50 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do

Over at the NYT there is a raging debate going on about restaurant server etiquette. We won’t reproduce all 50 “do nots” here, but we did pick a few particularly debate worthy edicts.

6. Do not lead the witness with, “Bottled water or just tap?” Both are fine. Remain neutral.

7. Do not announce your name. No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.

17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.

24. Never use the same glass for a second drink.

27. For red wine, ask if the guests want to pour their own or prefer the waiter to pour.

31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong.

42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else.

43. Never mention what your favorite dessert is. It’s irrelevant.

This is from just the first 50 of 100, and part two is promised soon. Do you agree with these? Have suggestions of your own?

100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do (Part 1) [NYT]
(Photo:Ed Yourdon)

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  1. gparlett says:

    These seem to be rules for restaurants much fancier than I eat at. Can’t say I’ve ever minded a waiter simply topping off the glass of iced tea I already have.

    • secret_curse says:

      @gparlett: I think they mean for sodas or other drinks that aren’t carried around in a pitcher. Some people really freak out that when I’m drinking Coke and you’re drinking Dr. Pepper and we need refills at the same time, the waiter will confuse the two glasses on the way back to the drink station. So, the waiter should make two new drinks in fresh glasses, bring them to the table, and take the empties back to be cleaned.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @gparlett: It doesn’t bother me, either. In fact, having worked in my share of kitchens all I can think of is the growing pile of glasses someone’s going to have to fit in the Hobart washer.

    • tbax929 says:

      @gparlett:
      I always ask them not to top off my iced tea or coffee since I’m picky about how much sweetener is in it and can never get it right again after they top it off.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @gparlett: One of my favorite restaurants charges for soda by the bottle, and even though I hate the charge per soda, I love that it comes in an unopened glass bottle, and I know that germs from a pitcher aren’t getting into it, and I know it’s not watered down.

      • pz says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: You go through all that trouble, yet there’s a guy in the back picking his nose while making your food with his bare hands.

        • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

          @pz: That just adds character and flavor to the food. I’m more concerned about hair in my food. It’s much more identifiable.

          I once had a waitress accuse me of shedding hair into food I had prepared. I had to point out to this high-school genius that while I wore a hat and had my hair in a pony-tail, she did not and was also responsible for the checking the final presentation before delivering the food.

          I like a waiter to be friendly, and be knowledgeable of the food their serving. I also think it’s a really bad idea to let a customer pour their own wine. If you’re doing that you might as well be at home preparing your own meal too.

    • wcnghj says:

      @gparlett: It’s illegal in my state to refill a drink.

  2. shalegac says:

    It is very aggravating when someone asks if you are finished eating when there is clearly food left on the plate and you are chewing some of it. There may only be a couple of bites left but I would like to eat what I paid for and not feel like I need to hurry.

    • The_IT_Crone says:

      @shalegac: I always wondered why servers cannot pick up on the cue of “my napkin and silverware are still in use, therefore I am still eating.”

      When I am done I put my napkin and silverware on my plate, but I know not everyone does that.

    • samurailynn says:

      @shalegac: I haven’t had it happen often, but yes, it is very annoying when it does happen.

      I was taught that you signal that you are done with your food/plate by crossing your knife and fork on the plate. Obviously, if have laid both on the plate, you are not planning on picking them back up and chowing down again.

      • RedShoes says:

        @samurailynn: In Europe crossing the silverware’s “I’ll continue to eat in a moment”. If you’re ever on this side of the pond, the correct signal’s to put them parallel, pointing to 11 and 5 o’clock.

        (And now I know why my plates went missing so fast when I was over in the US…)

        • LeChiffre says:

          @RedShoes: LOL,,,”In Europe crossing the silverware’s, “I’ll continue to eat in a moment”. That’s great but hey, you do that here in Detroit and it would like teaching a monkey Calculus. LOL.

        • TheWillow says:

          @RedShoes: they should all just institute the Red/Green indicator like churrascarias have

        • lovelyivy says:

          @RedShoes: I was born and raised in the US and taught the same way. My friends all do this too. I have never seen anyone cross their silverware as a sign of being finished. That would be weird.

    • Kogenta says:

      @shalegac: I think it’s really just a product of the ages. I’ve never had it happen while I was clearly still eating, but we live in an age of waste, and it’s not uncommon for people to leave heaps of food on their plate and be done or want it packed up.

      And I’d much honestly rather them ask me if I’m done with my plate than have them just try to take it from me.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        @Kogenta: Restaurants could avoid a lot of waste if they would offer half-orders.

        I am a small person and I cannot eat a lot of food at one time, but I order of the adult menu (Because I’m an adult. lol.) and the food they bring is bigger than a Thanksgiving meal. I don’t like taking the left over food home because I don’t think that most of it travels or reheats very well. I will take home things that I know I will eat later, but most other stuff ends up in the trash, and I’d rather it be their trash and not mine.

        Huge plates of food are just not needed, and I get annoyed when waiters say, “Well you didn’t eat very much.”

        • quail says:

          @Kimaroo – Fortified with Kittydus Purrularis: Some do offer half orders. These are usually a more upscale place and rarely a chain. The price is only a little cheaper than full price. It’s never half of the plate’s original price.

          Just ask your server if half portions are an option. Not all places advertise the fact that they do it.

    • ElizabethD says:

      @shalegac: I totally agree. I hate feeling rushed.

    • Mary says:

      @shalegac: I had a waiter the other day take a plate out from under me just as I actually lifted a fry off of it and put it to my mouth. I couldn’t tell him I was still eating because I had food in my mouth. FROM MY PLATE.

      He was a complete creepster though, to the point where we were about to complain to management about him, so that was far from his only problem.

  3. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    “No jokes, no flirting, no cuteness.”

    If the waitress in question is an attractive female, flirting with me is likely to get her a larger tip. Yeah, I’m sexist (and looks-ist?)…

    • Snakeophelia says:

      @segfault: Yes, but if the waitress pays more attention to you than she does to the other customers at the table, she is by default elevating you, and insulting them. A waitress who flirted with my husband and ignored me, under the assumption that he was the one who was going to pay the bill at the end, would be in for a rude awakening.

      A good waitress/waiter is able to give everyone at the table enough individual attention so that everyone feels respected and no one feels left out. That ties in with the “no complimenting just one person” rule above.

      • Skankingmike says:

        @Snakeophelia: hah i love when they give the card back to me even though it clearly says a females name on it. This isn’t the 1950′s I hate that people think men can only pay and that it’s the man’s job to pay for the woman’s meal. Screw that.

        • oblivious87 says:

          @Skankingmike: I made that mistake once… and never did it again. Every restaurant I worked in since, I’ve told new employees to not make that same mistake and they laugh like who cares… then they do it and realize just how stupid they feel.

        • ElizabethD says:

          @Skankingmike:

          This X 100. I can’t believe this is still happening, but based on recent experiences, it is.

        • bohemian says:

          @Skankingmike: It is about a 50-50 between servers leaving the check on the table or handing it to my husband. I find it really annoying since I usually end up handling the check.

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          @Skankingmike: yeah, i have a favorite movie/dinner theatre that i like to go to and when i go with a female friend and pay i get my card back. when i take a male friend and pay they always give the card back to the guy even if it means reaching past me in a dark theatre.
          last time they did that my male friend held both his hands with the palms facing out to indicate he wasn’t going to take it and pointed to my outstretched hand where i was trying to get the server to hand it to me.

          disturbingly, it happens every time i go and it’s a small place with only three servers and they all have done it more than once.

      • sardonumspa says:

        @Snakeophelia: I don’t really understand why it is assumed that if one person is complimented or attended to more than another, it equates to insulting the others at the table.

        I can understand a wife being perturbed that a female server is flirting with her husband, but that is a completely different situation than complimenting one person on their hair or clothes.

        All of that stuff comes down to a matter of personal taste anyway, and it’s all relative. If someone truly feels insulted by not receiving a compliment from a person who complimented another at the table, the issue is not with the complimenter.

        I find more likely this person derives personal value externally.

        And that’s their problem.

        It is unreasonable to expect the rest of the world to conform to one person’s ideas, expectations, or psychological idiosyncrasies.

        • thesadtomato says:

          @sardonumspa: Serving customers isn’t a social occasion for the waiter. Servants and those whose job it is to serve food shouldn’t act familiarly with those they serve.

          • Michael Belisle says:

            @thesadtomato: You apparently don’t frequent the same restaurant often. Building familiarity with your servers, the managers, the cooks, bouncers, and the bartenders is a great way to get free stuff, larger portions, skip ahead in line, etc. If you don’t act friendly, then you’re that guy who keeps coming in and acts like he doesn’t recognize the people he sees every day.

            That said, servers definitely should adapt to each individual customer. If the customer isn’t having any of the friendliness and interaction, they should switch it off. It was a bit annoying when me and my family were having a quiet conversation, and the server made comments like “You guys are so quiet!” You see, now I hate Texas Roadhouse, because I assume all the servers are overly “interactive”.

            • rocketbear79: threadkiller says:

              @Michael Belisle: I’ve always been like this with bartenders at bars I frequent. I used to go to Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun all the time when I lived in CT. I was on first name basis with all the bartenders and servers. Pretty often I would walk out of there with a $20 tab after 2-3 hours having drunk 5 or 6 $10+ scotchs.

              Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been a creature of habit, going to the same places to eat. I always get to know the normal servers and it has always had benefits beyond just sometimes nice conversation.

        • veg-o-matic says:

          @sardonumspa: Outside the context of server-ing, I would largely agree with you.

          However, I think this particular point is specific to the role of a server and the server-diner relationship. A server should serve the entire party/table, not just one person (former server speaking, by the way).

          It’s not a matter of the non-complimented feeling insulted, it’s that a good server really shouldn’t engage only one or two people out of a larger group. Doing so, as a server, is roughly equal to “insulting” the remainder of the group in their roles as diners/patrons.

    • AI says:

      @segfault: Hell yeah. There’s a reason Hooters stays in business, and it isn’t the food.

    • The Cynical Librarian says:

      @ColoradoShark: For me I would immediately assume that, if it’s not clearly marked on the menu, the waiter/ress would be trying to up sell me to some orgy of chocolate that costs 15 bucks.
      I have no problem with someone generally saying “Can I interest you in a dessert?” but when someone, without being asked, just starts telling me what’s awesome on the menu; I’ll probably get pretty standoff’ish and dismissive very fast.

    • mythago says:

      @segfault: And dumb-ist. But if she gets extra money out of you, more power to her.

    • bbagdan says:

      @segfault:

      When the waitress obviously fawns over my ultra handsome friend and ignores me, that is insulting and she better hope I’m not the one paying.

    • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

      @segfault: If I am out to dinner with my husband, or having a business meeting, and the waitress is flirting with my husband or meeting-mates, I’m going to be pretty perturbed (and in the husband case, she is getting a poor tip).

      On the other hand, if I’m having a business lunch and the 50-year-old guy starts hitting on the 18-year-old waitress and won’t lay off all lunch despite attempt to control him, she’s getting a huge-ass tip from me. And he’s never getting my business again. True story. Poor girl! (I think she should have notified her manager he was being an ass, but I understand what an awkward position she was in.)

      • LeChiffre says:

        @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): LOL. Typical American female; lack of self-confidence and an overbearing wife and control freak. You’ve reminded me why I married a European. I can’t stand the jealousy over someone completely irrelevant in this type of situation and in which [you're] probably making a mountain out of a mole hill. So maybe she is or isn’t flirting with your husband. What difference does it make? Is he going home with you? Or her? Who cares!?!

        • rocketbear79: threadkiller says:

          @LeChiffre: Maybe because it is inconsiderate and generally a scummy thing to do? I get offended for my wife when I am flirted with in front of my wife.

          What does nationality have to do with anything? I have plenty of European friends of both sexes who would agree with McGee and myself.

        • Smashville says:

          @LeChiffre: Wow. That’s douchey.

          I hope your wife knows that you married her for her nationality and not for love.

        • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

          @LeChiffre: So when she gives me no service and ignores me through the meal and I give her a poor tip, that overbearing and controlling? Silly me, I thought that was simply expressing my displeasure at being ignored for two hours by someone paid to bring me food.

          That said, obviously my husband is coming home with me, and I’m not jealous when other women try to get up on him, because he’s not interested. But flirting with someone else’s spouse is tacky on any continent, and I do not DO tacky. Nor do I tolerate tacky well. I also don’t like unprofessional behavior in a professional setting, and that is wildly unprofessional.

          But perhaps the fact that you think it’s about jealousy and control says a lot about your nature, rather than mine?

        • mythago says:

          @LeChiffre: Our gain is Europe’s loss.

    • TouchMyMonkey says:

      @segfault: It depends. If my wife is present, I am likely to be deeply embarrassed by being flirted with by the waitstaff. Guaranteed, if that became the dominant theme of that evening’s dinner conversation, I would be sorely tempted to count out the tip to the bare minimum 15%. And leave a note advising her that doing this in mixed company is a risky proposition, to say the least.

      • dragonfire81 says:

        Most businesses that I am a regular at and where I deal with the same employees all the time get to know me by name, not because they ask me, usually because they will learn it when accepting my card for payment or sometimes I will volunteer it.

        I don’t see a problem with employees becoming friendly with regular customers. That said, there should of course always be a professional element to the conversations. I might talk about last nights football game or the weather with a regular, but I certainly won’t talk politics or religion.

        I think servers should treat everyone at the table equally and never assume who is paying the bill. In most restaurants my wife and I have been to, the bill has been placed in a neutral spot and not specifically in front of either one of us.

    • ChickenMcTest says:

      @segfault: I personally HATE IT when a waiter checks my ID for alcohol and then follows up with a “oh you look so young!”.

      If you have to ask for my ID just check it and say thanks. Any ‘cuteness’ after that and I start reducing the tip.

    • lmarconi says:

      @segfault: It always surprises me that sexism is so accepted.
      Just wondering…does anyone see male waiters flirt with female (esp. older female) customers?
      I think I’d be less offended by sexism if it happened on both sides of the coin…

  4. Ihaveasmartpuppy says:

    Never do this:
    When serving the plates of food, if your finger touches the food on the plate, don’t lick your finger and continue serving. Ew.

  5. qwerty001984 says:

    17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.

    24. Never use the same glass for a second drink.

    These are really stupid and I don’t agree with them.

    • bobinchicago says:

      I think they’re pretty obvious. Any chance you’ve cheered up enough to explain your negative opinion?

    • Cybrczch says:

      @qwerty001984: Taking the empty plate gives the impression that you are trying to hurry up the other customers.
      Same glass is okay if you are alone (no chance of mixing up your glass with someone else’s) or if they are pouring refills from a pitcher (the glass doesn’t leave your table then, but watch so that they’re not touching the pitcher to the glass and spreading someone’s spit that way).

    • katstermonster says:

      @qwerty001984: I believe #24 is largely in reference to mix drinks, and not wine, water, and other things that are poured from a common container. Keep in mind that these guidelines were written by a man who is starting a high-end seafood restaurant.

      And I have to agree entirely with the empty plate thing, as it makes other customers feel like they’re being rushed.

    • elleeldritch says:

      @qwerty001984: I don’t know why someone would want an empty plate sitting in front of them. It’s crowding me! Get that thing away. Granted, I’m not talking about nice (fancy) restaurants, just chains.

      When I was a server I tried to take finished plates away from people, even if others were still eating. Are there really that many people out there that don’t put their hands/arms on the table when they’re done?

    • 1stMarDiv says:

      @qwerty001984:

      Again, it completely depends on the restaurant. I used to work at Applebee’s taking empty plates and other items obviously not in use is the norm. But now I work at an uptight country club and the rules are completely different. I still clear empty plates thought and have never had a problem.

  6. ColoradoShark says:

    #7-I’d like to know the waiter’s name so I can rave or rant as appropriate. Or at least acknowledge the waiter as a person rather than a nameless drone.

    #24-Hell yeah. Like the time I had milk, then asked for water and the waiter poured the water into the milk glass. Yecch!

    #43-Really? I’ve never eaten here before and I assume the waiter has. Perhaps someone with an informed opinion would be helpful. Unless, of course, the writer means don’t blurt it out without prompting.

  7. mizike says:

    The WaiterRant guy had a point-by-point response to the article from the perspective of a career waiter:

    [waiterrant.net]

    • crackblind says:

      @mizike: Dang, beat me to it. & @floraposte – if you read previous posts on his blog, you’ll realize how sarcastic he’s being.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @mizike: I enjoyed that blog posting with snarky comments on the “do not” list until it got down to not laughing at the customer who wants ice cubes in his Brunello… I just couldn’t laugh at that. Doing that to Brunello wouldn’t quite be a capital crime, but it’s at least a felony.

  8. hellinmyeyes says:

    The list really just sounds like a handful of NYT writers getting out their gripes about their least-liked NYC restaurants.

    I’ve never been offended by a waiter telling me his name or engaging in a little cuteness. The only one I’d agree with outright is 32: “Never touch a customer…”

  9. floraposte says:

    Heh. The original article’s list is definitely rather New York-centric, and certainly has a number of things I’m not likely to run into as a problem.

    I would support 17, though, as the thing I tend to run into that makes me uncomfortable when I’m eating out; along the same lines as shalegac’s comment above. You don’t remove dishes from the course during the course. And it’s not like restaurants are so busy around here that there’s a pressing need to turn the table and they’re trying, albeit rudely, to hurry you along.

    For 42, I’d make an exception for Halloween costume.

    • econobiker says:

      @floraposte: Yep, it had NYC $$$+ restaurant written all over it.

      “24. Never use the same glass for a second drink.”

      doesn’t fly when the server is pouring soft drinks from a pitcher…

  10. GMFish says:

    Maybe I’m not hoity toity enough, but I disagree with a few of them.

    7. Do not announce your name.

    Knowing your server’s name is convenient when you need to ask for help.

    “10. Do not inject your personal favorites when explaining the specials.

    He or she works there and probably eats there more than I do, why should I not trust or want to hear their opinions?

    17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.

    If the plate is empty, get it out of my way. Please take it.

    18. Know before approaching a table who has ordered what. Do not ask, “Who’s having the shrimp?”

    Waitstaff are humans and I don’t expect them to have photographic memories.

    24. Never use the same glass for a second drink.

    God, you’re afraid of your own germs?! Get a life!

