There is a lot of kvetching on the San Diego board about our growing list of closed rooms and the growing list of "burger/bar and grill/craft beer" places. The restaurants that serve slightly more progressive food are starting to dwindle rapidly. Someone asked, with the economic restraints in our county, how do we improve our dining scene?
I would start with service.
If I walk into a casual pub, which is clearly a self-seating situation, I'll accept the bartender yelling a "Hey guys! Welcome! Anywhere you want!" across the room. I get it, it's a pub. Casual, loud, relaxing, fun....I know the service will be a quick affair, service timing will not perfect and delicate. It's a pub. I'll be spending $30 for a low key meal.
If I walk into a restaurant where I know the final bill will be between $100-$200, I expect a professional greeting, and it doesn't need to be over the top. Just, a solid, "Hello, how are you? 2? If you would follow me." Or of there is a wait, how about a simple, "We have a wait of about "X" minutes, may I show you to the bar?" I dread the Dolly Dingle, high pitched, "Hiyeee!" Followed by a a questioning, I-have-no-idea-what's-going-on-in-this-dining-room, look around the restaurant, and then a line of "Okay, WELL, um, like, uh, uh, uh..."
I expect for my server to not address us as "guys." I am woman. My husband is a man. I am not a guy. I expect, even on a busy night, for the server to s t o p at our table and say, "Good evening." Not lean in from 3 feet away, yell, "Hi guys! I need to xyz and then I'll be right there," and then rush off. I have worked in white tablecloth. The big secret to good service, is that it takes LESS energy than bad service.
I am finicky on this subject because an expensive meal is rare treat for us, so when the cheerleader-level service ruins the dining experience, I want to shake my fist in the air.
What do you expect? At each price point? What do you consider acceptable and unacceptable?