Some of you may love going out to restaurants, some of you may hate it. Either way if you’ve never worked in the restaurant business, or it’s been a while, you’re probably lacking some manners. I know, it might seem like a stretch; why do you need manners if you’re the customer?!... the answer is simply to ensure YOU have the best experience by making life a little easier on your server to ensure they give you the best service possible.
Follow the rules.
Rule number one. YES, THERE ARE RULES!! Acknowledge that there are unspoken rules between restaurant staff and customers. If you understand these rules, chances are you’re probably going to have a better dining experience. I bet at least half of the times you go out to eat, you have at least one thing to complain about. Am I right? But don’t worry, this happens to me too. Here are a few rules you should try to follow to ensure you have the best dining experience possible. There are a couple things you might not know, but every restaurant employee wishes you do.
Sit where they tell you to.
Rule number two! SIT WHERE THEY TELL YOU TO! Don’t ask to be seated somewhere else!! This is considered rude to the employees!! You throw off their ENTIRE system when you do this. You should know that there is always a seating section and where you are escorted to is carefully thought out. Some people are on the pickier side of this aspect and think it is the host/hostesses job to cater to your seating requests. WRONG! I can guarantee that by asking to be sat somewhere else, you will have a worse experience than if you just sat at the table instead of the booth (for example), and let me tell you why. We all know that there is rarely ever only one server in a restaurant—unless it’s a super small restaurant, or super slow—so given this information, you probably know about sections. Each server has their own section and trust me, they can really only handle so much! You might think that serving is easy, but trust me when I say this, it is not easy! Hosts and hostesses usually have a chart with the server names over their sections, and while you may really want that booth on the other side of the restaurant instead of the table, chances are the server in that section might not be ready for you! You will most likely always get a different server if you ask to sit in a different spot, and that’s not really in your best interest. If you decide to ask for that booth, your request will most likely be met anyways to cater your want so you don’t get unhappy with the staff, or restaurant in general (even though it frustrates them, they will rarely show it). But what you don’t know is the server you just walked away from might not have a lot of tables, which means they may be more ready or prepared to serve you, vs. the server whose section you just asked to be seated in who might be a little stressed out and you just added a whole lot more to their stress. Getting tables staggered in sections is pretty crucial when it comes to good service. If a server gets even 2 tables sat at the same exact time, you can bet that both tables will expect speedy service, but only one of you has to come first, therefore at least one of you has to wait a little longer. Your wait time only gets longer the more tables are in front of you. (It’s like waiting in line at the grocery store). Any time you have to wait for food, everyone can probably relate to getting little impatient when we are hangry, So if you want to have the best experience, just sit where they seat you. (Or if it is crucial that you sit somewhere else, you could even ask if the booth you are eyeballing is in the same section.) But you’ll only be at the table for a little while, you don’t have to live there. But generally speaking, if you just walked into a busy restaurant you can expect a wait time anyways, so don’t make your wait any longer than anticipated.
Know what you want.
The third rule is KNOW WHAT YOU WANT! Your server most likely has about 105,000 things running through their brain that they need to get done in order to make everyone happy, so please know what you want when your server comes by. You would be shocked at how indecisive some people can be when ordering! Don’t decide on what you want while your server is standing there, you are really only waisting their time and making not only yours, but everyone else’s wait time longer! It is better to have them come back in a minute vs making them stand there for a whole minute while you change your mind 50 times. Trust me, there is a lot that can be done in a minute when you’re a server. Can’t decide? Ask for a suggestion or details about the item or items you are deciding between and have them come back while you make your final decision. This allows your server to get things done they need to get done so they can make more time for you.
Think of sauces ahead of time.
Number four! THINK OF SAUCES AHEAD OF TIME! Try to think of all the sauces and things you might need when you are ordering your food, or before you get your food. Want ranch with those fries? Don’t wait until they are hot and right in front of you to ask for ranch. You’ll definitely have to wait a minute while your server can find the time to run back to the kitchen to get it for you. You’re want ketchup with your hash browns? Ask before you get them! You might have to wait a second for your server to hunt a bottle down that isn’t being used. And you might be thinking, shouldn’t there be as many ketchup bottles as there are tables? No. Nobody has the counter space for 50 bottles of ketchup, or the time to refill all 50 of them when it’s time to close the restaurant. Just be a proactive customer when you’re going out to eat and think of everything you might want before you get your food. (I’m really bad at this rule).
