Guests' Etiquette

We all love to eat, don’t we?

We all have had some good experiences and some bad experiences at the restaurant, and, let’s say it, we are usually quick at evaluating a restaurant!

Today, I am reversing the roles. Instead of a critique of restaurant, it is a gentle CRITIQUE OF YOU, THE CUSTOMER, that I am suggesting. So… let’s be open to self-examination and accept a few tips and recommendations that can make a difference.

WARNING: Some of this video content may surprise you. It is not made to offend you!
Rather, its purpose is to…

  • raise your awareness

  • understand the image that you project of yourself and decide if that is a good, likeable picture, or if changes must be made.

  • improve the rapport that you can build with your server.

 

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INTERNET REVIEWS

 

Bonjour! Hello! I am Coco, your host, your friend, your French connection.

Welcome! Bienvenue to voilabycoco.com

 

All of us have had a memorable meal at a fabulous restaurant, and all of us have been disappointed with a meal somewhere else at some point.

 

First, let’s step back in the pre-Internet era.

You just had this memorable meal. You are happy. You are sharing your wonderful story with friends and family and you tell them they must try this restaurant. As for the meal that caused great disappointment, you tell those same friends and family, maybe a dozen people in all, that they should not go to that place because it was not that good.

My point is that you just influenced a dozen people towards or against a particular restaurant.

Today, years later, the Internet has given you power, the power to influence many more than just a dozen people… rather, hundreds of thousands… millions…

 

In the same way as the Internet has been a wonderful tool for us all, it also has been damaging at times – look at the bullying of teenage kids or the violent videos posted on some sites…

And in the same way as TripAdvisor and Yelp and others can be very useful, they can also be devastating for a business. And YOU can be at the source.

A simple review posted on the Internet can have some serious consequences. So, you need to be careful.

 

 

Happy with the food? With the service?

Post a review! Give the restaurant credit! Let people know about this great place!

It does not have to be a long review. A sentence, a phrase will suffice! But give the kudos to the restaurant when you are happy.

 

I have always thought that 99% of the complaints are voiced too prematurely. That is a shame.

I will tell you why:

The restaurant business is a tough one. Chefs, waiters, and managers work under a lot of pressure all the time.

One day, there might have been a problem…  The waiter took too long to bring you the menu. Your salmon was overcooked. Your pasta was cold. The restroom was not very clean.

 

Your first reaction should not be to leave unhappy without saying anything and to hide behind your i-phone, or your tablet, or your computer. Talk to the waiter. Talk to the manager before leaving.

Chances are, you would not even be charged for your meal! Or you may get a complimentary dessert at the end. You would actually gain from it.

 

If you DO voice your dissatisfaction face to face, and after all, the manager does not care, then the not-so-good review might be justified, but in most cases, the manager is there to fix problems in the customer’s favor.

 

And by the way…

Just a few words about complaining…

If the chicken is too tough… Don’t eat it all and then complain…

If the wine is acid… Don’t drink it all and then complain…

You cannot eat a whole meal or drink a whole bottle and then complain…

You take a bite or two, a sip or two, and that should be enough.

 

 So, one rule of thumb about reviews:

 

Next time you have a great meal, post a great review.

 

And next time you have some complaints, express them to the waiter or to the manager in person.

You may want to go back a few weeks later to see if the problem has been fixed. And if it has not, go ahead, post your disapproval on the Web, still do it in an elegant and considerate manner.

 

Voilà! Thank you for your loyalty to voilabycoco.com

Please keep exploring, learning and cooking. Shop, and have fun!

WHAT [NOT] TO BRING…?

 

Bonjour! Hello! I am Coco, your host, your friend, your French connection.

Welcome! Bienvenue to voilabycoco.com

 

 

Today, we are talking about what to bring and what not to bring to a restaurant. What a strange issue… What to bring, what not to bring… What do I mean?

 

[YOUR OWN COFFEE? A BIRTHDAY CAKE?]

 

I know; this is America. And we, in America, tend to be flexible and understanding.

We are used to the “Sure, why not?” attitude.

But sometimes people do things that are… awkward.

Let me explain.

If you are going to celebrate a birthday at a restaurant and you are considering bringing a birthday cake, call the restaurant ahead of time to No 1) make reservations, and most importantly No 2) kindly ask if you may bring a birthday cake instead of ordering off their dessert menu. Chances are the answer will be yes, and you will probably be charged a small fee.

However, if it is a French restaurant in New York or Chicago or a restaurant in France, that will be considered rude.

And I am not talking about dessert only. This applies to anything that would be on the menu.

You may have had the great idea to stop at a nice-looking place and get a to-go coffee ten minutes before, and now you are going to sit down for a meal somewhere else… Drink that coffee before you enter the place.

