Dining Challenge in Downtown Denver

The Challenge in the Year Ahead

Well, one of them anyway. We define as part of our mission, here at Denver by the Slice, a continuing quest to rid restaurants of that most irritating of questions:“Are you still working on that?”

And, sure enough, it surfaced again on Christmas Eve. At our favorite French restaurant in Larimer Square (for now remaining nameless). We’ll have to work on this, with a lot of help, for at least the next year and probably longer. This is a well-embedded enemy. Around every corner and at nearly every table holding a meal, whether fully or partially consumed. We’ll keep bringing this subject up, along with some other gripes…and accolades…for our local dining establishments.

And, it is certainly a national problem. A very American problem. Last fall, a New York City restaurateur (and writer), Bruce Buschel gained infamy by publishing (some have said daring to publish) his “100 Rules for Servers”. Servers screamed in unison. They could not believe there could even be so many rules to their jobs. Now, some of these rules were certainly mundane enough. For instance, Rule Number 1: “Do not let anyone enter the restaurant without a warm greeting.” That’s fair.

Rule Number 11: “Do not hustle the lobsters. That is, do not say ‘We only have two lobsters left.’ Even if there are only two lobsters left.” Well, a bit more esoteric, but probably correct.

And, I should mention here, that I firmly believe there should be, if not already, a list of 100 rules for customers. We are not always perfect, just always right.

But, there on the servers’ list, right at Rule Number 78, is our current quest. “Do not ask, ‘Are you still working on that?’ Dining is not work until questions like this are asked.”

Couldn’t agree more. Well stated. What would a chef in the hot kitchen think, who might have invested a lot of money and years into his or her labor, and probably has some pride in this food and his presentations, think if customers felt they had to “work” on the meal.

And, how could you translate this phrase in a phrase to foreign travelers? Non-English language speakers will be forever lost when asked this question…in a restaurant. Only one time have we experienced the same phrase outside of this country. And, that time was at a very Americanized resort in Mexico that still had real Mexican food.

Denver by the Slice knows this has come up in the press. But, most servers seem oblivious to the problem. Every time we bravely mention it, they recognize there may be something wrong. Some are even grateful, some do not care, but most servers really do want to do their jobs better. And, they get better tips.

Weigh in on this and we’ll publish the best comments. And, throughout the year, we’ll probably tackle some of the other issues from that same “100 Rules…” list. Like, Rule Number 91: “the music is not for the staff — it’s for the customers.”

Or, and here’s one that was not even on the list: why everyone, everywhere is addressed as “guys”.