Tuesday, November 10, 2009 at 9 a.m.
Last week's 10 Things to Know If You're Dining Out struck a nerve with readers -- and, we'll admit, with Chow Bella's administration. Particularly the part about dining out with children.
Sure, yes, absolutely, no doubt about it -- it's gotta suck to wait on people and their screaming, drooling, demanding, messy, sticky, stinky kids. But let's turn the dinner tables for a moment. There are quite a few things that wait staff can do to make a family's meal out a miserable experience -- and, coincidentally, we experienced just about all of them on a Sunday morning trip to the International House of Pancakes this very weekend.
To be fair, we did choose to cram into the IHOP just south of Arizona State University just before prime hangover hour. The place was pretty packed. But we scored a window booth with our 6-year-old, and our young server was super cheery. So far, so good.
Then things went south. Pads and pencils out, servers. Here are 6 things you should never do when waiting on a family.
1. Don't take the kid's order from the kid. Not when the parent is sitting right there, shouting over the kid. We said "apple juice," not even hearing Little Girl's request for lemonade. At 9 a.m. When the lemonade arrived, we started to protest -- then shrugged. Contrary to what some might think, parents do attempt to keep kids in check in public.
2. Bring the kid's food first. Or at least bring everything at once. Even if Mom's is ice cold by the time you bring it -- because otherwise, Little Girl is going to eat all of Mom's egg substitute by the time the large amount of food the kid ordered arrives. And who knows what they put in egg substitute. It can't be that healthy for a child. But again, tantrum avoidance at play meant Mom caved.
3. Get Mom's order right. No, she didn't ask for decaf. And she wanted that wheat toast unbuttered. And since Little Girl snarfed up the egg substitute, it's a pretty bare breakfast for Mommy. (On a side note, we will say that IHOP's turkey bacon is tasty. Way too tasty. Do you think they deep fry it?)
4. No matter what you do, bring the kid's healthy food first! Not only did our waitress bring Little Girl's food 10 minutes after Mom's, she waited another 5 before bringing Little Girl's fruit cup. Um, it's not like they have to cook the fruit. Or even make sure it's fresh, from the look of what arrived at our table.
5. When Mom asks for more napkins, bring them quickly -- and please bring more than one. No explanation needed on this one.
6. Don't offer kids refills of sugary drinks. Obviously concerned over the earlier lemonade snafu, our friendly server graciously offered Little Girl an apple juice for the road. Damn it. On top of lemonade? No way. We ditched the AJ in the parking lot when Little Girl wasn't looking.
Little Girl's IHOP meal wound up consisting of: One lemonade; a lot of egg substitute; two bites of smiley face pancake; one piece of watermelon, not counting the part she spit out after refusing it; half an apple juice.
Don't worry, kid phobics. We get the message. Next time we'll stay home.