By: Rachel Freeman
Credit: Shutterstock/Jennifer Bui
There are a ton of ways you can make your waiter/waitress hate your guts, and since you’d rather not have them go the way of the vengeful bartender when it comes to your meal, you might want to learn how to help yourself while also helping them. Which is where we come in. We hit up a bunch of seasoned servers — both current and former — to find out all the things you can do to get on their good sides and make their lives easier, thus creating a much more pleasant dining experience for yourself. Now stop pretending it’s your birthday every time you go out to eat!
Credit: Flickr/James Petts
Ask for all condiments/needs at once
"Basically don’t call me over for a side of ranch and then call me over later for hot sauce, because the job is already hectic enough."
When you’re finished, put your silverware on your plate
"Not only does that allow us to know that you’re finished, but it allows me to clear more quickly and get to other tables faster."
Don’t order things you don’t understand
"… and then act like the waiter intentionally brought you something you don’t like. Make sure you understand what you are ordering. For example: my mother ordering a drink with jalapeño and then getting extra tight with our waiter when it tasted like… jalapeño."
Let the server know when something is wrong
"If something’s wrong with the meal, tell us right away. A lot of customers tend to be too shy to complain, so they end up not saying anything until the problem can’t be fixed, or they won’t say anything at all. If the problem is on my end, or if there’s just an issue with the food, I want to fix it. Worst case scenario is you leave a bad tip, never come back, or even tell my boss I suck, so we’re on the same team here, most of the time. I want to help you; you want to give me some money."
Credit: Gallagher’s Steakhouse
Know the temperatures of meat
"There have been so many times when people order meat medium rare and don’t realize that it’s gonna be pretty pink. If you like your meat to taste like leather, then know that. I really don’t care about how you like it, but I do care when you want me to go back and get it cooked again."
Be sensitive to how busy the restaurant is and how many staff are working
"Do a quick scan when you walk in. Are all the tables full? Do you see a lot of waitstaff? Is there a long line at the door? You might be hungry, but servers are generally overworked and underpaid. It’s not their fault that they might be understaffed or incredibly busy. So be a little empathetic."
Don’t ask for freebies and insinuate that you’ll give a bigger tip
"Don’t ask for something for free and hint that you’ll give a bigger tip. Chances are that your idea of a big tip and your server’s are drastically different. And it’s probably not worth getting fired over."
Give a bigger tip when you are given free stuff (that you didn’t ask for)
"If a server likes you enough to give you something for free and you enjoy it, give them a bit of a bigger tip. They stuck their neck out to help you have a better time."
Remember their name
"We are not robots designed to bring your food. We introduce ourselves at the beginning for a reason. If you remember my name, you’re infinitely more likable right off the bat."
Engage in conversation with them
"When they come by, say ‘Hello, how are you?’ Just basically be pleasant. Don’t just dictate to the waiter what you want. No one is like ‘Oh my god, I want to be a waiter, this job is amazing and I love working here.’"
Heed the “Please Wait to Be Seated” sign
"It’s there for a reason. It’s not there for show."
Let your server know if you are under strict time constraints
"If you’re in a rush, let your server know. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s even possible for you to get your food in the time allotted. No matter what, food takes time to cook and serve."
Credit: Andy Kryza
Treat them like a human, not a robot
"Use basic manners. Don’t touch your server. Use your server’s name. This should be self-explanatory, but a simple please and thank you goes a long way. Also, respect your server’s personal space. They aren’t something for you to touch or ogle at."
"Look me in the eyes when you speak to me, and use verbal communication like a human being. If you ask me for something without making eye contact, I immediately assume you’re a jerk."
"Don’t use a cellphone while the waiter is at your table. When a waiter asks if you need something, don’t ignore them."
Don’t try to order off the kid’s menu if you’re an adult
"If you don’t have the money to go out and eat, please don’t go out to eat. Ordering off the kid’s menu isn’t endearing or cute. It’s obnoxious."
Recognize that you are not any more important than anyone else in the room
"I’ve had plenty of times where a customer acts like they’re the most important table I have, just because they ordered more food/sat down first/are a tool. Wait five minutes for your beer: there are 40 other people in this restaurant."
Try not to make a huge mess
"Don’t make a mess of the table and just leave it. Don’t roll up your straw wrappers and throw them at each other… we have to clean them up!"
Don’t ask the server to split the bill individually
"You are an adult. With a smartphone. That has a calculator. You have presumably used one before. Use that knowledge. Don’t forget to factor in the tip and the tax."
Actually read the menu
"Read the menu. All the ingredients are there. Don’t make some insane off-menu request. It’s not happening."
"Customers make stuff up when they’re knowingly walking into a restaurant with a certain cuisine. They make up things that they want, and it’s hard because you’re supposed to make them happy, but then the kitchen gets mad, and it’s confusing when they should just look at the damn menu."
Don’t lie and say it’s your birthday if it’s not
"We don’t want to sing if we don’t have to."
Credit: Flickr/TsuHsun Hsh
Tip at least 15%, and if you have nothing nice to say, don’t say it at all
"… including leaving a message on your receipt for the server."
Ask to speak to a manager to compliment the staff
"This is the best. Even if your manager doesn’t like you, they can’t argue with a customer who compliments you for exemplary service. If you have the time, call the manager over."
Come back on subsequent visits and ask for a specific server
"If you get great service one time, ask for the same server the next time you come back. Servers love having regulars that are familiar with the restaurant because it helps their sequence of service run a bit more smoothly… and it helps balance out those inevitable problem tables."
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