Friday, January 15, 2010

63 Suggestions For Restaurant Customers

1. Never ignore a warm greeting from the host or any employee of the restaurant, even if you are just going to the bar.

2. Reciprocate a greeting with a greeting, not I need, I want, or silence.

3. Never blurt your name, the number in your party, and the time of your reservation in response to a warm welcome. Acknowledge the existence of a fellow human being.

4. Don’t think that holding up a specific number of fingers without saying anything is an appropriate response to a host’s greeting.

5. Don’t walk into a restaurant, point to a table and say, We’re just going to sit there, as you breeze by the hostess.

6. Don’t pound on the door before the restaurant opens. If the weather is nice, wait until the restaurant officially opens. If you are invited in early (out of bad weather, for example) as a courtesy, don’t start making demands. Good restaurants will graciously accommodate you while you wait.

7. Leave the chip on your shoulder, sour attitude, and nasty disposition at home. The staff really does want you to have an enjoyable evening.

8. Don’t throw a menu at the host and walk out yelling because there’s a long wait or you don’t like the menu or prices.

9. Don’t make a reservation for 6 and show up with a total of 4 and say, We just wanted lots of room.

10. Don’t glare at the host and ask, What are we supposed to do?, after she gives you clear dining options. I can seat you now at the bar, or I’ll have a table for you in twenty minutes is pretty clear.

11. Make a human connection with your server and the staff to acknowledge that you value them and the difficult job that they’re doing.

12. Remember that the customer has as almost as much responsibility for the success of the interaction and the experience as the staff does.

13. Never attempt the old; Do you know who I am? Anyone who is ignorant enough to try any variation on that question should have a trap door open under them and they should never be seen or heard from again.

14. Don’t expect or demand perfection. The world is not perfect, and neither are you.

15. Don’t be a name dropper to curry favor. No one really cares who you know or how important you think you are, especially when they’re in the weeds.

16. Some restaurants mandate that servers introduce themselves to their tables and some servers do it at their discretion. If a server introduces herself, skip the sarcastic, My name is Fred and I’ll be your customer…

17. Don’t be an (un)amusing douche. 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.)

18. Don’t drop the; I’m in the industry line and expect the seas to part for you. (It defies logic, but some restaurant industry people can be the worst.)

19. Don’t walk into a restaurant and start telling the staff what they should or shouldn’t do. There’s an appropriate way to offer suggestions if the opportunity presents itself.

20. Don’t tell the staff that you’ve dined in the best restaurants around the world and expect them to be in awe.

21. Be aware and observe what’s going on in the restaurant and imagine what it’s like to be in your server’s shoes. No, it’s ‘not your problem’ that a party of twenty arrived at the exact same time that you did, the computer (POS) is broken, or that the health inspector walked in at 8 o’clock on Saturday night, but try to empathize.

22. Never snap your fingers, whistle like you’re calling a dog, waive your hand in the air like you’re hailing a cab, or yell Hey followed by anything, when you’re trying to get your server’s attention. (Pardon me, or Excuse me, when you have a moment please work really well.)

23. Respect the fact that restaurants have policies for specific reasons, despite the fact that they might not make sense to you.

24. Don’t show off in front of your date or dining companions by trying to upstage the sommelier or server with your worldly knowledge. (You actually might learn something from them.)

25. Don’t expect the staff to create something out of thin air. We’re out of specials means they don’t have any left, and you’re not getting one.

26. Treat the staff with dignity, respect and kindness. You don’t have to kiss ass, but common courtesy is a two-way street. Be friendly, polite and patient. Treat the staff the way that you would want customers to treat you if you were doing their job.

27. Don’t be dramatic and make a big deal out of nothing. Don’t let a small mistake or miscue derail your entire evening. Some things happen that your server has no control over. Be forgiving and help get things back on track. Work with the staff. It’s not life and death.

28. Speak up when something’s not right, and escalate the matter if necessary. Most high-end restaurants will go to great lengths to correct problems and to ensure that you enjoy everything about your meal and experience. Give them a chance to rise to the occasion.

29. Be grateful that you’re out enjoying a nice meal. Life is short and fragile. A lot of people can’t afford to dine out, especially at expensive restaurants.

