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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Tuesday, March 5

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amyc / November 22, 2004 10:57 AM

Cell phones. Why do people go out with friends only to talk to other people on the phone? And loudly? And with stupid ringtones for everyone to hear?

anne / November 22, 2004 11:01 AM

People who still only tip 10% for good service. As a waitress, this was the biggest problem I had. Remember that your tip gets split by the server, the busboy, and the bartender (if you ordered drinks). I get embarassed when my friends still do this. I always pony some extra bills if they just don't get it.

heather / November 22, 2004 11:04 AM

screamo babies and kiddies-stay away! Just make nice in the suburbs and the small towns like normal. We pay too much living here to compete for airtime with your precious packages wrapped up in $300 strollers.

j3s / November 22, 2004 11:08 AM

This sounds like a petty grievance, but I hate ordering a spinach salad at a decent restaurant only to find they have left the stems on. I eat a lot of spinach, and when I make it at home I always take the extra minute to remove stem from leaf. It probably shouldn't irritate me so much, but it does.

Mike / November 22, 2004 11:08 AM

Now don't get me wrong, kids are great. But there's also a reason they were made so cute, because they'd be out the freakin' door on day 1 if they weren't.
Kids in restaurants are obnoxious 9 out of 10 times and only redeem themselves by pouring spaghetti on their heads occasionally. But I also don't really blame the kids themselves, I blame the parents. These are generally the same people that want to live their "childless" life even after they have children; taking 3-year olds to ball games, to the museum, etc. Kids don't want white table cloths, they want cartoons and clean diapers at home!
I don't bring wild Bonabo Apes or loud talkative drunk people with me to dinner; don't bring your kids.

Andrew / November 22, 2004 11:15 AM

Inattentive service. While I don't necessarily want my server to ask me "How is everything?" every two minutes, I really oughtn't have to flag someone down to get water or, god forbid, order.

This is really more of a management issue than a server problem, most of the time. Put enough people on the floor to deal with customers effectively! I've been to restaurants so poorly staffed and crowded that we ended up tipping the busboy instead of our server because he was who ended up serving us the most. We probably could have left without paying and no one would have noticed.

Maggie / November 22, 2004 11:23 AM

Cold food and selfish customers. This includes:
1. Parents who let their children run wild. While having breakfast with my mother, sister and young niece, my niece began to cry and my mother leaned over and said "Take her outside. These people did not pay to hear your daughter cry." I think that should be posted on every restaurant in the world.
2. Loud cell phone talkers
3. In an obviously crowded restaurant, people who linger long after receiving their check. By all means, finish you coffee. But don't have three more cups.
4. People who throw a fit when they have to wait to sit. Get over it.

Other than that - I love everyone! :-)

Jake / November 22, 2004 11:23 AM

I don't like to run out of beer. I want another fresh beer on the table before my last one is empty. That's really all I want, and it kills me how rarely it happens.

And I hate loud, obnoxious children. And loud, obnoxious 20-somethings.

amyc / November 22, 2004 11:27 AM

Ditto on the stem thing, j3s. Which reminds me: restaurants, please core your tomatoes! That green lump in the center is not edible!

Steve / November 22, 2004 11:44 AM

Having to wash dishes after underestimating the size of the bill versus the quantity of cash in my wallet....

Thurston / November 22, 2004 11:50 AM

1) Large groups who are being too boisterous. I'm all for going out with a bunch of friends, but in order to address the whole table, or people on the opposite end, one often has to scream and shout, which is no different than what the poorly behaved children are doing.
2) Being rushed. It is a very American thing to be expected to pay and get out as soon as the last morsel hits your tongue. I prefer dining in the more Mediterranean sense in that if my guests and I would like to leisurely sip coffee, we shall do so, and we will tip the server accordingly. Though this might frustrate those waiting for a table, to that I say, the early bird gets the coffee.

steven / November 22, 2004 12:05 PM

food that is not cooked correctly. too many times my wife and i will start eating only to discover that one of us has to send our plate back, which means the other one needs to wait as well.

inattentive service sucks as well. like andrew mentioned above, i don't want someone at the table every few minutes, but i wish they would pay a bit more attention, especially if the place is less than busy.

Benjy / November 22, 2004 12:45 PM

Inattentive servers, which always seems to be a the biggest issue when needing a refill on a drink and when wanting to pay the bill. Why is it that it's always hardest to get the servers' attention when wanting to pay the bill?

robin.. / November 22, 2004 12:45 PM

cell phones and being rushed out. ditto, then, thurston. really. the people who want tables would likely enjoy a little time after the meal, too, so i figure i'll take my time now and they'll take their time (inconveniencing someone else...) later.

TJBrass / November 22, 2004 12:48 PM

If a restaurant consistently has a wait, it needs to have adequate bar-space or space near the host stand. I hate trying to snake through people to get to the hostess, and also hate lingering at the front in everybodies way.
I also dislike spotty utensils.

Andy / November 22, 2004 12:57 PM

Any restaurant that requires its staff to ask, "have you ever eaten at _____ before?" Because what is usually associated with this question is a tedious explanation about how the restaurant works, what is so original about how they prepare their food, etc. I can think of one Lettuce Entertain You restaurant in particular. At this restaurant, the server looked sad when I stopped them midway through their explanation so we could order a drink already!

