Warning: things are about to get a little snarky. welcome to 75 Things Restaurant Customers Should Never Do
Back in October, Bruce Buschel wrote a piece for the New York Times blog, “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do.” Buschel explained this list to be a part of the training manual he would use for an upcoming fine dining seafood restaurant of his, a literal lists of 100 “Don’ts.”
This idea of training through a series of do nots instead of through illustrations of what should be done irks me in and of itself, especially as a restaurant manager. I have to admit that I do agree with some of his points, but I found the article to be, well, essentially hating on his staff (what a way to build up morale, Buschel!), without having allowed them a chance to prove that they more than likely already knew a lot of these rules– and that they didn’t need to be subjected to a patronizing list. (I printed the list and brought it up to my restaurant to see the reactions — there was a lot of eye rolling and “duh” being thrown around.)
More than anything, this list started to get me fired up, not about things servers should/should never do, but the serious disrespectful faults that I come across with restaurant patrons every day (in every restaurant I’ve ever worked in). I like to think that some people are just ignorant when it comes to proper restaurant etiquette, but I know that some are just, well, assholes.
I don’t have 100 things quite yet, but this list is a definite work in progress, as new disrespectful acts are constantly witnessed. So in that same do-not vein, here is part one.
100 Things Restaurant Patrons Should Never Do
1. Snapping, waving, flailing your arms wildly is really not necessary. You look like a fool, and you’re only distracting (and annoying) your server while he or she attends to another table.
2. Do not ignore your server. When he or she approaches with a smile and a greeting, do not stare at your menu, all the while never looking up, and say “Yeah, I’ll have the salmon.”
3. Do not expect your server to be an octopus, or the god Shiva. Three plates are generally the maximum that a server will carry at a time, and when you’re a table of five and three plates are brought by your laden-down server, do not go “And where are our meals?!” It’s called a second trip.
4. Interrupting gets you nowhere. Saying “excuse me” loudly while your server is attending to the table next to you is rude to the server and the other table, and generally makes you look like an ass.
5. When dining in a small, heavy-volume restaurant (especially one expected to be a quick serve), do not sit 45 minutes after you have finished all food and drinks and have paid the bill. There is most likely a long wait, and you’re ruining everyone’s day.
6. Do not ignore the host or hostess. Those people standing at the door and saying hello to you are, in fact, people. Pretending they don’t exist will only make your wait for a table longer.
7. Along the same lines, do not attempt to do the host or hostess’ job for them. Creating the flow of a restaurant involves a lot more than just sitting people in empty chairs. When there are visible empty tables, it’s for a reason– either reservations or a section was triple sat. Never say, “but there is an empty table right there!” unless you like looks of contempt.
8. NEVER STEAL FROM A RESTAURANT.
9. I cannot repeat this one enough — Never, ever, EVER touch your server or hostess. Do you touch your bank teller? No? Then why do you think that grabbing your server or host/hostess is acceptable? It happens constantly and is inexcusable.
10. Do not stop a server/runner/backwaiter while they’re running heavy plates to another table. Heavy. Plates. You and your emergency need for more Splenda in your coffee can wait.
11. Know what you ordered. You’re the one who looks like a moron (and angers the entire staff) when you get your baked pasta with pancetta and cry “But I’m a vegetarian!” making us waste a plate of food and make something else for you. If you don’t know what something is, ask. It’s easier.
12. Be on time, and also know that a reservation is exact. Do not call for a reservation and say “We’ll be there between 7:00 and 7:20 or so.” No, you’ll be here at 7:00, or your table will be given away by 7:15.
13. “Yeah, I’ll take” or “Gimme/Get me” are not respectful ways to start a sentence. So don’t do it.
14. This almost seems too obvious, but tip your server. Even if you didn’t like the food, keep in mind that your server only had anything to do with, well, service. And remember that depending where you are, hourly wages aren’t even enough to pay taxes. (Here in MA it’s currently $2.63 for servers.)
15. Must you blow your nose on five different tissues and just leave them on your table for your server or backwaiter to pick up? What is this, TGI Fridays? Excuse yourself.
16. LISTEN to your server. When he or she asks if you would like milk, cream or sugar with your coffee, “yes” is not an appropriate answer.
17. This is a tip for non fine dining restaurants, but when your server comes up to the table with three plates on his or her arms, and you have a bread plate and a cup and saucer blocking the entire space in front of you, don’t just sit there. Move things, at least until one of the server’s hands are free.
18. Asking “What’s good today?” is pretty much the same as asking your server “What’s inedible here?” putting the server between a rock and a hard place. There is no correct answer to that uncomfortable question — be more specific, asking about particular dishes.
