Are you being served?

more than a year ago
While the choice of places to visit, eat and party continue to improve year to year in the Tri-city, one area which continues to frustrate is customer service. To the foreign visitor the people with whom you come into contact during your stay are in effect ambassadors for the city and as such a poor performance by the person dealing with you can often affect your opinion of the city and country as a whole.

In recent times we have the impression that service is actually getting worse and rather than blame the servers directly we feel the responsibility lies with the owners and managers who employ them.

We have been left waiting for up to and sometimes over an hour to receive our food with no information or apologies forthcoming from the restaurant staff. The experience of receiving the wrong order or receiving starters and main courses together or not at all is not unusual and we question why too many places appear to have far more tables than they can comfortably serve. A common problem seems to be the hiring of young staff who are then thrown into the fray with little or no training on how to perform their duties. This doesn’t excuse some of the rudeness we’ve experienced but we do have sympathy for some waitstaff who are expected to run the restaurant while quite often management or owner sit in a corner perusing Facebook on their laptop. Another issue for us is the policy of ‘zonal’ serving which sometimes leaves one server dealing with three or four tables while their colleague twiddles their thumbs as their area is empty. While mistakes happen, the reaction when they do is nearly always poor with more effort often put into trying to shift blame or deny responsibility than smoothing the situation with an apology and something more than a couple of glasses of some peculiar alcohol from a bottle gathering dust at the back of the shelf. It’s not just restaurants – the lack of a smile and often basic good manners in some of the city’s museums or exhibitions is also completely unnecessary.

We are aware that this is not a problem exclusive to Gdansk or even Poland but as this is our city and it’s the Tri-city we wish to see making the best impression possible, we would like to try to do our small bit in trying to improve the situation.

So rather than hand out meaningless certificates and awards to venues in which you might receive appalling service the following day, we would like to focus on the servers themselves. And we would like to ask your help with that.

If during your stay you receive help or service which you think is worth rewarding, we would like to ask you to drop us an email and tell us where and when you were pleased with the way you were treated. We in turn will make the management of that place aware. Don’t be afraid to also drop us a note about the opposite experience and we will pass on your comments, without passing on your name of course, to the management of the place involved. Drop us a line at and we’ll let you know the results and opinions we receive via our Facebook page .

Top Eleven Service Nightmares

We have compiled, in no particular order, our top Eleven ‘Service Nightmares’ for you to watch out for. While the recognition of any of the entries on this list might help lighten the mood if you experience it first-hand, our aim is hopefully to bring these to the attention of local business owners and local tourist organisations and see if we can maybe do our small bit to improve the experience for the city’s guests. In the meantime do tip good service (bear in mind it is estimated that a typical server is earning about 1,000zl per month in salary) and here’s that list:

1. Waitstaff who decide not to write down your order and instead try to memorise it. If they get it right ‘woo-hoo’ for them. If they get it wrong tough luck for you.

2. No change in the till even if you’re trying to pay a small amount with a small note. The concept of a  ‘float’ for the till is still foreign in many places so paying with a note before noon often means you create problems for them.

3. Waitstaff who are simply too cool for school and are doing you a favour serving you, even if they do it badly.

4. Bringing starters and main courses together or alternatively bringing a starter for one and then waiting for them to finish before beginning preparation of the mains.

5. Reservation notices on tables hours before the reservation times, blocking up some if not all the tables in the restaurant.

6. No knowledge of what is on the menu.

7. Ignoring you when you clearly are waiting to be served by finding something/anything else to do than come over to you. We have lost hours of our lives in summer gardens to this one over the years.

8. Having to wait for a prolonged period to request your bill, wait for the bill to be prepared, wait for the payment to be collected, or waiting for the change. In fact paying can be one of the hardest things of all to do. And then refer to the issue of change above.

9. Street crawlers outside every restaurant making a stroll along a main street like Monte Cassino or Dluga a less pleasant experience.

10. Toilet paper or rather the lack of it particularly in the ladies’ toilet.

11. Having far more seating places than the kitchen and waitstaff can possibly service. This is a frustratingly common occurrence and results in long waits and stressed out staff. While the fact that there are more tables than the restaurant can manage is down to bad planning on the restaurant's part, it is used as an excuse, in place of an apology, for you having a bad experience. A lack of information from the waitstaff when a place is over-capacity is also an issue. If they know we're going to have to wait over 30 minutes for our order (let alone an hour), we'd appreciate that information before they take the order.


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