Welcome to Part II of Restaurant Etiquette. This is written from the customer’s/fellow server’s point of view…sorry, I know it’s been a long time coming.
As background, I wanted to give both points of view; the server and the customer. If you haven’t read Part I, I suggest you click here.
And now, the customer/management point of view….
I have been to a lot of different restaurants, ranging from you dives/diners to the very upscale. I’ve also had to deal with a number of servers as a co-worker and manager…ranging from the very good to the completely awful.
Therefore, as a frequent diner and again, a server, I want to give you a heads up.
*Rule Number One: Smile.
If you walk up to a table looking like you hate life, it’s going to put a damper on the dining experience. Because we are paying to go out to dinner, try to make it a little more upbeat, rather than a jail sentence. Your attitude has a big impact on everyone around you.
No joke, a smile can be a game changer.
*Communicate with your table. And the Kitchen.
If something is happening in the kitchen, let your table know. If you are out of something, tell them. If food is taking longer than usual to come out, give your customers a heads up. They’ll appreciate it. And they won’t blame it on you.
If a diner asks you a question about ingredients, there is probably a reason for it, so answer it. If you don’t know, find out. It’s better to have a happy (repeat) customer than a disgruntled one who spent the night in the hospital because you were too lazy to check what was in the salad dressing.
If your customer has a special dietary need, tell the kitchen. Or if they want something served in a different manner, let the cooks know! It’ll save you a lot of hassle.
Don’t Complain About Your Tips.
Contrary to what you may think, you don’t automatically deserve a great tip. It’s based on service…which also relates to your attitude and work ethic; Again, if you are acting like you hate your job and life, people notice. Not to mention, it’s completely unprofessional to stand around and complain, regardless of your profession. It’s also a good way to get fired.
Watch Your Language. And be aware of your conversations.
I brought this up in my last post, watch your mouth! You are in a restaurant, not hangin’ in your bro’s basement, kickin’ back a few cold ones! The F word makes you sound ignorant. And that young couple with a five-year old? They don’t want to hear about who you brought home last night or your urinary tract infection. Neither do your co-workers. Be respectful to those around you.
Don’t Just Stand There.
Again, people notice a lot more than you think. If you are standing around doing nothing, people notice… texting, people will see it. If you refuse to help move a table or if someone comes in looking for a table and you walk away, you guessed it-people notice. Not only is it a turn off to your customers but it will also tick off your co-workers.
That being said, if you’d rather text your boyfriend than take dirty dishes off of your tables, or you’re constantly running to the bathroom to make personal calls, don’t wonder why you only got a three dollar tip. Hello!!! Do you like to sit at a table covered with dirty dishes and empty glasses? Do you like to wait ten minutes for your drinks? Neither do your customers!
I’ll reiterate, don’t automatically assume that you deserve that twenty percent-or more-tip. And you can only blame so much on what tables you have. If you’re not doing your job, it shows.
On the flip side, people also notice if you are busting your butt, helping out your co-workers and going above and beyond, and they will usually say something. Keep that in mind.
Help Each Other Out.
This goes along with my last point. If you notice one of your co-workers is stressed out, give them a hand. Pick up the salad plates off their table or drop off their appetizer. Take away empty bottles or glasses.You need to work as a team. And if you help someone out, chances are they are going to return the favor.
If you notice that the dressings are getting low, take a moment to refill them. Out of lemons? Chop a few. Like I said, it’s a team effort. It makes everyone’s life easier if people do side work throughout the night, even if it’s just the little stuff.
Pick up after yourself. If you spill something, don’t wait for someone else to take care of it.
Know the Menu
And be honest. If you’ve never tried something, tell them…but also let them know what’s popular, what you would have and what the night’s specials are. If you’re new, tell people. They usually understand.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Pay attention to your tables. Make sure you aren’t neglecting anyone. Pay attention to the kitchen. If a plate doesn’t look good, say something.
If someone ordered a salad with no olives and extra tomatoes, make sure that’s how it comes out. Make sure you bring out condiments/extra plates/waters. Little details like this can make or break a dining experience.
If someone orders a steak, make sure to ask how they’d like it cooked…and check to make sure it came out that way.
Remember where certain dishes go on the table. People love that.
Think about what kind of service you expect when you go out to dinner. That should be what you aim for. Sometimes, you’re going to get a table that sucks but try to give them the same service you’d give your favorite diners…they may surprise you.
In short, a good attitude and work ethic will go a long way. And you’ll probably find out that you enjoy your job a little bit more.
Did I miss anything? What are some of your pet peeves when you dine out? OR with your restaurant co-workers?
Again, if you missed the first post, here it is. Thanks for reading! Have a great weekend!
Alright, prepare yourselves. This will probably turn into a mini-rant. I’ve decided to break it up into two pieces for that reason… and because I want to give both points of view; the server and the customer.
Update: Click Here for Part II.
