Waiters’ top 20 ways to not be a horrible restaurant customer

Ralph DailyA coworker of mine showed me this article in our local newspaper and just had to share it with me and the rest of the staff.  Most of us can relate to it, so I seriously encourage you, as a server, to take a look and realize that you are not alone with these feelings! Most of them are completely normal. Some we agree with, some we don’t, but it’s important for us to feel like there are other people out there going through the exact same thing day after day.

There are so many things that customers do, whether intentionally or not, that really irks us as servers.

If you are going out to a restaurant, please check out these Waiters’ top 20 ways to not be a horrible restaurant customer.

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Dear Customers: Taking Pens is Stealing

One thing that you should really know as a customer is that the pens that waiters leave you to sign credit card slips or lend you to write something down belong to the waiter.  They buy them with their own money.  Just because they leave them on the table for you, unfortunately does not mean that they are yours to take if you want.

I need to mention this because a lot of times I leave work with 4 pens missing and end up having to buy a whole new pack at the end of the week.  I have to admit, it’s a bit annoying because those pens belong to me and people feel that they can just keep them for themselves.  The restaurant does not provide the pens for their staff, so the money comes out of our pockets.

So please, on behalf of all wait staff…please do not steal our pens. And if you absolutely need a pen to keep, just ask.

Thank you!

The Waitress Confessions

Dining Etiquette: How to Get Your Waiter’s Attention

There’s nothing more frustrating during your night out to eat than a waiter who is never around when you need them most.  Either you get the walk-by with no eye contact, the waiter who pretends they don’t see you, or a server that tells you “Sorry, I’m not your waiter.”

First of all, those sorts of things should never happen in a professional restaurant.  If you find yourself constantly being neglected, it may be time to find another restaurant to dine at.  But for all other regular circumstances, there’s are some key things you can do to make it easier to grab your server attention when you need something.

1.  Raising your hand

This is one of the simplest and basic ways to grab your server’s attention.  In order for this to work, however, your server must be on top of their game and circulating within their section, readily available for any sign you may be trying to give them.  But, you have to keep in mind that they are not mind readers and sometimes need a clear sign to know that you actually want something.  Be obvious with your hand raising.  Especially while dining out at a busy, rush filled restaurant.  Otherwise, the waiters may think you’re just tapping your hand on the table or talking with your hands.

2.  Learn your waiter’s name.

I’ve mentioned this before in another post called “Remember to Tip Your Waitress”.  As stated before, it’s actually encouraging for servers to be called by their name instead of something as rude as a finger snap.  Imagine your in a busy, loud restaurant and you need another beer.  You call out “Excuse me, Miss” but the waitress doesn’t catch what you said.  If you raise your hand and say “Excuse me, Ashley “, the chances are much better that they’ll notice you.

3.  Speak with a manager.

Of course, servers should be doing their utmost best to make sure your experience at the restaurant is a pleasant one.  If you’re a regular at a restaurant and sense that a server is disrespecting you or purposely ignoring you : ask to speak with the manager.  They may be able to switch your waiter or waitress and may even speak to the server who was ignoring you in the first place. If you find that you enjoy being served by a specific waiter, ask if it’s alright that you be put in their section each time you come.  Management loves to get feedback on the good…and the bad and will most probably do their best to try to give you the service you need as a guest.

4.  Treat your server with respect.

I can guarantee you right now that if you disrespect your server by snapping your fingers, yelling, making fun of them, or calling them names you will not receive the service you were expecting. I’ve seen waiters purposely ignore customers that were rudely snapping their fingers, so the solution is quite simple.  Don’t do it.  Period. If you are constantly getting bad service everywhere you go, take a step back and take a look at you table manners..  Are you making inappropriate jokes?  Do you find yourself swearing at them?  It may be time for a change in your dining etiquette.

There are always exceptions…

Servers are mostly responsible for being available for their guests.  The things, they aren’t machines.  They are responsible sometimes for quite a few tables and sometimes if one thing goes wrong, everything else gets dragged down with it.  If you see you server trying to take care of a problem with another guest, be patient and remember that they are doing their best in sometimes a crummy situation.  If you can help them out some of the time by making it obvious when you need something, it will make their jobs a lot easier and in return you’ll get the service you expect.

