I have a summer job at a local restaurant as a server. I love my job, but it’s taught me a lot about restaurant etiquette; things that annoy me about customers are things I used to do in restaurants before I was hired. So, from a server’s perspective, here are some things to keep in mind the next time you go out to eat.
1. Acknowledging a server makes their job more enjoyable.
What I’ve been taught from day one was to smile, say hello, and ask how the customers are doing. Always. But I’ve found out that the customers who also ask me how I’m doing are the ones I look forward to serving. It’s definitely easier to serve their table than a table who goes right into ordering.
Me: “Hello, how are you today?”
Customer: “I’ll have a Diet Coke”
2. Good manners go a long way.
I mean, it’s kind of a given, right? It’s not too hard to say “please” and “thank you”, but I usually have this probably with adults, not with teenagers whose parents have been stressing good manners their entire life.
3. Make reservations.
If you have a big group, it’s always better to call ahead. There have been times when twenty people ask for a table, then gets mad at us when they have to wait for tables to open up so we can set them up. Even a head’s up fifteen minutes before you arrive is appreciated (especially on busy days). So if your group is over ten people, have someone call.
4. Be aware of other customers.
Indoor seating requires indoor voices; not every table in the restaurant wants to hear your story about your trip to the ER or problems with your ex. When a customer complains about another customer’s table, it makes us the bad guys when we tell them to quiet down. It’s not very fun.
5. Tips matter.
This is sort of a tricky topic, but most servers will tell you that tips have come a long way for them. The suggested amount is usually 20%, but there have been times where I’ve gotten a two dollar tip after a table spent over eighty dollars. What most people don’t know is that a portion of tips goes to other staff members (hosts, food runners, bussers); it’s not all for one person. Unless your server was absolutely awful, try to be considerate.
6. Things can take awhile.
We try to do our best getting things for your table right away, but if we have six other tables, you order a bunch drinks and apps, and the kitchen has to cook orders for other servers who are just as busy, service can be a little slow. Believe it or not, your table is not any better than any other table in the restaurant, so please be patient with these things.
7. The servers are only a fraction of the restaurant.
Honestly, my job can be hard, but it would be ten times harder if it wasn’t for the rest of the staff. Although servers primarily interact with customers, if you have the chance to thank anybody else, please do (FYI: the real heroes of restaurants are the dishwashers).
8. Don't think that you’re better than your server.
Let me rant about this one for a while: of course I’m going to do my best to make your restaurant experience enjoyable, so anything that you may want at all, you better believe that I will try to accommodate for everything. I’m not saying all my customers do this, but there have been times when two people are out on a nice date, and one of the two people is demanding a lot of stuff and insulting the restaurant while the other person quietly sits, obviously embarrassed.
Why do some people do this? I honestly have no clue. Maybe it’s because they want to impress the other person with their “high-class taste” since they can afford to take someone out to eat. Keep in mind that servers do handle your food, and I’m not saying I’m the type of person that would sabotage your meal, but some restaurants might. Also, it just leaves a bad impression on your date or whomever you’re with. You also become the laughing stock between all of the other servers.
There are several more tips, but these are the big ones. If you stick by these rules, then you and your server sure to have a nice time at a restaurant.