I like to eat at locally-owned, independent restaurants and I prefer trying new restaurants over visiting old favorites. However, for drinks and appetizers after work we typically end up at family-style chain restaurants a la Applebees or Montanas because there are about a dozen within walking distance of our workplace.
We regularly go to one restaurant after work, and we are always served by the same waiter because we sit on the lounge side and he's the only person who works during the mid-afternoon. When he takes our orders, he stands behind us and rubs our backs. When he walks past to other tables, he'll pat our shoulders. When we stand up to pay at the debit machine (it's Canada!), he'll put his arm around our shoulders. It doesn't matter if we're 25 or 65, fat or thin, friendly or rude, he touches us. I don't think I've ever been touched by a server before. All of my colleagues think it's really weird, but we don't know what to say. We've let it go on too long!
Is this a new trend in food service? Have you experienced this elsewhere? What's the appropriate customer response a) the first time it happens b) when it's gone on too long?
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