Suggested New Year's resolution:Restaurants, take care of all your patrons

BY January 3, 2012

Editor’s Note: All this week, the editors of Gulfshore Life will be offering up some New Year’s resolutions we’d like to see adopted around the region. If you’ve got your own ideas, visit us on Facebook at and share.

My wife and I love exploring new places through the restaurant scene. Many of our favorite memories of travelling together are of interesting dishes at wonderful restaurants, of farmers markets and brewery tours.

Because of some vacation time limitations this year, we didn’t get to go anywhere in 2011. So for our anniversary week last month, we took a few days off and lived like tourists in Naples. We planned on seeing a show (though that was scratched by a migraine) and most importantly, eating out at some of the best restaurants in town. Some were old favorites, others places we’d never tried.

We had some memorable dishes, some wonderful conversations and got in some quality people watching. But the thing that stood out the brightest from our gastronomical tour of Naples was unfortunately the poor service restaurants give younger diners.

Without fail, we were among the youngest couples out at each place, as season’s influx of well-heeled retirees was in full swing. What we noticed bordered on disdain for our kind. I’m certain that over the course of the season, restaurateurs find it expedient to take care of their more mature customers as they are more likely order bottles of wine or be repeat customers.

But since we were spending our vacation budget locally, my wife and I were doing the same. There was no reason to think of us as any lesser patron. Yet at restaurant after restaurant, with the exception being a place we frequent, our servers stopped by to check on us less, refilled water glasses more slowly and in general took less interest in us than they did the tables next to us.

Perhaps the biggest insult was when the hostess at a popular downtown restaurant known for its fantastic patio told us that the outside seating we’d requested in our two-week old reservation wasn’t available because it was first-come, first-serve seating. But when we pointed out that several tables were open, she said “those are being reserved for larger parties.”

We weren’t asking to monopolize an eight-top, just a four-top. We almost left. Thankfully, a conscientious server pointed out that a table had just opened up in his section.

He got a very generous tip.

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