    40. Never say, “Good choice,” implying that other choices are bad.

    I think your skin is just a little thin.

    41. Saying, “No problem” is a problem. It has a tone of insincerity or sarcasm.

    To you maybe, but for anyone with a brain “no problem” is taken literally.

    42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else.

    God, with skin so thin, how do you function in life where even waitstaff are mean bullies out to ruin your self esteem?!

    43. Never mention what your favorite dessert is. It’s irrelevant.

    See 10 from above.

    48. Do not ask what someone is eating or drinking when they ask for more; remember or consult the order.

    Why do you think that people who are paid less than minimum wage should have photographic memories?!

    • Rachacha says:

      @GMFish: We will often times ask the server what they think of a particular dish. Often times, they may not have had the item, but after the meal will ask what we thought of the item, was it what we expected? We try to be as honest as possible, especially if it was not what we were expecting. This allows the server to relay our feelings to other customers, and more importantly to provide feedback to the kitchen staff.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @GMFish: I think the people who go to these restaurants are the same people harassing vacation_rentals_suck over at the customerssuck.com forums. The kind of people who’d freak out over beach chairs.

    • Excited_Utterance says:

      @GMFish: “‘no problem’ is taken literally”

      Which is exactly the real problem with the expression. Literally, it’s empty.

      “I’ll have the special”
      “No problem”
      “Well why would it be?”

      • GMFish says:

        @Excited_Utterance: “Which is exactly the real problem with the expression.

        The Spanish have the phrase de nada which translates to “it’s nothing.” All “no problem” means is that there is no problem. I simply cannot see any sarcasm or rudeness in such a statement of fact.

        Well why would it be?

        Because the restaurant is out of it? Because the restaurant is understaffed and it’ll be a long wait?

        • floraposte says:

          @GMFish: And in Spain, “De nada” would be no problem. But we’re not in Spain, our courtesy phrases aren’t the same, and if you opt for a variant (which is also a less formal response, along with “You betcha”), it’s going to be heard differently. Language has connotation as well as denotation.

    • mmmsoap says:

      @GMFish: It’s not about “thin skin” or concern about germs, etc. It’s about establishing formality between the server and client. While any one thing on the list may not be a big deal, the point is that it can be a slippery slope and Chez Fancy-Pants rapidly turns into TGI Fridays. As much as I love a good TGI Friday’s, I would absolutely expect a different level of service at a high-end dining establishment. I definitely should get a new glass for every refill, or have the waiter spontaneously remember my order (heck, they shouldn’t even get to write it down at the fancy places! It’s all memory there!) etc.

      And I would totally go to a restaurant named Chez Fancy-Pants!!

  11. coffeeswirl says:

    A lot of these Don’t are required by the management, such as stating your name. My go-to intro when I was serving was “Hi, my name’s ___ How are you all doing today?” wait for them to reply “great! just to let you know our specials today are___” all while passing out the silverware/menus, coasters, whatever. When done, “can i get you all something to drink while you’re looking at the menu?”

    We’re require to suggest a drink/appetizer/special so I’d wait until one person ordered and then do it.

    “I’ll have an iced tea” “good choice, i had the raspberry tea earlier!”

    People aren’t fooled, they know I’m suggesting items like is required, but I’m doing it in a conversation instead of “HEY TRY THE EXTREME FAJITAS!!!!” which will always get you a big fat NO.

    The other thing is, if a person seems annoyed by what I’m required to say, I level with them. “I have to ask you this but you don’t have to say yes.” and then get it all out at once, apologizing and looking embarrassed at the end.

    Honestly nobody gives a damn what you order, we’re just doing what we have to do so the managers stay off our backs.

    • Coelacanth says:

      @coffeeswirl: Again, I don’t think this list is meant for casual dining establishments. However, I wouldn’t mind if a few of the items are implemented.

      (e.g. Requiring the entire party be present before seating, lousy service for singleton diners, asking if I’m finished even though I still have eating utinsels in my hand!)

    • Opoponax says:

      @coffeeswirl:

      Part of the reason for a lot of items on the list is that it’s geared to more formal or upscale dining, where people don’t want to feel like they’re at the Olive Garden. So there’s a stigma on things like upselling and over-familiar behavior.

      Though honestly, even at the Olive Garden, I’d say that 35 out of 50 of the rules are still spot on.

  12. Covertghost says:

    #1 don’t spit in my food
    #2 don’t pee in my food
    #3 don’t go take a #2 in my food (I realize this rule is slightly confusing)

    That’s about it.

  13. ConsumerPop says:

    32. Never touch a customer. No excuses. Do not do it. Do not brush them, move them, wipe them or dust them.

    Please, leave grandma the way she came into the restaurant!

    • oldwiz says:

      @ConsumerPop:
      “Never touch a customer”…so if a customer is a little unsteady, perhaps from simply being old, then you should let them fall to the floor rather than help them?

  14. TheSpatulaOfLove says:

    7/42: So, I’m to expect my server to be a robot? I’m sorry, I prefer the human touch. Tell me something witty, let a little personality peek through. The line is drawn only when the server starts to discuss how bad they need the money, their personal problems, etc. If the server is friendly, engaging and at least makes it look like they enjoy their work, it goes a long way with the tip.

    My time in the service industry taught me that the job does suck, but it’s all in how you make it look and how the customer is treated.

    #43: This is tricky – if it comes unsolicited, then I agree it’s irrelevant, but many times I will ask the server their preference on a dish or a dessert. If their assessment is a flavor that sounds good, I’ll likely try it.

  15. mommiest says:

    #8 is my personal favorite. No matter how expensive or inexpensive the eatery, I hate having someone interrupt us to ask if everything’s “all right.”

    • samurailynn says:

      @mommiest: I don’t mind if they ask if everything is all right. What I do mind is when I’m having a conversation with my husband and they interrupt to ask that, and then stick around and try to engage us in conversation. I went out to dinner with my husband, not the server!

  16. thesadtomato says:

    The list might be geared toward restaurants that don’t require 15 pieces of flair, but those places could take a few hints from the list.

    #19: Olive oil was fun for a while, guys, but I really prefer butter.

  17. VeeKaChu says:

    Here’s a favorite “bad-server” event from my past- we were at Fudds, and as we ordered we were handed the standard big plastic tumblers to hold our pending self-served beverages.

    One of the glasses was quite gnarly, and so I gave it to the serving lady and asked for a fresher one. She took it, looked at it and handed it back to me, declaring “Oh those are just water spots”.

    So wrong. I hadn’t asked for an assessment of the glass, but a simple replacement. She did eventually get the point, but the lesson is “Don’t contradict a guest’s (reasonable) request”.

    • Red Cat Linux says:

      @VeeKaChu: Fudd’s does have some beat up glasses. It’s probably the one thing I don’t like about the place.

      After a while the plastic just seems like it’s not holding up well. They need to replace them more frequently.

  18. The_IT_Crone says:

    WHEN SOMEONE TELLS YOU THAT THEY HAVE A FOOD ALLERGY/INTOLERANCE, DO NOT ASSUME THEY ARE LYING AND IGNORE IT.

    I know scum claim to have allergies when they do not. I know it happens all the time because the spoiled little brats don’t like tomatoes or something stupid. But for people with REAL problems, you are a terrible PERSON (not just server) to risk someone’s life just because you don’t believe them.

    • richcreamerybutter says:

      @The_IT_Crone: when the kitchen staff is from Central America and you don’t speak Spanish, it’s very difficult to express a phrase like, “please make sure none of the vegetables in this customers’ meal share the same airspace with shellfish.” In such situations I have advised a customer against ordering a dish having nothing to do with the offending ingredient and they don’t understand why. It’s like I wasn’t appreciated for saving a life that day!

      • The_IT_Crone says:

        @richcreamerybutter: I’ve run into that too, but that’s not where I’ve had most of my problems. There are ways around it, even if the server makes it seem like you’re taking too much of their time by trying to get the point across.

        When I say I’m DEATHLY allergic to X, don’t roll your eyes and make no precautions whatsoever.

        • richcreamerybutter says:

          @The_IT_Crone: I’m sorry, did you see me roll my eyes while typing? I’m quite sympathetic to allergies but many restaurants do have the communication issues covered above. Would you rather I provide safe options, or would you rather risk death if the cook doesn’t understand? It’s not a matter of “taking too much time,” but common sense.

          You shouldn’t have to justify the omission of an ingredient, but you also need to realize that depending on the establishment, you’re putting some servers in a really difficult position. Personally I’d rather risk looking like an asshole than having you come back and sue me because something beyond my control went horribly wrong and the ingredient in question ended up in your dish anyway. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

          Years ago when I worked as a barista, some customers would give a pre-order admonishment on how that drink HAD BETTER be decaf because of a heart condition…I somehow missed the part of my job training that included, “medical professional.”

  19. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    Amen to number 17. Wait staff push you to eat fast and leave fast. I want a leisurely dinner of 2-3 hours, and if you’re polite and attentive enough during that 3 hours I will tip you for your additional time.

    Thank you.

    • GearheadGeek says:

      @Loias: If I’m spending $100+ per person, 2-3 hours doesn’t seem unreasonable. If you’re spending 2+ hours at the table at Red Lobster, they’re going to spit in your food.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @GearheadGeek: When you order and they bring it out, I hope you haven’t already been there for two hours. They can’t spit on the food you’ve already eaten.