Maggie / November 22, 2004 12:58 PM

Thurston and Robin, do you think there is a happy medium being rushed out and sitting all day while people are waiting? Also, do you feel more rushed out by the people waiting or the staff?

Anthony / November 22, 2004 1:21 PM

Bad table manners. Don't chew with your mouth open. Put the napkin on your lap. Wait for everybody to get there food to start eating. Wait for everybody to get their first drink for a toast. Take off your hat when eating. Blot your mouth occasionally. Poor all beverages for other people first, then for yourself. And if you must talk with food in your mouth, cover it while speaking.

I also expect all women to have superior table manners than I do, and when they don't, I'm instantly turned off.

I also dislike when staff tries to be unnaturally funny or witty. The older I get, the more I am developing an appreciation for frankness nearly to the point of being rude.

Erik / November 22, 2004 2:03 PM

When the wait staff come over and asks "are you still working on that!"

Please just ask me if they can take my plate.

Kat / November 22, 2004 2:08 PM

Ditto on the staff whisking your plate away . . .I've had my plate taken away when my fork is halfway between my mouth & the plate .. .clearly, I'm not done!!!

Heather S. / November 22, 2004 2:35 PM

If there's more than half of the meal on the plate wait staff should ask if you want it to go. I went a place two weeks ago and was looking forward to having the remainder of my pasta for lunch the next day. No dice...they threw it out.

I hate it when wait staff look offended when you don't order any drinks or alcohol with your meal. I like diet coke but my boyfriend is limited to caffeine free. They usually don't have diet caffeine free soda so he is stuck with water.

When the non smoking sction is a half wall away from the smoking section.

kate / November 22, 2004 2:38 PM

Thanks for reminding me. "Are you still working on that?" bugs the crap out of me. I hope to god that you don't consider eating the food you serve at your establishment *working*. If I'm *working* shouldn't you be paying Me and not the other way around? Are you trying to say I'm a pig who's attempting to forcefully stuff every last bite into my mouth?

Also, I'm all for splitting the bill evenly between everyone at the table when each persons' meal was reasonably close to the same price but when you order a $50 bottle of wine and I order a $5 dollar side salad please don't be a jackass.
On the other hand, if everyone does owe around the same amount just split the friggin' bill evenly and get over it. sheesh.

Mike / November 22, 2004 2:48 PM

Oooh, I hate "Are you still working on that?" too. They always get you when your mouth is too full to respond.

tony / November 22, 2004 2:53 PM

It is a universal constant that waitstaff will inevitably stop by while my mouth is full and ask me a question that requires actual articulation of words in response.

Though I could just grunt if asked "How is everything here?"

sujata / November 22, 2004 3:11 PM

people who use a calculator to figure out the tip. stop being so stingy and just round up!

JT / November 22, 2004 3:35 PM

Big ditto on the "are you working on that." I also abhor inattentive or overly attentive service, especially when the server very obviously starts kissing ass as they present the check, hoping they can make up for an hour of being an asshole and still get a big tip.

That being said, I cannot stand dining with people who are rude to the staff. My SIL never, ever even says "thank you" to anyone serving or waiting on her, and I think that's the rudest thing ever. I thank every person who brings me something because I'm so damned grateful to be out of the house, and I know what a sucky job waiting and busing tables can be.

Hector / November 22, 2004 4:08 PM

those people wearing those gapers block t-shirts, annoying opinionated little tools.

liza / November 22, 2004 4:39 PM

when the waiter doesnt know what "al dente" means, then precedes to ask "is that that tubular pasta??" ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Eamon / November 22, 2004 4:50 PM

Meh. I'm not as impatient as most of the folks here seem to be. I have no problem with loud kids (and that includes 20-somethings), so long as the venue and time is appropriate. I hate people who make reservations at Chili's for 7pm and then complain about all the crying children. I recognize that my schedule is a lot more open than that of the typical nuclear family, so yeah, I don't mind extending a little deference and a whole lot of sympathy.

That said, if you're bringing your kid/grandmother/favorite nun to Cesar's past 10 on a Friday night, you'd better expect the occasional "More shots, dammit!" screamed from a neighboring table.

Shylo / November 22, 2004 4:56 PM

I know they have to do this, but I hate having servers recite the specials to me. Because I have never ordered a special, and hate having to feign interest at the pork chops with wasabi mashed potatoes or whatever.

I also hate dirty restaurant bathrooms. It makes me wonder what's going on in the kitchen.

robin.. / November 22, 2004 5:01 PM

maggie--i'd say i've experienced pressure from both parties. and sometimes i feel guilty, but that has more to do with me than with them... i'm mostly over that, and am into liesurely eating and big tipping.

apropos of "are you working on that," a waiter once asked my mom, her friend, and i the following: "you ladies think you can pack down any dessert?"

uh, "pack down?" wtf.

i said, "dude, wrong verb."

Leo / November 22, 2004 5:28 PM

"Jeannie's going to be taking care of you." Taking care of me? I'm just eating-- I don't need a nurse.

Leo / November 22, 2004 5:36 PM

Oh, and I feel sorry for people who want to avoid children in public places; you must have a hard time being a part of the animal kingdom. Besides, I have endured as much or more noise and obnoxiousness from drunken 40-year-olds as I have from children or 20-somethings.

