Spending Thanksgiving in a Restaurant? Read This First:

Gobble, gobble, gobble.

Gobble, gobble, gobble.

Thursday is the day in the United States where everyone is grateful for about thirty seconds before cramming buckets and buckets of carbs into their faces. It’s Thanksgiving, y’all! For most folks, this is the day to spend with the family and watch the dysfunction make its presence known somewhere between the second and third courses. Some people are going to spend their Thanksgiving in a restaurant. Some of those people are doing it by choice and some are doing it because they lost the scheduling lottery at their job. It is more and more common to leave the cooking to someone else, but here are some things to remember for those folks who are going to be in a restaurant on Thanksgiving:

  • Show up on time for your reservation. Chances are, you aren’t the only people planning on dining there that day and being timely is only going to make it better for everyone. Also realize that someone else is waiting for that table when you are done with it, so when you’re finished eating, please wait until your ass is home to unbutton your pants, stick your hand down your underwear and fall asleep while watching a football game.
  • Accept that what is on the menu is what you are eating today. If you had your heart set on some giblet gravy and an English Pea salad and the restaurant doesn’t have it, then maybe you should have stayed at home. Today is not the day to ask for substitutions just because you “don’t like green beans.” Look at the menu and order from it.
  • Don’t fight with your family. You’re in public, for crying out loud. Save that shit for the privacy of your car on the way home. No one wants to see you turn into a tornado of anger when your Mom asks you for the 1000th time if you have a boyfriend yet or if you have figured out what you’re doing with your life. If you can feel the resentment building, just remember that you don’t have to wash dishes when you’re done and that should put you in a better mood.
  • It’s going to be crowded and loud. If you wanted a nice private dinner without screaming kids, drunk people and elbows jabbing you in the ribs, then maybe you should just skip Thanksgiving altogether. Whether you are having it at home or in public, it is what it is.
  • Be nice to your server. Remember that he or she is doing all the work so you don’t have to. You know how your job gave you Thanksgiving day off and you probably don’t have to go on Friday either and then your weekend is here? Your server doesn’t have any of that. He is working on Thanksgiving and will probably have to be back at work the next day and then work the weekend just like he always does.
  • Tip extra. Yes, maybe the gratuity is already included, but is it going to kill you if you throw in five extra dollars? The server is working on a holiday and I doubt he is getting paid time and half. If you’re in Texas, the server is getting $2.13 an hour which is the exact same thing he was making when he worked on Thanksgiving in 1991.
  • Use your manners. When you are rolling your butter-coated ass out of the restaurant, make sure you let everyone who is working know how much you appreciate them being there. In between your pumpkin pie belches, say thank you to the hostess, the bus boy, the food runner, the manager, the coffee girl, the kitchen crew and whomever else you see who is giving up Thanksgiving with their family so they can spend it with yours instead.

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you will share this so everyone will know how to act when they show up in your section tomorrow.


edit: This post has stirred up some unhappiness for a few people and I really did not expect any backlash from this particular post. If you don’t like what I wrote, you can simply delete it from your email, newsfeed or Twitter. Or you can print it out, shred it into some cornbread and shove it up a turkey’s ass.

43 thoughts on “Spending Thanksgiving in a Restaurant? Read This First:

  1. Joshua

    One more consideration: when a tip is left for a server, you have to think about the other employees that server must tip out. At most restaurants, this includes the bartender, the server assistant, the food runner and perhaps the hostesses or stickers. So, keep in mind that your server is likely only going to keep about 70% of your tip. And don’t forget all tips are then taxed!
    That’s the reality of our system. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

  2. Riane

    I get the oh-so-glorious gift of working thanksgiving. In a casino buffet at that. I just wish people would keep in mind that we aren’t there by choice. We have bills to pay and are required to be there, least we don’t make any money, or worse, end up on the petty end of a manager. We are all working our butts off so you and your family can enjoy your meal. I want to make sure your visit is enjoyable, but please, understand that it’s a different day than any other Thursday you’d come in. If we say we are at full capacity, it’s because we are and I highly doubt you want to sit on someone’s lap. If your entire party isn’t there? I’m sorry, I can’t let you hold a table for 12 when there’s only two of you present. It’s the busiest day of the year. We get told what we can and can’t do by our management the same way you do by yours. So please be easy on everyone in the service industry. We’ve probably been preparing for this day for at least two weeks, trying to make it amazing for you. So just be nice.

  3. Mike Mattes

    a buddy links you often, and sometimes I read. Your comment about don’t fight with the family was so spot on, I literally rolled around laughing. Thanks for that chuckle.

