A Diner’s Bill of Rights?

Leslie Kelly, of our local paper (the Seattle Post Intelligencer), has run two concurrent columns about diner’s bill of rights. Her basic premise is as follows:

Still, instead of just stewing about recent events, it seems like a good time to introduce a Diner’s Bill of Rights. Feel free to contact me with your own amendments.

  • Diners deserve to be treated courteously, to be greeted warmly at the door and thanked on the way out.
  • Diners deserve to be waited on by a properly trained staff working in a properly staffed dining room.
  • Diners deserve to hear the list of specials with the price included. Don’t make us ask.
  • Diners deserve to be addressed as anything other than the generic “guys,” as in “What can I bring you guys?” to a table full of women. Ladies and gentlemen is fine. Ma’am and sir may seem retro-stiff, but let’s bring it back.
  • Diners deserve to be treated as guests, not as if they’re burdens. No water glass should go dry, nor dirty dish be left long after the last bite has been taken. No diner’s butchered pronunciation of a dish should be corrected. Eyes definitely should not be rolled.
  • Single diners deserve a prime table, too, not a spot in Siberia.
  • Diners deserve to be satisfied with their meals. When a member of the waitstaff asks “Is everything tasting wonderful?” and it’s not, the diner has the right to say so and have that complaint addressed promptly. It’s important that a restaurant be given the chance to make it right.
  • Diners deserve to determine the pace of the meal. If you’d like to linger over appetizers before ordering entrees, say so. Don’t bring the main course while I’m in the middle of my salad. If diners are pressed for time, trying to make a play or a concert and they let the wait staff know in advance, the guests shouldn’t have to go hunting for the server to deliver the bill.

I had thought we had discussed this before when another write had essentially proposed the same thing, but my archive search turned up empty. So let me touch upon this again.

At the bare minimum, all that is required during any financial transaction (which is the end result of any meal), is that the business supply goods and/or services for the money tendered. Beyond this minimum is what decides whether a business receives my return service. Sometimes it’s the quality of the food, sometimes it’s the level of service, most times it’s both. So while there’s this expectation of good service and good food, it’s not a requirement. It’s also not a requirement for me to return to any location that provides subpar food and service, so in the end, it all sort of works out.

But if we’re going to start demanding rights when we go to restaurants, then we can expect a similar list of restaurateurs bill of rights in return. So let me add this to the fray.

  • A restaurant has the right to expect that a person who makes a reservation, will be on time for that reservation, and not show up twenty minutes early or twenty minutes late and still expect to be seated.
  • A restaurant has the right to expect the customers to not steal napkins, silverware, salt and pepper shakers or anything else that does not belong to the customer.
  • A restaurant has the right to expect the customers are respectful of other eaters on the premises.
  • A restaurant has the right to question anyone who has eaten over half of a meal and then send it back saying they don’t like it and they won’t pay for it.
  • A restaurant has the right to question anyone who demands a seat on a busy Saturday by claiming they know the chef or owner of the restaurant.
  • A restaurant has the right to refuse service to anyone who orders something that is not on the menu. This includes making “chicken fingers” for little Johnny.

Is there anything that I missed? Feel Free to add them in the comments.