Like so many others, I spent the summers between my years in undergraduate working in a restaurant. The first three years I waitressed, the last I cooked. Working as a line cook was so much easier, because I never had to interact with the customers. Don’t get me wrong. I am often a customer at restaurants myself. But there are certain curtsies that can make things run so much more smoothly. Follow these guides and make your server love you.
Engage in the small talk.
Yes, we know that it isn’t that stimulating, but it gets things rolling and if you blow us off, we feel offended.
Figure out what you want to eat.
You’ve come to this place to eat, and we’re trying to help you do that. After you order your drink is the opportune time to figure this out. Also, when you’ve decided, close your menu and put it on the table. Otherwise we will be hovering in a corner, trying to decide if you are just looking at things or if you still haven’t made up your mind.
Splitting the check?
If you’re splitting the check, tell us as soon as you know that. This makes everyone’s life a little easier down the road. More about checks later. And on the topic of splitting, if you’re splitting a dish, tell us. We can sometimes get the cooks to put it on two plates for you.
We swear that it’s not our fault that your food is taking a while. Maybe there was a big party before you came in, or maybe we are short staffed on cooks. Most of the time, if I’m busy doing something, another server will run the food for me.
Make room for the plates.
We are holding five plates. We are not going to be able to magically move your cup a few inches and your empty appetizer dish to the end of the table. Give us a hand.
Is something wrong? Tell us right away. We can fix it. Most of the time. But we probably won’t be able to do much if you’ve almost finished the meal before you speak up.
Just pay the bill.
Don’t do that thing where you all start trying to pay and throwing five different credit cards and wads of cash at me. This is not something that I can decide. And I’m going to just take the first one that touches my hand anyway. Decide before hand how things are going to happen. And make it obvious when you’re ready for me to pick up the check by putting it towards the end of your table.
Seriously. We rarely make over $4 an hour. We live on tips. 18-20% is standard, although we will certainly take more. Stiffing us is never something we will take lightly. I’ve seen tears and cursing.
Don’t sit forever.
Listen. I get it. You’re with friends! You have another hour before the babysitter needs to go home! This blind date is going really well! I’m happy for you. But you are taking up one of the tables in my section and therefore robbing me of other tips I might be earning. I suggest moving a few feet over to our bar and ordering a drink. It doesn’t have to be alcoholic, but the bar tender will feel equally annoyed if you take up his stools without drinking anything.