  20. cameronl says:

    Here’s my pet peeve:
    Don’t squat or, even worse, sit at the table to take my order. You are not my close personal bud. (does anyone do that anymore? It was popular awhile ago).

  21. SatisfriedCrustomer says:

    11. Do not hustle the lobsters. That is, do not say, “We only have two lobsters left.” Even if there are only two lobsters left.

    I am so sick of waiters and waitresses constantly doing this to me. I can’t even go into a TGIF now without someone hustling the lobsters.

  22. richcreamerybutter says:

    If he really is opening a restaurant, I wonder if he plans to pay his servers a living wage regardless of tipping?

  23. soundreasoning says:

    The don’t take a plate until all guests are done rule is stupid. Take the damn thing away. I don’t want to stare at an empty plate.

  24. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Do not lead the witness with…

    The witness? Is this Law and Order: Food Service Unit?

    These rules sound like they are for expensive restaurants with the kind of clientele is:

    1) Rich
    2) Arrogant
    3) Easily offended
    4) Doesn’t recognize the ‘help’ as human beings

  25. Etoiles says:

    What’s with “never announce your name?” If my waiter is particularly awesome or particularly dreadful, I’m much better off knowing his / her name if I speak to the manager or call afterward or fill our a survey or whatever.

  26. Esquire99 says:

    I actually read this list yesterday and I thought it was pretty good. A few might be a bit much, but generally I think places that follow these kinds of rules are the places that just blow me away with the service. If more restaurants had stricter rules like this I think the service would be better.

    One place my wife and I frequent is Cheesecake Factory. They are known to be incredibly strict with their waitstaff and it shows. We have never had a bad experience there, while at virtually every other DC-area restaurant the waitstaffs can be almost unbearable. Some of the little “dont’s” on this list really make a different.

  27. moore850 says:

    If my wife and I have wedding rings on, do not ask if we want “separate checks”. It insults me in front of my wife.

    • quail says:

      @moore850: If it happens a lot at a restaurant it’s a time saver to ask before the orders are taken. Just because you have wedding rings doesn’t mean you’re married to each other. Plus, some places ask out of hand during the lunch rush because they get so many office workers wanting split checks anyway.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      @moore850: there could be reasons even for married people to split the check though.
      when my dad travels for business, often my mom goes along. when they go to dinner, he can expense his on the company card but hers has to be paid for on a personal card.
      but they say that when they start ordering.

  28. Allen says:

    1 Thing a review should never do: Go into a restaurant after writing a ridiculous article on 100 things a server should never do.

    Ah, to be back in school, waiting on tables and have him for a customer, the inevitable accidental coffee in the lap spill…

  29. Segador says:

    I’ve worked at several four-star restaurants in the Napa Valley, and these rules are all pretty standard for very upscale establishments. People who spend $400 on dinner expect to be treated accordingly. For Olive-garden style dining, however, many (see #23) are asking a bit much.

  30. sarahq says:

    It really should go without saying, but I’d like to see proper pacing mentioned in the next fifty rules.

    Pacing of the courses is a dead art in mid-range restaurants. More often than not, we receive our entrees within a few minutes of the appetizer. It’s gotten so predictably bad that my girlfriend and I have taken to holding off on our entree order until we’re at least halfway through the appetizer.

    I know the kitchen often fires things too early, but seriously: it’s the server’s responsibility not to bring out the entree until I’m done the appetizer.

    And for God’s sake: do not bring out the entree, see we’re not done with the appetizer, and take the entree back to sit under the heat lamp. Ew. Refire that, for heaven’s sake.

  31. AshleyKeen says:

    #7 – Some of my best resturaunt experiences have happened because our waiter/tress has not been afraid to have some personality with our table. If you’re an attractive young waiter that’s obviously taking on a table out on a hen night, flirt away! Especially if it’s a bachelorette or birthday party… everyone else is doting on the breakup victim/bride-to-be/birthday girl. Bring it on! Besides, it’ll give all of us a great story to tell later. I’d much rather have a waitress that’s not afraid to have a civil conversation with me for a couple minutes than one who’s needlessly frosty. Severs have a job that causes them to be in contact with a lot of people that are rude to them all day long. There’s no reason in the world not to show them a moment of kindness by asking how their day has been when they’re required to ask you the same. On the other hand, one party at the table throwing themselves at the waitress throughout dinner (or worse, handing her a business card asking her to call them in front of everyone in the group) is trashy. Get some dignity!

    # 43 – Whaaat? I almost always ask the server for a reccomendation when I’m indecisive. Presumably they’re familiar enough with the menu to know what’s popular and what stinks. I, on the other hand, am likely a restuant n00b and will appreciate their help.

  32. vladthepaler says:

    7 & 42 are a bit strange. If a cute waitress flirts with me and compliments me, chances are she’ll get an extra-generous tip. 17 should be at the top of the list though, it always makes me feel rushed when i’m still eating and the waitress has taken away the plate of the person across the table from me. (I suppose it’s meant to… get us out of there so someone else can have the table. But they do it even when the place isn’t crowded…)

  33. BrazDane says:

    Here’s a list of what annoys me the most:

    The server needs to check if glasses and cups are clean. Many times I am given a cup with lipstick on or a glass with some unknown substance clinging to the inside or outside. Disgusting!

    Don’t come asking all the time if everything is fine. I know you are most likely doing it because you have to, not because you care, evidenced by the fact that you sometimes leave so fast I don’t have time to answer. Instead, keep an eye on our table from afar, and I’ll signal you, if I need something.

    Let us eat in peace and not feel hurried. When I spend money to eat out, I expect a relaxed experience, not to be asked if I want dessert when I’m halfway through my entree. If this is restaurant policy, let your manager know it clearly annoys some guests.

    If we can’t make up our minds about what to order, possibly because we haven’t been to your restaurant before and don’t know the menu, don’t come back every 1-2 minutes to ask if we are ready. By the 3rd time you come back after one minute, after I have three times asked for “5-10 minutes”, I am ready to get up and leave. I do not appreciate being hurried, no matter how much cattle your manager would like to route through the feeding pens that night.

    If I say something is wrong with the food, which I very rarely do, don’t just stand with a blank expression and wait for me to suggest how you can solve the problem. Offer a solution – it’s not exactly difficult to figure out what would probably please me.

    If my wife and I are obviously in a deep conversation, possibly even holding hands, staring into each others’ eyes, don’t drop down to our eye level, slowly poke your face in between ours, and ask if we need anything.

    That last one was from when my wife and I went out on one of our first dates. That waitress (college student) was obviously completely clueless about customer service.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      If my wife and I are obviously in a deep conversation, possibly even holding hands, staring into each others’ eyes, don’t drop down to our eye level, slowly poke your face in between ours, and ask if we need anything.

      @BrazDane: Holy crap! I read that thinking, “Does that happen?” and of course that’s the one you have a real life example for.

      It sounds like part of an SNL skit about a rude waiter right before he climbs onto the table where someone’s having a birthday cake and song to ask if everyone’s OK.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @BrazDane: “If my wife and I are obviously in a deep conversation, possibly even holding hands, staring into each others’ eyes, don’t drop down to our eye level, slowly poke your face in between ours, and ask if we need anything.”

      LOL Oh my God. That is a complete date killer. Although a funny story to tell, later. It made me laugh, anyway!

  34. PhilFR says:

    My own pet peeve: I go to a restaurant for a dining experience, not just for food. So don’t ask me if everything “tastes good.” I always feel like responding: “The food tastes good, but the cockroach that ran across the table is creeping me out.”

  35. TheMonkeyKing says:

    My beef with most restaurants are the lurking busboys who instantly reach over you to take your dish away. Yeah, I know you want to look busy, but hey, I may not want you to come over immediately after I’ve taken a last bite or have something small like pickled ginger still on plate and you think I’m done.

    I’ve already stabbed one busboy with my chopsticks, so help me, I’ll do it again.

  36. Opoponax says:

    Re all the “don’t offer your name or your opinions on the specials, don’t compliment people’s clothes” and the like, I’m guessing one of the overarching themes of the list is IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.

    When you are a waiter in the restaurant, people are not coming to the restaurant to chitchat with you or get to know you better or find out your preferences. They are coming for a good meal. You are here to work, not here to be best buddies with the diners. That doesn’t mean you’re a slave. It means you’re doing your job.

    The same is true in my job, as well – I have access to actors, producers, directors, etc. I try to make sure to give them their space, because I was not hired to make small talk with the guest star of the week, I was hired to do my job. Which isn’t to say I’m a slave. It’s simply important to be professional, and honestly those guys really don’t care what I think of the script or how the dailies are looking or what they did on their last job. They’re here to do a job, I’m here to do a job, and having that in common does not make us “pals”.

  37. kmw2 says:

    There is a similar manifesto floating around from a (now banned) livejournal user named springs1. This has better grammar, but it’s similarly hysterically nitpicky.

  38. InsertPithyNicknameHere says:

    For the sort of high-end place this was obviously written for (i.e. the sort of place I’m expected to treat the staff as automotons and extensions of the environment, rather than humans), I agree with most of these. I’m surprised by 26 – white wine is, in my limited experience, usually served chilled, so I would expect an ice bucket to be standard. But I can see the point of inquiring. But I have to disagree with 27. If I order wine, I expect the waiter or sommelier to pour the initial glass(es).

