Everyone loves to eat out in a restaurant, but sometimes people forget how to treat that person who takes care of them while they are there. This article will let you know how your server wants and deserves to be treated.
- When your server approaches your table, give him your full attention. This means put down your stupid cell phone and take out your ear phones. Smile and wait for the server to speak to you first. He is in charge of this situation.
- The server will probably make some banal comment like, “How are you today?” Please know he does not really care, he is just trying to initiate some conversation so that he can develop a rapport with you. It is imperative that you respond to the server when he makes this conversation. If you simply say something like, “Gimme a water with a lemon” he will think you are rude.
- The server will announce the specials. Please try to pay attention to them so he doesn’t have to say them again in three minutes. After this dialogue, he will ask you what you would like to drink. If you don’t know yet and need more time, just say so. Don’t hem and haw while you make him stand there watching you strain your brain trying to decide if you want a Cosmopolitan or a Diet Coke. And do not say, “What do you have?” All restaurants have the same basic beverages; water, soda, juice, coffee and usually a bar. Figure it out.
- After your server has taken your drink order, this is the time for you to decide what you would like to eat. Use the menu. That is what it is for. When you know what you would like, it is best to close your menu and place it on the table. This is the signal to the waiter that you are ready to order. If you leave it open he will assume you are still looking it over and will not come to your table.
- When it comes time to place your food order, be audible and clear. Do not make the waiter try to decipher your mumbling. Do not point at something in the menu. Use your words. If there are children at the table, order for them. Do not say, “Tell the man what you want, sweetie.”
- Let the waiter decide who places their order first. He will usually start with the women and then go from there. He has a system. Do not let your whole table just yell out willy nilly what they want at the same time. This is rude and confusing and will make your serve irritated with your table. This is also the time to ask any questions you have about the food. Ten minutes later is not the time to inform him of your peanut allergy and you need to know if the Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing has peanuts in it. it does.
- Your order has been placed and your beverages are at your table. Enjoy your conversation with your friends and/or family. Your food is coming. You do not need to call your waiter over to see if it’s done yet or to ask how much longer it will be. When it is ready, he will bring it to the table. Trust your server. He wants your food to get to you quickly just as much as you do. The sooner it comes out, the sooner you eat and the sooner he can turn the table over and make more money.
- When your food arrives, please make sure you have what you ordered. Do not eat half of the chicken club sandwich before you realize that you ordered a burger. When the food is placed, think for a moment about what else you may need during the course of the meal. Ketchup, mayo, fresh pepper, extra napkins, more soda, water refills? These are all things that you should ask your server for now. He can get them all in one trip instead of five of them. If you make him do that, he will grow to resent you.
- A good server will come back to your table in two minutes to “check back” on you to make sure everything is to your liking. This would be when you ask for your medium rare burger to be cooked more because it “has too much pink in it.” Or this would be the time to tell him that french fries are “ice cold” or that you need more salad dressing because the Caesar salad has “no dressing on it whatsoever.”
- When it is time for him to clear the plates, let him do it. Do not try to help him by stacking them. That does not help him. He has his own method for clearing plates so let him do his job. It’s nice that you want to help and all that, but don’t bother. Do not say something stupid like ‘Oh it was horrible” as he clears a plate that you obviously licked clean. It’s a tired joke that every waiter has heard a hundred million times and it’s never ever even a little bit funny at all.
- He will then offer you dessert and coffee. If you want it, have it. if you don’t, don’t. He doesn’t care either way.
- When he presents you with the check, pay it. Do not argue amongst yourselves about who owes whom or who paid the last time. Do not thrust several credit cards at him saying “No take this one!” He will take whichever one touches his hand first because he does not care who pays for the check as long as it gets paid. If you want separate checks, you should have told him that at the beginning. It is now your problem. Pull out your calculator and figure it out.
- Now is the time for you to compute your tip. 15-20% is expected. If you don’t think that tipping is something you should be responsible for then you should eat at McDonald’s or live in Europe. A good way to figure out the tip is to look at the tax and then double it. Or you can use one of those stupid smart phone apps if math is too complicated for you.
- As you leave, look around your table to make sure you didn’t leave any of your personal belongings. This is also a good time to see if your child left a pile of Cheerios or french fries on the floor. If you left more than a 20%, tip feel free to leave the mess. If you left 10% or less, then you need to get on your hands and knees and clean that mess up.
- Always say “please” and “thank you.” It will make all the difference in the world.
- If you have a problem with the food, alert your server but keep in mind that he didn’t cook it. All he did was punch some buttons on a computer and hoped that the cook would know the difference between “rare” and “well done.”
- Remember that your server wants you to have a good time because the more you enjoy your meal, the better his tip will (should) be. He is not out to get you or make you wait longer for your food than the table next to you.
- If you have children, please keep them at the table. The restaurant can be a dangerous place to let a child run freely. There may be a shard of glass on the floor or maybe a food runner who is carrying a tray of hot and heavy plates won’t see your child sitting in the aisle and playing with a toy.
Sources and Citations
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