Friday, September 27, 2013

Ten Simple Rules When Dining Out

I have spent a lot of time waiting tables and, in general, I love it. I get to move around; I get to meet a lot of different people; I get to walk away at the end of the shift.

I am constantly astonished, however, by the behavior of some people when they come out to eat. I have, therefore, made up a list of the top ten rules everyone should follow when they eat in a restaurant.

1. The most important rule is to remember to tip your server. He is working hard and deserves some respect for the work he is doing. While 15% was the norm back in the day when servers were still paid, it is now 20%. Servers don’t get paychecks. What little salary they make goes to paying their taxes. My paychecks are $0.00.

That 20% should reflect what your bill would have been before any discounts. While the restaurant may be happy writing off something, your server still had to serve you the original dish, deal with the problem and the kitchen, and then serve you something else. Likewise, never leave less than $5.00. While your bill may only be $20.00, the hour that you took up your server’s table deserves at least a small token of your appreciation.

2. Don’t come in and say that you know the manager, the chef, whomever and expect your server to drop everything to fawn on you. First of all, if you truly know someone in authority, your server will know about it because she will be told when you walk in. Secondly, if you genuinely know that person, you will know and understand the restaurant business, which means you will cut your server some slack.

3. Don’t re-write the menu. The kitchen and the chef are happy to make minor adjustments to nearly every dish (leaving the onions off a salad, putting the sauce on the side), but once it becomes a dish not on the menu, you have seriously upset the chef and made your server’s life hell. The other downside is that, if the kitchen is really busy, they will refuse your request and now everyone is unhappy.

4. You are a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian who is allergic to nuts. Good for you, but be prepared to eat a salad and not much else. If the kitchen is not too busy, they will do what they can to accommodate you. If they are, they will not. Sorry, but we’re probably not the restaurant for you in the first place.

5. Don’t order your steak or your hamburger well done. As a server, I groan inwardly when I hear this order. For one thing, you are ruining a perfectly good cut of meat. For another, it takes a long time to cook beef all the way through. Chances are, the table next to you, who arrived after you did, will be served before you and you will be irked. It is not your server’s fault. Order something else, please.

6. If there is a problem when the food arrives, tell someone. Your server wants you to enjoy your meal and to leave the restaurant happy. Nothing is more frustrating than to swing by a table once or twice to check on everything and be told that everything is fine only to have the complaints start at the end of the meal. Similarly, don’t say you didn’t like the chicken after you have eaten three quarters of it.

7. If you are drunk, you are not as flirty and funny as you think you are. I’m just saying.

8. When your server comes up to your table, acknowledge that he has done so. Stop talking to each other and stop talking on your phone. If you are genuinely not ready to order, or just want to sit for a while, all you have to do is say so. Don’t make your server stand there for three minutes waiting for you to finish telling your story. He’s got a lot of other work to do.

If you tell your server you are ready to order, be ready to order. Especially when a restaurant is busy, nothing frustrates a server more than to have to stand there while you decide between fries and mashed potatoes. Just choose, for the love of God, and we can all get on with our evening.

9. If you are a couple, don’t make out at the table and don’t get into a fight at the table. Nothing is more awkward for your server. And no, we are not looking at you with a smile remarking on how in love you must be. We are wondering how quickly we can get you out.

10. If you are a family, don’t allow your kids to run all over the restaurant. No one believes that Junior is as cute as you do and most people don’t want some random child disrupting their meal. If your baby is screaming, take her out until she calms down. The later in the evening it gets, the less tolerant servers and the other patrons become of children. If you must eat out after 8:00, leave the kids at home with a babysitter and enjoy some grown-up time.

Basic manners go a long way. Your server is a person, not a machine. Treat her with respect and she will do the same for you.


  1. "1. The most important rule is to remember to tip your server. He is working hard and deserves some respect for the work he is doing."

    Not all servers work hard. A tip is an entitlement, it's *****EARNED*** by working hard for it.

    Some servers are lazy and uncaring, so those will get a bad tip or even if it's really horrible, no tip.

    The ones that do well will get from us 25%-30% and even sometimes more even.

    Continued next post

  2. "but once it becomes a dish not on the menu, you have seriously upset the chef and made your server’s life hell."


    "5. Don’t order your steak or your hamburger well done. "


    You have control issues, SERIOUSLY!

    "While your bill may only be $20.00, the hour that you took up your server’s table deserves at least a small token of your appreciation."

    SO WHAT if did a crappy job. Even if you did a decent job, that doesn't mean you deserve more than a normal 20% tip. I don't understand why you think you are owed from every table just as much as you would be making if you were working with a degree as the thing you went to college for? I mean WHY should you make more than the people that are college graduates working as what they went to school for while you are making more than them without a degree? That's unfair, it really is.

    With your entitlement attitude, I'd stiff you for being so ENTITLED! Your tip is *EARNED* it's not some right!

