Friday, September 27, 2013
Ten Simple Rules When Dining Out
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.