How Servers At Restaurants Use Special Waity Sense To Read Your Table

Maybe you didn’t even realize you wanted more water, or were ready to tell your server what you’ll be ordering for dinner, but among good waiters, the practice of reading a table means they’ve got a sense of what you need and when you’re ready for them.

The Wall Street Journal looks into the waity sense of being able to read a table, which comes in handy if a group is just kicking back and gabbing instead of looking at the menu. Servers don’t want to have to stand by your table while you ignore them, so they employ tactics like placing a palm down on the table to gently encourage diners to pay attention.

Having “eyes for the table” is key to making service individualized and providing a quality experience at many restaurants, say industry insiders. It’s gotten stale to hear, “Hi, I’m Mindy and I’ll be your server,” apparently.

Those scripts are being tossed aside in favor of taking cues from diners. For example, someone with a laptop open on the table might not want an appetizer that’s good for sharing, or care about the cocktail menu.

“We changed ‘suggestive selling’ to ‘situational selling,’ ” says Rene Zimmerman, senior director of training and development for Bob Evans Farms Inc., a family-style restaurant and food maker. Instead of offering every breakfast guest one additional item, say biscuits and gravy, waiters are taught to adjust their offer depending upon the guest. For a diner who places a lighter order, like a bagel and fruit, the waiter might suggest a cup of coffee or tea.

So what signals are you sending to your server? Check out a few to tweak what kind of service you get, and read the rest at the Wall Street Journal.

• Acting chatty: A waiter will assume your friendly, talkative table is ready to let loose. Expect offers for more drinks and dessert.

‚Ä¢ To a waiter, “it’s okay” means, “I’m not happy with my meal.

• Arriving dressed to the nines for an early dinner might lead your waiter to assume you have another event later on, and will speed up your service.

• If you act like the leader of the pack, the waiter might defer to your wants over the others in your party.

*Thanks to Wendy for the tip!

How Waiters Read Your Table [Wall Street Journal]