  39. theblackdog says:

    Re: #43 If I ask you what your favorite dessert is so it can help me make a choice, I expect an answer.

  40. Pinget says:

    I agree with not telling me your name and not flirting and such. Many servers seem to think I went to the restaurant to enjoy their company, not the company of the people I came in with. The server should be a problem-free, completely forgettable part of the experience.

  41. Damocles57 says:

    I agree with the list and also acknowledge that different geographic areas or restaurant types have different levels of standards or expectations. However, I believe that setting a minimum standard of expectations of quality for all venues is needed and appreciated. I’m interesed to see the last 50 items in the list. I’ll wait to see if my other pet-peeves are addressed before adding my two-cents.

    I do not appreciate an over-familiarity of the staff when I dine out. The one thing I will do when the waiter/waitress asks, “What are we having this evening?,” is to tell them to order first. If “WE” are dining, I expect them to be part of the group and share the price of the evening.

    I do recognize it is difficult for servers to follow the orders of management and try to increase the table turn to increase revenue per table and tips per hour. That said, I don’t care. It is not my “job” as a diner to ensure the profitability of the restaurant or the hourly wage of the servers. I don’t go to restaurants for the quality of the food – I cook better at home. I go for the service and convenience and experience with the other members of my party. Even if I am the only other member of my party.

  42. flugennock says:

    Actually, I’d like to add one:

    No handheld pepper grinders longer than ten inches.

    Seriously, I’ve been to places where the server asks if I’d like a little ground pepper on something, I tell them “yes, please”, and they whip out this grinder that’s the size of a Saturn V.

    What’s the goddamn’ deal with that? Do they think they’re impressing me?

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      @flugennock: I’m betting it’s management who thinks it looks cool. That or they don’t want to have to refill it more often than once a year.

      The servers can’t like those things; they look difficult to use.

  43. pinecone99 says:

    Besides #17, my other pet peeve is being commanded to “enjoy” whatever is put in front of me. Seriously, it’s okay to deliver an order without some kind of announcement.

  44. goodfellow_puck says:

    This guy is a serious douchebag who obviously wants a robot for a server. Guess that’s what he’s used to under his rock. He can keep his demeaning lists to himself. I’ve never worked food service, but that job is tough enough without your customers acting this snobby and dismissive.

    • morlo says:

      @goodfellow_puck: Serving food should be done by robots. I know that it is a pillar of the economy, but it is undignified for all involved.

    • Opoponax says:

      @goodfellow_puck: A lot of this is a matter of regional trends — New York City does not have a whole lot of Shoney’s style “Family Restaurants” which do the whole “Hi Y’all” “sweet tea” rigamarole. Casual dining here tends to be a lot less cutesy than in other parts of country I’m familiar with, probably because people eat out a lot more here. Casual dining is casual, it’s not supposed to be an “event”.

      Not to mention the regional differences in demeanor and politeness. New Yorkers tend to frown on over-familiarity: not caring to know your server’s name is along the same lines as not saying hi to strangers on the street. If I had to make small talk with every service employee I ran into every day, I would be hoarse by noon.

      • pecan 3.14159265 says:

        @Opoponax: It’s regionalism. In some areas people are warmer than they are in cities. Cities like NYC, DC, Chicago, they’re a little more formal in their dining – I’ve never been called “hon” when dining in the DC area. Never. When I took a stop into the South, it was “hon” everywhere – it was very strange to be treated like I was supposed to be familiar with the waitress. It wasn’t like we were buddies now, but it was warmer than I was used to.

        I personally like the more formal dining (what can I say, I like dressing up a little) and even at upscale casual restaurants, I appreciate the etiquette.

  45. rsjames says:

    31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong.

    Gotta disagree with this one. My wife has had gastric bypass surgery, and can’t eat much at one time. Add a piece of bread before a meal, and there’s going to be a healthy bit of food left on the plate. Plus there’s the issue of ridiculous portion sizes in some restaurants. Just because someone doesn’t clean their plate doesn’t mean something’s wrong. And if the waiter asks, and someone says it’s fine, don’t press the issue.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      And if the waiter asks, and someone says it’s fine, don’t press the issue.

      @rsjames: Agreed. If the customer isn’t supposed to want to know anything remotely personal about the server then the customer shouldn’t have to reveal medical issues to explain why the plate isn’t empty.

      • nbs2 says:

        @Rectilinear Propagation: The writer isn’t proposing presing the issue. In your situation. The waiter should ask if something was wrong. your wife says she is full, which she obviously is. End.

        The “problem” was that she was full. Is it something that needs to be fixed? No. If there is a general trend to serve portions that people can’t, either the restaurant will embrace or adjust. Your wife may have her own reason for not being full, but she is still a statistic in refining the kitchen.

  46. Homerjay is utterly alone. says:

    It really irks me when a waitress tops off my coffee. I made that coffee to exacting specifications and now you refilled it from 1/3 full. Now I have to get my calculator out to figure out how much cream and sugar to add.

  47. MobileMilitia says:

    this doesn’t seem like a good list at all. i like when the wait staff says what they like (it helps if i’m on the fence over two things). it’s nice to get a compliment about an outfit or something, but even nicer when it’s directed at a date. i prefer tap water because bottled water is a scam. and please do use the same glass; what a waste otherwise!

  48. stezton says:

    RE: 17. Do not take an empty plate from one guest while others are still eating the same course. Wait, wait, wait.

    I have to whole-heartedly disagree, especially if I’ve pushed my plate away and laid my utensils on it. Get the danged thing off the table. To me having a table cluttered with empty dishes is irritating.

    • Opoponax says:

      @stezton: one person who has finished one course of a multi-course meal before other diners at the table does not imply a “table cluttered with empty dishes”.

      My understanding is that they A) don’t want people to feel rushed, and B) don’t want the faster eater to feel weird. As with other rules, obviously this is different if you’re at Olive Garden where everyone is eating different courses in different orders according to their taste. (e.g. “can I have the nachos as an entree?”) They seem to be referring to meals with set courses.

  49. lim says:

    My reaction when I read “Do not announce your name” was that I’d LOVE to see a member of the waitstaff get up on a chair or even just stand in the center of the restaurant in a dramatic pose and say. “I. Am. LIM!” and then just continue their job.

    • floraposte says:

      @lim: And every now and then somebody walks through with a zebra head on. Or plays an oboe solo.

      Now I’m sad this isn’t real.

  50. XTC46 says:

    Doing some of this will guarantee a low tip from me…If you are my server, I better know your name, I want you to be excited, and chatty, and if you compliment my girlfriends makeup, I wont be mad. She will be happy, and that will in turn, make me happy, and you will get a better tip. I want to know what you think is a good dish, becasue you are around the food all day, if you dont like a partiular dish, thats cool, you can let me know why, if you say you dont like the fish dish beasue you dont like fish…then hey thats being honest.

    Its all about timing, class and style, and most of these rules assume good wait staff have none of that, when in reality, all good wait staff have all 3.

  51. leavethegun-takethecannoli says:

    Not touching the rim of the glass is extremely important. As is handling silverware by the handle. I always instructed my staff on how to properly handle glasses and silverware.

    I also taught them how to properly carry a plate. No one wants to eat from a plate from which a server just removed their thumb.

    I would also say that some of these rules regarding names and compliments may not apply to “frequent” customers, as some customers and staff sometimes developed a rapport.

  52. pollyannacowgirl says:

    Regarding the premature plate removal…

    When I was a wee lass learning the rules of etiquette, there was a nifty trick to let your server know if you were taking a break or actually finished:

    “To signal that your are done with the course, rest your fork, tines up, and knife blade in, with the handles resting at five o’clock an tips pointing to ten o’clock on your plate.”

    Problem solved.

  53. haoshufu says:

    I hate it when they vacumn around me when I am eating. I also don’t like my empty dish taken away when I need it to nipple on the shared plates.

  54. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    Rule 0: Don’t go to restaurants if you’re a pretentious git who can’t relax and enjoy a dining experience without nit-picking.

  55. Aquaria says:

    I haven’t read the whole list, but one of mine is do NOT sit down at my table/booth. The servers at Outback do this all the time, and I hate it. I don’t know you, back the heck off.

  56. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    @thesadtomato: Prole drift. That. Do not like. -1 pretentiousness.

  57. stanner says:

    Don’t make me wait on the check. I run into this all the time. Great service, but then no closure, right when I’m finally thinking about the tip.

  58. Froggmann says:

    Just from the sampling of the rules I see here, it looks like the debate is being run by a bunch of patrons who have rather large sticks up their rectums.

  59. teke367 says:

    Eh, a lot of that sounds fine, and are probably policies of more casual restaurants as well. The question is, how empowered is the server to follow them? I’ve never worked at a restaurant that said it was okay to serve food that looked like crap on paper, but when the food come out poorly, it wasn’t exactly easy to get a new dish.

    Servers shouldn’t serve from dirty dishes or glasses, but its the restaurants obligation to ensure the glasses get clean.

    Giving your name is common sense, I don’t quite get why that would be a no-no. If the customer really doesn’t want to know your name, they’d forget it in a moment anyway.

