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The customer is dead; long live the king

Reading my favourite food forum recently I came across a link to a recent article by Jenifer Lang, the owner of the now defunct Café Des Artistes in New York. In it, Lang bemoans the fact that modern restaurants have altered the natural order of things between diners and staff.

“Whatever happened,” she asks, “to the days when everybody knew his or her part in best price canada goose parka the restaurant dance? You went to a nice restaurant — there weren’t that many to choose from — and you showed up on time, you were seated as soon as you got there, the captain greeted you and took your order, the waiter served you, the sommelier poured your wine, you drank coffee and brandy and tipped the maître d’hotel on your way out.”

She blames the change on restaurants like the terrific Union Square Café, part of the Union Square Hospitality Group owned by Danny Meyer, which offers great food alongside superb but informal service. This, Lang claims have given diners an undeserved sense of entitlement when they enter a restaurant making them “presumptuous” and waiters “cranky”.

It’s an extraordinary argument to suggest best canada goose jacket reddit that bad service is the fault of the customer rather than a failing of the restaurant. It is one that could only have come from someone on her side of the restaurant / customer divide and someone who laments that old school restaurant models no longer apply. She follows up her argument with a series of quite frankly bizarre tips from luminary New York critics and restaurant owners on how to get the best service in the city’s restaurants. These include not expecting to receive good service best place canada goose coat 1000 bulbs to buy a canada goose jacket in toronto at peak times in a restaurant (although presumably they will still expect best canada goose coat for women to present you with the same bill) and bonding with your server by making them laugh average price for a canada goose jacket or talking about pop music, suggesting that it is part of the diner’s role to win over the waiter to best canada goose jacket reddit their side, through false bonhomie or a big tip.

Her argument and advice strike me as entirely missing the point, harking back to a time when there were far fewer amazon canada goose jacket restaurants and only a select number of people who could afford to cross their thresholds. Anyone who didn’t know there was a “restaurant dance” let alone what their part in it was found themselves intimidated by snooty staff and made best ideas about canada goose outlet online on pinterest to feel unwelcome. The fact that Café Des Artistes closed its doors in 2009 probably means that Lang is now only too aware how times have changed, and that the power in the customer/restaurant relationship now rests entirely in the hands of the diner.

It is not just in New York where this change is obvious. In London too, the last 20 years have seen a huge increase in the number of casual dining spots, filling the gap between the old school fine dining restaurants and ‘carry your own tray’ fast food joints. With them they have brought more casual styles of service that have made eating out a lot less intimidating and available to a much wider audience.

Informal service can go too far, of course, particularly in Britain click more, where we feel uncomfortable if service becomes too chummy. I still get very cross in a restaurant when forced to guess which of the young best canada goose jacket for women people, with jeans positioned just below their buttocks, are actually members of staff. I shudder when a waiter calls me “mate” agreeing with my father that “I don’t want to be amigos, I just want my dinner” and God help any waiter who hunkers down at the Majumdar table or even worse, decides to pull up a seat.

However, on the other side of the coin, Lang is absolutely right to recognise that with a new wave of diners often comes a new wave of idiots who fail to acknowledge even basic levels of good manners and feel that their very presence in a restaurant entitles them to treat the staff like garbage. It may be foolish to suggest that you have to earn the good humour of your waiter, but a little mutual respect goes a long way to making sure your dining experience is a happy one.

Do you think, like me, that the fact the customer is now king is both correct and irrevocable or, like Jenifer Lang, do you long for the days when there may have been fewer restaurants but everyone knew their place in the restaurant dance?