Men and women treated differently in restaurants: right or wrong?

Frank Bruni, restaurant critic for the NYT who also moonlights as presidential debate analyst, has an expose in today’s paper about unequal treatment of men and women in restaurants. Is it chivalry or chauvinism, he wonders. To the tape:

Because men can generally put away more food and alcohol, “men spend more, women spend less,” said Steve Dublanica, author of the recent best seller “Waiter Rant.” In addition, he said: “Men eat and leave. Women eat and stick around.” So a server attending to women may have to wait longer “to turn the table over, get another group, get more tips.”

In a follow-up blog posting, Bruni added this tidbit too from a restaurant veteran: “When drunk,” she told me, “men fight, and women vomit.” (Except for Jermain Dupri who vomits in his girlfriend’s (Janet Jackson) lap after which she squealed and had her driver high-tail the Maybach outta there.)

Do you encounter different service at restaurants, particularly when it comes to wine service such as ordering and sampling the bottle? If so, is it supremely annoying or entirely appropriate?

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12 Responses to “Men and women treated differently in restaurants: right or wrong?”

  1. heh Women Vomit reminds me of this story at work. Wedding Dinner, family comes in, orders wine bride tells our manager she wants shots of jagger or something. Drinks that plus wine eats appy / dinner. Goes to washroom gets sick leaves gets sick outside of restaurant dad tells the kitchen to cut and serve the cake. Husband left to console the new wife at the hotel room.

    Was really funny had to be there
    Maybe a little of topic but I had to tell that story

  2. I would say women are generally better treated in a restaurant, maybe because they attract more clientele then men do. But when comes to drink wine, I think men are better treated. A man gets a bit more of respect when orders a bottle of wine.

  3. I have found when I am the one choosing the bottle of wine from the list that when the waiter returns with the bottle and the two glasses the wine is poured in my glass for the taste.

  4. what irks me is when i’ve spent the evening delegating the orders (including wine) on behalf of my girlfriend and then the waiter/ess decides to be illogically PC and leave the bill in front of her instead of me!

  5. A highly experienced wine writer/drinker and I were discussing this as we sat at a table full of wine writers and wine makers, aka people who can put away some wine and are always ready for more. His glass was empty, so he was irked when the server put more in a woman’s glass first, draining the bottle. (The server raced from the room for more.) I mentioned that I thought fine dining should remain one of the last bastions of chivalry. (I’m also a fan of opened car doors and old-school grammar/punctuation as well.) We settled on the idea that if both glasses are empty, the server should fill the woman’s first. Otherwise, pour where more is needed.

    As an aside: I’m often the one ordering the wine by virtue of my job. I would be fairly annoyed if the person with whom I discussed the wine and placed the order then presented the bottle and the taste to a man at the table.

  6. I’m almost always the one who orders the wine for the table, and I’ve never been subjected to any sexist behavior as far as wine service goes…wine label is shown to me, poured for me to taste, and once OKed, gets served to my guests first (me last). Where I have encountered very odd sexism is when I pick up the tab, put my credit card in, and when the bill comes back for signature it gets handed to my husband. A good server should take the time to read the name on the credit card so they know who to hand that back to!

  7. I have ordered wine, only to have the cork presented to a man at the table. To add insult to injury, he didn’t even know what to do with the cork. So as the waiter looked on, I explained the process to the fellow. Another time I ordered wine and had to restrain myself when the gal who delivered it couldn’t get the bottle open. It was obvious she had never used a waiters corkscrew!

  8. Renee, that’s really funny considering I think the waiter’s corkscrew is the easiest to use! And I hate it when they cut the foil….pull the whole damn thing off in one shot! As for the cork, though, nothing much to do with the thing other than toss it across the restaurant and try to peg someone in the back of the head with it!!! LOL.

  9. On our first trip to New Orleans in 2001, we were eating at all the classics: Brennan’s, Arnaud’s, Commander’s Palace, etc. I’ll never go back to Brennan’s.
    We had a waiter who was stuck in some other era – one obviously before women had rights. He certainly didn’t think I had a brain. I ordered the wine, he brought it to my husband for the test. I ordered my dinner, he double-checked with my husband that I could order that item. I paid for the meal. He gave my husband the bill and the returned credit card receipt (because my husband looks like a Michelle). I was so angry. I thought he was just so chauvinistic I couldn’t stand it. I then happily drowned my sorrows at the Arnaud’s martini bar with the world’s best bartender.

  10. I find that the difference between chivalry and chauvinism is intent. If a man opens a door for a woman because, “oh what a weak creature she is” that’s chauvinism. If another man opens a door for a woman because, “this will show my respect for her,” that’s chivalry.

    To be honest, I think it’s rare, and a little too subtle, for today’s man to open a door just to prove something diminutive towards women. I feel as though anyone that does such actions today are a result of their upbringing, taught that it was something respectful.

    Of course, final say belongs to the women on the receiving end of this treatment. In the end, if the woman finds these actions degrading, the intent behind them doesn’t really matter.

  11. The only difference I’ve noticed is when we go to certain Thai restaurants the wait staff definitely is of the mindset that the man should order first. My husband was raised to let ladies go first so it often results in an awkward moment, and then if I do order first, the server (usually female I might add) is visibly annoyed at this massive show of disrespect.
    Last time we went to this restaurant we were with another man, and I noticed that they definitely started with the oldest (male) and worked down to youngest (female), me. So, I suppose I should research the cultural norms and find out if its an age thing or a gender thing, or both.

  12. I work in the wine business and live in California so any signs of gender bias (in restaurants anyway) are relatively rare.
    Especially since I am the person usually ordering the wine and discussing the choice with the waiter/sommelier.


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