Alex / November 22, 2004 5:40 PM

People on their cell phones.

Once, this 30-something guy at the table next to us was on his cell phone for about 10 minutes, while with his parents. His father finally said,"Will you get off that damn phone!?"

It was hilarious.

ron / November 22, 2004 6:54 PM

Dirty front windows.

If ya can't even keep your windows clean, God only knows what you're doing to my food.

Ruthie / November 22, 2004 7:39 PM

I'm always thirsty. I like a pitcher of water. I'd prefer the waiter not be refilling my glass every time I take a sip, but having to look around for someone to pour poor parched me a cup of water is really sad too. I had this problem recently, and when I finally got the v. surly waitress's attention, she took a pitcher over to the sink, came over to the table, and filled my glass to the brim with hot water. Bummer.

Ben / November 22, 2004 9:32 PM

Corking fees. I have such a hard time getting the third bottle open by myself.

Veronica / November 22, 2004 9:50 PM

Of recent note - overattentive waiters. Don't refill my water glass when I've only taken two sips out of it, don't try to force me to order two minutes after I've taken a seat, and don't ask me if I've finished just because I've taken a break to engage in conversation. Also, don't insist on taking my coat for your "free" coat check and then have your check person request a tip. A) Requesting a tip is poor form to begin with, but B) especially since I only consented to the coat check because the waitress insisted along the "You might as's free," line of thought.

Yeah...I'm looking at you, weird, noveau, downtown pizza place.

I love Drive-In / November 22, 2004 9:50 PM

Liza, if you're consistently going to restaurants where you need to even ASK them to serve pasta al dente, you need to read Kim's column more.

Benjy / November 22, 2004 11:51 PM

I hate when they refill my coffee mid-cup! I've gotten the sweetener and cream JUST RIGHT and committed to memory for that meal, and then they top it off and screw it up.

warnz in the windy city / November 23, 2004 12:10 AM

I'm willing to bet the inconsiderate people on this list who generalize that all kids should not go to restaurants are the same a**holes that light up a smoke when done with their meals.

Some people with kids are genuinely concerned about ruining your precious dining experience. So we take our young families out early in the evening or to "family friendly" restaurants.

Do you smoke and eat at the same time? Then don't when I'm trying to eat - and feed my well behaved kids!

Joe / November 23, 2004 6:32 AM

No mints!

Or sucky mints (pun intended)

Shasta MacNasty / November 23, 2004 8:16 AM

I don't know what's worse: bad-azz kids or the wack-azz parents who won't control them. I was at a Cubs game a while ago and this kid kept turning around, turning around. Didn't bother me. But my parents always told me that it's rude to turn around and wrecklessly eye-ball the people behind you. Anyway, kid eventually sticks his whole hand in my just-purchased $5 beer. The father laughs, grabs the kid, and turns around. No sorry. No "let-me-get-you-another-beer." My friends and I just looked at each other like "Ok...should I get ethnic now, or give him a few minutes to snap to it before I bust him upside the forehead for being so damn inconsiderate." IT WAS A HEINEKEN PEOPLE! Long story short, I end you saying to Daddy Dearest that his precious offspring stuck his hand in my beer and I needed another one...aaaaaaand it cost $5. You know he had the nerve to act like he was being put out? Anyway...we'll behaved kids and their parents aren't a problem in public places, it's the bad ones everyone can't stomach.

Mike / November 23, 2004 8:55 AM

I'm definitely one of the a**holes who lights up after a meal. But usually the first thing they ask before you even sit is whether you want smoking or non-smoking, so why are you sitting in the smoking section?
All I ever said was that 9 out of 10 kids in restaurants were obnoxious, I would bet you ten dinners over it.
Now, I never light cigarettes around kids, but I can't believe the parents that take their kids out to a $15 a plate place at 9 at night. That's supposed to be adult turf at that time of night. The best dinner I ever had at the age of 5 was mac and cheese with hot dogs in it, at home, in my pajamas.
Unfortunately kids and cigarettes are both still legal in public places, so I think that if there were more people like you (who have well-behaved kids) and people like me (who shun any place with a kid's menu), there wouldn't be so many complaints.

Audrey / November 23, 2004 9:16 AM

My biggest pet peeve has to do with clearing the table, particularly when staff start clearing dishes away when not everyone has finished eating -- leaving the one person at a table of four to feel bad they haven't finished yet. I also hate when I have to fight to keep my plate because I am still eating--I may not be eating THAT second but I am still eating. Is there a plate shortage that I am unaware of??

waleeta / November 23, 2004 9:33 AM

what's with all the argument about people who don't like kids at restaurants? I love children to death, but if they can't behave, and if the parents have difficulty with discipline, don't take them to adult restaurants. Take them to kid restaurants. It is not only annoying for other customers, but difficult for servers as well.

I too hate bad table manners, but I hate silent dinners more. I love restaurants and I love food even more, it's almost a religious experience, I need good conversation and I want EVERYONE at the table eating and enjoying themselves. DOn't go out to eat with me and order NOTHING!

