Rules for the Front of the House

Bruce Buschel is opening a restaurant in the East End of Long Island, and although he’s never done this before — hey, I can relate — he has a bunch of rules for the front of the house.  Well, he actually has 100 Rules.  The first 50 rules are found here and the second 50 were published here.

Some folks have responded negatively, comparing Buschel to a slavemaster, calling him “Massa Bruce.”  The term “Nazi” has also been used.  However, most of the response has been favorable.  Very favorable.  And I love these rules.  Here are a few of my favorites.

5. Tables should be level without anyone asking. Fix it before guests are seated.

9. Do not recite the specials too fast or robotically or dramatically. It is not a soliloquy. This is not an audition.

32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.

40. Never say, “Good choice,” implying that other choices are bad.

41. Saying, “No problem” is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm. “My pleasure” or “You’re welcome” will do.

51. If there is a service charge, alert your guests when you present the bill. It’s not a secret or a trick.

62. Do not fill the water glass every two minutes, or after each sip. You’ll make people nervous.

62(a). Do not let a glass sit empty for too long.

78. Do not ask, “Are you still working on that?” Dining is not work — until questions like this are asked.

88. Do not ask if a guest needs change. Just bring the change.

Remember, these are rules for Mr. Beschel’s restaurant, but I think they’re spot on for the most part (although I really think steaming off a wine label is above and beyond the call of duty).  What do you think?

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9 Responses to Rules for the Front of the House

  1. Rafe says:

    I think people get caught up in the rules that disallow things that don’t bother them, but I guarantee that everything on that list bothers somebody. And even if they don’t bother the customer, they don’t reflect well on the restaurant (like “nice choice”). A restaurant with a waitstaff that followed all 100 rules would be one that people returned to for the service alone.

    I loved the wine bottle rule because it is above and beyond the call of duty. If you went to a restaurant and the waiter gave you your wine label before you left, you’d tell your friends about it. Which is really what you want as a restaurant owner.

    I think I’m going to try to substitute “no problem” with “my pleasure” as a “you’re welcome” alternative in the future.

  2. docsconz says:

    I love this list of rules! There isn’t a one that I disagreed with. If only more restaurants applied them. Whether or not his restaurant is able to consistently follow them (I hope it does), this has been a brilliant pr move generating a lot of favorable buzz. I would love for it to be successful and have this really catch on.

  3. Ross Grady says:

    Heh, I think the commenters on the Times piece fall into two basic categories: diners, and waiters. You can kind of tell which are which 😉

    I appreciate all 100 rules, and really only disagree with one or two, most notably the one about never bringing the check unless you’re asked. Yes, there are times when a nice dinner out is my only entertainment for the evening. But there are also times when a nice dinner out is the prelude to a show, or a movie, or something else that has a set start-time.

    Even if we’ve planned the meal to allow for plenty of time, having the check already in-hand at the end of the meal, especially if there are more than 2 people at the table, means I breathe a lot easier.

  4. fuzzy says:

    The rules are fine overall. There are a couple I’ll quibble with, depending on the type and price point of the restaurant — I want my check delivered soon after I reply in the negative to “will there be anything else?”. But as general guidelines they just work.

    The number of comments is *amazing*, and many of them crack me up. It is so obvious that people just aren’t raised up with the knowledge and responsibility of etiquette they way we were when I came along. I guess that means I’m now officially old.

    Fuzzy
    “Durn these kids today, not like what things were laike when Ay was a chillen, and shoes, shoes cost $40 a pair!”, he cackled…

  5. susan says:

    I loved most every one of them. Number 88 is a personal pet peeve of mine, so I was pleased to see it included.

    I’ve found the best way to deal with the timing of the check is to respond to the question, “Will there be anything else?” with, “No; just the check, please.”

  6. VaNC says:

    My biggest disagreement with the list is that I am one that likes her plate cleared when I am clearly done. I don’t like a messy empty plate sitting in front of me for long. I want to be able to move my wine closer in front of me, relax and, most likely, listen to the story being told by the person who has not finished yet. It seems neater to me to bus tables as needed. Never have thought it was a bad thing.

  7. susan says:

    VaNC – I was taught that it is rude to those still eating. It rushes them – makes them feel that they’re taking too long.

  8. VaNC says:

    I would think it would be more either the company at the table or a waiter hovering eyeing plates that would make them feel like they are taking too long. I am assuming the waiter removes plates quickly and quietly, so that no one hardly notices (or a least that is how it is usually done…..with a quick “may i get that out of your way?), If you are having fun and good conversation, who notices if a waiter quietly comes by and whisks away another plate. Some people eat slowly, some people order more than others…so those of us finished quick shouldn’t have to sit there uncomfortable trying not to put their sleeves in their plate..we should be able to relax, put our elbows on the table and enjoy the rest of the meal.

    I know I have sat at some restaurants where we all sat there with empty plates waiting impatiently for the plates to be taken, so we could relax with our wine. And assuming that the failure to quickly remove plates was bad service.

    Guess I have never thought of it as rude.

  9. Alan says:

    I can’t stand when a plate is cleared while someone is still eating. I also can’t stand eating off the same utensil for more than one course. And typically you find these things go hand in hand.

    I disagreed with the rule about getting the bill – I hate hunting down my server for the bill and I think they should be able to deduce that I’m done with my meal when I’ve had dessert. And I also disagreed with the rule about never interrupting a conversation – if that were the case you’d sit there forever.

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