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  • Writer's pictureHoward Hulin

"I looked for you all through the meal, now you look for your tip!"

My wife and I were treated as guests by friends of ours to a rather nice restaurant in the Tustin Marketplace not too long ago. Having been there once before as a couple and swearing that we'd never return due to it's customer service, it was their gift so we thought we'd give it one more try. With wine as its main theme, valet parking and an elegant interior, one would come to expect an equal level of customer experience...

After being seated, it took for what seemed to be an eternity to just get four waters and this only came ofter asking a busboy. After about 20 minutes longer, we were finally greeted by our server. She appeared to be in her early 20's or so, dressed in elegant black attire and at first meeting rather pleasant. We showed no signs of being upset at all about the wait as all of us were too engaged in enjoying the company of each other. We ordered drinks and though it took a bit for them to arrive, we were sill enjoying the company so we really didn't notice the time.

Our server must have passed us by at least 5 times over the next half hour before I had to stop her to take our order. Even then she asked us to wait and she would "be right back." We looked around the restaurant and it really wasn't busy at all with plenty of servers meandering about.

What is the appropriate amount of time a server should wait before coming and asking for a meal order? Ten, fifteen, twenty minutes?

After another 15 minutes or so, I asked one the busboys to find our server. Finally she arrived, our order was taken and the food came about 30 or so minutes later.

Let's fast forward this story: After over four hours of being there, having to ask for more water, not being able to order another round of drinks, and having to ask for a different server for the check our table was beyond annoyed. We thought our server either went on lunch or went home. If that were the case, we thought it was normal and customary for someone to come tell us and introduce their replacement. In the end, we discussed leaving a tip but we just couldn't bring ourselves to leave one. I asked to see the manager upon leaving but was told one wasn't available. By that time, then decision for all of us to not return had already been made for us.

Needless to say, though our company was wonderful, the service sucked.

Let's take another moment and discuss tipping:

After getting self-serve yogurt recently, the electronic register only gave me the option to leave a 15%, 20% or 30% tip! Why should we be obligated to leave a tip for someone who did nothing more than take our money? Is this the world of alternate agendas where tip entitlement is king? I believe in standard tipping for services rendered. We all know that these people are probably working for close to minimum wage and tips are a large part of their earnings. But to expect a tip at the register when I serve myself or when service is not acceptable, not so much.

What do you think? Should tipping be mandatory?

Several months ago we had a much better experience. Just prior to leaving the Broken Yoke in San Marcos, I asked to speak to the manager. Now I'm 6'4" and can be quite intimidating at times so the when the manager came out and saw me, I can't imagine what he must've been thinking typically only being called upon to field complaints. Looking down at him, I said; "See that waiter over there. I told him in his tip (40%) what a fantastic job he did not only with our group, but observing the pleasant and happy demeanor he maintained with others as well. Now it's your job to let him know in his wages what as asset he is to your business." The manager, who couldn't have been more than 5'2", proudly grew about another foot right there and then and thanked me for my comments. He said that the young man was a valuable member of the Broken Yolk team and would let him know a customer was speaking highly of him.

Which of the 6 Pillars of Customer Service above was met or not met?

If you were the customer, what action would you have taken? With the wine place above, would you have felt obligated to leave a tip or would you have levied your level of disappointment and not leave anything?

Have you had an experience like the ones above? A server missing in action or one that just brings joy to the table? What about a self-serve establishment that doesn't have an option to not leave a tip or its hidden on a different page?

I'd like to hear about it.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be publishing my own experiences (and maybe yours) regarding customer service in hopes that establishments will get the word out that as customers, we still need to know we are important to you and that "Brick and Mortar" stores can survive.

Email me at

Until next time, use your voice! The moon is the moon and the sun is the sun. If anyone tries to tell you anything different, use your voice and speak up!

P.S. This morning (5/30/23) I had breakfast with a group of friends at the Broken Yoke in Orange and we got good service as well.

15 views2 comments


May 30, 2023

This morning, 5/30/2023, you meant? Nice write up ✍️

Howard Hulin
Howard Hulin
May 30, 2023
Replying to

Sad when I have the "June" calendar open on my desk ... I changed it. Thank you !

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