Working in the restaurant industry teaches you a lot.
Much of it is about people in general, and a lot is how to be a good person yourself. I think everyone should work in a restaurant at least once in their life. At the end of the day, your shift is only as good as the customers you’ve helped. Let’s all get on the same page about dining etiquette. If you never get a chance to work in a restaurant yourself, keep these rules in mind.
1. Tip Your Server
In America, tipping is customary. And yes, it is expected. Why? Well, the price of your food would be much higher without it, probably even more than 20%, so you'd be paying for it anyway. Also it makes your server more eager to make sure you have a good dining experience. Think about it. If you're at a restaurant and your bill is $200, your server is going to work extra hard to earn that $40 tip. If they're getting paid $10 an hour no matter how many times your drink is refilled or how friendly they are, they won't go the extra mile. AND that extra $40 is going to be tacked onto your bill anyway. Which brings me to my next point...
2. Monetary Tips ONLY
Sorry. Saying how great of a job we did and how everything was delicious is appreciated, but it is NOT a tip. Repeat: NOT a tip!!!!!!! Do not be kind to your server and then stiff them on a tip! They WILL hate you! And if you come back, they WILL remember you! *However, one time I received a hand written note from an adorable elderly man and it touched my heart. Due to its sincerity I would have been happy with just that, but this guy also left a nice tip so to me he's basically an angel with exceptional restaurant etiquette*
3. It's Impossible To Not Be Able To Afford To Tip
Don't fight me on this. If you can afford to drop $40 on a lunch for two, an extra $8 for your server who made your meal possible is non negotiable. It is part of the expense of dining out. If you can't afford that extra $8 then you CERTAINLY cannot afford that $40, which is the problem in the first place, and you should have eaten at home. Too bad so sad.
4. If Your Service Sucked, Your Server Knows
If your waiter dropped wine all over you, was rude, completely messed up your whole table's order, forgot to check on your table for 30 minutes, or something that is totally their fault went wrong, they are sorry and feel terrible. And YES, at this point it is okay not to leave a 20% tip. It is still not okay to leave nothing at all, but your server won't hate you.
5. ....They Also Know If It Was Good
Yes. If everything comes out quickly and your plates are licked clean, your drinks have been refilled, and everyone's smiling, we did our job right. And yup. We are expecting a tip that reflects that. Look, we make $2 an hour and tips are how we get our paychecks. Get with the program.
6. Express Concerns To Your Server In A Proper Manor
For real. Servers forget things and make mistakes all the time. Don't wait until your bill is coming to mention that you never got your appetizer or you hated your food. Be friendly about it, and give them a chance to fix it instead of just being grumpy and cursing the restaurant on Yelp. We want to help, believe it or not. But, we're not mind readers. Be vocal about issues so that they can be fixed. It's our job!
7. If You Eat Your Food You're Paying For It
I've had so many people come in and order a seafood pasta dish, eat every bit of seafood off the plate, leave a few bites of pasta, and tell me they didn't care for it. Like, okay? Looks like you did, woman! I might believe you if you hadn't eaten 90% of it!
8. Croutons Can Easily Be Taken Off Of Salads
***this only applies if there are no allergies involved*** But seriously people! If you order a salad and say no tomatoes or no croutons or something, and it's got 2 cherry tomatoes or 4 little croutons on it, just take them off yourself. It is such a waste of time and resources to send it back to have a new one made for you. Honestly, it probably just slipped your server's mind so don't hold it against them or act like they're stupid. They've probably be running around for hours, and God forbid you must lift a finger. Don't lose your common sense, folks. If it is allergy related, be explicitly clear about that when ordering and I guarantee your server won't forget.
9. Servers Don't Control When Your Food Comes Out
Chefs in the back of a restaurant work harder than anyone. They don't have much room for error, are under tons of pressure, are working in a HOT kitchen, and are serving every person who walks through the door. So yes, forgive them if your food doesn't come out as quickly as you wanted it to. And definitely don't take it our on your server.
10. They're Professional Chefs...Not Your Personal Chef
Ah....people ordering things not on the menu. This isn’t always a terrible annoyance, but it can be. If it’s a simple order with ingredients that we clearly have, that’s fine. But trying to get the chef to recreate that one thing you had at that one time when you were in Italy 30 years ago probably isn’t going to happen. Don’t be afraid to ask, but don’t be upset if an out of the ordinary request can’t be accommodated. *This is only annoying if you are visibly angry that it couldn’t happen. If you’re chill about it, there is no problem*
11. Your Server Did Much More Than What You Saw
If you had a special request, they went in the back and talked to the chef on your behalf. They made sure your table’s order made its way back to the kitchen. They cut your lemons, roll your silverware, clean up after you, vacuum, memorize the menu, and brew your sweet tea, among 50 other things you probably have never considered unless you’ve worked in a restaurant. We're not here for fun, people! This is a source of income for us. Take it seriously.