30. Don’t act as if you are the only customer in the restaurant. Be cognizant of the fact that your service team has other customers who expect the same great service as you.

31. Understand that everything is not going to happen at the precise moment that you want it to.

32. Don’t interrupt a server who is attending to customers at another table.

33. If your kids have a complete meltdown, take your food to go, and get them out of the restaurant, fast.

34. While we’re on the obvious ones, keep your phone on vibrate, speak quietly if you have to take a call at the table, or take your call out of earshot of your fellow diners.

35. Don’t start a sentence with Gimme or Get me.

36. Don’t argue with a bartender who tells you that the bar stools you’re trying to claim are for someone who was waiting before you. Forget telling her that the people who just vacated the stools told you that you could have them.

37. Be reasonable and flexible. Dining out is a fluid, dynamic event involving imperfect human beings and several moving parts.

38. Don’t treat your servers or support staff with disdain as if they are members of a lower caste

39. Never say anything mean-spirited, degrading, condescending or abusive to any of the staff

40. Don’t brag about your income, or anything that is intended to demonstrate your superiority in
front of the staff. Leave your insecurities at the door.

41. Don’t get angry at a barback, busser or food runner who can’t fulfill your request. There are often limitations on what they are authorized to do.

42. Be understanding when there’s a medical emergency, power outage, fire alarm or computer meltdown in the middle of dinner service. Be patient, flexible and supportive. Everyone else is in the same boat. Try to think beyond Me, Myself and I.

43. Respond to your servers questions, and never ignore your server. It’s humiliating to be purposely ignored.

44. Don’t say you’re ready to order, then contemplate forever while your server is anxiously waiting in a packed dining room.

45. Don’t talk loudly about personal things that make the staff and everyone around you uncomfortable.

46. Don’t talk loudly, period.

47. Don’t indignantly tell the staff what they should have on the menu, the wine list or the liquor shelf.

48. Don’t be that customer who isn’t happy until he gets something for free. Sending an entrĂ©e back after you’ve eaten half of it is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

49. Never clap or laugh when a staff member drops something that smashes on the floor. It’s embarrassing enough without you piling on.

50. Lose the I pay you, I own you mentality. Yes, the staff is there to serve you, but not as your indentured servants.

51. Don’t be unyielding and play the I’m the customer card expecting the staff to fulfill unreasonable requests.

52. Ladies- If you’re part of a bridal or baby shower brunch (or any celebration) at a large table that is part of the main dining room, please be aware that your shrill, piercing screams are loathed by the staff and everyone else in the restaurant.

53. Gentlemen- Upscale restaurants are not frat houses. If you want to shout and high-five each other, with no regard for those around you, do it at home.

54. Police your own crowd. If your dining companions exhibit boorish or abusive behavior towards the staff, don’t tolerate it. Be assertive, speak up, and make sure they apologize.

55. Don’t even jokingly threaten your server with a bad on-line review to curry favor.

56. Don’t throw your credit card at your server like you’re playing cards.

57. Don’t leave a shitty tip because you’re from out of town and will, never see these people again.

58. In Pennsylvania, servers make $2.83 an hour, plus tips.  Leaving 10% (or less!) is NOT appropriate for good service.  Guess what?  Next time you come in, you may not get the good service you think you deserve for your lousy $3.  We will remember you.  If you don't want to tip a server, go to McDonald's.


59. Don’t anonymously bash a restaurant on-line or anywhere without giving them an opportunity to address a problem or make restitution.

60. Don’t lie, embellish, or omit critical details when you anonymously trash a restaurant on the Internet.

61. Actively seek out servers and staff members who do a great job. Tell them and their bosses how pleased you are before you leave the restaurant.

62. Be as diligent with your compliments as you are with your criticisms. Take a moment to post a positive review, make a phone call, send an e-mail or drop a note to the owner. Exemplary service should be acknowledged and rewarded.

63. According to more than 150 servers who responded to my questionnaire, 19% of customers are impolite, disrespectful or downright rude. Please don’t be one of them. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for stopping by on my SITS day, I greatly appreciate it, and now I'm here to spread the comment-love!

Boozy Tooth said...


These are truths that should be engraved in the brains of anyone who eats out.

