What not to do when dining out

Having worked in the hospitality industry/food service most of my life, I have literally seen it all. I worked my way up the ladder as a young 20 something from server to supervisor to service director at some of the finest country clubs in Ohio. I’ve also done my share of time at restaurants, including working part-time at one now so I can stay home with my kids during the day while my hubby is at work. At this point not much surprises me anymore. I’ve decided to put together a list of things that customers should not do while eating out if they don’t want to piss off their servers. As all my lists go, these are in no particular order.

  • When your server approaches you for the first time and greets you, a proper response would be “I’m good, thank you. How are you?” Or even just a simple hello back would suffice. Not acknowledging the person who is in control of your dining experience is not just rude, but rather foolish. People who immediately bark out orders to us before we can even say hello move down our priority list and we’re willing to forgo a tip from them because you’ve just irritated the hell outta us.
  • Ordering water and a pop product or iced tea will get you talked about in the kitchen.
  • No one cares if you know the owners. If the owners want to pay for your meal they will tell us so save your name dropping for another time.
  • Let your server get everything off their tray before you start asking for things. 9 times out of 10 we have what you’re asking for and we know what we’re doing. Give us a chance. If you don’t get it then ask-nicely.
  • Speaking of trays, NEVER EVER grab something off of a servers tray, EVER!!!!! I cannot stress that enough. Unless you want everything else spilled on you.
  • Remember, we are human beings, we are smart people and we are not your slave. Treat us with respect and maybe throw in a friendly attitude and we’ll do our best to make your evening a pleasant one.
  • When your server asks you if you need anything else right now, that’s your cue to speak up. Don’t flag us down at another table because you weren’t smart enough to think ahead 3 minutes.
  • Speaking of flagging someone down, NEVER: Whistle, snap, shout, point, grab or any other combo of the sort to your server from across the room. You will be rudely helped by your now pissed off server and every other server there will know what you did. You don’t want to be known in the kitchen.
  • If you have severe food allergies-eat before you come. Sorry but there is way too much going on and too much potential for cross contamination and we don’t want to be responsible for your death. We’re servers not doctors and you’re going to throw off our whole flow with your 8,000 questions and special orders. There are a few exceptions and we have a few customers who have issues but they know exactly what they can eat, they are extremely nice and patient and they tip well. We cater to them 🙂
  • If you’re an old man and we don’t personally know you, generally the words babe, baby, hun, darling, honey, sweetie, and sweetie pie just creep us out. We have names. If you don’t know it, ask!
  • We also don’t appreciate condescending, pretentious people. Yes we work in a restaurant. You are no better than us just because you may or may not have more money than us. You don’t know me and my reasons for working where I do. Don’t assume and don’t treat us like we are beneath you. We can tell from your disposition and tone and we will hate you and again you will be talked about in the kitchen negatively.
  • Another super annoying thing that happens often is when we ask if you’re ready to order, you say yes, then take 10 mins and can’t decide. When its busy we only have a few minutes here and there to get things done that’s why we ask you first. If you’re undecided or have no clue yet, its OK. Just tell us and we’ll come back after we wrap up other loose ends. When you say yes and stare at the menu in silence it feels like 10 minutes are going by and we are thinking of the 20 other things we could be doing right at that moment. You are disrupting our flow and like a basketball game, flow is important to our night going well for you and us. Also, don’t say you’re ready and then go on to ask 100 questions. You are not ready if you have questions.
  • We only get paid like $3.85/$4.05 an hour. A compliment on our service does not increase our hourly wage meaning you should tip less because you told us how great our service is. Compliments do not pay our bills. If we are so awesome as to deserve a compliment then show us the money! It’s that simple. Money talks.
  • Don’t ever come in 10 minutes before close and order a well done steak (yuck!), well done burger or anything that requires long cooking time. We loath you people. Cuss words are flying about you from us and the kitchen staff. You have become the worst person on earth. And if you must come in right before close your tip better be incredible! Like 35% and up. Then and only then will we take back every horrible word we said about you.
  • If you have a coupon or discount-tip on your total before the discount is given. We don’t give you discounted service so don’t give us a discounted tip.
  • If you have like 10 or more people, 1. Call ahead, 2. Sit near the people who are on same check as you (if separate checks) or make it very clear off the bat who is on your check, 3. Don’t change your seat multiple times making us find you for every drink, etc., 4. Don’t reorder a drink while we are serving the food to your table (we will refill you I promise), 5. Don’t decide while we’re handing out checks that you want to pay for Bob and Sally now too. If its like our computer program, we have to then find a manager to rejoin your check with Bob’s and it already took us a lot of time to separate them all correctly to begin with. If you wanna pick up another persons/couples bill tell us before we separate them, preferably when we ask you how the checks will be divided. If it’s a secret, whisper it to us. Don’t wait.
  • Your kids mess really isn’t our responsibility to clean up. We do it cause when we flip your table we don’t want the next person to sit at a disaster but if your kids are emptying the sugars and salt & pepper out, maybe you could stop them or attempt to clean it up? And if they mash up food and throw it everywhere at least apologize for the mess. We don’t go to your home and make a mess and our livelihood depends on tips which depends on how many tables we get and if we have to spend time cleaning up after your hooligans that’s time we’re missing out on tables. We understand kids make messes but some people, and you know who you are, simply go to far. Don’t take your kids out if they and/or you can’t be somewhat tidy.
  • Speaking of kids, if your kid is throwing a fit for more than a few minutes, remove that child from the dining area. Other people are dining out without their children or don’t have kids and surely don’t want to hear yours. You’re not at home, ignoring Timmy and his tantrum doesn’t help anyone and annoys everyone. I’ve had people not want to pay for their meal because your kid ruined their night. That is not fair to me or those people who seldom go out and when they do want a nice experience for the money they are spending. Don’t be self-absorbed and rude. Get your kid outta there and bribe them to behave like other good parents do.
  • When on a date, keep your hands above the table. Don’t sit on the same side of the booth actually if you 2 are the only ones at the table. We immediately hate same side sitters. Can’t explain why, but it annoys us to no end. Also, no kissing, rubbing, touching, googling, etc. Get a room if you’re that horned up at a restaurant and order room service. Again, other people are trying to eat and you are making them want to puke.
  • If you’re so in love too that you can’t stop staring at each other to acknowledge that your food is there, see above statement.
  • When we say the plate is hot, we mean it.
  • If we make a mistake, kindly tell us and we’ll do whatever it takes to fix it and make it right. If you’re rude and condescending about it, well go fuck yourself. We are not brain surgeons and mistakes happen especially if any of our other tables are doing any of the above. Believe it or not we want you to leave happy.

If you are a nice customer and follow the rules, then thank you and keep coming and share this with your friends/family who may need some help. Keep an eye out for a part 2 as this list is constantly evolving as people continue to be dumb-asses 🙂

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