Ah, the wonderful world of fooding. There's nothing like going out to your favorite restaurant and ordering your favorite dish, or going to a new restaurant and ordering something you've never tried before because you're feeling adventurous! If you're like me, and self-identify as a foodie, than you know how exciting the fooding world is. However, do you want to know what is not exciting?
A BAD CUSTOMER.
We've heard of them, seen them, and sometimes, have been them. Nothing ruins a restaurant experience like a bad customer. It ruins it for the customer and their guests, their hostess and server, and probably everyone located around that person. I happen to work at a restaurant, so I have seen my fair share of ruthlessly horrible customers. Therefore, I have been inspired to script together this little manual on how to NOT be one of these people in a restaurant. Let's begin, shall we?
1. Do not change your order once you have already given it to the server.
Chances are, unless the restaurant is EXTREMELY busy, your server has already entered your order, which means the kitchen has probably already started to make it. If you changed your order, the kitchen has wasted food that they now most likely have to throw away, they have wasted time, and now your order may not come out at the same time as the other orders from your table.
2. Do not make a scene if your server makes a mistake.
Just like you and everybody else, your server is only human. Mistakes can happen, and they do happen. The way NOT to handle these mistakes is to make a scene in front of the whole restaurant about it. Not only are you NOT solving anything, you are also actively making yourself look like a colossal asshole, and the entire restaurant knows it. In the end, it is just food, not the end of the world... at least it shouldn't be.
3. Do not skip out on the tip.
Something to keep in mind when deciding whether to bail on the tip and/or deciding on whether or not to leave a religious pamphlet or scribbled note in place of the tip is that servers make next to nothing in their paychecks. They make far under minimum wage, because most of their money comes from the tips that they make. So, when you decide to be "that guy" when skipping the tip, not only are you directly screwing your server out of money, but they are essentially paying for you to eat. If you wouldn't want it done to you, don't do it to other people!
4. Do not leave your table/area a mess when you leave.
Something I know for a FACT that every mother teaches their children how to do is to clean up after themselves. I always thought that was a given thing to do at a restaurant, considering I grew up doing it. However, once I started being the one to help clear tables once customers left, I realized how wrong I was. I'm not expecting you to have the table spick and span, dishes organized, and trash gathered and stacked, but I am expecting to not be picking up millions of pieces of ripped straw wrappers and and napkins off the floor, scraping any sauce or mysterious liquids you left on 75% of the table, 32% of the booth, and 19% of the walls, and clean up the salt that you decided to dump on the table because you were "bored". It's called common decency people... have some.
5. Do not walk in five minutes before the restaurant closes and say "Are you guys still open?"
As previously aforementioned, don't be "that guy." When a restaurant says that they are open until 9 PM, that does not mean that you should walk in at 8:59 PM and want to be seated. The common courtesy rule is 30 minutes. You should not be ordering anything past 30 minutes until the restaurant closes. This is so that the kitchen staff can close the kitchen and actually be out of there at time. When your party of 20 decides to roll in right before closing, the kitchen has to re-close everything after they make your food. So, now it's past closing, you and all of your friends don't show any sign of leaving soon, and all the staff, both upfront and kitchen, have to wait for you to leave to finish closing the restaurant. Conclusively, don't do it. Take your friends and go get drive-thru Taco Bell.
6. Don't get belligerently drunk or profane when you are in a family-friendly restaurant.
If you come to a family-friendly restaurant, you better come with a family-friendly attitude and a family-friendly vocabulary. Nobody brought their children to a restaurant to see you knock down an obnoxious amount of beer and say obnoxious horrid words that were not meant for this environment. Don't be that party pooper that just makes everyone feel awkward or upset. You can just as easily buy a 40 oz. and stay home and order a pizza to do all that stuff. Be polite, but also be respectful. You wouldn't want anybody doing that in front of your kids if/when you have them. Be the adult you were meant to be!
7. Don't up and move tables without asking/telling somebody first.
Most restaurants use a form of table seating charts. That means if you are sat at table 11, your server will expect you to be at table 11. That's where they will go to find you. If you move around, not only does nobody know what happened to table 11, but you could be sitting at a table that a hostess was planning to sit another group. Communication is key when working with your server. Don't be afraid to ask if you can move somewhere else, but if you move without telling anyone, you may find yourself without a server, and that "bad service" will be your fault.
8. Don't make yourself too at home
I love when people feel right a home in a restaurant. It's nice for people to feel relaxed. Something to remember, though, is that the restaurant you are in is NOT your home. That being said, don't walk in and take your shoes, kick your feet up on the table, carry so much baggage that your table quite literally becomes a fire hazard, and jabbering so loud that the entire restaurant now knows the old Aunt Deb died last week. Think of the restaurant as your friend, not your family.
9. Don't make your server run back and forth like a crazy person.
Your server comes to your table. You ask for a refill. Your server comes back with your refill. You ask for a bottle of ketchup and a side of ranch. Your server comes back with those items. You ask for another refill. Your server comes back with that refill. You ask your server for another ranch, mustard, and a side of pickles for your burger. Most of these things could have been asked for in one go. Believe it or not, you are not your server's only table. They have other customers to see, so cut them a break and don't play this tag and go game. Quite frankly, it's annoying.
10. Don't blame employees for something that they have no control over.
If you come into a busy restaurant, have been told by the hostess that they are busy, acknowledge how busy they are, and STILL decide to sit at a table, you better have some patience. You should be aware that because they are busy, your food will take a little longer than usual to come out. So, don't get mad at the hostess or server or manager that your food didn't come out as fast as you would have liked it to. Trust me, you server didn't say "Hey, I think it would be really funny not to put this order in just so I can make these people wait!" and not put your food in. Their tip depends on your satisfaction, remember? Don't get mad at them for something that they have nothing to do with, and no control over. They only put your food in, they're not responsible for making it.
11. Let the employees know when something is wrong
If something is wrong, please let somebody know so we can do our best to fix it! If the toilet paper in the women's room is out, tell somebody! If you notice the carbonation is out in the soda, tell somebody. If your meal is in any way not correct, tell somebody! What you don't want to do is notice something wrong, not say anything about it, and then complain about poor quality of conditions or bad service. If we don't know that there is a problem to begin with, we can't fix it!