    Why do servers act like we have to bow down to what "THEY" want, when *THEY* want ***************OUR MONEY**************? You all are at *******OUR MERCY********** if you want our money, NOT the other way around.

    I will agree with your other issues you have mentioned like being ready to order when you say so, etc., because that's just basic common sense and common courtesy, but the other things I have mentioned aren't. It's not up to ANYONE ELSE BUT THE PERSON PAYING as to how they want their food and their service.

    Continued next post:

  3. "Likewise, never leave less than $5.00. While your bill may only be $20.00, the hour that you took up your server’s table deserves at least a small token of your appreciation."

    Sorry I 100% DISAGREE! Why is 20% of $20 ANY DIFFERENT than 20% of $50? It's UNFAIR to tip in that manner unless the service was extremely wonderful to exceed expectations.

    "That 20% should reflect what your bill would have been before any discounts. While the restaurant may be happy writing off something, your server still had to serve you the original dish, deal with the problem and the kitchen, and then serve you something else."

    It depends on why I sent it back that if it was the server's fault, then WHY should the server get a good tip, huh? That's UNFAIR to the customer that is receiving crappy service. You get what you give in life.

    It depends on the TYPE of discount. Did my manager comp something or is it a coupon? When a coupon is used it's different. Also, WHY am I getting a discount matters? Did I receive shitty service, so therefore I received a lot of food comped? If I did get crappy service and didn't get any apologies from my server as well as my server never asked the manager to comp something(which meant I had to get the manager for myself for a server's major mistake such as a completely wrong entrée), then I will base my tip on the way they handled the situation. If they are apologetic and nice, they'll receive a decent tip, but if they don't apologize or act like they care, I won't tip them period as far as a major mistake goes. I am NOT talking about if they forgot a side of ranch or something minor like that. I am talking about if they overcharge me or get me the wrong entrée, things like that, that are major.

    I think it’s “INCONSIDERATE” to the CUSTOMER’S MONEY. You expect people to tip HIGHER when the prices go higher, so WHY NOT BE FAIR and tip HIGHER when the prices go higher due to inflation and LOWER when the prices are lowered to be FAIR as long as the item is NOT FREE? At a Chili’s location, the baby back ribs went from $13.99 to $14.49. Now, we all tip for that entrée based on $14.49. Is that FAIR for it ALWAYS to be in the SERVER’S FAVOR? Absolutely NOT! So BE FAIR and let us tip on the entrée that is just $2 less like at Red Lobster. It took *JUST AS MUCH WORK* to bring that entrée to me at $14.99 as it did to bring that same entrée to me at the menu price that is $16.99. The PRICE SHOULDN’T BE THE SOLE DECIDER OF THE TIP!

    Continued next post:

  4. A coupon for x amount of dollars off is just a LOWERED price set by the OWNER. So, I don't agree if let's say I have a $4.00 off coupon for 2 dinner entrées that I should tip on the amount before the coupon off, because it didn't take ANY MORE work to bring me that food, it just happens to *COST LESS.* So, let's say my husband and I order the same entrée which is worth $16.99 each on the menu, but with the coupon, each entrée is $14.99. So the server will STILL GET a tip for bringing us the food, taking our order, and ringing it up. I tip AFTER a discount such as that. If the food is free like a free appetizer coupon, then I would tip as if I wouldn't have it for free, because the server DOES do MORE WORK to take my order, bring me the entrée, and ring up the entrée. It's NOT the customer's fault that a coupon has to be shown to the manager before ringing it up. That has NOTHING AT ALL to do with the customer's service. That is a policy that the MANAGER or OWNER set up and is NO WAY THE CUSTOMER’S FAULT THAT YOU HAVE TO GO TO YOUR MANAGER WHEN A COUPON IS USED. So I feel that with a coupon such as x amount of dollars off an entrée as long as it's NOT FREE, tip on the DISCOUNTED amount. The server didn't do ANY MORE or ANY LESS work for that entrée as far as the customer's requests goes. If managers were smart, they'd let the servers take off the discount WITHOUT having to go get the manager. This wastes time for EVERYONE in the restaurant. I tip on "MY" service, NOT for things I can't control. Those customers that have discounts may not be there to begin with WITHOUT the discounts. So why don't you think about that? The more customers, the MORE TIPS you can make.

    ONLY if the item ends up being free would the server be doing MORE WORK. That is the TRUTH. If an item is for FREE completely, then I feel the tip should be based on the amount BEFORE the discount, because the server DID SERVE me the free item, which would be serving me for free, but to just have a couple of dollars off an entrée doesn’t mean they are bringing me the item for free, because they are going to get SOME tip from it.