  60. biswalt says:

    Some of these are just plain wrong. For example, #7 Do not announce your name. Ah yes, so when there is a problem with the serving of the meal and the customer goes to complain to the manager, we can have a long conversation about what the person looked like instead of saying “Brian peed in my soup.” Not to mention that, esp. in the south that would be seen as incredibly rude. I expect that when I go to a restaurant, I will be greeted AND that the waitstaff will tell me their names and not act like a ninja trying to remain super secretive.

    Also, the author had a strange obsession with staffers not asking people what they ordered. Hello McFly?!? The reason a waiter asks “Who’s having the shrimp” is to once again finally reverify who the shrimp is going to, not to find out who’s getting the shrimp. A lot of times the food is brought out, esp. in large groups by the waiter who took the order and other staffers as well. Rather than rely on the unflappable notes written by the waiter/waitress as to who gets what food it’s definitely permissable to get that info from the customer firsthand. I eat out a lot and have the wrong food handed to me, b/c of various miscommunications from the staff at restaurants. But I ALWAYS get the right food in front of me as long as the server verifies what everyone is getting. Does it mean that our high and mighty restaurant critic has to deal with the hoi polloi? Sure. But for those of us not scared of the working class, having them verify your order before presenting it to you is acceptable.

    #41. I’ve got another problem with. Sure no problem does sound a little dismissive, but are you really going to act like “my pleasure” is more sincere than no problem?!? Puh-lease! Cause I’m sure your average waitress is over-joyed at the thought of telling a cook to remake something b/c a customer forgot to tell her to get it w/o onions (for example). After all, telling the cook is “her pleasure” Gimme a fuckin’ break. I’d much rather get a np than my pleasure.

    #42. While it’s true that complimenting one in a party and not others might make them feel a little less. It doesn’t change the fact that small talk is normal for people! Just b/c someone’s on the job, in uniform, etc. Doesn’t make them less of a person, and as long as the comment isn’t inappropriate it should be fine. My point here is that the real problem isn’t the complimenting, it’s that the author feels any complimenting makes guests feel unequal. But the reality is that in all likelihood if that’s the case the guests probably already feel unequal. So it’s not like you’re doing a whole lot for the customers by not complimenting the one customer. By comparison a heart felt compliment can often be enough to secure a customer for life. It makes the customer feel connected to the restaurant b/c they know that other people in teh restaurant share their tastes.

    #39. Don’t call a woman a lady? Ever? Seriously? I can understand that you’d never want to say “What are we eating today, lady?” But there would be nothing wrong with the statement, “If you will follow me, ladies, we have your table setup.” Lady, let’s not forget is actually a title of respect.

    #10 is also wrong. I understand that Mr. Bucshel is irritated when a server talks about their personal favorites when describing the menu. I get that the dining experience should be about he customer and not about the waitstaff. But having said that, I personally find it very useful to know what my waiter/waitress thinks is good. B/c in most cases the waitstaff have tried everything on the menu, and therefore have a knowledge of the menu that most customers don’t. And I can tell Bruce geared the article to higher end establishments. But this can’t be a rule hard and fast across the board. I for example go to a bar and grill near where I work, since I’m a regular the waitresses there have gotten to know me a little, and so they’re more friendly and talkative rather than being totally business oriented. This has led to a few conversations about new beers that the waitresses have liked, and b/c I know they are honest assesments rather than attempts to get me to buy something they “count” more to me. Esp. b/c I’m a regular and so have gotten to know which types of drinks the waitresses like. Point being that I don’t mind a waiter telling me that the lasagna is their favorite dish as long as it seems genuine and not some corporate mandated thing to make the restaurant seem more “homey”.

    /end rant + offer apology for how long rant was.

  61. ChemicallyInert says:

    A lot of people seem to think this list is an atrocity! I personally agree with EVERY. SINGLE. ITEM.

    The only reason I might want to know my waitron’s name is if I have a complaint. In other words, when I want your name, I’ll ask for it, and it’ll be because you screwed up BIG TIME (I avoid confrontation, so you practically have to spit in my face for this). If I need you, I’ll say, “Excuse me.” because chance are I forgot your name anyway. I don’t want to have a conversation with the waitstaff, I have my friends and I can assure you that the level of familiarity I have with them means that I prefer talking with them than exchanging chit-chat with you. To the morons who argue that I should just stay at home, might I point out that I want my food cooked for me, and served to me. I don’t have a personal chef or servant at home, that’s what I go to a restaurant for.

    That said, this list deals with defaults. Of course some customers are going to want their plates taken, or suggestions, or chit-chat, he’s not saying they shouldn’t have it given to them, but that you should wait for them to ASK for it or invite it in some way. That’s because for every customer that wants their plate taken, there’s another who doesn’t. It’s not THE CUSTOMER’S problem, the STAFF is getting paid! Give them what they want. It’s not a difficult concept.

    I myself tip well, 20% is my default, and I’m not a cold fish: I smile and am generally friendly when I interact with waitstaff. I’ll be polite, just give me what I want, ask for, and invite. Anything else is an intrusion on the experience. If I’m a regular, chances are I’ll be a lot more friendly with you. If it’s a diner, my standards are low. But, if I’m in a restaurant with tablecloths, I expect the server to modulate to the needs of the customer, not the other way around.

  62. RalphyNader says:

    Every single restaurant in creation wants the wait staff to engage in what is called “pre-busing”. It is the clearing of plates before everyone is done. Done with that salad plate? Let me take it. Done with your steak? Let me get that out of the way.

    And yes you are being hurried along. Save your cribbage board for Denny’s, order another drink, order dessert or leave.

    Restaurants opperate on a very slim profit margin. They have to “turn and burn” the clientele in order to drive sales. It’s not just a customer experience while you are at the table, it begins when you walk in and in some cases have a long wait for a table. People don’t come back if there is always a long wait.

  63. foodfeed says:

    this is why it’s okay to tip a little or a lot.

    • Ilovegnomes says:

      @foodfeed: Yep, and I’m glad to finally see a consumer article coming back at the service industry to tell them what they need to do or not need to do, to make that 18% that they are trying guilt the minimum tip level to.

  64. SunsetKid says:

    I really don’t care what the server’s favorite dish is.

    Also – speaking of removing plates – the awful phrase “Are you still working on that?”

  65. cupcake_ninja says:

    I’m really surprised #8 didn’t make it on this list.
    8. Do not interrupt a conversation. For any reason. Especially not to recite specials. Wait for the right moment.

    Though more than that, I hate it when they interrupt me with a mouthful of food. Unless I am choking, go away.

  66. BklynHotniss says:

    After reading I realize how classist I really am. Damn my mother for raising me like I was going to be the next Jacqueline Kennedy!

  67. bishophicks says:

    I agree that there shouldn’t be any jokes or flirting, but I don’t mind my server telling me their name.

    I don’t agree with #43. Some fancier restaurants will prepare every dish on the menu and have the staff taste them all. Why? So they know what they’re selling. If I’m trying to decide between two items, the server’s opinion matters.

    But seriously, fifty “don’ts”? Fifty? Lighten up, people. Give me a clean table, be friendly, answer my questions, take my order, get it right, serve me tasty food, correct any problems and don’t make me wait forever for the check. And never, ever, EVER sit down at the table with us to take our order.

    What. The. Hell.

  68. DeathByCuriosity says:

    Here’s one for you: servers should never help themselves to the food.

    We went to a Fuddruckers this weekend, and while paying for the food, I looked into the kitchen and saw an employee grab a bite of food (looked like a potato wedge) out of a serving container with her fingers and shove it into her mouth. She saw me looking at her, and she glared at me. When I looked back a minute later, she was still staring at me.

    Add that to the fact that even though it was only 11:30AM, the bathrooms smelled horrible (as if they hadn’t been cleaned in a while), the mile-long condiment bar they had in the 90s is down to a few standard condiments, and a crappy chicken sandwich combo was $10 (I can get better for half of that at Sonic!)…we won’t ever go back to Fuddruckers.

    And yes, I sent a complaint letter to corporate. We were in a hurry to leave afterward so we couldn’t talk to the manager.

  69. Cantras says:

    I prefer knowing the server’s name. Sometimes service isn’t perfect, and I need to say, “hey, could you flag down our waitress, Stacy I think it was?” OR maybe service is awesome, and I don’t want to be calling in saying “I had great service! My waitress was… um… blonde? tallish?”

    A lot of the things on his list I think are management, not the server. Substituting vegetables, offering wine labels or samples.

  70. deadsalmon says:

    I’ve spent much more of my life working in a restaurant than I’d care to admit… and I can guarantee that the db who wrote this is a terrible tipper.

  71. P_Smith says:

    I have only two bugbears with some restaurant employees:

    1. Do what the customer asks you to do.

    Why they find it so difficult, I cannot fathom. I’m not asking for something unreasonable (i.e. demanding a free meal because it took a long time). I simply mean, bring me what I ordered.

    - I don’t mind if it takes 20 or 25 minutes to cook, what don’t want is uncooked meat. Time is not important, getting it right is.

    - If I say “No ice” in a drink or ask not to have something on a meal/sandwich/burger like salt, mayonnaise or whatever, I expect not to see it.

