Stories, thoughts, observations, rants and dribble. Just another of my attempts to keep the interested people informed ...

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Plate Stackers Anonymous – Get Help!

Today’s pet peeve (as reliving the major issues from tonight may possibly make me cry) is the species known as the Plate Stacker.

This particular type of person has (hopefully) not much fine dining experience. They feel a need to pile every plate on the table into one or more teetering stacks which are almost impossible for waiters to collect gracefully, if at all.

I understand that in some instances, they may have had empty plates on the table for an unreasonable amount of time and want to make things more comfortable. In this case, please ask your waiter to clear your table.

In most instances though, your waiter has an eye on the progression of your table. He or she can’t (politely) clear a table until the last person has finished with their plate. Plate Stackers should also restrain their urges and sit politely until the last person has finished.

If you think this is unreasonable, please understand that there is a rhythm and method to clearing a table.

A good waiter or busser will start with a specific plate and arrange a manageable stack for him or herself, strategically selecting the next target plate or bowl. Cutlery and leftovers are usually placed or scraped into the bottom plate. Sometimes they will make more than one circuit around a table to clear it effectively. This can be a finely tuned routine.

Plate Stackers ruin this process.

In ideal conditions, I can clear a table of 10 in one go (this is my personal record, but I am much more comfortable (and graceful) doing tables of less than eight). If I have a Plate Stacker, or multiple Plate Stackers, this can mean I have to make three, four or maybe more trips to and from the kitchen. I would rather do that then attempt to pick up a Plate Stacker Stack with one hand and do someone an injury by dropping it.

Especially in good eating establishments, crockery can be extremely heavy. I have had many a surprised customer comment on this when they have passed me a single, empty plate. It is difficult to lift more than one plate off a table with one hand, even discounting the weight. A stack of plates is a very awkward shape, especially when it has been inexpertly created using a myriad of different sized plates and bowls with cutlery haphazardly inserted everywhere.

I was presented with a masterpiece today. I had already spied it mid-stack, but by the time I reached the table to halt the offending Plate Stacker, she had already placed a cocktail glass on the pinnacle of the tower. How decorative. And inane, might I add.

It is also extremely unhelpful for diners to deign to place items on a waiter’s tray or stack of plates. This can unbalance everything, ending in possible disaster. The same applies to hailing a waiter who is carrying a heavy load of plates and leftovers. They are likely to be using the momentum of the weight to propel them to the kitchen. Stopping to answer your question may mean the difference between whole and broken crockery.

So, in short:



  • Don’t stack plates on the table, whether or not you think this helpful to the wait staff.

  • Do request that your waiter remove your plate/s.

  • Don’t add to the waiter’s stack or tray.

  • Do signal or offer your plate or glass if necessary or appropriate. The waiter will take it from you if they can manage, or will come back if they can’t.

  • Don’t stop a waiter when they are obviously laden down with crockery or a tray of glasses.

  • Do signal them if needed. They will be with you as soon as possible.

  • Let them do their job. A good waiter is there to serve you and should be able to anticipate most of your dining needs.

  • Be patient. A good meal takes time (quote from one of the only decent people I had tonight!).

Apologies if this post was more admonitory than educational.

1 comment:

Jadedoel said...

Hi McWong, LOL!!! you crack me up you know. you're so honest.
I think this would have to be the most funniest post I have ever read, I don't think many people will understand how much this shits waiters off but, PEOPLE!!! DONT STACK PLATES, PLEASE.
I was thinking that you should write a book on how to be an A+ diner/customer at a restaurant and give it to friends and family and even the people you hate for Christmas. What a wonderful gift.