    Think about the HOW MUCH WORK DID YOU DO FOR YOUR TIP? The prices are lowered by the OWNER, so just because you think we owe you more because the original price was only $2 more, doesn’t mean you did ANY MORE WORK for the money and you didn’t do less work either. Just because the food is more expensive, doesn’t mean you did the SAME AMOUNT OF WORK. For instance: I order a pasta entrée that is $10.99 “AS IS” from the menu. I order a cheeseburger($6.99) medium well with lettuce and extra onions only. 2 sides of mayo, 1 side of mustard and 1 side of ranch. Now, honestly, which one was MORE WORK to give me? THE CHEESEBURGER WAS MORE WORK AND IT WAS *LESS* expensive. Shouldn’t a server deserve MORE MONEY for doing MORE WORK INSTEAD OF LESS WORK? WHY do you think that the *PRICE* should be the COMPLETE thing that decides the tip? It takes MORE TIME to put the cheeseburger order into the computer as well as more things to bring to the table. Also, 90% of the time, my condiments are forgotten about, so the server has an EXTRA TRIP to get them to me, which is MORE WORK.

    Continued next post:

  5. My main point is if we end up tipping higher when the prices INCREASE, then WHY when a person uses a coupon to DECREASE the price, it’s somehow has to ALWAYS be in the SERVER’S FAVOR. What’s the REAL POINT OF THE COUPON IF I WON’T GET THE ENTIRE $4 off? Honestly, with this type of situation, it ends up being sometimes under a dollar difference, depending on how high the bill is. Like let’ say with a discount, my check is $36 instead of $40 due to a $4 off coupon. Let’s base this on 20%. $36 x .20 = $7.20 $40 x .20 = $8, so with this example if the original bill was $40, the server would be less 80 cents, which usually I would round to 25 cents to give $7.25 when it’s that close personally. That’s really not to bad. It does add up for every customer that would do that though, but my point is, the tip shouldn’t be based ENTIRELY on the prices. The cheese burger was MORE WORK and it COST LESS. I think the tip should be more based on HOW MUCH WORK DID YOU DO FOR ME than what price something is or isn’t. Since the OWNER made these coupons, they had the right to LOWER the prices just as when they INCREASE their prices as well. WHY should my server get just as much tip just because I have a coupon with a few or so dollars off? I feel if we tip on the higher prices when prices increase, it’s only FAIR that we tip on the prices when it decreases due to a coupon that has a few dollars off or so. The server gets their way all the time when the prices increase, so WHY can’t CUSTOMER’S HAVE THEIR TURN? THAT IS THE FAIR WAY TO DO THINGS. I understand if it was like $15 off or something like that to tip on BEFORE the discount, but a few dollars or so off is really not ****FAIR***** to the CUSTOMER. The customer should be able to get the ENTIRE AMOUNT OFF of the coupon just as WHEN THE PRICES GO HIGHER, THAT YOU ALWAYS GET AN INCREASE IN YOUR TIP. Basically, I find, the server wins more, because when you don’t have a coupon, which I would feel is most of the times, you get more money due to the increase in prices on the menu MORE TIMES than a customer gets around a dollar off of savings off the tip. I feel it SHOULD be based on AFTER coupon when it’s only a few dollars or so off. Most of the times, the item is NOT for FREE, so the server will still make SOMETHING from it. BLAME YOUR OWNERS for this. Work at a restaurant that don't have coupons. I wouldn’t work at the places that would have coupons, personally.

    It shouldn't "ALWAYS" be in the server's favor money, because that's UNFAIR to ALL other people in this world. Your money is no more important than ours. It isn't holier than ours. It's *EQUAL* to yours. So treat it as such that when prices go higher, we tip higher, so it's only ************FAIR************* that we tip lower when prices go lower. That's only fair!

    1. Springs1 -- thank you for your comment. I understand your frustration and would like to respond to some of the points that you made.

      First of all, I agree with you completely that, as a patron in a restaurant, you have the right to expect excellent service. If you are unfortunate enough to encounter a server who is “lazy and uncaring,” s/he should not be tipped at the same level as one who has gone the extra mile to ensure that your meal was a pleasant experience.

      I also agree that your food should be prepared the way you would like it to be. The point I was making about a dish not on the menu was when customers try to create a new dish from items on the menu. What I don’t think some people realize is the amount of time it takes to prep a dish; much of the work for the dish you will eat has been done before the restaurant opens. Asking the chef to completely re-do one of his or her dishes is time consuming and, more often than not, ends up with the customer not receiving what s/he wanted.

      As for the meat being cooked well done, the point I was trying to make is the time involved. Again, some people don’t realize how long it takes to cook a big steak all the way through. I have experienced, quite often, the frustration of a customer who wonders why his neighbor’s dinner arrives before his. I now tell my customers who order well done meat that there will be a time lag involved.

      I must take issue with your implication that the people serving you do not have college degrees and, therefore, do not deserve to make the same level of money as someone working in his field. At the restaurant where I work, all of the managers, all of the bartenders, and all of the servers (with one exception) have a college degree. Some are serving while they look for jobs in their field; some are saving so that they continue on to graduate school; the one without a degree is working so she can finish her degree. One of the managers does the job at the restaurant as well as teach at the local elementary school, an impressive number of hard hours every week.