    - If I point out that a utensil is dirty, bring a clean one back before the food arrives. I don’t expect you to return within one minute, but I do expect it back by the time you bring the plate. Not bringing me a clean fork means I’m not paying for it since I wasn’t able to eat it.

    2. Bring the food to me. Don’t put the plate down on the far side of the table and expect me to get up, walk around the table and bring it to my chair. That’s your job.

  72. dancing_bear says:

    My pet pieve is when the person that takes the order is not the person that delivers the food. I want one person accountable for my satisfaction.

  73. smiling1809 says:

    “42. Do not compliment a guest’s attire or hairdo or makeup. You are insulting someone else.”

    Seriously, are people so juvenile that someone else can’t receive a complement without them feeling left out and insulted? Geez. Grow up and read some self-help books people.

  74. Tiaris says:

    “31. Never remove a plate full of food without asking what went wrong. Obviously, something went wrong.”

    I disagree with this one. I had gastric bypass a while back and now MOST of my plates are left largely full at the end of a meal. I go for social aspects, eat what I can/should, and leave the rest. It’s very frustrating when a well-intentioned server keeps asking me what’s wrong with the meal, why haven’t I eaten more, can they get me something else, etc., when this is simply the result of a medical procedure. I usually have to explain my medical status for them to leave me alone.

    I understand the reasoning behind the rule, but I don’t enjoy being badgered. Ask once and let it go if the patron says things were fine.

  75. bluedove says:

    these tips are for real restaurants…not Applebee’s…..
    I absolutely hate it when a waiter takes my plate and i am not finished and/or my silverware doesn’t cue him to take it.

  76. palfas says:

    50-100 is up now too.

    74. Let the guests know the restaurant is out of something before the guests read the menu and order the missing dish

    My pet peeve

  77. h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

    @floraposte: Yeah, I do understand that, and if a server is fawning over one guest while ignoring the others it can be awkward. That’s very different from a casual “I love your blouse”. Women, particularly groups of women, are sometimes complete savages to a young female server and if your compliment is genuine that can sometimes change the subzero temperatures at a table.
    I guess my skin isn’t so thin that I get bent out of shape when I don’t get a pat on the head, too. So the waitress likes my friend’s earrings and doesn’t say anything about mine. Big deal.

  78. GMFish says:

    @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): “I don’t think they’re talking about Bennigans.

    That’s the impression I got. ;-)

  79. thesadtomato says:

    @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): No, they’re not, and I don’t eat at Bennigan’s and the like. But this article points to the fact that food service industry (like everything else) is completely subject to prole drift.

    @GMFish: I don’t expect waitstaff to have photographic memories either, but having been a waitress we would get in trouble if we were caught auctioning off food and it doesn’t take a flipping genius to remember what people ordered. It takes a pen and a piece of paper.

  80. kexline says:

    @GMFish:
    17. No kidding! An empty plate represents a mounting risk that I will get whatever’s left on my shirt, even if I’m wearing my fanciest manners. Plus, it’s just unappealing.

    18. I disagree with you here — restaurants (or individual waiters) have systems to indicate which plate goes where. I was taught how to do this at a home-cookin’ chain, and I damn well expect it anywhere nicer than a mom & pop diner. It’s okay to slip up, but if you have to ask every time, that’s just unprofessional. I get asked almost all the time these days — implying that waiters aren’t even taught to associate orders with seats, or just can’t be arsed. (Large parties are an exception — people move around too much.)

    24. I think this may be about using the same glass for a different drink, not a refill. If someone kept bringing me fresh water glasses, I’d be irked by the waste.

    48. Contrary the initial service (18), which isn’t hard to get right, I’d rather be interrupted than end up with the wrong drink, or worse, a second glass of rancid tea (excusable, happens everywhere from time to time.)

  81. sir_pantsalot says:

    @Coelacanth: Feminists or women who feel or look too old but think they are still in their 30′s.

    I say if they are feminists then they will get mad, upset or irate no matter what you do so don’t even bother trying to accommodate them. Just say Ma’am with respect and if they get upset then just write them off as a lost cause.

  82. VagrantRadio says:

    @Coelacanth: Ma’am has always been generally used to address married women, women of high rank or authority and royalty.

    Much like sir, to me it sounds subservient or childish. It only seems to be used when addressing elders or superiors as a sign of respect. Would you call a boss of the same age or younger sir or ma’am? I wouldn’t.

    For some it’s a sign of politeness or respect, for others it’s offensive or demeaning.

  83. Opoponax says:

    @Coelacanth: Seeing as this is from the New York Times and comes from the comments section, I’ll say that the “don’t call me ma’am” is a regionalism. It’s something I learned the hard way when I moved here from the south and got a service industry job. New York women do not like being called ma’am. If you must say something, use “miss”, even if they look 60.

    Better yet, strive not to need to use one or the other. In general, sir/ma’am is not considered necessary in NYC in the way it is in other parts of the country. Working in retail, I only found myself using a ma’am substitute in situations like “Excuse me, miss? Did you leave this credit card at the cash wrap?”

  84. DrGirlfriend says:

    @Coelacanth: “Will somebody please explain to me the controversy behind being called, “Ma’am?”

    For me it’s not a controversy, it just makes me feel like I look old :)I would never get mad at someone calling me that, but I admit it that it grates.

  85. biswalt says:

    @Coelacanth: This to me was the funniest part of the whole article, albeit that it was in the comments section of the OP. Several commentors said they would rather be called Miss rather than Ma’am (as ma’am made them feel old.) Maybe it’s cause I’m a nerd obsessed with Etymology (word history), but I had to laugh.

    Miss is a much more inappropriate title of address than Ma’am, because Miss implies that the person you are addressing is unmarried. If you know the person is married the correct address is Misses. And if unsure the title becomes Mz. Ma’am is a contraction of madame, and is literally an French word anglicized Ma Dame = My lady, ergo, ma’am = my lady. Ma’am therefore is one of the only titles that you can address a woman with that does not imply either an age restriction or a marriage restriction (compare to miss, misses, or Mademoiselle.) That so many women apparently think ma’am refers only to old women is really a testament to our failing educational standards more than anything else. Additionally in the south Ma’am is a term of respect given without regard to age. I’m just as likely to refer to a customer younger than me as a ma’am as I am someone older than me, b/c here in Texas we’re polite like that, everyone gets called Ma’am, provided that they are a woman. I’ve even heard teenage girls addressed that way, as in “and what would you like to drink ma’am?”

  86. floraposte says:

    @sir_pantsalot: Nope. I’m a feminist, and I think “Ma’am” is utterly appropriate and respectful.

  87. burnedout says:

    @h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes: Har, har. I mean sometimes I need smaller bills.

  88. mizike says:

    @floraposte: “it’s the restaurant owner identifying the principles on which his restaurant is run.”

    Correction; it’s a NEW restaurant owner identifying the principles on which his NOT YET OPENED restaurant is ALLEGEDLY GOING TO run.

    It will be interesting to see if the realities of running a restaurant change his position on any of these issues.

  89. h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

    @mythago: I’m not saying that servers need to or should be expected to compliment the diners. I’m saying that if someone took it upon themselves to pay me a compliment I wouldn’t bite their head off. It’s clear that the practice bothers you, and I understand that.

  90. floraposte says:

    @Etoiles: I always figured it was in recognition of my future in world domination.

  91. PhilFR says:

    @floraposte: Agree. Seems to me that the best approach is for the server to say: “Would you like me to take that away?”

  92. mazzic1083 says:

    @The_IT_Crone: And just think how often the server hands DO touch that food and nobody is the wiser

  93. secret_curse says:

    @The_IT_Crone: No kidding. I’m married, but there have been times I’ve had a meal with a single, female friend. What should the server do in that situation?

    Also, I don’t understand how you’re insulted by simply saying “one check is fine.” When I go out with my wife, it doesn’t matter who pays. The money belongs to both of us…

  94. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    @The_IT_Crone: I can totally see wait staff stepping into some trouble if they automatically assume a man and a woman together mean they’re “together” – what if the man was married to another woman, or another man? What if it was the same for the woman? Why assume at all?

    We’ve never been asked about separate checks, but we’re also young and sometimes I get the feeling that some wait staff think maybe we’re just dating, and don’t see the wedding rings. Some dating couples split the check. I still don’t think they would ask, but sometimes I get the feeling from wait staff (particularly much older wait staff) that they think we’re just dating and not married.

    @burnedout: Only if you’re not splitting the bill evenly.

  95. ConsumerPop says:

    @mazzic1083:

    Ahhh, the male brain :D

  96. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    @mazzic1083: Would have it been appropriate to not tip extra for extra services rendered?

    However, tipping an extra $20 for just that is like paying MSRP.

  97. floraposte says:

    @katstermonster: My guess is that it’s a tone thing for this owner, and that he wants to avoid the “Hi, I’m Bitsy! What can I get you good folks tonight at Rustlers Retreat?” feel.

  98. GMFish says:

    @thesadtomato: “It takes a pen and a piece of paper.

    Sure, but what’s wrong with asking, “Who ordered the shrimp?” The fact that you find something wrong with asking a simple question strongly implies that you think the waitstaff should remember it.

    Why does it bother you that he or she can’t? Do you feel less special that someone you’ve never met before cannot remember what food you ordered?