Eamon / November 23, 2004 9:37 AM

How could anyone be against specials? I often make a point of ordering something from the specials list. Because they're special.

eep / November 23, 2004 9:42 AM

Went out to dinner last night, sat down at the table, and not even two minutes later the waitress was there, asking for our drink order. I still had the wine list in my hand. Um, no, I'm *not* ready, thank you. She said we should let her know when we were ready to order. Well, we were sitting at the front of the restaurant, away from nearly everyone else in the place, and I guess "out of sight, out of mind" really came into play. 20 minutes later we still didn't have a drink order. (Thankfully there was good conversation, so it hadn't been a horrible wait.) But then we had to wait and wait for a bus boy to pass so he could find our waitress for us. I was ready to leave, but my friend really wanted to try the food. Even after we ordered, the waitress never came back to see if the food was good, no refills on our water, nothing. Thankfully the food was outstanding, or else I would have been really pissed. I doubt I'll go back there, though.

Ruthie / November 23, 2004 9:45 AM

Ooh, Waleeta, I feel the same way eating out with someone who asks the waitress "do you have rice? is it plain? is there anything on it? I'll just have a glass of water, thanks."

Supposedly such an extremely picky/frugal friend is just along for the conversation, but its awkward to have one person go on about how they never waste money on food when they could spend it on obscure cultural events that better themselves more, all the while watching everyone else at the table shovel it in.

Not hungry or willing to eat out? Let's get coffee instead.

Sarah / November 23, 2004 10:01 AM

I tend to judge a restaurant by the quality of service that I get as a solitary diner. I want to receive the same attentiveness when I am eating by myself as when I am in the company of four or five of my friends.

Ayers / November 23, 2004 10:06 AM

What I find exceedingly irritating is being forced to overhear loud political conversations, particularly when they are dumb political conversations that involve parrotting word for word the tv soundbite claptrap that is spewed by candidates in their interminable stump speeches.

Just a thought.

Shylo / November 23, 2004 10:16 AM

Eamon, I hate specials because I'm one of those people that orders the same thing at restaurants every time I go. I don't know why. I just do.

Oh, another thing about restaurants -- unwrapped mints. People don't wash!

But one thing I LOVE about restaurants -- when the busboy comes around with the crumb scraper.

Kevin / November 23, 2004 10:33 AM

Arrogant city-folk who believe that by virture of their "urban-ness", they should somehow be shielded from the realities of children and parents trying to cop a decent meal at a restaurant. Pity to those of you who just can't get over the fact that us breeders like good food and try our best to maintain control over the rugrat.

Don't get me wrong o' weary hipsters, I was once one of you; childless and gobs of cash that I spent at every hip eatery up & down North Avenue. But times change and I'd pay good money to see the Karmic results of you having your first child and taking them to a restaurant.

Street Pee-er / November 23, 2004 10:50 AM

A few things:
1)It kills me when people are rude to waiters and bus boys. 2) I hate when things are a la carte. When you get a burger it should come with fries, not for 2.75 extra! 3) Waiters that suck, and try to cover this up by joking and shmoozing you up. I'd rather you be a tool and get my order right.

Joe / November 23, 2004 10:57 AM

Well said Kevin, well said

Benjy / November 23, 2004 10:57 AM

Cheap asses who don't pay their fair share of the bill during group dinners. I had a friend in college who'd order something for $7.95 and then throw in $8 -- never mind tax, tip, his Diet Coke, his share of the appetizer, etc. And it wasn't like he short cash -- his father was partner in a big NYC law firm. He'd usually pull this off by saying he had a study group and excuse himself early, throwning down the cash as he left. Only when the rest of us went to pay the bill would we realize how little he threw in. After a couple times, we ended up making him pay as soon as he ordered.

waleeta / November 23, 2004 11:08 AM

Oh yeah - I also HATE wrapping my own food when and if I decide to take it home. They should do it for me.

That's probably because I am "arrogant city folk"!!

Thurston / November 23, 2004 11:31 AM

Kevin - it sounds to me like you're trying to defend so many children's poor behavior by saying that's just the way it is. I don't think it has to be that way. I just think most people are lazy parents. As a child, my parents made it clear to me that I could go anywhere with them as long as I wasn't loud and disturbing to others. The few times I tested my folks resolve on this matter, my folks left imediately, and I learned my lesson. It turned out to be a pretty good deal for me, because I got to go to the fancy grown up places with my folks while other children's escape from home invariably involved some kid-friendly place that I found condescending and watered-down. I think "hipster" really means "fashionable non-conformist", and as such I am the first to recognize bogus hipster-snobbery, and I point it out often. I don't think the objection to poorly behaved children has anything to do with hipsterism, however.

Maggie / November 23, 2004 12:40 PM

Kevin et. al,

I don't believe that we are generalizing all parents so I'd prefer that you don't generalize us. If a parent will let their child roam about the table freely, will not try to quiet down their child when he/she is screaming at the top of his/her lungs and is not an infant, and brings their child to a restaurant late at night or to a restaurant that is known to be quiet, it is not our arrogance, it is the parent's laziness. I enjoy many a meal in the burbs and will often go with my 2 year old nephew. If he acts up and is disturbing everyone, we leave. The people in that restaurant, family friendly or not, should not have to put up with my nephew's screaming. So, yes, a lazy, selfish parent is a pet peeve.

Sue / November 23, 2004 12:53 PM

Couple items not mentioned yet:

The menu bait & switch: order a tasty sounding item only to have it arrive missing a key ingredient, or prepared differently. Only made better by pointing it out to the waitstaff and having them say 'Yeah I know, we changed the menu'.