  4. Traci

    Well said bitchy!
    I am fortunate enough to be off this year, but I work a double tomorrow and Friday, and my mom who usually does the cooking has to work a triple ( she works at a bingo hall and has to 6 sessions which is a 13 hour day usually) and has to work Friday too so we’re opting out of cooking and going out to eat. We always tip well, and are courteous to the wait staff. But I will be sure to thank the kitchen staff and all BOH folks as well. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone!

  5. Gette

    I am thankful that servers make minimum wage (9.25) in Minnesota. It’s not my full-time gig anymore but I still put in a shift or two a week for Some extra money. Back on the Stone Age (or the mod 1980s, sme thing) when I started, Minnesota had tip differential and my seasonal car hop job earned me $1.70 an hour. Blech.

  6. Emma

    So unfair. My heart goes out to American hospitality workers. In Australia, I made $19.00 an hour even whilst working at McDonald’s. It’s tough for businesses, but our high meal prices reflect that and are generally pretty high. Fuck tips – businesses need to pay your asses properly. I get the feeling that the hospitality business is incredibly different in America compared to Australia.

  7. Dawnzo

    Ok, as someone who has definitely put in my time as a server/ bartender, I’m behind most of this but: “Be nice to your server. Remember that he or she is doing all the work so you don’t have to.”

    Let’s give a little credit to the chef, sous chef, line cooks, bussers, hosts, etc? Are you really doing “ALL” the work?

    1. Ted

      I think they were just saying to be nice to the staff in general. The server or bartender is the one who is in front of the customer and is basically the only representative the customer will see and talk to. They will also be the one who will receive backlash straight from the customer. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a slight to the back of the house staff, but just a general statement.

  8. Jeff in Germany

    I had no idea places were open on Thanksgiving. I am an American living in Germany and the American restaurants are all closed today. The German places are open and here servers make a decent wage and gratuities are included in the check. I am a frequent diner-outer and thus have many friends who are servers; I tip a lot and predominantly in cash and in Euros . I couldn’t comprehend how servers make ends meet n America. #MacgrillRamstein

    Happy holidays to all.

  9. jake

    You all are paid to serve so don’t bitch about it every chance you get. It’s a job you don’t get any better treatment because you’re 30 and going nowhere with your life

    1. Brooke

      Or maybe we’re broke college students trying to work our way through school because mommy and daddy can’t do it for us. & Instead of being able to spend the holiday with our family (like you’re probably doing), we have to serve pieces of shit like you who would rather go out instead of stay home and then won’t tip anymore than you would on any other day. Do everyone a favor and don’t read a blog entitled “The Bitchy Waiter” if you know you’re not going to agree with it anyway.

    2. Amanda

      I’m sorry Jake, but I couldn’t understand the ignorant bullshit coming out of your mouth. Do you expect only uneducated teenagers to wait tables? How about at a fine dining restaurant? You want some half-assed, under-educated dimwit serving your 5 course dinner with wine pairings? No, you get what you pay for, and the people that give great service and know their menu, the wine, the beer, the liquor, the ingredients, the allergens in the food, how it’s prepared, where it came from, etc, are educated- in food service, sometimes in English literature, law school, IT, civil engineering, marketing, journalism- I can go on if you like? I find it incredibly dumb, ignorant and arrogant that the people who spew shit like “Get a real job” or “It’s a job you don’t get any better treatment because you’re 30 and going nowhere with your life”. What would you do if the whole restaurant industry took a week, a month, or hell, a year off?

      You couldn’t handle this job on a slow Monday night for two hours without going down in flames.
      Too bad you were failed at life. You deserve the shitty treatment I’m assuming you must get often.

    3. Vanessa

      Okay douche bag.. Not everyone who serves is going nowhere in their life. Some have a college degree, but love their job as a server. That doesn’t mean they should be disrespected or not compensated for what they do.

    4. Matt

      I’d be thankful if people like Jake got a wishbone temporarily lodged in their throats just long enought to get some perspective and gratitude in life. If waitstaff, and cooks for that matter, were treated like highly trained and knowledgeable professionals, like so many of us are, dining out in the US would be a different experience all together. People spend YEARS and tens of thousands of dollars to learn about food and beverage because and don’t want to be treated better because of that. We want to be treated like human beings because we deserve it. If you don’t agree, I’m telling you this for your own good. Cook at home and get ketchup for your well done steak. You go out to eat and don’t tip, you’re shorting a rent payment, a car payment, college tuition, grocery money and you’re wrong. If you think a restaurant should pay better wages that’s because they should. But be warned, that $9 burger is gonna cost $15. That’s what Americans have demanded out of a business that routinely generates a measly 20% profit margin.

