Is It Ever Acceptable For Waiters To Be Unpleasant?

The “snooty waiter” who looks down his nose with disdain at his customers is a character that has been trotted out on film and TV too many times to count. But while we may not blink when we see this well-known caricature on screen, it’s a different story when that same snob is taking your lunch order.

In response to readers who called the wait staff at a recently reviewed restaurant “insulting an disrespectful,” the San Francisco Chronicle’s Michael Bauer writes that some customers don’t want cheery people around them while they dine:

In some cases. service that’s perfunctory or dismissive is an almost anti-establishment statement that some younger restaurateurs and chefs employ to set them apart. Sometimes this type of behavior is rewarded and customers continue to put up with it.

Bauer cites restaurants with “famously crusty” staff where “Getting the evil eye was part of the reason for going there, but there was also a kind of playful attitude that made it fun.”

That’s the gray area for some eateries, where learning how to deal with brusque wait staff is part of the entire process of becoming a regular customer.

But there is a difference between that terse, no-nonsense sort of service, and wait staff that is actively rude — that isn’t even being short with you because they won’t deign to come by your table, or that rolls their eyes when diners ask a question.

Of course, some would argue that there is absolutely no excuse to be an ice cold robot in order to have a dining room run efficiently. A smile wouldn’t kill ya, would it?