Going to restaurants, cafes, diners and pubs to eat a meal with family or friends is a universal way to celebrate. Whether at a bistro or a steakhouse, food is served by wait staff whose job it is to be pleasant, helpful and intelligent and yet remain in the background unless a customer indicates otherwise.
The RoundTable visited a few downtown Evanston eateries to ask some of the City’s hardest workers how they feel about waiting tables in Evanston.
Manju Dangol and Kisan Reddy work at Mt. Everest Restaurant on Church Street, where they serve Indian and Nepali dishes. Both Ms. Dangol and Mr. Reddy have been at Mt. Everest for two or three years and say they “love the job” and like “the Evanston crowd” very much. Cus-
tomers who understand the menu make their job easier, but Ms. Dangol and Mr. Reddy also like to talk about the menu with new customers. Many people, they say, know Indian food, but few are familiar with Nepali. They say they like having the opportunity to “share views” with customers, many of whom are “open-minded” and “open to any discussion.”
At Futami Japanese Sushi, in the Hilton Orrington space previously occupied by Blu Sushi and Narra, the RoundTable spoke with Eric Huang, who grew up in the restaurant business – his mom’s Chinese restaurant in New York. He has worked as a waiter (he also cooks) in Evanston since last summer. He attended Northwestern University, so he already knew and liked Evanston. He says, “Every customer has needs; a good one gives you the same respect you give them.”
Tracie Dahlke, who has worked six years as a server at the Sherman Street’s Unicorn Café, says she loves Evanston. She says she “loves the community feel” and “interacting with the people.” A good customer, she says, is someone who “is understanding, has a sense of humor, and who appreciates what you’re doing.”
Maria Lopez works part-time at Clarke’s. Ms. Lopez also works at Bank
of America here. She started out as a hostess at the Clark Street 24-hour restaurant, became a night-shift waitress and finally was assigned to work mornings. She “loves the area”; it is “such a friendly town,” she says. “You know everyone; everyone knows everyone else.” She says she feels especially comfortable with the regulars, but says any friendly customer
is a good one.
Finally, Michael Knutson of Bat 17 on Benson, who has worked as a waiter for 3 1/2 years, 1 1/2 of them at Bat 17, says of the business, “I love it here; it’s a true small business. There are two owners and one is always on. The guy who writes my paycheck is the same guy who tells me what to do.” He says, “Evanston is different. [Residents] here are well-educated – they tend to leave good tips and treat
Evanstonians are good customers, by and large, says Mr. Knutson. A good customer, he says, is one who treats staff with courtesy and respect. “I understand I’m in a service position,” he says, “but I don’t want to be treated like a servant.” Also, he adds, “experienced diners make it easier.”
Evanston waiters and waitresses seem to enjoy their work, the City and its residents, as well as visitors to their eateries. Servers say they enjoy interacting with Evanston’s mostly pleasant customers, who know how to treat staff with the respect and understanding they expect themselves – a good thing to remember when going out on the town in Evanston.