      The point I was making about a $5 minimum tip is that, if a customer is sitting at a table for an hour and leaves $3 or $4 dollars on a $20 check, the server has only made that amount for an hour’s work. I believe that if a server has brought you your drinks and your meal with a smile, s/he deserves a minimum amount for performing that job well.

      The problem is, as you so correctly point out, that tips are often based on price and not necessarily on the work done. I wasn’t making the argument about a coupon or quibbling about a couple of dollars. What I believe is that, if a dish is free for some reason, the server should be tipped on the original amount. Again, I am not saying that if the problem was the server’s fault, s/he should be rewarded. Many times, however, a bad dish is not the server’s fault.

      The servers with whom I work are all excellent. They want their customers to be happy and satisfied at the end of the meal and they work hard to ensure that happens. Unfortunately, we are all human and mistakes happen. While it is frustrating for both the customer and the server when they occur, I have seen servers go through a lot to fix the problem and, if they can, ensure that the solution pleases everyone involved.

      Thank you again, Springs1, for your response. I hope your dining out experiences are all positive.

    2. "The point I was making about a $5 minimum tip is that, if a customer is sitting at a table for an hour and leaves $3 or $4 dollars on a $20 check, the server has only made that amount for an hour’s work."

      No, first off, there are OTHER TABLES you are making money during that hour MOST of the time, especially during a busy time. At 11a.m., possibly you could be the only table, but most likely even then, there is at least another table or 2.

      Secondly, you aren't working the entire hour for JUST ME. Think about it, you greet us, get us our drinks and then take our order if we are ready at that time. If we aren't ready, then you come back. If we don't order an appetizer, you won't come by until our food is ready which could be 25 minutes or more that if we don't need a refill or anything during that time, you aren't doing any work during that time. Also, most of the time, if we got at a non-busy time, we aren't there an hour. For example, go at 11a.m. at most restaurants, if you are just with one other person or by yourself, chances are, within 30-40 minutes I should be done and left. Not all times do you go an entire hour. In fact a lot of our visits have been around a half an hour or so because if you go at a non-busy time, you can leave before an hour is up.

      "I believe that if a server has brought you your drinks and your meal with a smile, s/he deserves a minimum amount for performing that job well."

      Minimum to what standard? 20% is maximum, 15% would be minimum.

      I don't feel 20% is any different whether it's a $50 check or a $14 check, you didn't do as much work in mostly all cases on the $14 check, because you served one person, not two. One person to refill, one person to order, etc.

      You don't seem to get you aren't doing JUST FOR ME the entire hour. In most cases, there are 3-8 or more tables the server has that you are making money from during that hour. Also, we aren't responsible for your wages. We tip according to the STANDARDS set by society and usually on the menus for when they have large parties that the standard tip is 18% or 20%.

      Why should you get just as much on a $14 check as you would on a $28 dollar check. You are only serving ONE PERSON. Now granted, I have tipped $6 on a $14 check, but that's because the service was wonderful and I asked for a zillion condiments(like probably 5 or more). I also asked for probably 3 refills that don't appear on my check as well. So *THAT* I account for, but in general if let's say I just get a pasta dish and one refill, NO WAY do you deserve on let's say a $14 check $5. You didn't do the amount of *********PHYSICAL LABOR************ it would take to get you that amount of payment. It's unfair to tip you well beyond 20% for you doing a bare minimum job. In fact, I'd probably tip 15% on a pasta dish and one refill. Seriously, it's not much work.

      "What I believe is that, if a dish is free for some reason, the server should be tipped on the original amount. Again, I am not saying that if the problem was the server’s fault, s/he should be rewarded. "

      That is what you are saying though. If my server messed up, I won't be rewarding them with a good tip. It's only fair.

      Continued next post:

    3. "I must take issue with your implication that the people serving you do not have college degrees and, therefore, do not deserve to make the same level of money as someone working in his field."

      Sorry, but if you are doing the job that requires no degree, WHY should you make as much as if you had a degree ON THAT JOB? It doesn't matter what they do outside of the restaurant. If they have a degree or not, is IRRELEVANT to this. It has to do with that ANYONE without finishing high school can do this job, so WHY should you get paid more than a person that has a degree ON THIS PARTICULAR JOB. NOT on other jobs that you went to college for. Someone can't make a doctor's salary on a serving job just because someone has a degree as a doctor just because they do that on the side to make extra money. Make sense now? The job's pay should be the same whether you have a degree or not.

      "I hope your dining out experiences are all positive."

      Thank you. You should read my blogs. You can see them on my profile:

      This one above is one I feel is good.

    4. Also to add, if let's say Jane Doe has a degree as a Registered Nurse, but she goes to work at McDonald's for about 10 hours a week, can she get the same pay as she does doing nursing?

