Denver Restaurant Week, which ends tonight, has gone really well, with a minimum of madness and moronic customers. The only problem, aside from numerous uninspired chicken dishes and worn-out chefs, has been the abundance of verbal tips.
If my tips matched guest feedback over the past two weeks, I would have made bank -- but the money has just been average. Diners are getting a good deal at most restaurants; it would be nice if they remembered to pay it forward to their overworked servers.
If servers do their job and pace the courses well, reward them. Just like everyone else in the restaurant during DRW, servers are working a little harder. Serving a three-course meal on a busy night is not balancing the federal budget, but it's more involved than normal service. And most reasonable diners tip well for good service on a normal night.
So why the parade of 10 and 15 percent tips during restaurant week? Because diners come out during this time to get a good deal or dine at a place they normally wouldn't be able to afford -- and many don't want to give the money they saved on dinner back to the server.
I get that, but still, most people wouldn't like to do more work at their jobs for the same or less pay.
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Also, keep in mind (and this is a good rule for any time, not just restaurant week) that servers don't design the menu. Some people have complained about restaurants that just roll out a soup or salad option followed by dull chicken or fish dish and a lackluster dessert -- and with good reason: If a restaurant is going to participate, it should make a real effort on the menu. But diners shouldn't take their disappointment in the food out on the server.
The things that are a pain during normal service are still irritating during restaurant week, if not more so. Splitting checks, for example, has somehow become a standard service in a lot of guests' minds. It is not. This is an extra task that can be time-consuming and tedious, and takes the server away from other guests.
And if a large group is taking up a large chunk of a server's section and having three courses, it probably represents a disproportionate amount of that server's business. Large groups limiting a server's ability to take other tables should remember to tip accordingly.
Overall, though, Denver Restaurant Week works well for all involved. So get out there and eat tonight -- but remember that your server is an integral part of your great deal and experience.