‘No Problem,’ ‘Working on That,’ and Other Things Waiters Should Never Say

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Aspiring Hamptons restaurateur Bruce Buschel has now published part two of his list of 100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do, and it touches on some things we’ve griped about before, for instance “Do not ask if a guest needs change. Just bring the change.” Most of the other edicts are obvious — well, except for this one: “Do not play brass — no brassy Broadway songs, brass bands, marching bands, or big bands that feature brass, except a muted flugelhorn.” Ha! Tell that to Sasha Petraske! And: “Do not play an entire CD of any artist.” Ha again! Dude must’ve read our pointer to his first list, in which we recalled Babbo playing Axl Rose’s entire opus (not that we minded). The rule we love here, though, is “Do not ask, ‘Are you still working on that?’ Dining is not work — until questions like this are asked.”

We’ve heard others complain about this expression, but the truth is that when servers use the alternatives — “May I clear your plate?” or “Can I get that out of your way?” — we often respond, “Actually, I’m still working on it.” True, it’s an annoying cliché, but what else are we going to say — “Actually, I’m still stuffing my fat face”? And here’s another one we’ve heard complaints about, from the first half of Buschel’s list: “Saying, ‘No problem’ is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm. ‘My pleasure’ or ‘You’re welcome’ will do.” Really? The way we see it, “No problem” just indicates that the waiter doesn’t have a problem with making sure your omelette is made with egg whites (because it’s what they’re paid to do). But is it “their pleasure”? That expression, it would seem, is the insincere one — but then what do we know? We don’t get hung up about these things. Except when servers ask us if we’ve “saved room” for dessert. So, yes, maybe we do have some pet peeves in this area. What are yours?

100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part 2) [You're the Boss/NYT]
Earlier: Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do