Restaurant service at your table and with a smile

waiter

Eating out in Spain, seemingly in all establishments from upmarket restaurants to simple bars or coffee shops, is like stepping back in time for me and is a return to normal for Lisa. And the reason for that is really so simple.

Here, when you go out to eat, you are greeted courteously as soon as you arrive and are shown to a table, there you are given a menu, asked if you’d like a drink and then, due time, your order is taken – all with a smile. At the end of your meal, you ask for the bill/check and pay at your table.

Nothing strange there, you might think. Regular restaurant practice, you might think, they are giving regular and expected customer service. Well, of course they are doing just that – as Lisa learned to expect by the service given in the US but, sadly, not by what we both experienced in the UK.

To be fair, there are lots of restaurants in the UK that do offer the same level of table service that I am talking about but there are a number of them, notably outlets of major national chains, that operate differently.

Typical order point in a 'pay now, eat later' restaurant in the UK.

A typical order point in one of the many ‘pay now, eat later’ restaurants in the UK.

There, having been shown to your table, you select your dishes from the menu. So far, so good, but then one person from that table has to go to the bar and place everyone’s order, not forgetting the table number, and pay for it before returning to sit down with drinks and wait for the food to arrive.

Now, I don’t know about you but I much prefer to have my order taken at the table in comfort and not have to go to the order point where you usually have to wait to be served before placing your order – hopefully not forgetting anything – and them stumping up the cash before being served anything.

In our case, because of my disability, Lisa has always had to be the one going to place our order and she really loathes it. It is something she never experienced in the USA.

I have no idea how such an idea came to be put into practice in the UK but it is certainly not good customer service and falls well below the level of service available in quality restaurants, including Indian, Chinese etc.

Whether any such ‘pay now, eat later’ restaurants exist elsewhere in Spain, such as in the main tourist areas or major cities, I really don’t know but they certainly aren’t any in the area in which we live – and long may that continue.

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