      Please answer that? NO, she gets the *SAME PAY* as the kids that are still in high school that work at McDonald's. She might get a little more if she has some experience just as anyone would with more experience, but she isn't going to make $20 an hour or anything.

      Regardless of how many degrees someone has, this job requires no degree.

    5. Also, let's say you have 4 tables in one hour, $5 a piece, you are making $20/hr. Even with tip out, you still probably are making $15 off of that. Why should you get that amount of pay in one hour for no degree needed for this job? *THIS JOB* not other degrees you have.

  6. Please do not think me rude, but this person said the same thing over and over and over through all of those posts. I'm afraid that invokes images of a small minded person with only one point of view. I will agree, if the server was terrible, they should be tipped appropriately. But, something to keep in mind, how busy is your server? If you were in fact his only table, the service should be impeccable. In most cases, however, he's juggling four or five, and I've seen as many as ten tables. So they can't always be there the moment you need something. As far as discounts go, I have very rarely seen coupons at restaurants. Especially small ones or small chains. Most discount I've encountered have been from a manager comping a kitchens mistake. Some being undercooked meat, wrong items, extreme delays, a lot of which your server has little to no control over. Consider this: You go out to eat at a nice restaurant. Your server comes up and greets you with a smile and a very pleasant attitude, takes your orders and brings your drinks in a timely manner. Your food is taking a while in the kitchen because of larger parties ahead of you, and a well done steak takes a long time to prepare. So your server lets you know that there's been a delay in the kitchen, and it will be longer than expected. When your food finally comes out, you cut into your steak and find it far too undercooked for your liking. You wait for your server to come back, because he is busy getting another tables order, and when he gets there he takes the steak back to the kitchen to refire it(if not prepare a brand new one). By the time your steak comes back out, your companion is finished eating, and your utterly frustrated. You ask for a manager, who gladly gives you half off your entree. Through all this time your server has been polite and helpful and done the best he could do to make you happy, and your still frustrated. It's at this point that I hope that any decent human being would tip on the original bill because of the work that your server did to try and make things right.

    There's also the matter of gift cards. I've heard many a tale of people using a gift card and then tipping on the remainder of the bill, not the entire thing. That is just rude. Just because someone else bought a chunk of your meal, doesn't mean that you can leave your server high and dry.

    I know there are people out there that don't believe in tipping at all. My mother is one of them. She doesn't think she should have to pay someone to do their job, that it should be up to the company. In all reality though, it's incentive. You wouldn't want to go to restaurant that didn't accept tips. In order for that to work, the waitstaff would have to love people. Other wise, noone would care at all, wait times would go over two hours and noone would be happy, because the servers arent being paid by the number of tables they serve and how nice they are, but by a clock.

    1. Brian Wilson

      "Some being undercooked meat, wrong items, extreme delays, a lot of which your server has little to no control over."

      Actually the only one that you have said is the undercooked meat. Putting in the order correctly though is a way that the server can be at fault for an undercooked steak such as putting in medium rare when they meant to put in medium well.

      Wrong items, that's always in the server's control unless the server put in the order correctly and another server delivers your food. Do you think servers are BLIND OR ILLITERATE they can't compare their written orders to the food to see DUH onion rings aren't fries for example? You sound like you have ZERO COMMON SENSE to speak of.

      Delays, here's what the server can control which *IS* A LOT:

      Ask yourself these questions as a server:

      1. WHEN do you put in my order? Do you wait or do you go put it in immediately after taking it? If you are double sat or triple sat, you can still go put in each order into the computer after taking each table’s order. By not doing that can result in a much longer wait and that would be YOUR FAULT.

      2. FORGETTING to put in an order. My husband and I have experienced this for REAL that servers ADMITTED to our faces they have FORGOTTEN TO PUT ORDERS IN. All of them were appetizers, bar drinks, and a cup of soup.

      3. Did you put in the order CORRECTLY into the computer? Have had many times servers ADMITTED to our faces they did not do that correctly. Have had wrong entrées before due to our server putting in the order wrong. Have had wrong bar drinks too due to the server putting in the order wrong.

      4. Did you FORGET ANYTHING I ORDERED such as a SIDE DISH? We have had this happen a number of times as well.

      5. Did you DROP anything I ordered? Luckily, we have not had this happen, but I have seen a server once drop some fries from a plate before and I did have a waiter spill some margarita martini when pouring into a martini glass. In other words, it is possible, not likely, but very possible.

      6. Did you remember to GET my food? We have had a server do that before. Also, we have had a number of servers forget bar drinks.

