So, let me start this post by giving a little explanation. Most people might be wondering why I, someone who works in the kitchen, would have a valid idea or opinion about ordering at a counter. Well you see, where I work is set up to I am not only the one preparing the food, but I am also taking your order and serving you. The way it works is that after I finish prepping everything, I set up a hot line where the customer comes up to a counter of sorts, look at the food and order it. I think the purpose of this set up is that there will be a better connection from the food to the customer. After all, who knows the food better than the person who prepared it. But I digress. Throughout my years at this job I have found that some customers have some habits when it comes to ordering that just really irk me. Therefore, I am providing you some insight into what someone on the other side of the counter is thinking. Hopefully these suggestions are taken to heart and you can improve your next counter side order experience.
My first suggestion is that when you go to order, be ready to order. I know this might seem intuitive, but I have on more than one occasion encountered someone who came up to me with no clue what they wanted or how they wanted it. I am not saying don't take your time to make up your mind. What I am saying is don't expect for everyone to wait for you while you do it. The worst case of this is when there is a line behind you. You are just gumming up the works for everyone. If you are waiting in line, take that time to familiarize yourself with the menu or, as in that case of my place of employment, what food is being served. That way when you come to the person who is going to take your order/serve your food, you know exactly what you want. If there is no line, then take as much time to do these things before ordering.
My second talking point ties directly into my first. When you are ordering please know what you are ordering. I have lost count the number of times someone has asked me if my vegetarian dish has any meat in it. Another example of this is asking if what I am serving is something completely different than what it actually is (mashed potatoes vs potato salad). While every person is entitle to know about the food they are about to consume, It is very irritating when the information is readily available and provided to you. In the case of my job there is a sign in front of every station indicating what is being served and other pertinent information (such as vegetarian dishes or if it contains common allergens). If you want to know specifics about the dish, such as what fat was used to prepare it or what spices, then I will gladly tell you. When you come up to me and ask if my spinach and mushroom lasagna has any meat in it, that gets under my skin.
The final piece of advice is quite simple. Pay attention. I mean, that is just a good idea in general. When you are ordering please respect me enough to give me your full attention. Our interaction will be short lived and then you may go on about your daily life. However, if when you come to me and you are on your smart phone or engaged in a conversation with someone else, our interaction will not go smoothly. An order may be as simple as I want that, but what if there are options? What if I can't hear you or need clarification on something? Be giving my your full attention we can address this situations effectively. I don't want to have to flag you down or snap my fingers to get your attention whenever I need an answer or have a question. Hopefully you can see that paying attention also pertains to the other two points quite closely. If you are paying attention, then more than likely you will be looking at the menu or the food so that you can determine what you want and order it once I get to you.
I hope most people take this post for what it is. As someone who deals with people everyday I have just made some observations and would like to pass them along to others so that they may avoid being the customer that the people behind the counter talk about after he is gone. I know we are not perfect and I know that on more than one occasion I have done one or more of these things, but I also know I am conscious of them and therefore try to avoid such behavior. If all this post does is make one of you a better customer, then I couldn't ask for anything more.