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Restaurant owners and managers, it’s time for a change

I recently enjoyed pasta shells and marinara sauce with meatballs, a small salad, garlic toast and coffee, all very tastily prepared — though too much food for one sensible person to eat. This is a typical “American portion” at popular local restaurants, and it all cost a reasonable $13.24. So why write a letter about this — a good Italian meal available at many spots on either side of the Pawcatuck River? My proffered $20 bill was picked up with the all-too-familiar “need any change?” Surely the server did not expect a $6.76 tip?! Service was good, but not that good.

“Need, want, would you like any change?” is a standard query at many if not most area eateries of all descriptions. Although leaving the change would sometimes be a greater tip than the bill!

Servers surely do not think that customers are that impecunious, nor would they view their service as so exemplary or perhaps themselves as so unusually attractive that a dazed customer is likely to say “keep the change” or just nod “all set.”

True, an occasional bleary-eyed bar customer may be in no condition to be rational, but most of us are not usually bereft of common “cents.”

Owners and managers of such places of business could and should simply instruct servers to say, “Be right back with your change.” At that point, the customer — if being so inclined — could then say, “All set,” or, “Keep the change.” And, this particular server during my dinner was being instructed on the job by a “veteran.”

When the change is greater than the tab — not so infrequently — I absolutely want the change. I was tempted to say, “Do you really think I plan to leave $6.76?” — more than a 50 percent tip. A 20 percent tip of my shells tab would have been $2.65. I left $3. I was not going to embarrass this neophyte server leaving her with a bad taste in her mouth by complaining and simply left an appropriate gratuity.

It’s time for a change, supervisors!

Bob Scattergood


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