      7. Did you bring out my food obviously correctly if you bring my food out? Do you realize how many times OUR OWN SERVER brings out DUH mistakes like the side dish is wrong, the entrée is wrong, something obvious is not correct bacon that isn’t covered up isn’t extra, extra crispy when you can clearly notice that it isn’t without touching anything, etc.? Every DUH mistake you bring out is YOUR FAULT I am waiting for what I did order by you wasting my time bringing me the wrong item or wrongly prepared item or forgot something. While we all make mistakes, I would have to say a good 90% of the time, servers NEVER COMPARE THE WRITTEN ORDERS TO THE FOOD, because they are TOO LAZY and DON’T CARE!!

      8. Servers DO wait to put in entrée orders when appetizers, side salads, or cups of soup are ordered. THAT *IS* THE GOD’S TRUTH! Sometimes it’s TOO LONG THEY WAIT!

      Continued next post:

    2. Brian Wilson Continued:

      If it’s another server, it still doesn’t make it the kitchen staff’s fault I have the wrong side dish for example since that is something that’s obvious. It’s either my server that didn’t put in my order correctly or this other server that didn’t compare the ticket to the food or that this other server did compare the ticket to the food, but just missed it(HIGHLY UNLIKELY, but possible).

      1. Once, we had a Red Lobster waitress had our 2 entrées on the tray as well as 2 side salads that were for a couple that wasn’t even there when we ordered. Anyway, instead of bypassing their table to hand us ours first since WE DID ORDER FIRST(common sense would tell you that it takes more time to cook food than it does to fix a side salad anyways even if it wasn’t our server that delivered our food, but it was our waitress that delivered our food), she decided to hand them theirs first off the tray. THAT IS SOMETHING THAT IS IN THE SERVER’S CONTROL TO HAND OUT THINGS OFF THE SAME TRAY IN THE ORDER IN WHICH IT WAS ORDERED IN!!

      2. Once, we had a waitress that greeted us which we ordered an appetizer as well as our drinks when greeted. I saw she tucking in chairs at empty tables and pretty much doing everything but coming back to get our entrée order. Well, I found out what happened. She brought out our appetizer and when I asked she said that she wanted to wait to put in our entrée orders. The thing is, that delayed us more by not at least coming to GET our orders. That way, when the appetizer was ready, we wouldn’t have gotten delayed eating our appetizer since we then had to give our entrée orders when we could have given our entrée orders WELL BEFORE THAT and we would have gotten our entrées faster due to that she could have just left to put our entrée orders into the computer after delivering our appetizer instead of taking time to order when our appetizer was sitting in front of us.

      The point is, SHE delayed our entrées as well as to be able to start eating our appetizer because she could have at least TAKEN our entrée orders and then when our appetizer would have been brought out, could have immediately gone to the computer to put our entrée orders in.
      What she did was make us wait while our hot appetizer was sitting in front of us, we couldn’t touch it, because we had to order our entrées and could have done that wayyy before that.

      She also delayed our entrées because we had to spend extra time AFTER our appetizer arrived to give her our entrée orders when we could have done that wayyyy before that.

      3. Once, we had a waitress that assumed that because they were out of raspberry topping for a cheesecake slice when we had ordered dessert that she’d bring us strawberry. Turns out, she knew when she put in the order that the computer had it the manager told us. So she did it on PURPOSE to be so lazy and uncaring as to not come to ask if we wanted the next closest thing. We didn’t, we sent it back, so she had MORE WORK. Also, she didn’t even think about what if someone is allergic to strawberries. I just honestly can’t believe someone would do that. If they are out of something, common sense would be to come to see if the next closest thing is ok. Not everyone wants the next closest thing. So it wasn’t like it was just getting the order wrong by accident or by not verifying the written order with what she was bringing or putting in the order wrong by accident, this was on PURPOSE to be LAZY and to ASSUME. I didn’t know at first that she did that. I thought at first she just was that stupid(or truly just messed up(highly doubt it)) to bring us strawberries on top of a cheesecake when we ordered raspberries.

      Continued next post:

    3. Brian Wilson Continued:

      4. Your server delays coming to get your order or delays you ordering due to personal conversation. We have had that before as well. Once, we had a waiter that we didn’t know after waiting 15 mins. for a table on Mardi Gras day ask us BEFORE we ORDERED ANYTHING “How’s y’all’s Mardi Gras” “Go to any parades.” See, I don’t mind chit chat with a stranger, but be considerate to do it AFTER we have our orders into the computer so you don’t take up our time. We have also had servers not come to get our order due to playing around.

      Sometimes taking a long time or a longer time has A LOT to do with the server:

      My husband and I have had 3 TIMES where servers FORGOT to put food orders into the computer. We also have 4 times servers forget to get bar drinks from the bar. Once a waitress forgot to put in a bar drink into the computer. Two of the 3 times it was an appetizer and the servers ADMITTED doing so. The third time was a cup of bisque which is normally served before a meal just like a side salad is.

