Have you even been sure your waiter/waitress has been hitting on you? Wait, no, they’re paid to be nice to you. But this seems a little beyond nice. Definitely beyond Minnesota Nice. Okay, it’s not easy to differentiate between the in-earnest “I’m interested” flirtation and the everyday “I want a good tip” flirtation that goes with the territory.
I went out to La Belle Vie for a drink and a munch last night. My dining companion laid down his burden after the first cocktail: “How do you hit on your barista?” And more so, “How do you know if she’s actually interested?”
This is actually a really good question, and one I’m not exactly an expert on. I’ve done my share of hitting on uninterested waiters and bartenders. I think you’re now familiar with the grapefruit story? Yes, I carved my number into a grapefruit and gave it to a bartender with a very serious (read: they own a business together) girlfriend. I also left a note for a waiter after a very flirtatious brunch only to receive zero phone calls and textual messages and, the next time I dined at his restaurant, a very obviously false story about how he lost my number.
At La Belle Vie, we decided to ask the expert for her opinion. When I asked her to read me the menu in her sexy voice, she seemed unfazed, so I decided she’d be game to help us out. While she was filling our water glasses, I asked her the question, “How do you know when a waitperson/barista/etc. is hitting on you, versus just doing her job?” Also, “If she is hitting on you, how do you ask her out?”
Our waitress admitted to having dated three (okay four, she finally admitted) patrons—and number four is the “man of her dreams,” at least so far! She also told us that there’s a right way and a wrong way to hit on your server. We discussed it as much as possible (while she still provided excellent service to all her other tables) and I came up with a list of Dos and Don’ts.
• Grab her ass (this hasn’t happened to our waitress at La Belle Vie, but at other places, yes).
• Be an old wealthy man with a wife in tow (does this count as a silver fox, or a junkyard dog?).
• Make any sexual comments.
• Hit on her in the middle of a five-course meal.
• Get up in her face and tell her, “You’re looking good.”
• Ask where she likes to go and then ask her, “Do you want to go there?”
• Go out with her and then bring in other dates and rub it in her face.
• Have your buddy ask her out for you.
• Leave a note on your bill or elsewhere right before you leave, after she’s done doing her job.
• Weigh the risks of hitting on your server if you also are/want to be a regular at that venue—there’s an inherent conflict between being a non-awkward regular and making an unwanted passes at the woman who has to smile at you once a week (it’s her job!)
• Tell her it was nice to meet her after you dine and ask her to give you a call.
So how did our waitress’s current man win her over? He sat at the end of the bar near the service well and made conversation while she was working. Then he returned again (he’s not a regular) looking for her and sat in her section. He asked her, “What’s your name again?” to remind her that they’d met before. When he found out her plans for the night were to take herself out to dinner he asked to take her to dinner instead. And the rest is history.
While we didn’t get a male perspective from someone in the service industry, I think these tips traverse the line between the sexes. I now feel like I have the server-courting skills to go out into the world and try it. While I wasn’t a master of the techniques before now, I have (luckily) mostly followed the dos and avoided the don’ts. It hasn’t gone so well for me because, as you should always be aware, even if you are fabulous at trying to pick up a fella (which of course I am…) he still just may not be interested. Or at least not interested enough to break up with the woman of his dreams and fall madly in love with you. Check, please!