19. This also seems to obvious, but clearly announce any allergies/aversions you may have to your server. The last thing we want is a lawsuit due to the diner’s negligence (or the server’s, of course).
20. Standing up around your table for 15 minutes at the end of your meal is disrupting to all. If you all need a long time to put on coats/say goodbye, please move it along to the foyer.
21. Whether you’re in the industry or not, never tell restaurant employees what they should or shouldn’t do – as long as what they’re doing isn’t hurting or violently offending you, you have no say. Just go somewhere else.
22. I know you think you’re being helpful, but please don’t stack plates and silverware “for the server.” Everyone has different ways that they feel comfortable carrying stacks of plates, and your helpfulness could result in a floor-smashing mess.
23. Don’t name drop — it’s just tacky, and will not change the fact that every table is currently occupied. Especially do not name drop incorrectly — mispronouncing the name of the owner that you “know so well” will only result in your being mocked by the entire staff for the rest of the night. Because you deserve it.
24. It pains me to have to say this, but the “I’m in the industry” line is never amusing nor helpful, nor will it curry favor. You should know better.
25. Tourists, please don’t tip 10% because you know you’ll never be back to this restaurant ever again. I have no words for people like you.
26. If you mention that you’re a frequent Yelp-er or Chowhound-er as a scare tactic, you are officially banned from ever eating out again. That is just so unnecessarily insulting (and makes you look like a real douche and gives all bloggers a bad name.)
27. You do not own a server or a bartender just because you know that their livelihood requires tips. Please, if you take nothing else from this list, remember this fact.
28. Please don’t be loud– the whole restaurant doesn’t need to hear about every detail of your life. I’m pretty certain the rest of your party isn’t interested, either.
29. Saying that you’re ready to order means that you’re ready to order. Don’t tell your server you’re ready, only to look over the menu one more time– your server has many other tables that he or she needs to attend to.
30. Server does not mean servant. Do not treat restaurant staff as being in a class lower than yours.
31. If you are not happy with something, speak up– let the staff try to make it better, that way you won’t have to be passive-aggressive on Yelp later.
32. At the same time, remember that no one is perfect. Be flexible and work with us, people.
33. Remember the golden rule. You’ll be fine.
34. Policies are put in place for a reason — and recognize the fact that no one is obliged to explain to you why a rule is in place. You probably wouldn’t understand, anyways.
35. Put your phones away — or if you must, keep conversations quick and quiet…you’re holding up service and disrupting those around you.
36. Don’t get mad when a restaurant doesn’t have that random condiment/vegetable/side dish you want. Food costs money and chefs don’t order food that isn’t on the menu.
37. If you have children, do understand that non-chain restaurants rarely have children’s menus. This sounds like the perfect chance to get your kid to start liking real food.
38. The customer is not always right — raising your voice and getting indignant about non-issues doesn’t give you the upper hand…it just makes you look like the douchenozzle you clearly are.
39. If you’re with a group that’s being loud, or rude, or difficult, police them! Don’t let the behavior go any farther if you know better.
40. Slipping money to the host or maitre d’ so that everyone can see you doing so is incredibly tacky. Also, it won’t necessarily get you anywhere faster.
41. PLEASE don’t fake having an illness (Diabetes seems to be the most common) in order to jump the waitlist. This happens constantly, and I’m sure that those with such illnesses wouldn’t appreciate you doing so.
42. Saying “but we’re just going to eat quickly!” doesn’t change the fact that there are no empty tables. I don’t understand why people don’t get that.
43. Trust the fact that if you’re nice and respectful to the staff, they will be the same back to you. If this doesn’t work, then you have the right to feel that you’re not receiving good service, and to say so.
44. Sending back an entree after you’ve eaten half? Really?
45. Don’t flash your money around and act like everyone around should be kissing your feet — odds are you won’t even tip well.
46. If you had a really great experience, let be known! Tell the manager if you had an outstanding server.
47. If you’re at the bar, waiting to order, and the bartender is clearly going as quickly as possible, please refrain from waving your arms wildly or yelling “hey, over here!”
48. Also, if you’re at the bar, don’t stand in the server/service area — people are trying to work, and you ordering your drink is holding up the entire floor.
49. If you’re with a group that is splitting the check or paying with more than one credit card, step up and insure that the server is still getting the right tip.
50. Remember, dining out should be fun, so chill out, leave the drama at home, and be respectful — it will get you far!
Nearly two years ago, ESer LB responded to The New York Times’ 100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do with her own 100 Things Restaurant Patrons Should Never Do — basically a server’s wish list/bill of rights. While we only actually came up with 50 items for the original list, this continues to be one of Endless Simmer’s most popular posts, so we’re pleased to present part 2 of the list, as suggested by ES commenters.
