I have been in the restaurant industry for the past three years. I don't work at the fancy "boujee" steak or Italian joints in which twenty percent is normally a crisp twenty dollar bill or more. I work at your run of the mill fast family friendly joint. Places where people are very much angry when they have to wait at the door, the table, or both. As a human being, I understand that innate desire that when you go out you want your experience to be perfect or just at least at a relaxing pace.
However, as a server, I know there are times where I can just not give you that perfection. I'll admit it half the time it is on me and the other half it is not. But you try having six waiting tables, half of whom are patient and understanding of your stress level, the other half not so much, the kitchen backed up possibly understaffed, thirty minutes wait at the door, managers seeming to be nowhere to be found when you need something comped fast, waiting for your bar drinks from the bartender who has a full bar, and making dang well sure nobodies drinks, chips, fries, etc. run out.
It seems like it is the easiest job in the world from the outside but once you've been on the inside you know that there are ways to tell that a server is working their hardest or hardly working. So with that in mind, as a server, in my opinion, your servers are not automatically supposed to be granted twenty perfect or more just for breathing.
Free Refills = Refills
Sip On Your Drink All You Want, I Will Refill It!Giphy
Honestly, this is one of the simplest things on the grading scale with me. When I was much younger I was much more active and needed a lot of water. So I understood when my glass would get empty and stay that way for a while. I still understand that sometimes when at a restaurant your glass will go empty. Still, as a server where free refills are expected do not let my drink sit empty too long because I will not be happy with you.
It is not like I expect the Flash to come dashing his way over the minute I slurp the last bit of liquid up my straw but I do expect that it will eventually get refilled. If I have finished off my drink prior to ordering or a little afterward and sit through my whole meal and only get refilled once the check is on the table...I am definitely DINGing you. I give you a "notch" down from twenty percent.
That will likely earn fifteen percent with me if it is that bad. Otherwise, upon the minor offense, it doesn't matter too much to me. If you think about it though it is not that hard to walk past your table every now and then to check on their drink levels especially when most restaurants have pitcher or water and ice tea you can just grab and take with you in case your guests may need more.
Make Sure You Have Some Flair - You're Never Fully Serving Without A SmileGiphy
I don't know about you but I tip a little more even if the service was bad if my server has a personality. For instance, I am a pun girl...get it puns it rhymes with fun so I am saying I am a "pun" girl which most say I am a "fun-" okay, I am sure you get it.
I worked at Red Robin for a time and I loved to incorporate as many puns as possible. So, for instance, the cylinders the fries come in have no bottom hence the "bottomless" fries. (For more comic relief even say "bottomless" fries like the drumroll when giving jokes. Trust me it kills.) I firmly believe if your guests are laughing, joking around, and smiling with you simply put you are doing your job right.
That person deserves twenty percent.
I understand though that some people don't enjoy the jokes and just want me to bring on the food hold the whimsical fun personality. I know some people after a long day just want to go out and eat and find the whimsy annoying. To them, I say tip me anyways. I am trying to bring out the bubbly human within you. A server that is flat, boring, annoyed by me the customer, or when I the customer makes a joke doesn't even fake a laugh for me gets a little ding in my heart. I've been in their shoes and even if you've worked a double or a "clopen" (close and open) that never means you take it out on your customer. Always always always be nice to the customer, even if they are the lowest of humans. It can be hard sometimes to bring on that swagger but if you want your tip you really need to work for it!
Isn't This A Golden Rule? Like Just Do It Okay?Giphy
Ever experienced an unbearably long wait for your food? Most have and most people will at some point in their lives. I want an honest server in these moments! Simple honesty goes a far, far longer way with me than lies or simply ignoring me ever will.
Before we order or even while we are waiting if the kitchen is slammed let me know. Especially if you know beforehand since it may cost you a table but it won't cost you a tip in the long run. If it is the kitchen's fault tell me because I won't take it out on you if they over/undercooked my steak and you simply are getting it fixed for me.
I don't really take it that bad out on you if you rang in the wrong thing and are fixing it for me. Just simply let me know. Honesty is and will always be the best policy. Communicate with your table and they should always treat you in kind. Walking past them or avoiding them all together just creates worry, concern, and in some cases anger all of which means a dwindling tip. Also if you lie to a table and they find out...it could also mean your job so let's just keep the honest train chugging along, shall we?
That is it for me. The job is hard...but it really is not that hard. I get that since I have been doing it for over three years. I've seen a lot of great meals and I have seen a lot of horrible nightmare scenarios. As a server, we are there to give you a good experience and a good meal in order to do that we walk briskly with a smile on our face tackling a lot of questions and dilemmas along the way. I believe the good ones deserve to be tipped because their time is worth it. However, the bad ones while they still deserve something it definitely is not twenty percent or above.