|Subject: Restaurants in Italy|
I was a bit surprised at reading the different postings about behaviour of restaurant staff in the USA. I can believe it is a highly competitive business, as John said, but it somehow surprised me learning the profits are so tight. So, there's the Italian point of view. In Italy you're usually permitted to linger as soon as you want, except for some subtle hints like waiter asking Anything else? Another coffee? or cleaning up everything on your table. Not considering the tradition of hospitality, I'd say it's that way because: a) profits are usually high at good restaurants, while the cheapest are family-runned thus reducing the personnel costs b) the Italian average meal is large, including some different orders which keep you seated for a lot of time waiting; that also mean you drink more, re-ordering your drink (and doubling the income for the owner). Wedding banquets are famous for it: the price is agreed per person, but drinks are excluded, so you wait a lot between courses and the drink bill goes up!
Just for closing, I'd like to mention a place in my town Buffet Gildo. Open on workdays only, neither a bar nor a restaurant, they feed hundreds of people every day, mostly standing but some seated. You are never rushed but, as soon as you are seated a waitress come with her short oral list of entrees or main courses, takes your order (not much to think about!) and in less than five minutes you are served a freshly made pasta or steamy soup. As soon as you are finished, the waitress reappears for further orders, carried out at the same speed. Well, they serve a hundred people per meal at a handful of tables but you never feel rushed: you're so happy with the good family food, the short wait and the cheap prices you don't mind to stand when you're done. Of course, if you want a relaxed lunch chatting with friends, ordering another wine bottle and sipping your expresso with homemade grappa you can always go to one of our fine restaurants at the marina and be ready for a substantial amount of your hard-earned money....
Paolo Trieste, Italy