Mind your manners people! Don’t be that table that all us servers talk about in the back. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant you know what I’m talking about.
A shift is typically 5-6 hours of standing on your feet filled with (forced) smiles and dealing with the general public. My job is always interesting and I am very lucky to work where I do, it just becomes comical with the stuff I see on a daily basis.
So with that, I’ve created a little list of things that I think everyone needs a refresher on for when they go out to eat.
Just tip, people! Always 20%. A tip isn’t “extra” added to our paychecks. In fact, we don’t even get a paycheck, we work off of tips. The smart comment written on the receipt or the two dimes that you left on my table, unfortunately, will not pay my rent this month. Another aspect that I don’t think many realize is that it took a team effort in order for you to eat today-- the busser, food runner, and bartender need to make money, too! When a customer tips 20% (If that’s you, you rock, keep it up) the server will only get about 15-16% of that tip after tipping out the rest of the support staff. So, if your drink tasted great and a cute little high school boy cleared your dirty plates for you, remember that when signing the tip line. Okay, so tipping is covered, we are all tipping at least 20%, got it?
2. Cell Phones
Yes, it’s the year 2017 and most people have their cell phone tied to their hand. But if you’re out to eat at a restaurant, you are probably supposed to be enjoying time with family or whoever is sitting across from you, I think you can put the phone down for 45 minutes. When customers talk on their phones at the table, not only is it rude, but the tables around you really don’t want to hear your conversation when they are trying to enjoy a nice dinner. Take it outside, people! And if a busy server is at your table trying to take your order, look at them! Please don’t have your head down scrolling through Facebook, I just need 30 seconds of your time to figure out what you want to eat, then you can go back to your very important phone gazing.
3.“Well, I know the owner”
That’s nice, Mrs. Johnson, I know him too, he’s my boss actually. Just because you “know” the owner does not mean your wait time for a table will be shortened, you will be getting a free drink or can order things that we don’t even have in the kitchen. “Knowing” the owner is not an excuse for anything. Quit acting like a celebrity and come back down to reality, please.
I love kids, I really do. But if your kid isn’t well behaved enough to sit through a dinner without throwing a tantrum, maybe it’s not time to go out to eat. And babies, boy are they precious. But if your baby is screaming bloody murder and the restaurant is full, you should probably take it outside so everyone else does not have to listen to the screaming child while you try to inhale your dinner. I will happily put your food in a To-Go box for you. Lastly, regarding the kids' menu, its say “12 and Under”, if you look 18 and are trying to order off the children’s menu so you can eat for five dollars and not tip me, please go to McDonald's.
5. Stop Trying to Recreate the Menu
We have a menu for a reason and a wide variety of one. The restaurant does hundreds of meals each night, it is amazing enough that they are able to process a number of orders that they do. I work at a steak and seafood restaurant, so don’t be shocked when we don’t have a Greek Gyro or Italian lasagna. I’m all for accommodating, but when a customer tries to add this to that and then wants to substitute everything on their plate, maybe they should have gone elsewhere. I want to make the customer happy, but the kitchen simply does not have enough time or resources to customize each and every plate. And if they happen to do that for you, don’t complain that your food is taking too long, you have no idea what goes into changing around meals when you have 20 others to make in the next 15 minutes.
6. Trying to Get Free Meals
It happens at least once a night. After the food comes out I ask to make sure everyone is happy and satisfied with their meals and then check back periodically while the customers are eating. Don’t wait until after you have eaten every scrap on your plate and the check has been dropped to tell me that your steak “wasn’t really cooked the way you wanted it, and it should be taken off your bill”. I’m sorry, if it was that terrible then why didn’t you tell me the first 5 times I asked? Or how on Earth were you able to be a plate cleaner if it tasted so horribly!? I know what you’re trying to do here, no, you’re not getting your meal for free.
7. You Are Not the Only Table in the Restaurant
Typically, a server will be responsible for between 4-6 tables at a time and a large party could be in the mix of that. Personally, I want to give every person that I am waiting on, a great dining experience, but sometimes customers make that difficult. *Flags me down from across the restaurant* “Oh miss, miss, don’t go anywhere we are ready to order”.
I can normally gauge just by body language and nonverbal cues when a table is ready, this table does not look ready, but hey I’ll go check on them. When I get to the table, it’s a task just to get everyone to stop talking and look at me, and nobody knows what they are having and keeps pointing to the person next to them to “go first”.
I stand there awkwardly waiting for 60 seconds before I tell them that I will give them more time and will be right back. Here’s my next favorite: I am talking to one booth and the booth next to them decides to yell over “Hey, come here I need more water!!” In my mind, I think “Didn’t your mom teach you not to yell at someone and not to speak when someone else is talking?!”
The current table that I am at looks baffled and I shake my head and continue to take their order before heading over to the man dying of thirst who is chugging waters faster than I can bring them. “Is my appetizer ready yet?”
No, ma’am, you ordered it two minutes ago and I have not even had a chance to go in the back to enter it. I could go on and on. Next time you are out to eat, please remember there are many other people than just you at the restaurant.
At the end of the day, my job is great. The shift normally goes by fast, I work with awesome people, and I encounter some very funny situations along with meeting tourists from all over.
If you take anything away from this, please just be courteous and treat your server like a normal human being when you are out to eat at a restaurant!