Apparently it's restaurant week in my blog. In this episode...
My friend posted this to her Facebook wall the other day:
As you'll notice, there was a pretty fair conversation on the topic. My immediate answer was yes, mostly because it means there's less free stuff for you. I can't think of any regulars I comped much for who didn't know my name/whose name I didn't know.
I recommended a few clandestine ways to get the servers' names (off the receipt, ask another staff member, etc), but there's a possible issue there too, which another poster pointed out: the server still doesn't know your name, and suddenly using the person's name after years of never having used it is awkward/suspicious.
If you decide to ferret out the name of a server after a long period of non-introduction, then be considerate about it. Give your credit card to pay, so s/he has the opportunity to learn yours easily. Chances are, s/he is just as embarrassed about not knowing your name at this point.
And there's also a certain line to observe, right? Sometimes, customers seem to think knowing and using your name somehow gets them past the important part: tipping. Apparently, once we're on a first name basis I'm no longer reliant on tips to earn my income, so you don't need to tip me as long as you say, "Evan" every 3rd sentence or so. I'll always take a nice tip from someone who doesn't know my name over a stiff from someone who thinks s/he's my friend.
In the end, I recommend the full disclosure method. "I don't know how I've gone this long without introducing myself, and now it's really awkward. But I'm Evan." It's probably a relief for the server, too, who definitely doesn't know your name and probably wishes s/he did. I remember a group of regulars, four dudes, who came into GB 2-3 times per week. They started in someone else's section, but eventually I inherited them. At that point, I'd been seeing them 2-3 times a week for a year, and had never introduced myself, and now it was too late. I never did get their names, and it was mildly awkward every time they sat down. Woulda been better to just admit ignorance and introduce.
What say you, restaurant people? How did/do you deal with the regular whose name you never got? Is there a point at which learning the person's name becomes too awkward and you just give up?