Don't know if fast food is 'dining out', but I hate when I stand well back from the counter to study the menu and get the "Can I take your order?" yelled over to me. Wait a minute and let me decide already.

Weebol / November 23, 2004 1:00 PM

Dining out with uber-urbanites who proclaim
tolerance is a virtue to them, but in reality,
they have no 'tolerance' whatsoever.

pj chmiel / November 23, 2004 1:24 PM

Places that don't have anything vegan, and act like they're really bending over backwards when they offer to "do" some iceberg lettuce with a cherry tomato, sans the cheeze, meat and nasty creamy dressing. Especially disappointing at larger/fancier restaurants.

Ethnic places where NOBODY speaks basic English. I understand that acclimating takes time, but it would be nice if there were at least one person on staff conversant enough to navigate the menu and answer simple questions about it. This isn't usually a problem, just once in a while, and it's usually worth the gamble anyway.

Coffeeshops that charge more for soy/rice milk. Come on, this is a big city and it's not 1987; this stuff isn't expensive or hard to come by anymore. Even worse when they charge 50 or 75 cents extra for an ounce or two of it and THEN use some bargain-basement brand that tastes like shit. I could've bought the whole nasty carton for $1!

Screaming/obnoxious kids, but that's already been covered.

Kevin / November 23, 2004 1:26 PM

Nice response Thurston. Duly noted and cheers.

I go to Bars / November 23, 2004 2:05 PM

Leo / November 23, 2004 2:18 PM


How about portabello mushroom sandwiches? Guess what, people, you're not hip for having a portabello mushroom sandwich. That's so ten years ago. I'm sick and tired of friggin' portabello mushrooms. My diet cuts out meat, but does not limit me to giant fungi.

Leo / November 23, 2004 2:29 PM

fashionable non-conformists! i love that!
we non-conformists all think alike!

rock on weebol

Alex / November 23, 2004 2:32 PM

"My diet cuts out meat, but does not limit me to giant fungi."

Leo, that just made laugh like crazy! I think it was the words "giant fungi"

As far as kids in restaurants, I kind of agree with Thurston. It's all about grace and courtesy.

I have a baby, and when go out to eat with him, it is early in the day or at a time when it doesn't interfere with his nap. Why would I want to sit there with a screaming baby who just wants to be home? It's not fun for me, him or anyone else.

Also, if you teach your child manners, he will be mindful and respectful. The day I let allow my kid to throw food in a restaurant and act like a maniac is the day I know I am being a sucky-ass parent -- and that's not going to happen.

So it's not about "make nice in the suburbs and the small towns like normal", it's about common courtesy and teaching good manners; something even some adults have to work on.

E / November 23, 2004 2:48 PM

I hate it when the female servers stop flirting with you after you pay your wait, that's just at Hooters.

Maggie / November 23, 2004 3:45 PM

Yay Alex! I knew that there were parents out there who got it...

And I have a weakness for cute waiters who flirt with me. You will have a good tip.

Jim / November 23, 2004 3:56 PM

I have two big restaurant pet peeves.

1. The recent trend for restaurants to look modern and stark. What this usually means is that there is nothing in the room to absorb sound. As a result, I can hear the people on the other side of the restaurant better than I can hear the person/people I am sitting with. Nothing makes me walk out of an establishment faster than a constant din that could be dimished with a little sound treatment.

2. When they clean the tables nearby with a bleach solution. While I am glad they are sanitary, the smell of bleach can really quelch my appetite.

Thurston / November 23, 2004 4:06 PM

Jim, you have reminded me of a restaurant eccentricity that I have been cultivating. I appreciate it greatly when eateries have a scentless soap in their bathrooms. Some restuarants purchase soap that has a strong antiseptic smell to it, and after washing my hands, I can smell a hint of it each time the fork is lifted to my face. This diminishes the olfactory aspect of a good meal.

Leo / November 23, 2004 4:13 PM

Another peeve is drafty restaurants. On a chilly Chicago morning, it really sucks to have one's cozy breakfast interrupted by a frigid blast every time someone walks in the door to check where they are on the seating list. I guess there's not a lot you can do to combat this problem, but it sucks nevertheless.

Marc / November 23, 2004 4:36 PM

I'd say my biggest pet peeve is generally sub-standard service. Most people have already hit on the highpoints: slow to come take the order, innatentive, never checks up, etc.

If you want to avoid the kids try Wishbone at Lincoln and School. They have a 'no kids' section and is entirely non-smoking. Closed Mondays.

peevy / November 23, 2004 4:47 PM

"Oh yeah - I also HATE wrapping my own food when and if I decide to take it home. They should do it for me. "

i can totally see the logic here, and really, i agree with it. but i will add that i come from a long line of waitresses, though i've never done it myself (seems so scary to me), and everyone in my family specifically asks to wrap the food ourselves at the table. apparently, things can happen on the journey from plate to doggie bag, most notably using random/other peoples' utensils to nudge it into the container. at the very least, put your fork on the plate so they have one (yours) handy.

i, too hate screaming, running, etc. children.
i also hate when people who've been 'behind the scenes' feel the need to ruin your meal by telling you what not to do and the gross reasons why.
finally, along the smelly-handsoap line, i hate it when the bathroom air freshener is so strong it wafts out into the waiting area/restaurant/wherever. so. gross. this rarely happens in 'nice' restaurants, but there's no law that says a good meal in a cheap restaurant shold be marred by bathroom-air-freshener-smell.

