For the first time in several months, or perhaps closer to a year, we received service at a restaurant in the Milwaukee area that merited more than a 20 percent tip.
The sad, but perhaps not surprising, thing about this is that it was at a chain burger joint called Red Robin, 7575 Edgerton Ave., Greenfield. I say sad, because we had two pretty decent burgers, fries and beverages for around $25, and we’ve spent four or five or six times that much at other restaurants where the service comparably was nonexistent and 15 percent would have our less than impressive server rolling.
We were ironically purchasing new running shoes at Sports Authority when we decided to gorge ourselves on semi-fast food “gourmet” burgers and french fries around the corner near Southridge mall.
Red Robin employees greeted us at the door, opened both the inside and the outside doors, and immediately led us to a table where within the first few moments, our server swung by to introduce himself and let us know he was running a drink to another table and would be right with us.
As he was on his way back, again within a few minutes, another server came over to check on us since Red Robin’s practice team service. What a novel concept. Having cut my teeth in the industry serving at a Country Kitchen before I ever dreamed of setting foot into fine dining, I do vaguely remember the days when all servers helped each other without worrying about who got the tip.
Within a few moments, our orders were taken and drinks delivered. When we were eating, the server came over and asked us how everything was. He brought us extra napkins. When our glasses were empty, he refilled them, and when we were done eating, he cleared our plates. He brought over the bill and never once asked us if we needed change (a rude, rude, RUDE practice that seems to have taken over the industry as of late) and when we left, he thanked us for letting him wait on us and invited us to come back again.
We walked out of Red Robin, both doors opened for us by the door staff, saying that we would definitely come back. The burgers were decent enough on their own, but the service is simply the best draw to the place, meticulous and unassuming, and I was happy to line our server’s pocket with a well-deserved fat tip.
Amy L. Schubert is a 15-year veteran of the hospitality industry and has worked in every aspect of bar and restaurant operations. A graduate of Marquette University (B.A.-Writing Intensive English, 1997) and UW-Milwaukee (M.A.-Rhetoric, Composition, and Professional Writing, 2001), Amy still occasionally moonlights as a guest bartender and she mixes a mean martini.
The restaurant business seems to be in Amy’s blood, and she prides herself in researching and experimenting with culinary combinations and cooking techniques in her own kitchen as well as in friends’ restaurants. Both she and her husband, Scott, are avid cooks and “wine heads,” and love to entertain friends, family and neighbors as frequently as possible.
Amy and Scott live with their boys, Alex and Nick, in Bay View, where they are all very active in the community. Amy finds great pleasure in sharing her knowledge and passions for food and writing in her contributions to OnMilwaukee.com.