      My husband and I also have had delays due to that the servers delayed putting orders into the computer when they COULD have such as deciding to buss a table first or decide instead of a mini-greet(I’ll be right with you all), one waiter I saw decided to take a party of 6 people’s drink/appetizer orders instead of putting in our food orders into the computer. I can understand if they call you over, but if they don’t, you should be putting that order into the computer not delaying our food. The longer you wait to put in orders, the LONGER WE WAIT!! So truly think about that MOST of the time when you wait a LONG TIME for your food or bar drinks even, it could be the server’s fault.

      9 times out of 10, your server had *SOMETHING* to do with the delay in most cases! That’s the GOD’S TRUTH!

      So waiting to put in my order, putting in my order wrong, delivering my food with OBVIOUS to eyes wrong, waiting to get my order for things that can wait like bussing a table or going out of order on purpose, did you even remember to get my food, etc. Do you realize that MOST of the issues with *TIME* have to do with the SERVER?

      You really sound like a dingy idiot, sorry, but you have ZERO COMMON SENSE to think that WRONG ITEMS would be anyone's fault in the kitchen.

      When you leave a room at your OWN HOUSE, you know you left with a pen, you wanted to leave with a pencil, you can clearly *SEE* *WHAT ITEM* you are LEAVING a room with. SAME THING with serving.

      If my server can see I have fries on a plate, but I ordered onion rings, it's my server's fault for "SERVING" them to me. Any SMART server would have corrected the kitchen staff and told me about the delay instead of looking like a dingy idiot bringing me the completely wrong item. Your server HOPEFULLY wrote down your order for a real reason. I ask servers to write orders down if they aren't. Most comply. It's not just to put them in the computer, it's to have a WAY TO VERIFY the food once it is done *BEFORE* leaving the kitchen.

      If it's another server and the order was put in correctly by the original server, then the mistake was on that other server, but it should still count against the tip because that person was part of my service that didn't *CARE* about *WHAT* they were serving me. If the order was put in incorrectly, then of course my server is at fault.

      You need some COMMON SENSE pills, because you have none!

    4. Brian Wilson

      The steak issue you are talking about I agree 100% with you ONLY if your put in the order right.

      As far as gift cards, to me, gift cards are a FORM OF PAYMENT just like a credit card. It's not a discount, therefore, I don't count that as a discount. I count that as a way of paying my bill.

    5. Springs1 -- this is obviously a subject on which you have strong opinions and about which you feel passionately. I respect that.

      However, I believe the tone has become personal, so I am withdrawing from any further debate with you. I wish you nothing but service that lives up to your standards in the future.

    6. Service is personal, because we spend our hard earned money on tipping our servers, so OF COURSE it's personal. Just as it's personal for you servers that want people to voluntarily give you money, because it most cases tipping is not a requirement.

    7. This appears to be a hot topic... Not to add oil to the fire, but among most people I know if a server does a lousy job then they get 0 tip. Allowances are made for a busy restaurant, but an intelligent person can tell the difference between problems with the service because the waiter is very busy (happens frequently in Spain on particularly busy days because there isn't extra wait staff added) and when it's the server messing up...

    8. Brian, I completely agree with your mom about tipping! I don't believe it's the patron's job to take over for the restaurant owner in paying his/her employees. Servers should be provided with a liveable wage and tips are a bonus for a job particularly well done! But again I guess that's another U.S.-E.U. difference...

  7. Brian -- thank you for your comment.

    Your mother has a point about tipping. I lived for many years abroad in a country that does not have a tipping culture. The servers and bartenders are paid a living wage and are not dependent on tips to pay their bills. In fact, most of the top restaurants discourage tipping. In a bar, money is never left for the person who poured you the drink.

    Interestingly, service is taken much more seriously there than here. Bartenders and servers are treated as the professionals they are and I had far fewer service problems there than I have had here in the States.

    However, we live in a tipping culture and so the battle will rage on for the foreseeable future. Thank you again for your comment.

    1. I wonder if servers in restaurants in touristic areas in the U.S. know about this difference... otherwise they might be wondering why their European patron didn't tip them sufficiently, if at all! Although the guidebooks say to tip, most European tourists will forget, or just do the "easy" Math which is 10%. I try to explain the importance of tipping to anyone I know who is going on a trip to the U.S., but I often wonder if they remember it later...

  8. Springs1, seriously. Try the decaf.

    When I was an undergrad, I waited tables in a strip bar. My mother and sister spent their entire adult lives waiting tables and tending bar. Everything Chris said resonated with me. Waiting tables is difficult and exhausting work for very low pay, and being treated inconsiderately by customers happens way too often. My mother and sister came home with great stories about customers sometimes, too, but the bad stories were epic. They made me wonder about people.

    I'm not saying that some waiters and waitresses don't do a lousy job. I probably did. It's why I didn't wait tables very long -- I just didn't have the temperament for it. That waitperson who did a lousy job might have been having a terrible day. What if they were worried about a sick child or something? Most waitstaff don't have benefits and can't afford to call in. In my current job, I can feel sick or be grumpy, and I still get paid. What Chris said above about countries where servers and bartenders are paid a living wage says it all for me.