Kevin / November 23, 2004 4:51 PM

While I won't get into the particulars of parenting since you are not one, I agree with you that any parent who brings a cranky kid to a restaurant is asking for trouble. But thats like, duh? I don't think you're going out on a limb there. My response was not directed at you but more Heather so please don't be offended.

Kevin / November 23, 2004 4:56 PM

P.S. The above comment was addressed to Maggie.

On a lighter note, bad service is the number one killer for me. If I sense the waiter/waitress would rather be dipped in hot tar than wait on me, then its pretty much over. I WILL tip but just under the minimum.

Also, keep the coffee coming. If my cup gets tepid, so does the tip. I normally overtip so I feel like I making a statement by giving the minimum.

Sucker / November 23, 2004 4:57 PM

When you asked me if I wanted "soup or salad with that?", I thought you meant that the meal came with a soup or a salad. It didn't, so when I said "Salad" I was actually adding to the bill and padding your tip, you crafty devil.

Eamon / November 23, 2004 5:19 PM

Seriously, I believe that children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside: give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be.

Kris / November 23, 2004 5:33 PM

As a server myself, I'd like to point out from the responses so far how impossible it is to give consistent service that will please every guest. So far we have people who hate waiting too long to order drinks, and others who complain about the waitress coming too soon. Kevin wants his coffee kept coming, and somebody else will get pissed off if you top his coffee before he drains it.
Some people want their plate removed as soon as they're finished, while others think no one's should be taken away until everyone at the table is done.

Sorry, pj, but you're one of my pet peeves as a server: people who get indignant about what's not on the menu. Vegetarian is one thing, but if you're vegan maybe you need to be seeking out vegan restaurants. That's an awfully narrow, specialized, and unusual diet for you to expect that every restaurant you go to should cater to your needs. On the other hand, I've had plenty of vegetarians get huffy with me that we only had five items on the menu. At a restaurant that specializes in steaks and burgers? I think that's pretty good! It makes me want to scream, "There are 3,000 restaurants in Chicago! We specialize in carnivousness! Why are you eating here?!"

Lisa / November 23, 2004 6:11 PM

I don't drink coffee... I drink tea. So why do I have to have my tea in a tiny little cup while everyone else gets a nice big mug... and why do I get a tiny little pot of water (often smaller than the coffee mug) and only one teabag?

pj chmiel / November 24, 2004 12:17 AM

I don't frequent steakhouses or even American restaurants, because they don't tend to have much for me to eat. But the mark of a decent restaurant/server/cook is the ability to improvise and please just about anyone on short notice. I don't think it's outrageous to expect one or two good vegetarian/vegan-friendly options on a menu of dozens of meat dishes, if only for the poor veg*ns who invariably get dragged to places like that with family, workmates, or whoever. More and more restaurants are starting to understand the importance of that "compromise" and are reaping the profits from a lucrative market.

I hate to break it to you, but there are a LOT of vegans in Chicago and the world at large. It's not nearly as "narrow, specialized and unusual" a diet as you imagine it to be, and I find that maginalization suprising and insulting. Hell, Burger King has a vegan burger and even a lot of greasy Chicago hotdog stands have veggie dogs nowdays. The times, they are a-changin'.

Mike / November 24, 2004 8:58 AM


You just made me think of "Coming to America". The scene with Sexual Chocolate at the Black Awareness Pagent.

"Damn, that boy is good!"
"Yeah, good and terrible."

My new pet peeve is bad music at restaurants. I don't need a dose of trance with my sushi, thank you very much.

Nuxrs / November 24, 2004 9:23 AM

Kris.....i was thinking the same thing. Don't get me wrong, I love y'all, but some of you sound a mite picky. Segue into one of my pet peeves as a (former, thank god) server: Staggeringly rude/picky/condescending customers who explain to you that they "used to work at a restaurant" so they have the right to treat you like shit....

pj chmiel / November 24, 2004 9:32 AM

Another thing I forgot is ethnic (or any, really) restaurants that play "lite rock" or "smooth jazz" over their speakers. If I go to an authentic ethnic place, I want to hear music from their country, not the WORST of what this country has to offer in some lame attempt at not offending anyone. I'd even take their presumably-terrible pop music, or silence, over that wishy-washy USA Lite BS.

shyport / November 24, 2004 10:14 AM

Servers who ask -- at the very END of the meal -- "how was everything??" like they can do something about the mediocre food or service after the fact. Most likely, they were hiding until the end so not to catch too much flak. I was waiter once and the question that made more sense to me was "Do you need anything?" or "Can I get you anything?" And ask before they're reaching for the check.

Wendy / November 24, 2004 10:17 AM

I hate it when there's a candle in the center of the table and it's not lit, and you look around at all the other tables and see that everyone else has THEIR candles lit and only YOU have the bad candle, but it's okay, because you're sure that when the waiter comes he's going to notice and light your candle, because really, these things happen. But then he doesn't notice, and you know that in the grand scheme of things it's not a big deal, it's just that you have this pit of cold dark desolation in the middle of your table and you start to wonder whether maybe you should just try to find some matches and light it yourself--like, would that be rude or out-of-place?--until you start feeling sorry for yourself, because, you know, it's just not the same if you have to create the ambience on your own, and so you sit there in the dark and all happiness forsakes you.

