The Look

Sometimes people talk too much.

Sometimes I talk too much.

In a post about a patron being rude to Restaurant Gal Daughter, Lobster Boy offered an insightful way to deal with said patron.


Keeping quiet is not easy for The Gal. I like to chat. I like to interact. I like to keep my foyer crowd-free, and talking to customers is the only way I know to keep ’em moving toward a table and a full tummy.

Giving the silent treatment to a difficult patron…intriguing. But I wasn’t sure.

Then, over the past few days, I learned how to combine silence with The Look, and voila!

To wit:

Two women approach the podium. One holds up her hand and waves two fingers in the air. She says nothing. I say nothing, but I make eye contact with her. I can barely contain myself. But I don’t say a word.

Instead, I give this customer The Look.

The Look says, “I see you waving your hand. I see you probably mean you are a party of two. But, generally, it is customary to speak to a person from whom you need service, and I’m waiting for you to do just that. Take all the time you need.”

It only took her two full seconds (I counted to myself, “One one thousand…”) before she spoke up: “Table for two, please.”

Please? Hmm. Did The Look prompt politeness as well as a verbal cue?

A party of six arrives. One mentions they have reservations. The name is not in the book. I try to trace it through the computer system. Nothing shows up. We go back and forth on this.

Finally, I say, “I am sorry. I just don’t have that reservation, but we can likely have a table for you in less than five minutes.”

“I know I made the reservation!” exclaims the customer.

I smile, and say nothing, but my eye-to-eye exchange with this customer conveys The Look. This Look says, “We both know you don’t have a reservation and you are trying to save face with your group. I will get you a table very soon, but let’s drop the charade about a reservation.”

“At least my assistant said she made the reservation.” I keep smiling at this customer, staying silent.

“I mean, well, you will have a table for us soon, you said?”

I continue smiling, and reply, “I’m sure it won’t be longer than a couple of minutes.”

“Okay, well, thanks. That works.”


Two older gentlemen arrive. “Table. There,” one gestures, pointing to a booth and walking toward it. “Folks,” I smile, “If you can wait just a moment while I check these other customers in, I’ll seat you right away.”

They stop, turn around. The chatty one sneers, “Oh, you’ll seat me right away? Seat me, huh? I’d like to seat you myself, right away.” The connotation is obvious.

I don’t need to force myself to be silent because I am rendered speechless, as is everyone else standing in the foyer.

I direct the other customers to walk with one of the hosts to a table. I slowly turn toward the offensive old man, giving him a very definite, silent Look. This renders him speechless.

Menus in hand, I say nothing to them as I walk them toward their table. Their pathetic rear ends have only just slid into the booth, before I slap down the menus in front of them. I begin clearing the extra settings, again, without saying a word. I am none too gentle with the silverware as I do so.

This exchange is totally against company policy. We’re always supposed to hand menus to customers–oh, and be friendly.

Yes, the dirty old man gets it that I am just a tad offended by his remark.

“Oh, well, now thank you ma’am. This is just fine. Appreciate it.”

Too little too late, pal. I give him one more, very long and soundless Look. He can’t make eye contact with me.

I have more than made my point.

The Look, coupled with the sound of silence.

Powerful Juju.






17 responses to “The Look”

  1. Natalie Avatar

    Awesome! Well, done Jedi. Now you must learn to simply wave your hand at them and control their thoughts.

    Customer– “I want to sit THERE!”
    Gal (while waving hand)-“You don’t really want to sit at that booth that is too narrow for your large body.”
    Customer-“I don’t really want to sit at that booth that is too narrow for my large body.”

  2. Restaurant Gal Avatar

    Ha! The Gal can only dream of such wondrous powers! And a day where everyone likes the table I offer them, and the coworkers don’t slack, and the computer is bug-free, and the meals are perfect and perfectly timed, and everyone is so darn friendly …..LIke I said, The Gal can dream.

  3. themerryrose Avatar

    Gal, that is awesome. I have always had a look, and I have used with great effectiveness on many people and I don’t work in the service industry. It certainly comes in handy with anyone who tries to be rude to you in any situation. I hope your days are easier and better with your look.

