but that wasn’t the case.

About 3/4 of the restaurant was empty when this went on. They weren’t busy.

There ain’t no way you can spin this one that makes sense in a decent restaurant. If they were out of hollandaise, fine, have the waitress come back and tell me they couldn’t do the Eggs Benedict. Don’t make it without the sauce and expect me to just sorta forget I should have some.

It should not take 45 minutes to inform the guest that there is no more bread for grilled cheese.

I have an “interesting” story to say the least…

I worked at an Applebee’s for 6 weeks in the summer '04. Shortly after quitting to go back to school for the fall semester, I returned as a customer along with a friend of mine in order to enjoy some chicken wings and mixed drinks. The waitress had only been there about 3 weeks, and I knew from working with her that she was not a great server but at least she was always polite; this was particularly the case because she took smoke breaks seemingly every hour. I wasn’t in any hurry so I didn’t really mind having her as my server.

I recall our appetizer wings arriving within 15 minutes which is a little slow (for an appetizer but typical for an entree) considering the restaurant was not busy at the time, but like I said I didn’t mind and I knew the waitress was absent minded and slow to deliver service but I was on good terms her…yada yada yada. My drink (a Bahama Mama) arrived sooner and that was most important to me anyway.

However, the second Bahama Mama I ordered after finishing the first sat on the bar for a while (7 minutes or so?) waiting for the waitress to pick it up. I noticed this and did begin to get slightly annoyed…no big deal…she’s likely smoking…maybe I should get angry but I’m not.

Waitress comes back and grabs my second drink and delivers. Sure, I had to wait a little but no problem.

At this point, it is important that I tell you Dopers that Applebee’s headquarters in is right here in Lexington, KY; executives and corporate people of similar ilk are frequently in the Lex area restaurants either to inspect and nitpick or just simply to dine and observe.

The fact that my Bahama Mama sat there at the bar for more than 5 minutes after the bartender made it caught the eye of one of these corporate folks apparently. The waitress returned (maybe 12 minutes or so later after my 2nd drink arrived) looking forlorn and nearly crying because the general manager just yelled at her saying that he wasn’t going to get his bonus for the month because of what the corporate honcho(s) had observed her serving me in a not so timely manner. The general manager was a bit of a dick in my experience so that made my night :D. I wanted to feel bad for the waitress, but she really was a crappy server. I later learned she was fired that night (big surprise!) and I never saw her server there again.

I was in Denver a couple of years back during the winter. It started to snow, I decided not to venture out for dinner, and dine in the hotel dining room.
I sit down and order, a guy sits at the next table and orders about 3 minutes after I do.
We wait.
We wait.
Did I mention that we had been waiting for our food?
After about 25 minutes the other guy says he is done, and gets up and leaves.
About 2 minutes later the waiter comes out with his dinner. As he goes to set the plate down, I tell him not to bother the guy had gotten fed up and left.
We had a brief conversation about how long it had been and he goes and checks on my order.
He comes back to tell the cook swears it has been less than 15 minutes, and I called bullshit since I knew what time I had entered the restaurant, and now it was over 30 minutes after that.
After about another 10 minutes my meal arrives. The food is OK.
A couple of minutes later the waiter comes back and tells me he has gone to the manager and my meal is on the house. :cool:
At this point I tell him that I need him to charge me for something. Anything, but he has to charge me for something.
He asks why, and I tell him that I have to charge meals on my company credit card, and if there is no bill I can’t leave a tip.
The light dawns and off to the register he goes.
I see him poke at keys for about 5 minutes and come back with my check.
He tells me the cheapest thing he could find to charge me for was a club soda and lime for $1.
So just to show him no good deed goes unpunished, I added a $20 tip and made his night. :smiley:

My friends and I went on a road-trip that took us through the Amana Colonies in Iowa. Loads of touristy stops there, so we popped into one for dinner. The specialty at this place, advertised for miles and miles in billboards, was milkshakes. Any flavor, just how you order them, etc.

I order a chocolate shake with peppermint candies (not fancy, compared to lots of the other offerings on the menu).
Waitress: “Are you sure that’s what you want?”
Me: “Yeah, I love chocolate mint.”
Waitress: “Can’t you order something else?”
Me: “Why?”
Waitress: “We have to make the shakes ourselves and that one is, like, really hard to make.”

She wound up getting me to order a plain chocolate shake and then provided the worst, most sullen service ever. She got the ol’ 7-cent tip, and that was from a tableful of former or current servers.

I just had this exchange over the phone with a nice young man named Donovan, a server of some kind at a local bar.

Donovan: “Hello, Fagan’s, how can I help you?”

Me: “Hi, I was wondering if you were going to be showing the U.S. World Cup games? The first one is on Monday at 9am.”

