by Sabrina Boyd (@SabrinaKayaB)
The Washington Post has determined “The most annoying restaurant trend happening today”…
Forget servers who don’t write down your order and then get it wrong, or texting on the job, or even always handing the check to the guy, assuming he’s going to pay for his date – all pet peeves of mine and things I specifically learned not to do as a server.
The most annoying trend, they say, is…when servers clear your plate while someone else at the table is still eating.
Apparently it’s a “classic tenet of service etiquette” that you don’t remove anything from the table until everyone has finished.
Now, I apologize if I haven’t had proper etiquette training and this actually is the socially accepted, polite thing to do. But as someone who has been a server, and a customer, for that matter, I completely disagree.
I have a friend who particularly hates having an empty plate in front of her. We’ll be in the middle of a conversation over dinner at home and she’ll get up and clear her plate, because she’s done eating and she doesn’t want to look at the scraps.
(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Why would you want that to sit in front of you at a restaurant?
When I was a server, I was trained to be attentive to my guests and anticipate their needs. When I see an empty plate, I assume guests don’t want it cluttering their space for very long. And it saves me work at the end of the meal – think about trying to carry a full table’s worth of plates versus just grabbing one when it’s empty as you walk by. We’re trained to avoid being empty-handed.
Servers aren’t hovering or trying to rush you. Believe me, they probably have 5 other tables to take care of and side work that they won’t get to until 1am because their customers are so demanding. They have plenty else to do.
Roberto A. Ferdman, the Washing Post writer, does make a valid point in that taking away one person’s plate while the other is still eating can make that other person feel bad for holding their friend up, or make the first person feel bad for eating too quickly. But the majority of the time when this happens, I promise, rushing you is not the server’s intention.
(Does this look easy to you? Photo by FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images)
Besides, as a customer, I would much rather have the extra space. Doesn’t it annoy you at least as much when your table is cluttered with unnecessary plates and bowls and silverware and you don’t even have room to rest your arm? (Yes, I put my elbows on the table when I eat. It’s not 1952.)
All that said, there are some less than stellar servers out there who might be trying to rush you because they’re anxious to clock out, or just because they’re irritable that day. But don’t go in expecting your server to be bad. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Dealing with customers all day is a pain in the butt, try not to add to their unnecessary complaints. Is this really going to ruin your meal?
It seems like the top comments on the article are on my side, but what do you think? Is it annoying when servers clear your plate while others at your table are still eating, or do you appreciate them making extra space for you?
Tell us more of your thoughts in the comments below!