The Waitress Confessions

Dining Etiquette: Cloth Napkins

Have you ever been out to eat at a restaurant that had cloth napkins?  If you haven’t, then here are a few things you should know if ever you do step into a restaurant that has them.  If you have, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Cloth Napkins are NOT tissues

I cannot stress this enough.  I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve walked by a table only to see a guest blowing their nose into our cloth napkins.  To say it’s disgusting is an understatement.  As a server, I am obligated by the management to clear the table the best that I can after you’ve finished your meal – that includes taking off all the cloth napkins.  In all honesty, I do not want to touch a cloth napkin that has (for lack of a better word) gooey boogers stashed away in them.  It’s unsanitary.  So please, if you need to blow your nose, ask for a tissue or excuse yourself and make your way to the rest areas.

2. They are not free to take home

Some how, some way, cloth napkins seem to “fall into purses” or are accidentally left tucked in someone’s shirt on their way out.  Cloth napkins are not free to take home.  They belong to the restaurant.  Leaving with cloth napkins (or anything else of the sorts) is considered theft.  Please leave the napkins at the restaurant.

3. Cloth napkins will always be washed – even if you don’t use it

It’s very nice when guests inform me that they haven’t used their cloth napkin and I can reuse it.  But, to be honest, I wouldn’t want to.  Imagine you’re sitting at a table with your untouched cloth napkin on the table next to you.  Throughout the meal, people are talking with their mouths open, little bits of food may be flying off of forks or spoons, wine is spilled, and crumbs are scattered.  Would you want that napkin knowing it was on someone else’s table before yours?  I don’t really think you would.

You’re right, you may not have used the cloth napkin, but chances are that something has fallen on it.  We would never want to take that chance, so we throw them out to be cleaned no matter what.  It’s very nice of you to want to save us time and  energy, but we make sure they stay clean.

Please…

Remember these few things the next time you go out to eat.  Simple little things can go a long way and make your dining experience all the better.

The Waitress Confessions

 

 

True Story: Why I Don’t Mind Serving a Table With Kids


Kids In Restaurants:  A Server’s Point of View

A lot of waiters think “Oh no!” when a family with kids is seated at a table in their section.  Other guests often complain that the children are too loud.  Some think that children should be left at home with a babysitter when parents wish to dine out.

I think there might be too much of a grey area there and that people are too harsh when it comes to whether or not children should be allowed in certain places like restaurants, museums, etc.

Being a waitress at a restaurant, I think it’s wonderful when parents bring their kids, teach them how to order their own food and say “thank you” and “please”. It’s important to learn these things early on in life.  I also have to admit that 85% of the kids that come into the Hot Spot are very well behaved.  Their parents know when their child is capable of behaving themselves in public areas.

Now that’s an interesting word.  

Public.  What is a public area?  Dictionary.com defines it as “open to all persons”.  What is a kid/child?  Dictionary.com defines them as “a person between birth and full growth; a baby or infant”.  Therefore, if museums and restaurants are open to all persons, children should be welcome as well.

Why I Don’t Mind Serving a Table With Kids

To be honest, one of my best memories as a waitress was when a family of 4 (mother, father, 3 year old boy and baby) came to eat at the restaurant.  The table was in another waiter’s section, but when it came time to serve the desserts he needed a bit of help taking the order.  I went up to the table and informed the little boy that he had ice cream included with his meal.  His eyes lit up when he asked politely for chocolate on top.  ”Excellent choice!” I said, I rung up his order in the computer.  I quickly went to get the small bowl of ice cream and when getting to the table I said “Here you go!”.

“What’s yaw name?” the little boy asked, unable to pronounce the letter R.

“Carrie!” I replied. (name changed)

“Cawwie?” he asked.

“Yes. Carrie.”

He paused.  Looked at the ice cream I had brought to him and then back at me.

“I love you, Cawwie!”

That comment pretty much brought tears to my eyes.  It was the best tip I ever got and it made my week.  I still think about it to this day and hope I remember it for years to come. Whenever kids are seated in my section, I hope they will be as wonderful as that little boy.

There’s just a few little problems…

The problem that I see as a waitress is when parents let their children run around screaming in the restaurant and are too involved in their “adult” conversation to keep an eye on them. Not only is it disruptive to other guests, but very dangerous as well.  It boggles my mind that they don’t see that waiters are running around with hot plates, trays full of drinks, and carrying orders that come with steak knives. It makes me incredibly nervous to see young children running around the restaurant because I’m so afraid that they’ll get hurt.

Do parents know how easily their child could get hurt?  I can’t stress this point enough.  I’ve seen waiters on a busy Saturday night coming full speed around a corner and walk right into a little child (all the while trying not to drop hot coffee on them).  There are many restaurants that have play areas for children and I think it’s such a wonderful idea.  A restaurant like that would be a lot of fun for kids and it provides a safe environment for them to play in!  They won’t have to be bored sitting at a table waiting for their food to arrive or run around in a dangerous area.

