Bruce Buschel, the would-be Hamptons restaurateur who’s been blogging about his experiences for the Times, has just published the second half of his list of 100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do. If Buschel’s rules are any indication, then working as a waiter at his establishment will be the service industry’s equivalent of being a first-year cadet at the Citadel. Much of Buschel’s list is valid: No. 58’s “Do not bring judgment with the ketchup, No. 60’s “Bring all the appetizers at the same time, or do not bring the appetizers,” and No. 77’s “Do not disappear,” all strike a resonant chord. And who are we to argue with No. 73’s assertion that “Few things are more frustrating than a bowl of hot soup with no spoon?”
But banning all brass instruments except a “muted flugelhorn” from the restaurant’s soundtrack? (No. 93) Getting the recipe for a guest who goes “gaga” over a particular dish? (No. 97) Never saying “no problem” because it has a “tone of insincerity or sarcasm?” (No. 41) There’s a fine line between guidelines for excellent, common-sense service and micro-managed, soul-sucking drudgery. And it should be noted that many of Buschel’s rules are more applicable to a restaurant’s management than its servers. If you expect a server to “know something about Balsam Farm and candy-striped beets,” (No. 52) for example, then you need to educate him or her rather than expecting an inherent passion for or knowledge of the subject.
“Dining is not work,” states No. 78, after commanding that servers not ask, “Are you still working on that?” But unless you’re the one doing the eating, then Buschel’s list makes quite a persuasive argument to the contrary.