18 "Normal" Things People Do At Restaurants That Are Actually Really Annoying To Servers

·7 min read

Hi, I'm Morgan! Before I became a BuzzFeed writer, I spent five years as a bartender and server.

Writer of the article holding a cocktail behind the bar
Morgan Sloss / BuzzFeed

While I met some amazing people and made wonderful memories, there were many times that customers annoyed the hell out of me.


So, here are 18 things you should stop doing ASAP unless you want your server to secretly judge you:

1.Touching us without permission.


I cannot tell you the number of times a customer grabbed my arm so they could drag it closer to their face and admire my tattoos. Even if you're not trying to be creepy and are genuinely interested, stop doing this! Because I was at work, I had to smile and pretend nothing was wrong when I just wanted to snatch my arm back and walk away.

2.Asking us if you can eat a specific meal based on your personal dietary restrictions.

If the menu has all the ingredients listed, why are you asking me if you can eat a certain entrée based on your Paleo/Atkins/Keto/whatever diet? Servers don't go home at night and spend hours researching all the new fad diets. It's your responsibility to figure out what you can eat.

3.Letting your kids run around the restaurant.

I understand that having children is tough sometimes, and they can have short attention spans. But letting them run around, yelling and screaming, is not only annoying to all the other customers, but it can be dangerous. I once had a toddler wander behind the bar barefoot! Do people not know there's often broken glass there?! If you can't keep your kids quiet and in their seats, ordering food to go might be a better alternative.

4.Coming into the restaurant five minutes before closing time.


Servers have lives, too! Once we've worked a full shift, we want to go home to our studies, spouses, kids, pets, etc. So, it freaking sucks when a customer bursts through the door a couple of minutes before close and wants to dine in. Now we have to stay late just to serve you when you could have ordered your food to go. UGH.

5.Asking for separate checks for a huge party during the rush.

If we're slow, it's no problem at all! But if I'm super busy, the last thing I want is for a party of 15 to ask for separate checks. People who've never worked in the industry probably don't understand how spending the extra time gathering everyone's cards and cash, running all the cards, making change, and distributing all the checkbooks can set you back so much. Now that I've done all that for your party, some of my tables need refills, there's food waiting for me in the window, drinks need to be run, I got sat again and haven't greeted them, etc. In the age of Venmo, there's really no excuse.

6.Snapping at us to get our attention.

I know that customers probably don't mean anything by this, but it feels super degrading to me. If you need to get your server's attention, calling their name, giving a little wave, or saying excuse me are all respectful ways of doing it.

7.Asking us to recite all the beers on tap just for you to order your usual light beer.


At one restaurant I worked at, we had over 30 beers on tap. Asking me to recite all 30 beers just to pick your usual light beer is a waste of everyone's time.

8.Asking for things separately instead of all at once.

If we ask your table if you need anything, do your best to ask for everything at once. For example, if I walk all the way to the kitchen and back to bring you a side of ranch, then you ask for a refill so I have to head over to the soda machine and back, and then you ask for a side of mustard, back to the kitchen I go. That's three trips just for your table, when I could have have made three trips for three tables. You're slowing down the service for everybody.

9.Taking forever to pay your tab after we've dropped off the bill.

Once servers are cut, we do our side work while waiting for our tables to close out. But if you don't sign your bill, we can't do our check out and go home. Since we make the majority of our pay from tips, we're not making money while we wait around for an hour, hoping our last table will hurry up. If we come to your table and open the checkbook several times to see if you've signed it yet, be aware that probably means your server is just trying to go home after a long day.

10.Flirting with us while we're working.


It's our job to be nice, and a lot of people mistake that for us being romantically interested. Please don't ask us out, and then when we say no, leave a bad tip. We're just trying to pay our bills like everyone else.

And FYI, if you're going to write your phone number on the check in the hopes that your server hits you up, you should leave AT LEAST 20%. Anytime a guy would leave 5%–10% tips with their number, we'd all laugh about it together.

11.Asking for happy hour prices once happy hour is over.

During happy hour, special buttons appear on the computer with the cheaper prices. As soon as happy hour is over, those buttons disappear. Even if we wanted to, we can't keep giving you those prices all night. So, please don't ask.

12.Ignoring us when we're standing at your table.

If we come to your table but you continue your conversation without acknowledging us, it's so awkward! If you're really into your convo, you can just say something like, "We're good for the moment, thanks!" It's so weird to me that many people will ignore someone right to their face.

13.Eating most of your meal and then saying you didn't like it and want to send it back.


If you don't like your food, of course we're happy to get you something else! But if you eat 75% of it and then want it taken off your bill, it feels like you're just trying to get a free meal.

14.Not tipping on to-go orders.

We obviously don't expect the same level of tipping if you're not dining in. But it takes a lot of work to put together to-go orders, and that's time away from our own tables. Leaving a couple bucks goes a long way.

15.Getting upset if we ask to see your ID.

In case you didn't know, the ABC (Alcoholic Beverage Control) will send people undercover in restaurants. If the server doesn't card them, it's big trouble for the restaurant. I once saw a coworker fail this random test, and they were fired on the spot. So, please don't complain about us ID'ing you. We just want to keep our jobs.

16.Not saying please or thank you.

Buena Vista

It's shockingly common for people's manners to fly out the window when they're at a restaurant. I would also hate it when I asked someone how they're doing today, and they would just reply with their drink order. Being nice costs zero dollars!

17.Asking us to change the TVs.

Sometimes, it's no problem to accommodate your request, but it really depends on the restaurant. At a sports bar I worked at, we weren't allowed to put anything on the TVs that wasn't sports. So, if we say we can't put your desired show on, don't get mad at us! We didn't make the rules.

18.And finally, getting too drunk.

20th Television

I've had times where I cut people off, and they got so angry that I genuinely became concerned for my safety. And even if it wasn't such an extreme reaction, the customer would usually become annoyed and leave a bad tip. Please, don't be that person!!

Have you ever worked in restaurants? What "normal" things did customers do that annoyed you? Let me know in the comments below!

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