“You are the most expensive waiter, but worth every dollar!” she said.


“My sister said you provided much too much service. She also said that you are the most expensive waiter but worth every dollar!”

This night I have a visitor from the East Coast who asks for me by name. I have never seen her or the other four ladies before. While I wait on this lady and her group of four I find out that they had heard about me from her sister. “I had to visit your restaurant. My sister said you provided much too much service. She also said that you are the most expensive waiter but worth every dollar!”

No! I haven’t heard this line before. When this lady shows me her sister’s and friends’ entries in the guest book, I start to remember. Just over a month ago I waited on a group of eighteen, sent to us from a concierge of a nearby hotel on less than fifteen minutes notice.
I pushed tables together near the fireplace on our large brick patio, set it up in hurry and added a second wineglass. As they came through the door, I was putting their iced waters down. There were eight men and ten women all in their middle ages. I brought their bread and butter, but told them also about the virgin olive oil and the balsamic vinegar which we offer too. Many people do like such, instead of butter. I gave them the menu and took their cocktail order. At the same time I offered the host to have some appetizers prepared.

He was delighted about the idea, to give ’em, his guests, something to nibble on, while they were reading the menu. The host went a step further and followed my recommendation not only for the appetizers he also ordered salads for his group. I put the order up in the kitchen. Then got my cocktails from the bar and served them.
I talked to the host and his wife about our wine selection and sold them on white wine for the starters and optional red wine for the maincourses. I got the entree orders into the kitchen as the appetizers were ready to be served.
The timing could not have been better. It all went like clockwork. They were city planners and architects who had come out to the West Coast for a conference. All eighteen guests were very pleasant and easy going. After the dessert of flaming cherries over French vanilla ice-cream I remember their check sky rocking as several guest asked for Port wines and Cognacs.

By the time these folks finished their dinner they had plenty of food, plenty of wines and they were a happy bunch who asked about the nightlife as they planned to go dancing. Leaving, these people complimented me. One said “You are a hell of a salesman. If you ever come to the East Coast look me up.” He gave me his business card, which I keep with all the others in an old cigar box at home.

Thinking back I did not do anything extraordinary for this group of people. I was ready for these customers at their arrival. I offered them nothing but the best from the kitchen and cellar. They themselves created an exceptional night by going along with my recommendations.
I did see them out the door with a, “Don’t forget it is you who dined with us and who made this a special night…”

Talking to the lady from the East Coast and her lady friends, I get to find out that they belong to a women’s club. They plan to visit Yosemite, Napa Valley, Washington and Oregon. Several women of my party of eighteen and the host’s wife are member’s of their chapter.

by helmut schonwalder