Saturday, September 29, 2012

Suggestions For Dining Out With Kids From A Server's Perspective


If you're like me and millions of other Americans, you've spent at least some time working in the restaurant industry. Having a job like this can teach you a lot of things that you use in other areas of your life; dealing with difficult people, handling stress, multi-tasking, etc. I think one of the best lessons I've learned is how to be a good customer to other people when I go out to eat! This is especially true when I'm with young children. While it's not expected-after all, we're there to serve you-here are a few suggestions about how to make your family's next visit to a restaurant easier on everyone.

We [servers] understand that young children can be impatient when hungry. For this reason, many restaurants I have worked at give us the option of having orders from the children's menus come out first. This might not be the case where you're eating, but ask about it anyway because the server can usually make it happen Also, while bringing in outside food is often frowned upon, most restaurants won't have a problem if you bring in snacks such as crackers or Cheerios to tide your kids over until the meal comes. If they do have a problem with it, I'd vote with my feet and never come back. They don't deserve your hard-earned money if they won't make a small adjustment like that.

We also understand that little kids-and some big ones-have a hard time sitting still when everyone else is eating or having conversations that are boring to them. A lot of restaurants have little 'activity sheets' and crayons for the kids but, just in case they don't, feel free to bring your own 'sound-less' toys from home. Better yet, bring crayons and coloring or puzzle books.

This may go without saying, but please do not let your children run around in the aisles or crawl under the table. I can think of quite a few times when I or one of my coworkers dropped plates of food on the floor because they tripped over a child playing in the aisles when they shouldn't have been. While we should definitely watch where we're going, it's pretty hard to see a kid running at you at full speed when you're carrying dishes or a full bus tub. If possible, have children sit on the inside of the booth or between two adults if they are prone to climbing around.

If your children are young, do what you can to make sure they don't leave a mess. We understand that babies and kids can be messy, but I once had a table where the children not only made a mess of their table, they got food or whatever on the table behind them and the two booths across the aisle. For babies, there are now rubber placemats that have a little place in the front to catch any stray crumbs. Also, my sister would bring stick-on reusable placemats for her twin boys when they were old enough to sit at the table but still had a hard time keeping things on their plate. These things are *very* helpful, and usually aren't very expensive. When the mess was something we couldn't get ourselves, such as accidentally knocking over a bowl of soup onto the floor or getting maple syrup on the napkin dispenser (seriously, you'd be surprised), we'd usually try to leave an extra tip.

I hope you have a better idea now of how to make things a bit easier on yourself and your server when you go out to eat with children. I'm sure you already knew these things, but I for one can use a reminder sometimes!


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