It is strange how working in places across the country shows the differences in styles. Most places I have worked, substitutions are just fine, as is ordering off menu. Before I moved to Cali, every restaurant I worked ats listed hours were the hours they sat customers, not the time they locked the doors. I was very confused the first time people started soon closing work an hour before the time listed on the door.
In California, servers also get full minimum wage, but are also taxed on tips they may or may have not made by percentage of their sales.
And, of course the customers are looking to you if their food is late. It is not like they have any power to march into the kitchen and yell at the chef. But you, as a server, have the power to go over an apologize and get the manager to get them some comped shot while they wait. And half the time, you know it is a waitstaff fuck up. I’ve worked with a lot of you, I know.
Customers do not owe us their money because we are there. They should be made glad to spend it. Sometimes they are inconsiderate dicks. And sometimes, restaurant staff are snobby and self important. No substitutions because of your “crafted” menu? Give me a break. Sometimes the person who wants the bourbon and honey NY strip steak does not like potatoes, no matter how fancy you make them. Get over it, Goldilocks.
FYI - If I am ever your server, feel free to flag me down and to ask me about the menu. I am not psychic, and know you are not either and just want a little inside info. As long as you are respectful.