  4. Alyssa Avatar

    “The look” was the only way I was able to get through my days as a hostess. Love your blog!

  5. Leesha Avatar

    Ahhh The Look…
    My Mum does The Look. It has scared the crap outta me for almost 29 years!!
    I hope one day to be able to perfect The Look, but I don’t think it will happen just yet.

  6. Brea Avatar

    Mrs Gal, this one made me laugh out loud! My husband has been a manager for a casual dining chain for many years, and has perfected the look like no one else! We just moved out to the country, so he gets all the rednecks in his store now, and he said he’s never used the look more, or been more glad he learned it!

    I just found your site a while ago, and I love it! (and I think it’s super awesome that you truly love your job!!) Keep the good stuff coming!

  7. patita Avatar

    I like that by not speaking, you’re able to assert yourself in a much more powerful way than with any words. This also gives hope that there’s a grain of civility in even the rudest of beasts!

  8. wendykat Avatar

    see my look tends to say “you are a moron, if you do not vacate the premises my foot will inhabit the space where your groin currently resides” regardless of the situation. it seems to work.

  9. Bass Player Avatar

    Jimmy Stewart used to call The Look “The Lazy Eye”.

    Erma Bombeck used to call it her “Passport Picture Face”.

    But a rose by any other name still puts ignoramuses in their rightful place.

    Natalie, that’s an excellent idea, except that Jedi Mind Tricks don’t work on bass players 🙂

    And Leesha, to do The Look, just make your face as blank as possible, with maybe a hint of bugeye No need to frown, glare, or pout. Just stare blankly and don’t say a word, like RG did. I tell ya, it works wonders. The best/worst part is, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to practice 🙂

  10. Phil Avatar

    Will “the Look” also work over the telephone?

  11. Restaurant Gal Avatar

    Phil–Call me.

    –The Gal

  12. ex-waitress Avatar

    Aah, The Look. My mother was a master at it. I’ve never quite lived up to her fame, but I have had moderate success with my own version. It’s served me well throughout the years; no matter what job I had, or what unpleasant social situation I’ve found myself in. Now that I”m a teacher I employ it on a fairly regular basis…kinda makes the little nippers sweat a bit. It’s a great tool.

  13. Lobster Boy Avatar

    The silence is a great freeze tool. They are snapping at you rudely while you interact with another guest (or in my restaurant with another table) and you just turn and look, the hard stare, the Clint Eastwood do you feel lucky today punk stare, and then go back to what you were doing. Very rarely do you ever have to go beyond that, with the most likely exception being stoners who are baked. The second move is the stern finger with a linger glare (the finger being the POINTER finger, though it’s tempting…) that indicates you will be with them when you finish. On the rare event that I have to go to the second level I will usually step over to the table and not say anything. By this point most people who weren’t raised by wolves are shamed, and while avoiding eye contact will mumble something that wasn’t really all that important. Short of an emergency, I’m never in a hurry to get back to that table with whatever they wanted unless it moves them out of the store more quickly. Rude patrons are rarely good tippers. Generally, if they are ignorant of how to behave in public, they missed the lesson on tipping as well.

    Lobster Boy

  14. Kira Avatar

    I hate to point this out, since you’re so happy with the outcome, but in the first two interactions you describe, it really just sounds as if the customers concluded you were dim (at best) or just rude and slow at your job (at worst).

    And is the lowest level of your rudest customers really where you want to set the standard for your own behavior?

  15. Corrina Avatar

    That was fabulous.

  16. Patron Guy Avatar
    Patron Guy

    Well, Kira, when they conclude that the Gal is dim at best or rude and slow at worst, these customers are usually making an unwarranted assumption. And trust me, The Look is at the upper echelon of standard for behavior in dealing with unruly people. There’s a long way to go before you hit the lowest level of your rudest customers.

    Love the blog, Restaurant Gal. Keep it up.

  17. Lucinda Avatar

    Wow, I’m inspired. I have a bad tendency to trying to reason with unreasonable people. I’ve been working for some time now at responding with silence. Thanks.