Another problem I see as a waitress is other customers telling  a family’s child to behave themselves.  This really upsets me.  Children automatically have a higher voice because they have not fully developed yet.  So, when they are talking excitedly about something they are passionate about, their voices get a little louder and also maybe a little higher in pitch.  While I understand it may be “annoying” to certain people, it is not a reason to turn around and shout out “Would you please keep your child quiet!”  It is a public place, after all, and there are many ways to avoid sitting in an area near children.    A good way to avoid any could-be-fussy children is to ask your waiter to change tables or ask to sit in the bar area.  That is a choice you’re allowed to make.  Insulting a family is not.

The Problem With Parents (sometimes)

Here’s a story about another problem I’ve encountered while working in a restaurant.  I’ve found that sometimes parents expect the staff to watch their children.  This baffles me.  One day while working as a hostess I was standing in the front lobby and a woman came in with her baby in a car seat (the portable ones you can carry around).  I brought her to her table, since she was waiting for her friend to arrive.

A couple of minutes went by and she came back with the baby in a hurry, placed the car seat on the floor next to me and yelled out “I’ll be right back!”.  Before I could say anything ….she just left her baby on the floor next to me.  I saw her run out in the parking lot and then lost sight of her.  My heart was racing.  Is she ever coming back?  This woman just left her baby on the floor with a complete stranger (a 19 year old stranger on top of it!).  I couldn’t seat other customers coming in because I had to watch this woman’s baby.  I waited for 11 minutes before she finally came back in saying “Thanks!” and went back to sit at the table as if nothing was wrong.  I was in shock.  First of all, the staff are not babysitters.  Second, what are you doing leaving your child with a stranger?  That is not okay by any means. Not only is it unfair to the child (to place them in the care of a stranger), but also unfair to put responsibility like that on a staff member.

 So, how about I turn it around and ask if certain adults should be allowed in restaurants?

I’ve seen a quiet family with four young children have to move to a different table because a group of 4 adults (all grown men) were stumbling around stupidly drunk and swearing like sailors.  I’ve seen a man throw a chair across the room in anger.  I’ve seen a woman stalking a man and yelling at him in front of the whole restaurant for not paying any attention to her. I’ve seen a teenage girl throw a glass at another girl’s face for just looking at her boyfriend.

I’ve seen a lady grab her little boy and carry him by one arm (body dangling), shove him into a bathroom stall and start slapping him silly (I intruded of course).  Then, carry him out of the bathroom the same way, out of the restaurant, and literally throw him into the backseat of a car and drive off like the dickens.

I’ve seen hurtful breakups, fits of anger, and loud arguments.  How does that type of behavior sound to you?  Pretty pathetic, I’d say.  If you’re so keen on worrying about children’s behavior, I’d say take a look at the way some adults handle themselves in public places.  That is all unacceptable behavior if you ask me.

What it really comes down to…

I believe if children are well behaved then it’s actually no problem at all. If they throw tantrums and scream at the top of their lungs, maybe a fancy restaurant isn’t the place to be. But, children are people too.  They deserve to be treated with respect.

Folks, we all have to learn to live together. No discrimination. People have families, families deserve a chance to go out to eat as well, and kids need to eat. Just like couples deserve to have a wonderful, quiet date-night. Of course, there are times and places for things.  You shouldn’t go to eat at McDonald’s if you’re expecting a quiet night out, just like you shouldn’t go to an expensive 5-star restaurant if you know your child is prone to tantrums.  It wouldn’t make sense to make those types of decisions.

Lastly, please be nice to children.

They are wonderful little human beings. Some are capable of behaving themselves in public, some are not.  Some children like to sit at the table with their parents and some love to run around and make new friends.  Adjust yourself accordingly and let kids be kids in areas where they are able to be themselves.

And if you are on an outing or eating in a restaurant remember that it is, in fact, a public area.  All types of people will “misbehave”.  Adults and children alike.  You can bet on that.

The Waitress Confessions

Remember to Tip Your Waitress: a Guide to a Better Dining Experience

Nowadays, there are such amazing varieties of restaurants you can eat at.  Whether it’s for a business meeting, family get together, or a hot date the choices are endless.  Anywhere from French cuisine to Fast Food!  There are a lot of factors that make your experience at a certain locale either good…or bad.  Music, ambiance, cleanliness, decor, seating, food quality, food portions, etc.  The list goes on and on.  But all of that means nothing if the service is terrible, right?

