This past week we experienced two different ways of being treated while eating out with children. The first one took place at Taco Time where we took our four children for dinner. Although the dining area closed in 20 minutes we weren’t made to feel unwelcome as we approached the counter. We ordered our food and found a table. The eating area was clean, even the table tops. No gunk on the floor or sticky seats.
As we sat down, our food was delivered to our table. We realized we didn’t order enough drinks for the kids. Lincoln, who is 5, brought his wallet with him (not sure why) and thought it would be fun to order the drink himself. So we sent him back to the counter to order one, which he did but the cashier wouldn’t take his money. My son was so excited to carry his VERY OWN DRINK back to the table and rub it in just a little to his sisters.
As 9pm approached, the manager came to our table and said we were welcome to stay as long as we wanted but asked us to keep the door shut since the dining area was closing. He didn’t make us feel rushed.
I understand that some families trash the tables and toss food on the floor. Young children make messes. I get that. Our kids have done that before. But we never leave a restaurant (even fast food) looking worse than when we arrived. Kim and I wipe off tables with napkins and wet wipes. Both of us will get down on the floor to pickup any food that has fallen. As I wiped off our table the manager told me not to worry about it. He’d take care of it.
Contrast this experience with the one we had a day later at one of our favorite Italian restaurants in one of the nicest area of Seattle. This restaurant is much more expensive than Taco Time and has been kid-friendly (they even have suckers at the entrance for the kids) in the past. So we were extremely disappointed when our waitress seemed peeved as she took our order. One of our children changed changed her mind and ordered pasta instead of pizza. Maybe it took 20 seconds longer than taking an order from an adult, but it clearly set the tone for the rest of our stay.
Once the food was brought to our table she never once checked on us until she brought the check. We had to ask for soda refills as she walked off. This gal wouldn’t even look me the eye. Our kids were well-behaved so I’m not sure what we did to upset her. The food was fantastic as usual but the manner in which we were treated left us feeling like our business was not appreciated.
Maybe she was uncomfortable around children. Or that we’d trash the place and leave a crappy tip. That’s not the case. We don’t trash places and always pickup the best we can. Many restaurants go out of their way to make families feel welcome. Some bring crayons or games to the table which helps keep them occupied until the food arrives.
I normally leave a 20% tip. If we are treated well, especially our children, I’ll tip 25% knowing how challenging it must be to serve young kids that sometimes spill chocolate milk on the table. I decided to tip this waitress 15%.
I have two regrets as I write this. I should have left a tip for the guy at Taco Time for treating us so well. My son left his wallet in the bathroom and it was retrieved for us without any attitude. I also regret tipping the waitress 15%. I should have asked to speak with a manager to whom I could have shared my concerns.
Maybe this gal was having a tough day and I should cut her some slack. We’ll still go to this little Italian joint because their food is so very good. It’s just disappointing this time around.