51. Don’t walk back into my kitchen to tell me that you are allergic to something.
52. Don’t tell me how to do something. I don’t care, if you think you should pay AFTER you eat. If I’m telling you to pay BEFORE, just do it.
53. If you use a coupon or get a discount of some sort (use a gift card, etc) make sure you tip on the ORIGINAL bill…seems like another “duh” but you’d be amazed how often people don’t do this.
54. If you have kids, PLEASE keep them under control before/during//after being seated, especially when the restaurant is busy. I can’t tell you the number of times I have zoomed out of the kitchen, arms full of hot food, to almost trip over a 3 year old running around the dining room. THIS IS NOT OK people! and it is dangerous. THINK.
55. Don’t be the person that comes in at 9:50 at a place that closes at 10:00, then two hours later as someone vacuums under your feet, say, “Oh…you’re closed? When?”
56. I’m not picking the garlic out of the pasta sauce. Don’t be any dumber than your genetics already make you be.
57. If you would not want someone to enter your place of employment and act the way that you find yourself acting when you enter a dining establishment, I would suggest you examine your behavior and expectations. If I were to come into your place of employment, and insist that you assist me at the risk of alienating other customers/guests, I suspect that you would find it annoying.
58. Quit making special requests like: substitutions, different cooking methods, adding ingredients etc… We cook a hundred dishes every hour and it really backs us up when 5 people order the same thing but each want something different done for their order.
59. Quite asking for foods to be cooked WELL DONE!!! It’s going to take a lot longer for your food to be cooked, it will taste and feel like chewing meat flavored sawdust, it will have barley any of it’s nutrients left and several hours later your going to shit bricks.
60. MAKE RESERVATIONS!!! Especially when there are more than ten people in your party! Otherwise your going to have to stand there and wait for several tables to open and it throws everyone into a mad frenzy to prepare for you!
61. Don’t be the person who thinks that just because you’re paying some money, you’re a king/queen. You have no right to be a douche. If you’re the type of person who threatens to never come back, guaranteed you are a customer nobody ever wants to see again. You’re not that important, get over it.
62. No calculator needed. Give the server $1 for every $5 you spend, always round up. It’s that easy.
63. It is always appropriate to tip extra if someone has gone above and beyond. Thanks are great, but thanks and a little extra money are better.
64. If you’re returning to a restaurant known for sending a complimentary taste (amuse-bouche) before your meal, don’t presume that they are going to do it every time, and don’t specify what you want for that little free thing. (Yes, there are people who actually ‘order’ their amuse-bouche.)
65. If you are not dining in what is clearly a vegetarian restaurant, then the restaurant is NOT required to provide a vegetarian entree! My restaurant just got a bitchy yelp review because we’re a southern-american comfort-food restaurant and did not have a vegetarian entree. Um, hello?!
66. …And don’t get mad at your server when they politely point you in the direction of salads and veggie side dishes. Read the menu! If there is not a vegetarian entree listed, then there is not a vegetarian entree!! And no, the chef is not required to “just make you something.”
67. Please realize that the cooks only have a specific amount of grill space on which to prepare your food. Just because you ordered something you think is super easy to fix, doesn’t mean there is adequate room on the grill in the kitchen to fix every single item simultaneously.
68. Also, just because your food in rung in before another tables, that does not mean it will come out first. Certain items take more preparation than others. A well done steak will take longer than fried fish.
69. Servers are human, we make mistakes. Sure every once in a blue moon a server may forget to ring something in or ring it incorrectly. If this happens regularly, maybe you should consider trying different retaurant(s). For a good server, these mistakes are few and far between.
70. When a server brings the food, it always irks me when other people at my table leave their drinks, silverware, and napkins (or worse, cellphones and purses!) sitting right in front of them, where a plate should go. It just doesn’t make sense to me–where is our waiter supposed to put your food? In front of ME? Just move your stuff out of the way, guys.
71. Just because you are the customer does not make anything and everything you do OK. It’s your meal but it’s someone else’s business, office, well-being etc… If you do not behave with the respect patience and good nature you would in any other place of business you are rude.
72. Treat you server like a human being. Be polite and courteous whether you’re getting great service or terrible. No question, request, or complaint from a customer is inherently unacceptable so long as it’s delivered kindly.
73. Don’t dine out for the sole purpose of nit-picking and criticizing
74. Don’t yell at your server if you don’t like the rules. If s/he says extra sauce costs 45 cents, then it just does.
75. It seems like almost all of these can be summed up by: Don’t be a douchenozzle.
Sourced from endlessimmer.com