So anyway, I hate that.

Brian / November 24, 2004 10:47 AM

1- Snotty servers. I went to a Thai restaurant and ordered a dish with Chicken. When the server delivered our meals, mine was with beef. I told the server I ordered chicken (in a nice way) and she got this really snotty attitude with me- like it was my fault. If I make a mistake at work, I acknowledge it and remedy the situation without an attitude. Servers- take note.

2- Children. We pay lots of money to live in the city and these families who invade from suburbia need to respect that. Screaming, out-of-control children need to be kept at home or on a tight leash...not running around and making a rucous at a nice restaurant- that's why McDonalds exists.

Eamon / November 24, 2004 11:04 AM

I love the lashing out at suburbia. WTF? I'm pretty sure there are plenty of breeders right here in Chicago, unless Daley's started some massive fluoride-and-saltpeter program I'm unaware of. And, by the way, the cash those evil, no-good suburbanites use to pay for goods and services here in Chicago are what keep your sales and property taxes low, so check yourself.

robin.. / November 24, 2004 11:28 AM


Andrew / November 24, 2004 11:33 AM

the cash those evil, no-good suburbanites use to pay for goods and services here in Chicago are what keep your sales and property taxes low,

Low!? Ha!

Brian / November 24, 2004 11:57 AM

Addendum to my post:

2 should read as follows: Out-of-control Children.

I love children and look forward to taking my baby niece to many fine restaurants- that is, when the time is right. I do believe the key to bringing children along is in parenting. My parents took my siblings and I to many fine restaurants as children, but it was because we were well behaved, possess appropriate etiquette in a restaurant and so forth. Where did these characteristics come from? Good parenting. And to Kevin and all those parents who come to restaurants with their well-behaved children- you are fine examples good/sensible parenting.

One other pet peeve-
Dining with a picky person. I have a friend I dine with occassionally who is extremely meticulous. He can never order off the menu without customizing every aspect of the meal (cocktails, appetizers, entrees, dessert). People like this really need to be open to trying foods/drinks prepared differently than their preference to appreciate and embrace variety. It's tough being the person on the other end of the table listening to every single custom change- I can't even imagine what the wait staff goes through or thinks. I generally make sure we leave larger-than-usual tips when dining with him. I'm usually an over-tipper anyway.

This also brings about another pet peeve that occurs when dining with this particular friend. Cell phones during dinner. I feel it is very rude to take calls when you are dining with others (especially when you are only a party of 2). Leave the phone in your pocket. If the call was truly urgent the caller will leave a message or call again.

Brian / November 24, 2004 12:14 PM

If you think taxes in Chicago are low you MUST live in the burbs Eamon. Not only are property taxes not low but sales tax will be jumping to 9% next year courtesy of Daley.

Living in the city has very high prices. While it is our choice (hipster or not) to live here, I also believe we pay that premium for many reasons- more than I could even begin to elaborate on. It sometimes seems as though you can't move an inch without having a tax levied.

As for breeders in Chicago, I have friends who do fall into that category. The difference is they've done the job of parenting and their children are generally well-behaved. I've been out with them only a handful of times where they had to take the children and leave due to behavior problems...but they did the honorable thing by taking the children home and not further interrupting the remaining clientele.

The problem with suburbanites in the city is that they want all of the pleasures of the city and want to impose their lifestyles on the urban dwellers and hipsters without all of the pains like property tax, sales tax etc... and then you want us to be sympathetic to YOUR needs?

Cinnamon / November 24, 2004 12:47 PM

As someone who used to be a server:

I know exactly how crappy of a job it can be so I often count to see how many tables my server is working before getting upset about lax service. If I get great service I'm sure to not only tip well, but also compliment them to their manager. The manager will be so happy to not be getting a complaint that the server is likely to get a better section/a requested day off/etc.

If I'm waiting a long time at the beginning of the meal, I check to see if my server has been double- or triple-sat (2-3 groups sat within minutes of each other meaning that you've got lots of people who will want drinks/apps/dinner at the same time).

I also check to see if my server is serving all the tables within a specific area, or if their tables are spread out. This makes it easier to know if I'm going to be able to get the server's attention when I need them, or if I need to keep a watchful eye on when they'll be around.

To be a good server you have to be either psychic, or a great study of personalities to know who wants you to come back a lot and who wants to be left the f**k alone.

If I don't need something in a hurry, I make sure to let my server know that. It's a simple consideration.

The average server will do a better job if they know what their customer wants. I feel it's my job as a customer to let me server know what I want.

Mike / November 24, 2004 1:21 PM

Brian and Eamon-

I kind of agree with you both.

I do agree that suburbanites definitely get pampered by Chicago (as a city government). A small example: Who do you think all the beautiful holiday wreaths downtown are for? Where are the wreaths in my neighborhood? Why does roadwork get done in hours downtown (instead of in months like in the neighborhoods)? Why do the CTA, police coverage and beautification projects all suck except for the downtown (name one $450 million park in one of the hoods)? As a relative new-comer to Chicago (a little under a year), I can still say with some objectivity that this town caters to people that don't actually live here more than London, NYC or LA ever have.

