I don’t know how my wife and I did this, but one of the favorite things I love about my kids, now teenagers, is that whenever we eat out, they always stop by the kitchen and thank them for their meal. A practice I would like to see the rest of the world start. Those poor cooks, slaving away in the back, usually out of view by the customers, need a little pat on the back once in a while.
Think about it: When you eat out, if you have any social graces at all, you thank your server, or the person standing by the door, on your way out. Yes, they were an important part of your experience, but what about those guys (this refers to gals, too) in the back? They toiled, and almost all of them worked a longer day than those front of the house types you managed to thank. They also did it in probably pretty tight, cramped, and very hot quarters.
Having worked in a kitchen, and also witnessing many kitchens in action, I happen to know that they love it when a customer takes the time to step back there and thank them. It’s not like I am asking you to tip them—although, I find this to be a wonderful practice, too—but just peek back there and tell them how much you appreciated their work. They rarely get the first-hand account of the customer experience. They usually have to get it second-hand from the waiter, if the waiter remembers or bothers to tell them. Besides, it carries a whole lot more weight when it comes straight from the mouth of the customer.
Even if you are Running for President
I happened to be working at a place when Senator John Kerry, now Secretary of State, was running for president, and came in for dinner. I thought it was pretty darn cool that after dinner he took the time to peek back in the kitchen and thank not only the cooks, but the dishwashers, too. Granted, he was running for president and wanted to get every vote possible; but it was eleven at night, and he had been campaigning since at least eight that morning, it would have been very easy for him to just smile and wave and keep on moving. But, no, he made a point of stopping in and thanking everyone for his wonderful dinner.
So, whether you are running for president or not, make a point of stopping by that kitchen on your way out to thank the men and women in the trenches, fighting for you. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, and you shouldn’t be put off by the fact that they could be quite busy. Just poke your head in, say your thank you and get out of their way. I promise you they will truly appreciate it. And if for some reason they don’t, at least you will sleep a little better that night.