I have talked before about the importance of mise en place for the front of the house. This definitely falls under that category. Whether you own a fine dining establishment, or just a local neighborhood joint, pre-setting of silverware and other things is still very important.
It actually makes the whole experience better for the customer, and easier for the server. My wife and I ate at a neighborhood place the other day, and I had to appreciate this particular restaurant’s presets. It was a Thai restaurant that preset water glasses, chop sticks, spoons, napkins. and three different condiments to put on the food. It was appropriate, and in fact perfect, for this particular meal.
Could I get some Ketchup, please?
Remember that time (I’m sure it has happened a lot more than once), when you ate at a place and had to flag a waiter down to get a fork so you could eat your food before it got cold? Or you are eating your yummy, messy burger and you realize that you don’t have a napkin. Or my favorite: The server who pulls the fork out of their grungy apron for you to use, because they forgot to give you one earlier. I’m not saying that the silverware needs to be delivered on a silver tray, but gross! I have actually eaten at places where I ordered a bottle of wine and it was brought to my table, only the server forgot to bring the wine glasses! Several times.
You are not going to get away with presetting everything, there are these things called health codes, but, look at what you are serving, make some educated assumptions about what the customer is going to need, what you can do to help out the servers, and preset!