Food & Drink Magazine

The 10 Rules of Restaurant Etiquette/ How to Treat Your Servers

By Waiterstoday @Waiters_Today

The 10 Rules of Restaurant Etiquette/ How to treat your serversMost normal people do not like to be a bad guest at a restaurant. Most of us would like to show courtesy and decorum when going out to eat. We do not want to be that difficult table that servers talk poorly about when they enter the kitchen or when they have drinks after work. However if you have never been a server, we may not realize the things we should or should not do unless we have been told. OK. Now you can never say that you have not been told! 

  1. When ordering your food, speak up!!   Restaurants have lots of background noise including, music playing, forks and knives scraping plates, cooks and managers yelling, babies crying, dishes clinking against each other and dozens of conversations. So if we do not clearly hear every word you say to us accurately, then your order will be messed up and it will possibly ruin your entire evening. So for those of you who are “too cool” to talk proper English and have to speak slang, slur your words or mumble ineligible sounds, save that for your job interview but speak clearly when you come out to eat!!
  2. Control your kids!!!   This is a universal rule that applies to every aspect of life but even more so in a restaurant setting. Restaurant dining rooms are not child friendly environments. Employees are often moving at a fast pace with hot and heavy plates of food or drinks in both hands. Children are small and servers can not see them as easily as adults. So if a child is running in the restaurant and darts out into our path unexpectedly, it can dangerous for both of us. If we try to stop suddenly, we could very easily spill hot liquid onto a child’s skin like soup, sauce or coffee. Also our floors are usually slick and slippery from all the grease that accumulates on the bottom of our shoes from walking in & out of the kitchen and dish room. This can lead to a child falling and hurting themselves. This also applies to females in high heels. And lastly, keep your kids quiet when ordering or communicating with your server. Children love to interrupt  and if they are talking while we are taking your order, we may not hear you correctly. (see rule #1) 
  3. No Avalanches!!!  As a server it is our job to clear dirty dishes and keep your table clean and tidy. If we do not, it can lead to a spill or even worse, a guest may reach across the table and accidentally dip their sleeve into some sauce and soil their outfit. So please allow us easy access to clear the dishes by sliding them to the edge. You do not have to stack them for us, but if you do stack them for us, NO AVALANCHES!!!!  Avalanches are when a guest stacks plates on top of one another so crooked and unstable that if you try to pick them up, they will all fall down and smash all over the floor. That of course will take more time to clean up then if you just let us stack them on our own. 
  4. Make room for us to sit your plates down!!!!  Personally, this is one of the most annoying things that guests do. Or don’t do. When we bring out your order, the plates are hot and heavy. When people reach out to grab it, I usually pull it back and tell them it is too hot. What we need you to do is move your silverware, and drinks out of the way so that we can place your dish comfortably in front of you. Cell phones, sunglasses and purses need to be put somewhere else. We are not responsible for spilling liquid on your cell phone if you have it in the way. And we do not have extra time to stand there waiting for you to realize that you need to clear room for your dish or to remember which meal you ordered.
  5. Pay with a credit card!!!!  When it is time for you to leave, we do not want to hold you up. But if you pay with cash and need change, especially with separate checks, it may take a while. The three words we love to hear the most are “Keep the change.”  Do not make your server go and get your change if you’re gonna let them keep it anyway. It wastes valuable seconds that could be spent doing something else. For those of you with old, deteriorating cards, where the magnetic strip is worn out and the computer can not read it, don’t blame us if it takes longer to get your card back. We will have to swipe it over & over or run to try it on different computers around the restaurant. And when we return your cards to you, DO NOT STEAL OUR PENS!!!!
  6. Don’t ask us to make your drink stronger!!!!! Ok people, if you don’t know by now, servers do not mix drinks. Bartenders make drinks. All we do is push a button on a computer screen. Bartenders have the access & ability to hook people up and make drinks stronger or weaker. When guests ask us to make drinks stronger, the only thing we’ll ever do is trickle a little alcohol on the top of your straw to deceive you. Absolutely under no circumstances does “light ice” translate into extra liquor. If you order a drink with little or no ice, all you will get is a funny looking beverage with a smaller volume of liquid poured into a large overgrown glass.
  7. Do not tell your server, “Not right now” for something you will need later!!!! When your glass of water or iced tea is half full, we want to get you a refill immediately. Some guests may not want to hand us their glass because they don’t feel like interrupting their conversation. If you refuse and tell us, “not right now,” I guarantee that you will want it within the next three minutes. However, we will get busy in those three minutes with other guests and you will be slurping the ice at the bottom of the glass, looking around for us. Not only will this inconvenience you, but managers and supervisors may see this and reprimand the server for not being swift enough to handle the amount of guests they are serving.  
  8. Don’t sit there forever!!!!  If you sit in a server’s section for hours and hours, please realize that you are taking money directly away from them. The best way for servers to make money is by getting more people in and out. If you sat there long enough for 2 or 3 parties to have come and gone then you should tip them accordingly.  Just like a barber or hair dresser, once they are finished doing your hair, you pay them and get up out of their chair. If you attempted to sit there all day long they would throw you out because they need to serve the next customer to make more money. There should be a “storage fee” added to our tip if you sit longer than 15 minutes after you’re done eating.  
  9. Don’t blame your server for others mistakes!!!  In the restaurant business, the  server is the face of the entire establishment. If the hostess, managers, bartender, bus boys or valet, does something that bothers you, we usually get blamed for it. But you do not have to take it out of your server’s tip. Please understand that servers make $2.13 per hour, while many other positions are on hourly salary. Especially the cooks. If your food is not prepared correctly it can be frustrating, but if your server ordered it correctly then he or she has done their job. Sometimes cooks misread, overcook, undercook or forget an item. Some food is accidentally dropped and they have to get a new portion and start all over. Sometimes another employee may take food to the wrong table, or food may be frozen, not prepped or out of stock. All conditions that will make your order take longer. None of this may be your server’s fault. Also do not judge the overall restaurant experience on high volume days such as Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Valentines Day because restaurants are so overwhelmingly busy on those days that it is not an accurate reflection of their normal standard of service. And lastly, if at all possible order off the menu. It is OK to make small adjustments to an item, but if you need to change 5 or 6 ingredients, then you should probably order something else. 
  10.   Please tip 20%!!!! Twenty percent is the standard, acceptable amount for a quality experience. Fifteen percent is below average. Ten percent is a poor tip and Five percent is an insult!!! Servers usually have to tip out Five percent of their sales to their supporting staff such as bussers and food runners. There is very rarely a reason to leave no tip at all, if ever. I believe it shows a lot about a person’s character by the way they treat their server.
by Michael Barclift on Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 11:33am

                                              The 10 Rules of Restaurant Etiquette


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