  10. Anne

    I don’t believe in tipping. But not because I don’t think servers are not deserving when they are outstanding, but because I come from a country where servers are paid ten times as much as they are here in the USA. i believe they should be paid much much more and it irritates the heck out of me to have to subside the wages for an employee whilst paying a premium for my meal. so, I am not server bashing..not in the least. I do tip and I tip generously for excellence. I can imagine how servers are treated – I was as teacher for years so..very similar. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving to you..if you are working I hope you rake in great tips 😀

    1. Amanda

      Anne, there has been this unfortunate loophole for a several decades now in the U.S. that says a restaurant can get away with the bare minimum of $2.13 and hour so long as what the server/bartender makes up in tipped wages is what the current minimum wage is (don’t know what that is now). It’s terrible, but are you really surprised in the disjointed country of ours? You are lucky to come from somewhere else that I assume is a smaller country that also takes care of health care, has good maternity leave, and so on? Our democracy will never allow it.

      Problem is, if the U.S. did pass a law saying servers/bartenders had to make a living wage, that “premium” you pay now for a dish would skyrocket. I guarantee you would see an enormous slump in dining out. The U.S. had gone on too long this way, there’s really no way around it.

      Great to know you are a good tipper. It’s very frustrating getting people from other countries who do not know the tipping culture here, yet most people I know here are aware of other countries!

    2. Catseman

      You’d have to subsidize the cost of your servers pay either way. If severs were paid a fair wage, or offered benefits, or otherwise treated like real people working jobs, food would be more than 20% more expensive. Not tipping just makes you an asshole and doesn’t effect any positive change.

    3. Tif

      Guess what, in your country, you still pay the wages of the server. It’s just included in the cost of your menu item. The difference is in your country it’s mandatory.

    4. Chris Hayworth

      Anne do you eat out? When you came to the US you bought in to the American dream and the American way of life. I find it offensive and an insult as a fellow immigrant that you choose not to tip. What other American ways are you selective about?

  11. MC

    All true! I suggest that Jeffrey Davidson and Larry Oliphant share a big bowl of stewed cocks for Thanksgiving dinner. They should probably spend the rest of the day learning to spell. Happy Thanksgiving, Bitchy!

  12. Mary A

    HAPPY THANKSGIVING BW! I have been a horrible blog reader, and a worse blog commenter this year. But I still read you as much as I can & I think you rock! I hope you don’t have to work tomorrow. That would suck.

    1. Holly

      The server minimum wage is about $2.13 an hour across the country. There are a few areas that it is more, but precious few. So some folks need to think, if i made less than $3 an hour at MY job and some random person off the street got to decide that i didn’t deserve to make more than that for an hour or so you all would be some seriously P.O.’ed people. Yes there are some special cases but you all know that’s not what is being referred to.

        1. Amanda

          California is blessedly ahead of the times then! Only super nice restaurants can afford to pay a decent hourly wage in the DC area, and that’s usually because of unions.

        2. Del

          That’s really sad to hear in Australia it is $26-29 an hr for casual, part time between $18-24.

          People in the service industry deserve a livable wage. Hope you all get great tips.

          You guys work your arses off, love the bitchy waiter.

      1. Belinda

        Florida and Arizona are both about 5.00 and change for servers. I was surprised when I left one state for the other and I was making the same money.

    2. Amy

      Ms Debbie, so is Tennessee. That’s min wage for servers here. The place I work (family owned meat n three) pays their servers $3..and we have tomorrow off, paid! Not too shabby! Oh, and, we’re getting the week of Christmas off, too! Happy Thanksgiving to all..

  13. Marsha

    Having worked MANY holidays while employed at a very nice hotel, this will be much appreciated by my brethren who still work there.

    Thankfully, I will not be one of them tomorrow.

    Everyone have a great Thanksgiving!

  14. Suzanne

    I am thankfully off tomorrow also..however..im getting ready to go in right now so I can wait on entitled,broke,drunk,college kids….I work at a pub that serves dinner and then turns into full bar after 9. Good luck my fellow workers and Bitchy I love you to death! I love your blog and your take no shit opinion!

  15. Susan

    Most of this applies to EVERY other day of the year too. When did people stop being gracious? Why do people think that just because they’re paying for a meal out, they don’t have to use their table manners?

    Happy Thanksgiving. And I’m one of the lucky few at home tomorrow… though I put in my time for many years.


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