A lot of our group rides don't end when we pull into the finish. Many times we end up in a local eating establishment, recapping our accomplishments and struggles on that days outing.
Here are some tips (no pun intended) on ways that Shawnee Trail Cycling Club has successfully worked with eateries to speed the orders of the group as a whole. This process eases some of the burden on wait staff when dealing with a group like ours. We are appreciative of how the businesses work with us and we want to maintain the relationships that have been developed. It's not every restaurant that will welcome sweaty bodies in cycling kit.
When a cycling group like ours goes into an eating establishment after a ride, there are a few things we need to keep in mind. Remember, we come in as a group and are viewed as a group by the restaurant – very different from you just walking into a restaurant on your own.
From the cyclist view
We want fast service, of course. We want cold drinks as quickly as we can get them, especially on hot days. We want to get the meals ordered and delivered to the table, chat with our riding buddies and get home at a reasonable hour.
From the business’s view
We can’t guarantee how many of us will go in each week, sometimes its five and sometimes it’s much more. If there’s bad weather, there may be no one at all. Fully staffing for every possible scenario is virtually impossible. If they staffed for the maximum number of people in order to handle our best attendance, who pays their salaries for the times we have much less than that? Remember, they are running a business. Add with the fact we require separate tickets for each order and we tend to wander from table to table – hopefully, you can imagine the difficulty for the wait staff. This is especially true if our crowd is much larger than usual.
Then we add on our impatience – and that’s a virtue of each and every one of us. The wait staff is doing their best to keep things together and feed the orders to the bar staff and kitchen (where the staffing is also set for a limited number of customers) – then we get up and go directly to the bar and get our drinks & food, confusing the wait staff as to who has and has not ordered. The person behind the bar is the same person that is filling the orders from the table. You get your drinks, but this delays orders that others have already placed. This is no different from the other places we’ve been and, yes, we’ve seen the same sort of things happen – it’s in our nature to want things done as quickly as possible.
We just ask that you show a little courtesy to others around the table and let the wait staff handle our group – again, we are there as a group. If you come in late, or haven’t ridden and are just up to see everyone, please realize there were people there before you, and the staff is taking care of them first. Be patient, the wait staff will get to you.
Lastly, and this is just a reminder as we rarely have any issues, tip the wait staff. They work for a minimal hourly wage and live off these gratuities. Keep this in mind with your gratuity and try to tip from the pre-discounted price graciously given by the eatery. Although we are helping them with their fitness, keeping the staff running in 20 directions at once means they earn the gratuity. Most restaurants require a minimum gratuity for groups, so it’s not asking you to do anything extra. We do stay in contact with the restaurant and review our patronage to ensure this is happening. As stated above, they don’t require an overall minimum gratuity, and we’d like to keep it that way.
One thing we can ask of the places we frequent, as we have at our previous locations, is to put some ice water on the table first and then address the drink orders. I suspect they’ll be happy to accommodate us.