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Restaurant - Part 3 - Talking to Staff

Restaurant - Part 3 - Talking to Staff

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Restaurant -3 - Asking for Cutlery, etc.

Hello! In this lesson, we will practice getting the attention of a member of the wait staff and asking for extra assistance in a restaurant. In other lessons, we have learned to make a restaurant reservation and to place an order for a meal in a restaurant.

In this lesson, we will learn what to say when we need something that is missing or when we need to speak to the restaurant staff about something else.

In many restaurants, the servers wear name tags. We can attract the attention of a member of the wait staff by calling his or her name when we see him or her. For example, in this restaurant, the server's name is Pat. We could get his attention by saying "Excuse me, Pat?" as he passes our table. We might also say "Excuse me?". If we have a woman server, we might say "Excuse me, miss?" or simply "Miss?" If our server is a man, we can say "Excuse me, sir?" or "Sir?" It is considered rude to snap fingers to get the attention of the serving staff. We can also try to make eye contact, smile, and raise our eyebrows to get the attention of the serving staff.

In this scenario, David and Jennifer are at the table when Jennifer realizes she and David don’t have any silverware.

Jennifer: We don’t have any silverware.

David: I see the waiter. … Excuse me, sir?

Pat: Yes, what can I do for you?

Jennifer: Could you bring us some silverware?

Pat: Of course. I'm sorry.

David: Thank you.

Pat: You're welcome, sir.
Jennifer mentions to David "We don't have any silverware." The term "silverware" includes forks, knives, and spoons, even if they are not made of silver. For example, at a children's picnic we might have "plastic silverware.".

David says "I see the waiter. … Excuse me, sir?". David could also have said "I see the server.". If the server were a woman, he could have said "I see the waitress." although the term "waitress" has become dated. David says "Excuse me, sir?". Since David knows the server's name, he could have said "Excuse me, Pat?". If the server were a woman, he could have said "Excuse me, miss?" or "Miss?".

Pat says, "Yes, what can I do for you?".He might have said "Yes, how can I help you?" or "Yes, can I help you?" or "Yes sir?".

Jennifer asks "Could you bring us some silverware?". She could have asked "Can we have some silverware?". She might have simply said "We don’t have any silverware." Or "We need silverware.".

The waiter says "Of course. I'm sorry.". He could have said 'Sure, right away." Or "I'll get it." or I'll be right back with it.".

David closes the conversation by saying "Thank you." He could have said "Thanks." The waiter says "You're welcome, sir.".

In the following scenario, Jennifer has to go to the restroom. She doesn't know where the restroom is, so she is going to ask the waiter for directions.

Jennifer to David: Excuse me for a minute. (Gets up from table)

Jennifer to Pat: Excuse me, where is the ladies' room?

Pat: Straight back and to the right.

Jennifer: Thanks

Pat: No problem.

Jennifer excuses herself from the table by saying "Excuse me for a minute.". She could have said "I'll be right back." or "Excuse me, please. I'll be back in a few minutes.". She does not need to explain where she is going, since there are few places to go in a restaurant.

She approaches the waiter and says "Excuse me, where is the ladies' room?". She could say, "Excuse me, where is the restroom?" or Excuse me, where is the ladies' restroom?". A man could say "Excuse me, where is the men's room?" or "Where is the men's restroom?".

The waiter replies "Straight back and to the right.". He could have said "Go straight ahead toward the back of the restaurant and then take a right.". We often say "Take a right" or "Take a left" to indicate directions.

Jennifer says "Thanks.". She could also have said "Thank you." or "Thanks a lot." or "Thank you very much.".

The waiter replies "No problem.". The expression "No problem" has recently begun to replace the traditional "You are welcome.". However, not all English speakers consider it to be the best response to a "thank you", so the more traditional "You are welcome" or "You're welcome" is still recommended as the most polite response.

If you are very unhappy with the service or food in a restaurant, you might ask for the manager. You could say "Could I speak to the manager please?" or "I'd like to speak to the manager please.". There is also an opportunity to discuss your service or food at the end of your visit to the restaurant if you pay at a cash register. We will cover paying and discussing service in another lesson.

Now you are ready to ask for additional service at a restaurant.