Be nice and considerate.
We’re halfway there with number 5!! BE NICE AND CONSIDERATE! Don’t be rude to your server! (Unless they are really being rude to you! And even if they are rude, ask to speak with a manager, don’t engage even if you are right. The manager will most likely side with you anyways). Are you unhappy about the wait time for your food? Well, your server probably is too, but there’s nothing they can do about it! They have zero control over the speed of the kitchen! They probably already checked on your food and got yelled at for doing so. Cooks are rude to servers. But yes, your food is in fact being cooked this second and no it can’t be cooked any sooner! Thinking twice about not ordering that appetizer?
Tell your server if there is something wrong with your meal.
Rule number six! TELL YOUR SERVER IF THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR MEAL! Your server is NOT a mind reader! They do not know if your meal is bad or not. It’s not rude to be honest when it comes to the quality of the food. (Just don’t be a jerk about it). Again, there is only so much your server can do about your actual food. They aren’t the ones who make it, and they aren’t even allowed in the kitchen, so don’t get mad at them! Instead, calmly tell them what the problem is and what you want them to do in order to fix it. Did you ask for no tomato on your burger? The cook probably overlooked the “no tomato” on the order. But is it really that hard to peel off a tomato from your burger? Is there tomato in your “no tomato” omelette? That’s a different story. But again, don’t get mad at your server. Even if your server did forget to say “no tomato”, they will probably feel bad about it on their own and want to fix it for you! But getting mad at your server may only hurt the service they give you!! Think about it, who wants to serve an angry customer? Nobody does! Just remain calm and they will fix it for you!
Let them refill your drink.
Number seven! LET THEM REFILL YOUR DRINK! Are you a fast drinker? Put your cup at the end of the table where your server can see its low! If you hide your cup on the table, chances are your server won’t be able to see it very well. Does your server still not see it? Kindly ask for a refill. Also, if your glass is half full and your server asks if you’d like a refill before you get your food, say YES! The reason they are asking is because they have the time to do it right now and they are trying to make it easier on themselves as well as better your service. They are probably waiting on a few orders to be finished so they can run food. Don’t wait until you get your food to ask for a refill. You are not the only table that your server has. Everything they do is strategic! Don’t wait until your glass is completely empty to ask for a refill, because it might take your server a minute to have it brought back to you.
Don't assume "bad service."
Number eight!! DON'T ASSUME “bad service.” Is your server MIA??? (Missing in action)? Do you have two other people helping you? It’s probably because your server asked them to help you! They didn’t magically know! Sadly, your server does not have the ability to clone themselves, though they probably wish they did. They might be stuck standing at a table that can’t make up their mind between tater-tots or french fries. So please don’t assume you have a bad server because other staff members are helping you. You most likely do not have a horrible server, they might just be busy.
Rule number nine. MAKE RESERVATIONS!! Do you have more than four- six people expected in your party? MAKE A RESERVATION!! Even if you don’t think you need to, PLEASE make a reservation. Don’t show up with 10 people in your party and expect to be seated right away, or to have super fast service. Neither of those things will happen unless you make a reservation!! Chances are, parties larger than four need to have specific seating arrangements, or tables need to be rearranged. It is a lot harder for your server to have a large table on top of their regular section. If you call ahead, you will most likely be paired with a server who can provide the best service for you. Not everyone can handle larger parties. So don’t get mad at your server if your wait time is a little longer than usual, especially if you didn’t make reservations.
Tip your server.
And last but not least. Rule number 10!!! TIP YOUR SERVER!! Yes I get it, eating out is expensive and then there’s a tip... but it is rude not to tip. “Bad” service? Still tip your server!! Even 10 percent. But please, don’t stiff them! Bad food? Sorry, but again your server didn’t make the food! Don’t get mad at your server for something they can’t control! Trust me, they TRIED to please you. Nobody wants to feel bad, especially at work. And please don’t say anything hurtful to your server. They are still human and they might not be having the best day, so don’t make their day any worse. Please for the sake of humankind, be a NICE customer!!
I hope these simple rules help make your experience as a customer a little bit better, and if you’re a server, you’re welcome! Now everyone knows about manners that are nice to use while eating out.