First, we have the Server’s Position….
Having worked in the restaurant business for a few years now, doing everything in the front of the house from hostessing/busing, serving/bar-tending, managing the floor and planning big parties, I feel that I have some expertise when it comes to knowing how a restaurant works.
Therefore, as an insider, I want to let you (the customer) in on a few things.
*First-and this is probably my biggest pet peeve-if you go out with more than 6 people and arrive during the busiest time on the busiest night of the week, call ahead. If you walk in without a reservation, don’t get ticked off if you have to wait ten minutes for a table. In fact, don’t get ticked off if you wait fifteen minutes. If you pull into a full parking lot, you should expect that it’s busy. I understand, sometimes, people do spur of the moment dinners with a large group of friends-and that’s fine. But even if you call a mere ten minutes beforehand, it helps. And you’ll be seated a lot faster….just make a reservation.
*On that same note, if you see that every table is full, don’t be surprised if you have to wait more than five minutes for your food…especially if you are at a non-chain, where actual cooking occurs. You’ve probably also noticed that your server is stressed out, give them a break if they can’t deliver your dirty martini or your extra cocktail sauce in less than 15 seconds.
*If you make a reservation for a large party, call to confirm. If you can’t come, then call to cancel. It’s a waste of time, money and space to set up a large section for you and to schedule extra staff, just to have you pull a no-show. Not to mention it’s rude.
*Speaking of reservations, let’s say you call for a table of “about 6-10 people,” it would be nice if you could confirm that number…again, even ten minutes ahead of time. If you are coming on a busy night, tables go quickly and other diners get ticked off seeing 5 people sitting at a table set for fifteen.
*If there is something wrong with your food, tell someone. And make sure to tell them before you clean your plate. If your steak is overcooked, let your server know after the first or second bite, not the twelfth. It’s not very convincing if you complain about your meal when there is nothing left, and honestly, there isn’t much we can do about it at that point.
*If you’re picky, ask questions. That being said, don’t try to order a special entree and then ask for 321146356434134234 changes to be made. Asking for no mushrooms is one thing. Asking for no mushrooms, sauce on the side, stuffing on the side, a different kind of meat and broccoli instead of peppers is ridiculous. If that’s how you roll, stay home. Or order something else.
*If you have allergies, let us know. Again, ask questions. If we don’t know, we’ll find out for you.
*Please remember that you are in a restaurant, not at a frat party. If you are telling a story that would make your grandmother blush or your five-year-old should not hear, it’s probably not appropriate to yell across the table at your bros. I once listened to a group talk about watching a girl who had too much to drink show off things she could do with a bottle. I’ll spare you the details, but it was absolutely revolting and I was pretty offended. Remember that you aren’t the only people in the room.
*Continuing with this, using the F-word does not make you cool. In fact, it makes you sound like a moron. It’s also offensive to the people around you. Remember-restaurant. Not a frat party.
*Control your children.
*I admit, this one is a personal thing; there are two kinds of zinfandel. White and red. If you order a pink zinfandel, I’m going to judge you. Just a little bit. That’s just how it is.
*Don’t forget to tip: 12-14 percent is a no-no. IF you had terrible service, then…maybe. 15 percent is okay, but if your server did a hell of a job, going above and beyond, you need to leave at least 20 percent of the bill. The “dollar per number of people at the table” method does not fly. I have actually stopped going out to dinner with some friends because of their issue with tipping. Servers depend on that money. Bartenders, too. Not only that, but you will get better service. Amazing service. Trust me.
*If you get especially bad service, talk to the manager. They will usually bend over backwards for the customer.
*DO NOT SNAP YOUR FINGERS to get your server’s attention. They are a person, not a dog. Your server will probably tell you their name, therefore, snapping or yelling “waitress!” across the restaurant is unacceptable. And again, just plain rude. I had someone do this to me once and I promptly informed him that my name was Noelle, not waitress. He remembered after that. I cannot tell you how much this irks me.
*If you are in a large group and ask for all separate checks, it may take a few minutes to ring everything in and then run the 326 credit cards. Especially if they have to hand-write tickets and there is only one register and/or credit card machine. Please be patient. Another solution? Pay with cash.
*If you are finished with your meal, place your knife and fork at the 4-5 o’clock position on your plate, this signals that it can be taken away.
*If you are waiting for your card to be swiped, place the book upright on the table or move it toward the edge, again, this signals it is okay to take away.
*Be nice to your server. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie Waiting, but things like that do happen in real life. I, personally, would never do that, no matter how angry someone made me, but I’ve seen and heard some questionable things done by others. Just…be nice. Trust me.
*Have fun. Chat with your server, ask questions about the menu and just have fun with your dining experience. It makes our lives easier and the entire dining experience will be more enjoyable for all involved.
Thanks for reading. Did I miss anything? What are some of your pet peeves with dining out?
Again, this is a two part post. You can read Part II by clicking here.