Connie Forbin’s Guide to Being a Good Restaurant Customer
Talk show host and late-night comedian James Corden was recently banned – then unbanned – from New York’s Balthazar restaurant after a manager reported two instances of inexcusable behavior, as recounted by the owner of the restaurant. restaurant Keith McNally on Instagram.
A report said Corden demanded drinks on the house after a hair was found in his food. The other involved an egg yolk omelette that Corden’s wife ordered that had a bit of white in it. McNally claims Corden yelled at the server, prompting the ban. It was lifted after Corden called McNally and apologized.
Anyone who works in the service industry knows that making the customer feel as comfortable as possible is the top priority. The idea that the customer is always right is alive and well, but I think we’ve all decided that as a society there are lines and boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed.
Connie Forbin, longtime captain of the French Room, has perfected the art of service over the past 37 years. Although serving is her job, she offers some tips on how to be a good guest while dining at any restaurant.
Honor your reservation time
Forbin knows things happen when it comes to sticking to a reservation time– keys get lost or shoes go missing – but it is important to show up in time for a reservation.
“This time is reserved for us to serve you,” she said. “Your end time, you can’t control once you’re there.”
Forbin talks specifically about the French room’s catering policy, but adhering to a reservation time is an industry-wide standard. Guests have about an hour and a half for tea in the French Room, and when guests are late, it cuts into their time for eating and drinking.
If you are late for your reservation, this clashes with all reservations that follow yours. And that can sometimes interfere with your own service, Forbin says.
“If we have seven tables coming in at 11 a.m., we have staff for that, we’re prepared for that,” she says. “But if you don’t show up until 30 minutes later and we have several other tables, we are not able to give you the best service.”
Be mindful if you have a large group
Another reservation tip, especially if you have a lot of people in your group, is to make sure all or most of the group can make it to the reservation, preferably at the same time, says Forbin.
Forbin remembers a group of 20 who had only four who showed up on the day of the reservation without notice. She cites several reasons why this can be a problem.
Instead of taking multiple tables, the group only took one, which meant that empty tables could have been reserved by other guests. And not only did the restaurant have to prepare and organize the tables for the party, but they also had to redirect the staff to take care of this reservation.
The kitchen, anticipating a bigger party, probably prepared enough food for a large group, which was wasted once it couldn’t be eaten, Forbin says.
For this reason, restaurants are turning to cancellation fees. Not all restaurants do this, but in a place like The French Room, that can sometimes mean being charged per head that doesn’t show up.
“Please” and “Thank you” go a long way
It goes without saying that being kind and courteous to servers is one of the best ways to be a good guest. And yes, that means saying “please” and “thank you” to your server.
“Although we are servers and serve you, we are still human,” says Forbin. “We still have feelings.”
Forbin says customers who are kind generally receive the best service. And that’s because servers in any part of the industry appreciate it.
“It’s just human nature,” she said. “You want to gravitate to where you feel good.”
Nataly Keomoungkhoun joined D Magazine as Online Restaurant Editor in 2022. She previously worked at the Dallas Morning News,…