No Appetite for Appetizers

Looks like that budget-dining-trend article from last Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle has kicked up a modest little Internet shitstorm over the course of the week. Our question: WTF?

You’ll recall, the article pointed out a trend of diners ordering less all around, including the practice of just getting appetizers, as a means to save money during these lean times. Apparently servers have a problem with that, and have cleverly dubbed such diners “non’trees” (because they don’t order entrees, get it?).

Well, we really didn’t think the practice was all that new (though the portmanteau is), but the trend piece has made a splash on a few blogs, including Chow’s Food Media, which seems to take the side of the diners, quoting an SF Gate commenter thusly:

“Service, for the most part is terrible; has been for a long time, which in good times, shouldn’t be tolerated, and now in bad times is simply unacceptable. When you order a $40 ‘entree,’ and a $60 bottle of wine, and get treated like crap, sort of ‘you’re doing us a favor by being allowed in OUR restaurant,’ then you reap what you sow.”

Meanwhile our own corporate sibling, Grub Street, seems to fall in with the insulted servers, with the leave-it-to-the-imagination headline, “Here In New York We Call Them…”

The coverage has generated a bevvy of comments from both points of view, but really we’ve got to wonder why this is all that provocative. Some people always get only apps, while others only ever get mains. Most get what they can afford when they can afford it.

During our time as a server, which spanned either side of Sept. 11, 2001, and the following economic dip, we saw fluctuations in both directions &mdasn; toward splurging, and toward scrimping. Frankly, when it was lean, we were glad to get anybody in there at all. But it seems our failing was in not coming up with a cute name with which to scorn our customers.

Hard times hit Bay Area restaurants [SF Chronicle]
Item Number 458 on the Waiter/Waitress Hate List: The Non’trée [Chow]
Here in New York We Call Them… [Grub Street]

[Photo: Via w00kie/flickr]

No Appetite for Appetizers