I totally agree that suburbanites spend a lot of loot here, but you've got to understand that a lot of Chicagoans feel like you treat us as a culinary/cultural/babysitting playground but then when it really matters (sending kids to our schools and investing in a community), you're off in Naperville or Highland Park calling anyone who complains a "hipster".

This post is way the hell off-topic, sorry.

salty / November 24, 2004 1:37 PM

I've never taken to being served in a restaurant -- I'm more of a cafe, deli or counter-service person.

That said, I gotta say my pet peeve is the smell of something burning. Ugh.

Buddha / November 24, 2004 3:11 PM

I turly can say i have never had a bad experience while dinning out and therefore have no pet peeves whatsoever. . .

I was once a child and know what it's like to behave spontaneously, so now i don't mind children and the way they behave--in public or anywhere else.

In my non-conformist stage of life, i practiced being spontaneous and although i derided others who immediately stereotyped me as a hipster or whatnot, I secretly reveled in their judgement because i so wanted to be perceived and defined as being different than them and, more importantly, in the ways i stereotyped them.

As a server for many years just trying to make enough money to educate myself by paying for school, i experienced first hand what a daunting task it was to please everybody's individual needs (and that goes for bosses and coworkers, as well as for customers), so i don't complain about those who now serve me.

As a parent of two boys and a girl i've come to the realization of how actually simple it was to be a server of people who paid me and then left my existence, because battling the ever spontaneous nature of children is a far greater and more exhausting (not to meniton more important) task, though i do my best to teach my children good manners and how respect for others is invariably connected to true respect of one's self.

There have been times in my life when i have felt so alone and have craved communication with anyone so much that it had driven me to many destructive vices, that now i embrace today's technology that allows me to keep connected with those important to me no matter how far they are or where i may be myself at any given moment.

I have come to the basic understanding that THE MOST SACRED THING IN LIFE IS LIFE ITSELF, but oh the paradox of life, that to sustain it one must feed and devour other life, so i respect the vegan but i also respect the carnivore, because all living organisms have a right to live, not just the ones that cry out to remind you of how fragile your own life really is, but where does that respect end when you must inevitably kill and devour to survive.

I have revolted against authority so many times, yet understand why through history we as a people have built a structure of tradition and ritual that establishes holidays in order for humanity to remember to be kind to one another.

i give you my thanks.

Kevin / November 24, 2004 3:17 PM

Brian said:

Dining with a picky person. I have a friend I dine with occassionally who is extremely meticulous. He can never order off the menu without customizing every aspect of the meal (cocktails, appetizers, entrees, dessert)

Heheh.. Until you said "he", I'd have sworn you were talking about my wife.

When we go out to eat I pray for large menus so that I can hide my entire face and upper torso from the poor waiter/waitress. Drives me nuts.

Kris / November 24, 2004 6:52 PM

pj- my apologies. I was clearly cranky and overly harsh, and didn't need to attack veganism as a whole or you in particular. My sister is vegetarian, and I know how hard it can be for her to find something in a lot of restaurants.

Still, my larger point stands: it's ridiculous for people to go to a restaurant and complain about what's not on the menu, and this includes people making a huge scene about the fact that I didn't have pasta. "How can you not have pasta?!" Well, again, we're a steakhouse. Get off me. Check the menu posted at the door, and if they don't have anything that interests you, go somewhere else.

Sarah / November 25, 2004 3:18 PM

I was in Montreal and every time I sat down to dinner, we were asked if we wanted separate checks --even for parties of 12 or 14 people! The wait staff never seemed to mind one bit and even expected it.

If someone asked for 14 separate checks in Chicago, the waitstaff would go on strike!

paul / November 26, 2004 12:53 AM

As a foodie, I'm grateful for the choices we have in this city, the high quality ingredients, and the overall hi-level of professional service. This is an extremely competitive dining market, and it's great for the diner.

If you people are all going to sucky places with food that doesn't suit you, in-attentive staff and wild kids running around, maybe you should stop going to sucky places. For the most part, you get what you pay for and you should expect to get the kind of place you expect to get - another words if the menu has burgers and ice cream sundaes on the menu, don't get upset when there are kids around.

Many of you have already covered annoying things that should be obvious and I could go on and on about subjects already covered, but basically it comes down to being aware that you're going into a big room full of humans eating, which is scary enough, and you're trusting some one else to cook and prepare the food for you.

Some of us see that as experience to be savored, others see it as their only chance to order someone to serve them, while others see it only as a way to get something in their stomachs.

We eat every single day, we're bound to get a crappy experience once in awhile, but take the time to think about what it takes to grow, kill, deliver, prepare and serve a meal. That way we'll all make better choices and have better dining experiences. And maybe we'll all remember to tip.

Tom / November 26, 2004 1:14 PM

Topless waitresses...............

chris / November 27, 2004 12:42 AM

Lack of topless waitresses!

Eamon / November 27, 2004 10:15 AM

Heh. Well, lower, anyway. And for the record, I've lived in Chicago proper for the past ten years, and finally bought a house last spring. I love this city, I love my neighborhood, and I am perfectly happy sharing.

jennifer / November 28, 2004 3:55 PM

people who chew too loud or people who can't chew with their mouths closed. gross.

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