Over the last year and a half, I have worked in three restaurants and bars. Each one has different dynamics but essentially runs the same way. Customers come in with certain expectations and desires. Some want a nice meal while others want a place to relax and drink. Either way, as a server, we try our best to give exceptional customer experiences. However, customers can help with that through their interactions with us.
Be polite to your servers.
Yelling at your servers will not get you anywhere. It will not speed up service, it will only increase the anxiety and tenseness of the situation. If you’re upset about something, you have every right to voice it but do it calmly. Servers will do everything in their power to fix what went wrong; you don’t have to be an ass about it.
Understand that service time will be affected when it’s busy.
If all of the tables are full and the bar is overcrowded, your servers and bartenders are taking care of a lot of people. They might not be as attentive as you wish they were but they’re trying their best under the circumstances. Drinks and food might take a little bit longer than expected and all we ask is for some patience.
Only order from your server.
Multiple servers may be running around the restaurant but they have their own tables to worry about. Try to track down your server and if you can’t, ask for them rather than ordering from someone else. If drinks are taking long, do not go around your server and order at the bar, it will only create confusion later on.
Do not try to order alcohol if you’re underage.
If you are not 21 years old, it is illegal for you to drink. If your server asks for your ID and you 1) don't have one, 2) have an expired one, or 3) are underage, they will not serve you. You do not have the right to throw a fit; it is against the law and our jobs and livelihood are on the line. Do not have your parents or friends order your drinks either.
Keep your area clean.
This is not your house. Show some respect for the place where you’re dining. You do not get to trash the place. Do not throw cans and bottles on the ground. Do not throw smarties at your friends and then stomp on them. That just creates more work for us at the end of the night.
Keep your hands and comments to yourself.
Do not harass your servers, no matter how drunk you are or how hot you think they are. They are not asking to be touched or harassed by the words that come out of your mouth.
Be clear and concise when ordering.
Make sure that your server understood what you ordered before they walk away. It may seem annoying but we do want to get your order correct. The only way we can do that is if we hear you. Servers do their best to repeat orders to ensure understanding.
Understand how the restaurant or bar runs.
Some restaurants and bars have reservations and then reserve tables. If that is the case, it is better to call ahead to ensure you will have a spot. There may be open seating but reservations will get priority. If there is a wait time for a certain restaurant, do not try to find your own open table. There is a wait time for a reason and you may not be at the top of the list.
Do not act like you run the place.
You don’t. Period. This is not your restaurant, you cannot boss around your servers. They are there to serve you but there are limits.
Do not come in at the last minute.
This is literally the worst. Restaurants have set hours for a reason and if you aren't sure what they are, Google can help. If you're going out for dinner, make sure you plan ahead and schedule enough time to be finished with dinner by the time the restaurant closes. Try not to come in less than 30 minutes before it closes.
If you do not like something, send it back immediately.
Do not eat half of your meal and then complain about it not tasting right or not being what you want. If you don't like what you're eating or drinking, tell your server as soon as you see them. Then your server can try to replace it for you or get you something else.
Do not be an ass to be funny.
It's not cute to make fun of your server in order to get a few laughs from your friends. Your servers are human beings and they deserve respect. Have fun and enjoy yourself but don't do it at the expense of your server.
If you do not have the money to tip your server, do not go out! Even if the service isn't the best, 20% goes a long way.