Larry and I consider dining out a privilege. We always hold restaurant staff in the highest esteem (toughest job in the world, ya'll) and treat them with respect. By the way... some of the best dining experiences we've had are due to the service personnel we've encountered. It's so easy to be nice. It's so easy to enjoy the experience. It's so easy to employ the tips you've mentioned above.

Night before last I took my son to our favorite sushi restaurant and sat at the bar. The guy next to me was such and incredible douche, my son {who notices nothing} started texting me about what an ass this guy was... talking about his Japanese ex-wife {he's remarried as hard as that is to believe} and extolling all her virtues. The Ex! Saying that if they had had children together he never would have left her. Gag me. He was all mouth. Rude, arrogant, know-it-ally, and offensive. He acted like the sun revolved around him, and when he looked my way and shot me a comment along the lines of you must think we are being annoying, I just kept looking at the television on the wall and pretended I didn't hear him. Take THAT you disgusting boor!

Joanie... I love you and I wish all your customers treated you with the respect and consideration you deserve. I know it's not a perfect world, but anyone who does any of the above should be chained to a wall and never let out in public. And yet I know all too well they are everywhere.

Please know that the majority of us appreciate you and your good dedicated service. We delight in having a wonderful dining experience and hopefully we tip you consistently 20% or better. Even when we receive poor service, we always leave a fair tip because ultimately we know you have the right to spit in our food if we don't. LOL

Keep up the good work chica!

Unknown said...

I can never understand why some people think being a difficult customer especially in a restaurant, complaining about everything, makes them feel more important. I suppose some people get their ego boost from trying to find fault, no matter how little in someone else. We always try and have fun with our servers!

You have a difficult job!

linlah said...

I have never forgotten my days as a waitress and when I'm dining out I practice all 63 of these suggestions.

Unknown said...

Wow! What a long list. This is a great list though.

I think it's very important to ask for the manager to compliment a server. We did that a few weeks back at Red Lobster. The server was excellent. We also had a favorite at Friday's in Fort Myers that we'd ask for.

Mellodee said...

Excellent! Unfortunately, I have seen more examples of each of those behaviors than I can remember! I try very hard as a customer to remember that you get what you give! If I treat others like scum, that's what I'll get back. No, thank you!! When I see someone acting like a jerk, I am so tempted to whisper to them, "You know, they could spit in your food in the kitchen, and you'd never know it. You might want to knock off the crappy behavior, Jerk!" LOL

One enormous caveat tho, I've also seen some pretty appalling behavior on the part of the waitstaff, hosts, bartenders, etc. too. I expect the kind of attention and respect I deserve! If I don't get it, you can bet I'll reduce the size of the tip, inform the manager or corporate headquarters, etc.

Like I said, you get what you give!

Joanne said...

Like Linlah I will never forget my waitressing days. I wish everyone had to spend some time doing service jobs.

This is a great list and should be posted EVERYWHERE!!!!

Joanna Jenkins said...

"Whistle like you’re calling a dog..." OMG-- People really do that?!? Shame on them. They must have been raised in a barn.

Great post Joanie!

Amy said...

I made it through the whole list! Tough day at work or just on your mind?

WeaselMomma said...

I've actually done #16 many times in the past, but never to be sarcastic. It's always been to be friendly, welcoming and respectful.
I now am paranoid that it was taken the wrong way.

Debbie said...

My two oldest kids work in a restaurant. I would second every one of these suggestions!

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Pearl said...

As a part-time server, I applaud you. All good points.


tattytiara said...

They should print that on the back of menus.

Anonymous said...

Haha! That's stickin' it to the man! This should be posted, Martin Luther style on every restaurant's doors.

Verrryyyyyy good points.
Perhaps you should add "know what the fuck you are ordering" to the list. It kills me when someone asks for medium rare meat but complains that it's still pink...or better yet, pronounces gorgonzola as "garanzeela."

The Retired One said...

You tell 'em Joannie! I have always thought that you can tell a lot about someone's character by watching them in a restaurant and how they act and treat others.....

The Queen said...

I love this list. Having had to deal with most of the things on the list over the years.. I love this list.. I hope EVERYONE reads it.