  9. This post reminds me how different things are in the U.S. compared to Europe! Some of those points seem really weird viewed from this side of the pond - particularly from Spain!- Or at least they would if I didn't have any experience with life in the U.S.... :p

    Starting with #1: 20% on tips?!?!?!?! Woah!!! Here if anybody does the Math they might give 10%, and only at a fancy restaurant. Most places people will just round up to the nearest 5 or 10€ mark or maybe just leave the change... But then waiters get a liveable salary here... Most Europeans have trouble grasping the concept of tipping when they go to the U.S., it's usually considered a bonus for a really good job. Just an adequate job won't get you anything...

    #3, at least in Spain most places are VERY flexible! They won't invent a whole new dish per your instructions, but if they have chicken (or fish or whatever) and you want it cooked a different way they will do it. You want a broth but it's not on the menu? No problem! most places have broths as part of their cooking ingredients (for rice!) so they'll serve you a nice chicken broth... And of course the "hold the onions / sauce / chips instead of mashed potatoes"... Obviously some places are more flexible than others, and no one orders something crazy that would really complicate things...

    If you are a #4 in Spain poor you!!! That is such an exotic diet here there's probably nothing ion the menu for you other than a salad! Even plain old vegetarians some time have a hard time of it! Most places think vegetarians will eat fish... used to drive my sister nuts during her vegetarian phase! It's less of an issue in highly touristic areas...

    #10 - It used to annoy my mother to no end that people in the U.S. would give my parents an "evil look" when they saw the 5 of us entering a "grown up" restaurant! Not taking your kids to a restaurant is ridiculous!!! Just teach them how to behave, voilà! If you never take them out then they'll never learn how to behave in different settings! You see kids out all the time here in Spain. Leave them at home with a baby sitter? Sure, for a very special occasion! Once in a blue moon...

    Oh, but yes... basic manners is also very important here! And usually a given so no reminder needed... ;o)

    Like I said, quite a few differences on both sides of the pond! :p

    1. Thanks for commenting, Cris. I love the differences between the US and EU. Reminds me that there are still remarkable cultural differences in our small world.


    2. It reminds me that we need to get more people travelling outside of their comfort zone so they can wake up and realise the world is incredibly diverse and there's no single "right" way of doing things!!! ;o)

  10. Springs 1 - Yikes! I think a few months as a waitress would go a long way to tempering your extreme thinking regarding your expectations of wait staff and tipping.

  11. OK -- that's enough. Springs1, as I said above, I respect your opinion and I respect that you disagree with me. However, your posts have crossed the line into rude and boorish and my blog is not the place for that.

    Thank you for participating in this discussion, but please let's leave it at this.

  12. Whoa. Wow. Okay.

    Cris - I've never been to Europe (tear) so I didn't know there were tipping differences! 10% at a fancy restaurant? That seems crazy to me! I would feel terrible doing that. I honestly don't think I'd be able to leave the restaurant leaving so little. I'd feel like a thief. :)

    "You are a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian who is allergic to nuts. Good for you, but be prepared to eat a salad and not much else." You clearly don't live in LA. We have whatever free options for everything it seems.

    I hate it when parents let their kids run wild at restaurants. I never did that when I was a kid. I sat quietly and colored my placemat with the provided crayons. Control your kids, people. And if you can't, don't take them out.

    I ate at a brunch place in SF a year or so ago where they added a $2 fee for each diner. It was pointed out on the menu that this fee went toward providing benefits to their serving staff. I gladly paid that $2 (in addition to tip, of course). I wish more places would do things like that.

    Can I add a rule? If your host/ess asks you to choose any table in an almost empty restaurant, DO NOT sit immediately next to the only occupied table. What is wrong with you?

    1. I agree with that last rule as well!

      I find it interesting that the restaurant in SF passed on the cost of the benefits to its patrons. Unlike you, sunbunny, I wonder how many people balked at covering that $2.

      Thanks for commenting.

    2. They were benefits I don't normally think of part time servers as getting. Healthcare, a 401k. I don't know that there were many balkers. It wasn't a diner or a steakhouse or something with mass appeal. Just a little hipster hole in the wall brunch place with overpriced crêpes.

  13. I keep trying to make comments on your blog Chris but they disappear :( Anyway, this is a subject dear to my heart and I have written about it in relation to Singapore where our service culture is non existent and this is partly, I believe, not helped due to an auto tipping requirement where 10% is charged regardless of the service you receive. Good service deserves a good tip. That's all.

    1. They are disappearing because I had to disable automatic comments of the time being...

      An automatic service charge is not a good idea. I believe that it needs to either be completely discretionary or not at all (like Cris discusses above). Either way, it is a subject that continues to engender a great deal of controversy.

      Thanks for commenting!