[Restaurant] Servers: this one's for you.
Whether or not you like kids, families with toddlers and babies are going to come in from time to time. Here's how to wow Mommy and Daddy, and probably increase your chances of a great tip.
Interact with the little one(s) in a positive way.
Comment on how cute he/she is. Make eye contact with him/her, "hi sweetheart!". Acknowledge that baby is there and make it seem like you are happy about it (even if you aren't).
Be mindful that kids grab things...
...when you are placing things on the table. a.k.a. Don't put dad's miso soup right in front of the high chair or mom's hot fajita plate within reach of munchkin's precious hands. This consideration goes a long way when parents have their hands full with an eagerly squirmy little one.
Pick up appetizers/salad/soup dishes faster...
...than you normally would. Empty dishes clutter a table and can be especially stressful for parents trying to manage a grabby lap child.
Be an advocate for the little eaters...
...when you communicate with your kitchen staff.
Anecdote 1: I often order steamed vegetables at restaurants with the intention of giving them to my kid, been doing this since she started on solids. I always ask for them to be extra steamed so they are soft enough to either mash, or for her to gnaw and swallow. I can always tell which servers represent my request to the kitchen, and which don't, by how the vegetables come out. I tip accordingly.
Anecdote 2: a few months ago, we were lunching at a local place [Joyride] here in Gilbert that had just had its grand opening. Not having ever been there before and with no kids' menu to reference, I wasn't sure of the best thing to order that I could share with Penny.
When I asked for suggestions, the waitress asked me "how old is she?"
I told her eleven months.
"Ok -- wink at the baby -- I've got you covered."
A few minutes later (before the grownups' food was even ready) she came out with a big plastic plate of avocado slices, finely shredded chicken breast, mild rice and diced tomato. It was perfect, exactly what I would have asked the kitchen to make for my daughter.
This above-and-beyond gesture made my dining experience fabulous, and scored her a huge tip. (and they charged me only $3 for a "side of chicken" which I thought was very reasonable). The positive first impression of the service at this dining establishment has stayed with me.
Act natural if mom is nursing.
Don't gawk. Nothing to see here.
Don't let parents clean up crumbs and such.
This one is huge for me. Before we leave a restaurant, Dan always feels the need to clean the floor underneath the high chair or area where Penny had her food party. I always feel like when we eat out, the cost for other people cleaning up after us is built in to the cost of the whole experience. I promise you, the restaurant staff members that insist that he not worry about it, "No, don't do that, I've got it", always end up getting a better tip.
Like so many other things in life: attitude is everything.
This post is dedicated to the awesome servers we've had around town. :)
Mommas out there: did I miss anything?