Gone are the days of, "Hi, my name is Tom and I'll be your server tonight." Restaurants are increasingly moving toward a less scripted approach, teaching waiters how to "read" tables and subtly mold their service to fit each individual group. The Wall Street Journal offers a rundown of the new trend, and offers some hints as to what message you could be sending your waiter:
- If you're chatting with your friends: The waiter may worry about interrupting you, and could try refilling your water glasses or placing his hand on the table to get your attention without seeming pushy. He may also assume you're there for a good time, and thus push more offers of drinks or dessert.
- If you're dressed nicely and eating early: The waiter may assume you're headed to a show, and speed up his service or bring the check with the meal as a result.
- If you order a light meal: The waiter may offer you a cup of coffee or tea instead of something heavier, like a side of biscuits and gravy.
- If you have your laptop open: The waiter may assume you're not interested in appetizers or cocktails.
- If you say your meal is "OK" or push food around on your plate: The waiter may get the idea that you're not pleased with your meal.
- If your party seems tense: The waiter may go out of his way to give you good service, since moody diners may already view their meal in a negative light.
- If you reach for the wine list or if the reservation is under your name: The waiter may figure you're the "ring leader" of the group.
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