A Brilliant Innovation in Tableside Service

I worked as a server at the Olive Garden and a local restaurant in Virginia during two college summers. I quickly learned that every guest wants a different level of attention, and that level might change throughout the meal. Too often I erred on the side of giving too much attention.

Recently I wrote about my first experience at a local board game cafe, Pieces. During my last visit, I noticed something new on the table:


It’s a little hard to see, but there’s a color code on the jar. If you want food, raise the yellow flower. If you want drinks, raise the blue flower. And it’s a board game cafe, so if you need help with a game, raise the orange flower.

I’m friendly with the owners, so I asked them about this particular innovation. They said that because of the type of service they use–every server keeps an eye on every table if they’re available–some guests would get repeated visits from different people. So they decided to use this system as a way of letting guests hail servers only as needed.

I think it’s brilliant. I really, really love it. It’s super easy to use, it’s fits in with the look and feel of Pieces, and it’s a great visual cue for the servers.

Have you ever seen something like this at a restaurant? How do you signal to servers that you want attention?