We Can Probably Stop Asking "Is this Your First Time Dining With Us?" Now

Categories: Complaint Desk

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Unless your restaurant is going to rend our garments, we probably don't need the question: "is this your first time eating with us?"
Some time ago, a planeload of my family came to Dallas from New York City. After searching for the most Texan-y place to eat, someone thought it'd be funny to take the freshly deplaned New Yorkers to Trail Dust steakhouse. We made sure my uncle wore a tie with his denim. I remember this because the waiter asked "have you eaten with us before?" When we answered "no," the server proceeded to whoop and bring in more servers, who then cut my uncle's tie ceremoniously.

So, I'm certain that the only time it's necessary to ask a table-full of people "have you dined with us before?" is if the followup is "because we sometimes slice off your clothing." My argument is that this question, whether it's phrased "is this your first time with us" or "have you dined with us before," really needs to be left out of waiters' lexicon. Here's my reasoning, which is (hopefully) illustrated in these scenes:

Scene 1:

Fancy Restaurant -- Night
Four patrons are enjoying a night out. They appear relaxed, but ready to eat. A WAITER (26) approaches in a clean, button-down white shirt and carrying a notepad.

WAITER
Good evening, I'm Waiter. Have you dined with us before?

The table shifts in their seat, looking at each other. It's awkward. One person takes a nervous sip from a glass. Suddenly, it's as if the four people are in school again and the teacher has asked someone to step with a notable point about To Kill a Mockingbird. Finally:

PATRON 1
(shouting) Yes! Fine! OK! I ate here. I ate here by myself, right over there [pointing wildly] because my sweet, fuzzy Yorkshire terrier was killed after being sucked into a street cleaning truck and all I could bring myself to do was eat a 2-pound pasta plate. HAPPY?

The entire restaurant is looking on.

END SCENE

Scene 2:

Chain Restaurant -- Day
Two people, looking hungover in dark glasses and hats pulled down, thumb through a strangely extensive menu. A waiter (26) approaches in a clean, button-down white shirt with a notepad.

WAITER
Good evening, I'm Waiter. Have you dined with us before?

One dude looks too hungover to answer. The other looks up from his menu, clearly confused as to why biscuits and gravy haven't showed up at the table.

HUNGOVER PERSON 1
No.

WAITER
Splendid! Well, what happens next is you will pick a food item from this rectangular catalog of food terms. Once stated, you will hand the catalog back to me. I will pen it down on this pad, take it to the kitchen, and, using the magic of heat, the food will be produced. Then, you masticate the food.

HUNGOVER PERSON 2
Cool.

END SCENE

Seriously though, there must be better, less awkward ice breakers. Unless the restaurant serves a great deal of confused space aliens, you're going to dress me up in animal costumes mid-meal, or you're going to rend my garments, there's really no need to check if I've eaten at the restaurant before. Lets just get to the straight point: Me hoovering your delicious food.


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12 comments
Jared
Jared

Pizza Shooters, Shrimp Poppers. Extreme Fajitas.

ceepee
ceepee

Dumbest. Post. Ever.

t_s_
t_s_

Possible response:   "Not only have I not dined with you before, I've never dined before.  I may require you to masticate my food before delivering it straight into my mouth baby bird style."  

 

J_A_
J_A_

First world problems

Americano
Americano

Servers are made to say this to satisfy the Corporate Nazi's who just want to move the Fish Special before it goes bad.

danielslauren
danielslauren

I always want to respond with "Which answer gets the shortest response? Because I don't care either way."

 

Maybe I should just yell, "Bingo!" Then order. 

ChrisYu
ChrisYu

have you dined with us before?  'yes'

just wondering, what the hell brought you back?

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

the only time that question should be asked is if there is a different than normal serving process, say a place like Fogo or Texas De Brasil.  Otherwise what is the point of the Uncle Julios or Chilis guy asking?  I specifically enjoy when 1 or 2 guest have eaten there and one of the guest hasnt.  It totally throws the waiter off.  The answer goes, I have and she has, but this one hasnt.  The waiter responded with oh ok, what would you like to drink

CHARLIEDONTSURF
CHARLIEDONTSURF

 @ScottsMerkin Thanks for adding this caveat, because I've waited tables at both Genghis Grill and Celebration and if the answer to this question was no, I had way more 'splaining to do. I don't think I asked Celebration patrons most of the time, but at Genghis Grill it's kind of important.

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