Donovan: “Yes, we’re going to be showing them all. We open at 11 and will have all of them on.”

Me: “But the game is at 9.”

Donovan (with a bit more attitude): “Sir, I have the schedule right in front of me and the game is at 12.”

Me: “I’m pretty sure that’s 12 eastern.”


Donovan: “Oh, you’re right. But we’re still showing all the games.”

Me (slightly exasperated now): “So you’re opening at 9 then?”

Donovan (now irritated): “The schedule says ESPN right on it. The US is at 12. That means that they’ll be on at 3.”

Me (overly cheerful): “Hmmm, in my world the eastern time zone is 3 hours ahead, not three hours behind. That means…Donovan…that 12 eastern is 9 pacific.”

(longer pause)

Donovan: “We open at 11, you figure it out.”


In 1980 I worked on environmental surveys out of Gillette, Wyoming, where there was a big boom going on due to oil-shale exploration. The town was full of oil-company workers making tons of money, so it had acquired several hotels and restaurants far more pretentious than any that Gillette had ever had before.

We used to stay in a chain hotel that had a tropical theme. There were artificial palm trees with fake parrots and toucans around the indoor pool. The effect was somewhat spoiled by the fact that the picture window overlooked a desolate treeless prairie without dust devils swirling around.

The hotel restaurant also had a tropical theme, with wicker chairs with bright floral prints. The menu was quite ambitious, but it was obvious they were in over their heads.

The first time we went there, we had a very young waitress, who had obviously just started working there.

Us (reading from the menu): What’s the soup du jour?

Waitress (brightly): Oh! That’s the soup of the day!

(She had obviously learned this interesting fact the day before).

I made the mistake of ordering stuffed quails. They arrived about an hour later. They were still frozen inside, having obviously been microwaved (and not long enough). Some of my friends’ orders were the same.

Still, it was the best place in town.

I’ve mentioned this earlier but it’s not turning up in the search.

There used to be this southern-style restaurant near my job, it was called Magnolia-something-or-other and I’d go in there to have a BBQ sandwich for lunch. The food was good and so was the service, except for the last time I was there. I got my soda okay but the food was another story. I ordered my usual sandwich and a side of baked beans, then I wait.
And wait.
And wait.

At around the 15-minute mark, I start looking around for my waiter, who scurries off into the kitchen when he notices me looking.
So, I wait.
And wait some more.

30 minutes after I ordered my lunch, I look around for my waiter again, intending to get the price of my soda so I can pay for it and go somewhere else that’ll serve me so I can get back to work on time. I find him, he says that I’ll be served “soon”, then he scurries into the kitchen.

“Soon” turned out to be five more minutes or so. And instead of beans, I get fries. I stopped liking their fries when they started mixing in sweet potatos, which is why I ordered the beans. So I sent my waiter back for my beans, and start eating my sandwich.

I end up back at my cubicle five minutes late and fire off an email to all ~7000 employees in the agency, letting them know about the abysmal service I had just endured.

Magnolia something-or-other closed soon after and was replaced with a much better barbecue restaurant. And they don’t have fried sweet potatos.


When Ivylad and I were dating, he’d get off from work late at night, so we’d hit a restaurant, usually about midnight, for a meal.

We visited one place that we had gone to before. It looked like it had been the site of a bachelor party…the mat by the front door was all bunched up, there were many unbussed tables, and Ivylad and I were one of two couples there. Other than that the restaurant was empty.

We ordered a hamburger for him and a chicken sandwich for me…and waited, and waited, and waited. The restaurant was virtually empty. The waitress kept running back and forth from the kitchen, apologizing for the delay, but the cook was new. :confused:

45 minutes later, we gave up and tried another all night restaurant that we’d never been to. It was clean, the food was great, and the service prompt and helpful.

I’ll give you one from the other side, when I was a waitress. The management made a huge error and didn’t order enough food…for Mother’s Day. We were swamped, people waiting an hour or more for a table only to be told we were out of everything. And I mean everything.

In the restaurant biz, there’s usually a whiteboard in the kitchen to write up the “86” foods. “86” means you’re out. You glance up there as you run in and out, so you’ll know if your table orders cheesecake you’ll be able to tell them you’re out of the strawberry topping but not the blueberry.

The whiteboard on that day was covered in 86’d items. We ran out of steak. We ran out of baked potatoes. We ran out of rolls. We ran out of those tinfoil butter packs. We ran out of shrimp, for God’s sake, and we were a seafood restaurant! I felt so bad for the customers. One table was venting to me about how long they had waited only to be told by me that we were out of virtually every item they wanted. I told them I completely sympathized, I was pretty disgusted too, and if they never came back I wouldn’t blame them.

We had to close an hour early because of that clusterfuck. How the manager didn’t get fired I’ll never know.