I think we can all agree that the most important factor, besides good food, is having a good waiter or waitress, right?  No matter how much you love that cozy little breakfast place, you wouldn’t go back if the waiters didn’t even bother to refill you coffee.  What a pain!  As customers, we do deserve to be treated with respect and served politely.

It’s a problem, however, when people start to treat their waiters like their own personal servant.  I’ve seen it many times, a gentleman snapping their fingers angrily at a waitress instead of politely saying “Excuse me, Miss?”, a woman calling out to a waiter while he’s in the middle of taking another guest’s food order, customers ignoring waiters when they ask questions like “Would anyone like some more coffee?”.

A little friendliness from yourself (as a guest in the restaurant) can go a long way.

Here are a few tips on how to treat your waiter with kindness and respect.

TIP # 1

Learn your waiter’s name.  It’s encouraging for waiters to hear their name from their guests.  It lets them know that you respect them (ex: Thank you, Jessica) and it also makes your dining experience all the better.  You’ll know who your waitress is and be able to get his or her attention better when they are walking by your table.  If you say “Excuse me, Michael” as they pass, hearing their name will definitely grab their attention!

TIP # 2

Smile.  Many experienced servers can tell in the first greeting whether their guests are happy, nervous, angry, frustrated, etc.  If you don’t smile at them, they may pick up on some bad vibes coming from the table and limit themselves to basic monotone service, anxious about upsetting you more.  Smiling will let them know that you are open to hearing what they have to say (whether it’s about the evening specials or the daily desserts) and in the end your server will feel relaxed and give you an even better service.

TIP # 3

Be understanding.  Waiters are first and foremost people and what do people do?  They make mistakes.  It happens.  They order your steak Medium-Well instead of Medium-Rare (they sound pretty close in a crowded, loud dining hall on a Saturday night).  They forget your refill of Pepsi.  They order a small beer instead of a large.  I’m sure it’s happened to you and trust me, it will happen again.  The thing to remember is that people make mistakes.  Now, I’m not saying that if your server makes 10 mistakes in a night that you should be 100% okay with it, but maybe that waiter just went through a divorce and has other things on their mind, maybe it’s just “one of those days” for them, or maybe their car broke down on their way to work.  You never know what could be going on in their lives that could be affecting their work.  It’s good to try to give them the benefit of the doubt.  The only problem with that is that there actually are waiters out there who really just don’t care.  You do have to watch out for that.  But if you have a waitress who’s smiling and you can tell is doing her best to satisfy her guests, if she forgets to bring you bread …try to be understanding.

TIP # 4

Be polite Say “Thank You” and “Please” when addressing your server.  They are there to help you, and if you are getting good service then it’s important to let them know you appreciate it.

TIP # 5

Compliment them!  If you just dined at a restaurant and had the BEST service you’ve ever had at that restaurant, or even any other restaurant you’ve been to, let them know!  Don’t be afraid to tell them.  You may notice they suddenly feel shy or even surprised.  Many people don’t open up enough to let people know they are doing a good job.  Hearing that from guests will give good servers a reason to stay that way.

TIP # 6

Leave a good tip.  If you go to the same restaurant every other day, every other week, or every other month and the staff recognizes you, it means that you appreciate the staff, quality, and food the restaurant has to offer.  It means that they must be treating you well!  Make sure that you let them know that you appreciate their hospitality.  When it comes to paying the bill, be sure to calculate your tip correctly.  There are many apps for your phone that are designed for calculating tips.  You can always ask your server to add on the correct percentage.  The average tip should be 15% of the bill and an excellent tip for excellent service should be more if you really want to show your appreciation.  Money isn’t everything, but you must remember that your servers are making under minimum wage and rely a lot on their tips as their income.

TIP # 7

Ask for your favorite server.  When returning to a restaurant that you love, learn the names of each waiter you’ve had and ask the hostess/host in the front to be seated with your favorite server.  If there’s one in particular that you trust to make your dinning experience a pleasant one, ask for them.  They will feel ecstatic to know that they remember you.  A bonus in asking for the same waiter/waitress every time is that they get to know your likes and dislikes and should know them by heart.  If you order a beer to start every time you sit down and you ask for the same server every time, they may already order one for you so that it arrives as you sit at your table. They may give you something on the house.  If there’s a problem with your meal, they will try their hardest to right it because you are now a regular customer.  There are major advantages to asking for your favorite server.

All these tips can really help you with your dining experiences.  Remember to recognize the difference between those servers who just think of serving as another job and  those who do it because they love it!  You’ll notice a huge difference.  Be kind, understanding, and treat them with respect and they should do the same!

The Waitress Confessions