 

Do you remember, I was telling you earlier that sometimes people do things that are awkward.

This was at my restaurant. We had reservations for a party of at least 12 guests. The night came, and only 8 guests arrived.

First mistake: They should have called so that we could have re-set the table accordingly.

3 guests already had dinner. They were not hungry… They did not want to eat…

Second mistake: Do not bring guests that are going to fill the restaurant but not make money for the restaurant. Young children would be the exception, of course.

2 guests split a salad…

Third mistake: If you choose the restaurant but your guests pay individually, make sure that you choose a restaurant that will be affordable to ALL your guests so that they do not have to split a salad and leave hungry.

 

So, out of the 12 guests that were expected and for whom we had originally set the table, down to 8 that actually came, now we had only 3 that were eating a complete meal.

 

And to top it off, they had brought … a birthday cake. Imagine that! Sometimes, you just have to have a good sense of humor!

 

[What about your pet?

SHOULD YOU BRING YOUR PET?]

 

Actually, you will be surprised to know that we used to welcome pets in restaurants in France – It was not uncommon to see a poodle under the table of a fine restaurant on a Sunday afternoon, or to see a bichon frisé at the bakery or at the creamery.

No more! Unless you have a service dog, you may not bring your pet to the restaurant.

 

[What about your phone?

SHOULD YOU BRING YOUR PHONE?]

 

You may, but just like your keys and your purse, your clutch, your wallet, you will not put those on the table. It is not proper to put those items on the table.

First of all, your keys and phone may not be very clean. In fact, they are full of germs.

Also, you need to let your server do his job properly. When he picks up your order from the kitchen, he expects to have room to set the dishes nicely on your table without having to re-arrange the layout at the last minute when he delivers your order.

And of course, the phone is turned off, right?

Should your phone start to ring in an elegant and quiet restaurant, all heads will turn with a look that will say, “Don’t you know the rules in a place like this?”

So, remember to turn off your phone.

If you are expecting an important call, excuse yourself, and walk discreetly to the lobby or outside where no guests will have to hear your conversation.

And make it short. You should not be away from your table more than 4 or 5 minutes.

Remember, you have people waiting for you at your table. Out of respect, return to them as quickly as possible. They should feel more important than your phone.

 

Voilà! Thank you for your loyalty to voilabycoco.com

Please keep exploring, learning and cooking. Shop, and have fun!

DIETS & ALLERGIES

 

Bonjour! Hello! I am Coco, your host, your friend, your French connection.

Welcome! Bienvenue to voilabycoco.com

 

Today, we are at the restaurant, and we are talking about Diets and Allergies.

 

Some of you are severely allergic to gluten, or dairy products, or nuts, etc.

We, in the restaurant business, totally understand and respect your special concerns and needs when it comes to the ingredients of a dish on the menu. Not understanding and respecting those special needs could be catastrophic for you. So, for peace of mind, always double check with your waiter that your soup or your fish will not be cooked with the ingredients that cause your allergies. That is perfectly fine here in the States, perfectly fine in France, and understood.

 

Some of you are on a diet. We are no longer talking about allergies. We are talking about diet by choice.

In America, we hear about a new diet, and we women go for it. We believe this one will work for us… Do you think we would do a little bit of research to see if …

No 1) This diet is supported by statistics that show its success?

No 2) This diet could be harmful to us? After all, not all diets are good…

No, we just go for it, blindly. It’s the new thing. We choose to give it a try. And that’s what I call the diet by choice.

Fortunately, we quit shortly after trying it, long before we could even see the first end results – good or bad. Then we move to the next one…

So, you are on a diet and you decide to eat out today.

As some of you know, I had a restaurant, here in America, and the number of people that were on a diet, was astonishing, but what was more astonishing, most of them made it difficult for the staff at the restaurant. They made it difficult for the waiter and for the chef.

 

 If you are going to eat out, do not tell your server about your diet and give him a whole description of it. Do not lecture your server about what should be or should not be on the menu because if you choose a particular restaurant, that means that you embrace their menu and their traditions, and it is up to YOU to adapt, not up to the chef.

And that is good advice anywhere in the world.

 

One more piece of advice: DO NOT ask for substitutes, especially in France or in a French restaurant in the States.

If the salad or the sandwich that you are ordering comes with brie cheese, which you do not like as much as gouda cheese, that is because the chef decided that brie cheese is the best choice and pairing with the other components of that particular dish.  Do not insult the chef. Choose something else. When you go to a French restaurant or bistro, leave the “build-your-own” concept behind you.

 

Voilà! Thank you for your loyalty to voilabycoco.com

Please keep exploring, learning and cooking. Shop, and have fun!

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