Care for Another? A Couple of Thoughts on Croatian Waiters

Total Croatia News


It doesn’t take much to win a customer over. 

It’s 8 in the evening and I’m sitting in a pub. I’m by myself and I’ve just finished my first beer. I’m lost in thought, reading an article online… when a waiter passes by my table, points to my empty glass and says, care for another?

Yes, yes I do.

Two seconds later, I realise I’m actually taken aback by the mere suggestion, as I can’t recall the last occasion when a waiter prompted me to order another round. Whenever I find myself in the company of friends in a pub, all of us having emptied our glasses and eagerly looking forward to a refill, it’s up to us to get the waiter’s attention – and rest assured it can be quite a daunting task at times. They tend to zoom around, their direction unpredictable; you can try to make eye contact, you can try to wave at them, you can even call out, but it seems their first priority is diverting their gaze in order to avoid noticing your desperate attempts at interaction. This doesn’t exclusively happen when the bar is jam-packed, it’s a frequent occurrence even when the place is half empty.

How come? I mean, shouldn’t the entire point of working in a bar be to get your guests to drink as much as possible? Even if you don’t particularly care about your boss turning a bigger profit, schmoozing up to guests results in more tips; I’ve never worked as a waiter for a longer while, but if my meagre bartending experience taught me anything, charming the customers usually leads to going home with more cash in your pocket.

Yet here I am, all confused over a waiter who tried to sell me more beer.

This is not an attempt to discredit Croatian waiters or to question their courtesy and professional manners; it’s just that one often finds themselves perplexed at someone’s lack of… communication skills, let’s say.

My mind instantly went to a lovely day in July when I went to grab some drinks with the TCN crew in Split. We sat down at a café, glanced over the menu, and the waiter was quick to appear. Quick to appear and quick to cut us off mid-sentence as he were an army general scolding some jarheads:

– Hi, I’ll have an Amstel and –
– Oh okay, let me see, how about a Heineken then –
– Okay, sorry, they are listed on the menu. What else do you have, how about Staro-
– …Staropramen?
– Fine, Tuborg then, large?
– …Okay.

My colleague just managed to order some gin and tonic before he went on to yell at us:


Jesus Christ. No, I’m not from Split, a fact made obvious by the absence of dialect in my speech, so I tried to make a joke in what I thought was a perfect display of my mother tongue, but…

– …Where do you think I am from?


Rest assured I’m never, ever, coming back to that place. I didn’t even mind paying a shocking tab of 30 kuna for a small Tuborg, apparently the only available beer brand despite the 10+ list on the menu, but I don’t appreciate getting yelled at. I symphatise with people working in the service industry. I’ve been one of them, in various positions, and I know how dreary the job can be, as customers can get quite vile at times, but come on. Italy haha!


On another occasion, I was hanging out with a friend at one of our favourite bars in Zagreb. The place was supposed to close at 1 AM on that particular day. It was ten past midnight and we were just discussing whether to get another one before the staff started to clean up and prepare for closing time, when we noticed the two waiters quarreling at the door. At this point, at least four tables at the terrace were still occupied, us being one of them; people were cheerfully chatting and drinking away. Lo and behold, the waiters turned off the lights in the bar, locked up, and rode away on their bikes, leaving us outside to mend for ourselves. I feel like I should mention all waiters working in the city centre usually clean up their terraces, taking all the glasses, bottles, ashtrays and cushions inside; they tie up all the chairs and sofas in order to prevent them from getting stolen, they even might do a quick sweep of the place. Nope – these two called it a night and disappeared into thin air, leaving some 15 people outside.


These glasses are nice, my friend said.
These cushions are comfy, I replied. I could use some comfy cushions.

All jokes aside, I would like to know what the bar owner would have said if he found out about this particular occurrence.

And then, on the other side of the spectrum, you have my favourite favourite bars, places where I parted with a good deal of my student budget, places where I grew to become best friends with some of the most important people in my life, places where I made my most cherished memories. There are two or three of these places at most; they are run down and not particularly appealing, but there’s something to them, a special ambiance, a good deal of history, and a friendly staff who I’ve got to know and like. We don’t know each others’ names and we’re not exactly friends, but every time I drop by, our preferred drinks appear at our table before we even manage to take our coats off, we get an occasional free rakija, we get asked about our day, we ask them about theirs. And we always, always come back.

It really doesn’t take much to win a customer over.

Common decency is such a rare trait these days, a single smile or a friendly joke can be enough to warm up to people. Chat up your clients, ask them how they’ve been, offer them another round, and for God’s sake, don’t yell at them, no matter how bad a day you’ve had. You’ll end up with an abundance of tips and a crew that’s always going to return to your place of business, because of you.

And, y’know, a round of free rakija also never hurt anybody.


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