After working as a hostess this past summer, I’ve learned a thing or two about how people act when they enter a restaurant for a meal. Here are a few suggestions to counteract common irritating behaviors that will make your dining experience, and mine, go much more smoothly.
1. Sit Where I Seat You:
This is a very common pet peeve of mine; customers requesting their own tables. Most of the time, I promise I have a reason for putting you at a certain table. I try to keep a rotation between the servers, making sure they don’t get overwhelmed and all receive the same number of tables. When you walk me to your table, you may be picking a table of a server that was just served, so you probably won’t get the best service, which may lead to a more unpleasant experience. The table you want could also be in a closed off section, especially during the week, when there aren’t as many servers on the floor. This means that the server has to run across the restaurant, outside of their section, to pick up your table, which is unnecessary, since there’s an open table in their section. I’m supposed to honor the wishes of the customer regarding where they want to sit, so I will most likely put you where you want, but remember, it may not be for the best.
2. Don’t Yell At Me.
My main duty is to take care of people coming in the door and seat them. Any other problem you may come to me with means I will have to consult my manager, so please keep that in mind. I also have no control over how long the wait is going to be, so don’t get angry at me, as if it’s my fault. I seat people as they come in and I’m sorry if your wait for a party of seven is going to be 30 minutes or more. I can’t make people get up and leave. If the service you received from your server was subpar, or there are was an issue with your meal, the most I can do is have my manager come over and talk to your table but I need to stay at the host stand. I’m sorry if your experience was unpleasant but please do not take it out on me.
3. Know How Many Are In Your Party.
It may seem like a simple request but knowing how many people you have come with makes both our lives easier. A difference of one person could mean the difference between the number of tables. If you have “five or six, I’m not really sure,” to me that is a difference between one or two tables, and the amount of time it will take me to get your table ready, or if there will be a wait. So either wait until more of your group shows up or know the exact number when you request a table.
4. Call Ahead If You Have A Large Group.
This relates to number three. If you come into the restaurant with a party of 10 at 6 p.m. on a Friday night, you will most likely have a long wait. Had you called me an hour or two earlier, I would have been able to reserve the three tables you party needs and most likely would have had them set up for when you arrived. If you are able, please let the restaurant know that you plan on arriving at least 20 minutes before you get there. Knowing even 10 minutes in advance that a group of 45 cheerleaders will be walking in the door gives me a chance to start planning out where they will sit, and not leave me standing shell-shocked at the door when they start filing in.
5. Try Not To Make A Mess.
Yes, you may not be eating a meal in your own home, but please remain courteous and try to pick up after yourself. It makes the restaurant run a little smoother once you leave. If you leave behind less of a mess, the server can clean the table faster and I can seat it again. It makes you a better customer, and the servers remain more pleasant people.
6. Keep Your Children Under Control.
If you take your children out to eat, make sure you keep an eye on them. It disturbs the other customers when children run amok throughout the restaurant without a glance from the parents. I give them a kid’s menu and crayons for a reason: to keep them entertained. And in this world of technology, there is a plethora of devices and games to keep children occupied until their food arrives. Please also clean up a little bit after your children if they happen to make a mess, or leave a bigger tip for the server to compensate for the mess.
7. Tell The Host What You’re Doing.
Letting the host know that perhaps you went to the wrong restaurant or that you had a sudden change in plans allows me to stay on top of things and also let the server know what is going on when you leave. I can then re-sit the server for the table they have lost by you leaving. Also, let the host know if you’re searching for the rest of your party already at the restaurant, since I can probably point you in the right direction. Same goes for the bar. People stride past the host stand without so much as a “hello” or “I’m going to the bar.” This annoys me because I don’t know what you’re doing, and it leaves me just standing there. So please take a second to clearly state your intentions on what you plan on doing.
8. Lastly, Tip Your Server!
I understand if the server’s service was horrible, but if it was something outside of their control, like the wait for the food (most of the time) or if something was cooked wrong, please don’t take it out on the tip. Servers only make $2.13/hour, and survive on the tips they receive. So if you received good service, good food, multiple refills, and a generally had a good experience, then let it show in the tip, which should be at least 15% of your total check.