After working in a family-friendly restaurant for almost three years now, I’ve seen everything — the good, the bad, and the annoying. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy my job, but sometimes there are parts of it that drive me crazy. Most of these maddening aspects are due to guests’ behavior. Hopefully getting some insight from a server’s perspective might make you rethink some of your choices next time you go out to eat.
1. Not leaving a tip
This one pretty much speaks for itself. But because people still don’t seem to be aware, servers make their money off of tips. Let me repeat myself: servers and bartenders make their income off of tips. No tip = no money. Meaning, I just cleaned up after you and acted as your personal servant for literally nothing.
Please, when you go out to eat, remember that the standard tipping rate is 15-20%. If you want to make a server or bartender’s day, tip over that 20% mark and I can guarantee it won’t go unnoticed.
2. Strolling in right before closing
Coming in half an hour before the kitchen closes is one thing. But when a guest walks in five minutes before close, there is nothing more frustrating for a server or the kitchen. Chances are your server was pumped that they were going to get out on time for once, but nope, the guest that came in at 11:29 pm (you) had to ruin it.
3. Restaurant ≠ Playground
Attention all parents: I understand having and controlling children is difficult, but please do not let them run around while you sit at the table and do nothing. For starters, having little people on the loose that are knee high is a huge hazard for everyone. There’s a good chance your server won’t see them and will literally knock your child over. If your kids are one of the lucky ones, they may even get a soda shower as well.
4. Fighting over the check
Please do everyone a favor and decide who is going to pay before you get inside the restaurant. A screaming match is uncomfortable and awkward for everyone. Also, it is scary when you pounce on your server for the check so you can beat the other person to paying it. Might I suggest splitting the bill equally? Just an idea.
5. Being on the phone
Server: “So what can I get everyone to drink?”
Guest: *prolonged awkward silence*
Server: “Waters it is!”
This appears to be a new trend across the food service industry. When you go out to eat (or are with other people, for that matter), put your phone away. There’s nothing more rude than trying to talk to someone who is completely disregarding what you are saying because they have to go on Instagram.
Last time I checked, when you go out to eat you are supposed to be having in-person conversations with the people you’re with. This may be hard to believe, but servers can’t read your mind. It is a requirement to speak words to us if you want something, not to type texts.
6. Telling a bad joke
Server: “Can I take this empty plate out of your way?”
Guest: “Yes, and you can tell the chef it was horrible.”
You know what was horrible? Your joke. The number of times guests make that punch line is unreal. It will never be funny and it never is funny. I appreciate your attempt to make me laugh, but maybe come up with something I haven’t heard a million times before.
7. Temperature requests
There’s nothing more annoying than a customer asking you to turn up the heat or turn down the air conditioning. Don’t let my black shirt fool you, I’m sweating like I just ran a half marathon. Lifting heavy plates and running around like a chicken with its head cut off is a sweltering task.
Here’s a fun fact in case you weren’t aware: restaurants use AC in the summer. Who would have thought? If you get cold easily, consider bringing a sweater (I’m talking to you, Ma). If we’re being honest with ourselves, we both know that you’d rather be a little chilly than see my face dripping sweat onto your food while I smell like a teenage boy after hockey practice.