  99. Michael Belisle says:

    @thesadtomato: This article points to the fact that food service industry (like everything else) is completely subject to prole drift.

    That doesn’t sound like you’re using “prole drift” in the usually defined sense, as the article doesn’t say anything about the tendency for things that were once restricted to the upper classes to trickle down to the lower classes.

    Rather, you seem to be using “prole drift” in such a way to assert that that servers and other low-level workers to be of a lower class than you and not generally capable of intelligent thought. Like, if you let the workers think and voice opinions, they’ll mess everything that was so carefully planned by the infallible leaders?

    I might have to unrescind my rescinded Internet criticism. Maybe I’ll toss out an accusation of “elitist” while I’m at it, since you said “Bennigan’s and the like.”

  100. econobiker says:

    @floraposte: I have had that happen a few times recently. I think it increases tips by getting the server in a lower physical position so that the person ordering connects better with the server on a non-vocal level- eye to eye or something.

    Though I am totally against the server sitting down with the customer to take the order even if the customers are a couple occupying only one side of the booth. I’ll take the squat next to over sit down always.

  101. thesadtomato says:

    @GMFish: Whoa! Unnecessary psychologizing!

    What’s wrong with asking who ordered the shrimp is that it isn’t professional. Your job as a waiter is to remember who ordered the shrimp, it’s not the customer’s part to have to tell you. I’m not just implying that waitstaff should remember it, I’m saying “Waitstaff should remember who ordered what. It is their job.”

    Techno fact: There are even ways to do this on some POS systems, so you can enter who gets what on the computer, the ticket that appears with the meal in the kitchen will remind you.

    It doesn’t *bother* me if waitstaff can’t remember what I ordered, it just means they aren’t doing their job, and it isn’t a well-staffed restaurant. If they ask me who ordered the shrimp I won’t tip them less, or pitch a fit, it just means they haven’t done what they’re supposed to do.

    BTW, I am a former waitress.

  102. nofelix says:

    @GMFish: It’s just that asking will interupt your conversation, and the server shouldn’t need any help from you to do his/her job. You go to a restaurant for food and the company of your friends, not to talk to waiters, and so there should be as little of the latter as possible (Hooters may be an exeption).

  103. HogwartsAlum says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: How presumptuous and rude. That would have gotten a complaint to the manager from me and the little shit turning out his pockets right there.

  104. secret_curse says:

    @Opoponax: What if two parties are both paying with plastic? Did you bring your own credit card processor? It’s a lot more convenient to have separate checks than run to an ATM after the meal.

  105. Michael Belisle says:

    @thesadtomato: Then like I said, you’re that guy who coming in regularly and acts like you don’t recognize the people you see every time. But at the same time, they’re correctly adapting to your preference to not fraternize with the service staff.

    Personally, I think a lack of friendliness at a place I frequent makes eating out unpleasant. Overly pushy friendliness also makes it unpleasant. For me, it’s all about a reasonable balance.

    The correct answer, I think, is not for the server to follow a bullshit one-size-fits-all rule and treat all customers the same. The key is to adapt to each customer’s preference, interacting as much or as little as they desire.

    When I was a server, we had some people that came in every week, ordered the fajita pita, didn’t say a word, paid their bill, tipped exactly 15%, and that was that. We also had people who espoused every minutiae about what happened in their life like we were stylists at some sort of hair salon (and, generally, tipped much better).

  106. harvey_birdman says:

    @thesadtomato: Exactly right. I already have friends and I don’t ask them to serve me dinner. Bring the food and drink like a professional and you’ll get a fine tip. Annoy me with your personal details and I may not come back.

  107. aedude01 says:

    @thesadtomato: Wow you must live a REALLY sad life. As someone who volunteered at a winery this past summer (for fun, I have a full-time job …) part of the fun of working the tasting room was meeting the eclectic individuals that visited the winery. The staff was fantastic too. We ended up having quite a few regulars that, when they came out, would ask if a specific server was working etc.

    I had one woman who I waited on that seemed to share your personality. I’m not saying I want to become best friends, but a little civility, and personality shouldn’t kill anyone. She was just sort of “Whatever” through the entire ordeal, while my other tables were fun, and actually wanted to know about the wine.

    Guess which group got a couple of extra pours.

    Guess who probably lives a sad life alone with a house full of feral cats.

    /and I got a $100 tip.

  108. stephennmcdonald says:

    @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): @ElizabethD: Or, to look at it another way – after my wife finishes her meal, she can actually become ill from looking at and smelling the leftovers in front of her for too long. So the server is actually doing her a favor by taking her dish, because I’m a slow eater and won’t be done for a while.

    I, personally, also prefer my plate taken even if other people are eating, because I don’t like to be crowded by a bunch of plates in front of me, and I tend to order a lot. The more they can pre-bus the better.

    If you’re feeling rushed because they’re keeping your table clean, that’s your own fault. Don’t hurry up and eat if you’re not done, period. Think of it as them helping keep your eating area clean, instead of them rushing you. Odds are they’re just pre-bussing because a lot of restaurant managers tell them to, for one reason or another. In my experience as a server, it’s RARELY the server trying to rush you out the door for faster turnover.

    Life is about perspective, which is why lists of “rules” like this are pointless.

  109. sardonumspa says:

    @Eyebrows McGee (now with more baby!): I don’t deny that some people can be sensitive for whatever reason, known or otherwise. However, your comment would have everyone walking around on eggshells all of the time to avoid harming one another and that is just not possible. I think it a much more valuable skill to know your limits and find ways to cope with what life throws at you.

    If you are in a state that makes you so sensitive as to burst into tears at a compliment about your dress, you might want to reconsider being out in public.

  110. mac-phisto says:

    @thesadtomato: how exactly does the POS remember clientele? “wendy wheelchair gets the steak”?

    BTW, i completely agree. it’s rare that i encounter waitstaff that cannot remember who gets what & i find it quite rude to have my table conversation interrupted with “which-a ya’ll ordered the shrimp?”

    i’d also like to add an important one that the author forgot:

    101: do not call the customer “hun” or “sweetie”. i don’t think there’s a more condescending phrase in the food service industry.

  111. biswalt says:

    @thesadtomato: you’re an idiot. Asking who ordered the shrimp is not the waitstaff *forgetting* who ordered the shrimp. It’s a form of verifying that they have it right. Think of it this way. I can take an order, right it down, and then come out and deliver it and assume that I’ve written it down correctly, or I can reverify one last time who is getting a meal before I place it in front of them. Now when you include the fact that in a good many places the food is brought out by more than one server even though it’s usually taken down by one waitress you can see why reverifying is a better alternative. A lot of times your food will be brought out by someone other than who you placed the order with. I always assume that when they ask who got what as they’re bringing it out it’s a last chance to verify the order before it’s too late to do so.

  112. stephennmcdonald says:

    @HurtsSoGood: You came to a restaurant to be *served*. It’s their JOB to make sure the service is ok. I’m sorry that bothers you, but it’s what you went out for in the first place. If you don’t want to be bothered while you eat, or know the person who is serving you, make it yourself. Simple as that.

    Would you prefer the other end of the spectrum? The one where you don’t know your server’s name, and they’re not checking up on you, so when you need something, you … can’t ask anyone to get the server who’s name you don’t know?

  113. That's Consumer007 to you says:

    @HurtsSoGood: So our common sense is your stupid fad. Still, the rest of the world’s ability to find a waiter and give him feedback outweigh your, um, sensibilities, yeah that’s it. Keeps you from being abused anonymously.

  114. lmarconi says:

    @HurtsSoGood: I see your point and it can get a little kitschy, but I’m not exactly a fancy pants person and I think it’s less uncomfortable to be waited on once the person has a name and a face. I agree with the person who started the thread, I definitely don’t want some nameless faceless drone serving me.

  115. h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:
  116. burnedout says:

    @quail: No, I just want them to bring change. Don’t ask. Just bring it.

  117. ARP says:

    @floraposte: OK, I have to admit, I LOL’d at this one.

    But you bring up an interesting distinction. I have very different expectations depending on where I am. If I’m at “Rustlers Retreat,” I expect the “flair guy” from Office Space and all that goes with it. Now, if I had my way, I’d get rid of it. However, I’m not going to fault a waitperson for following policy.

    If I’m at a diner, I expect diner service and if I’m at Japonais, I expect much of the service that described in these tips.

  118. The_IT_Crone says:

    @mazzic1083: I usually find out later :(

  119. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    @stephennmcdonald: IMO, bussing a table before people are ready to be done with dinner is rude. It’s not my fault. There are plates, silverware, and some glasses. It’s not like we’ve ordered a ten course meal and let the dishes pile up. Let me eat in peace, buss the table when everyone seems done, and leave it at that.

    The last time I had really, really terrible service, the waitress gave us our bill (without prompting) before we even got our dessert. She got very little tip, and a complaint from the manager, who got this look like “not her again” when I mentioned the waitress’ name.

  120. catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

    @stephennmcdonald: i have to say i prefer a server to just ask me ‘is there anything i can take away for you?’
    that way anyone who wants their plate can keep it and anyone who doesn’t can have it cleared. i often dine with people who have different eating speeds than i do [i have to eat slowly]
    actually, usually i tell the server that the appetizer IS my entree and while i’d like it brought when the other appetizers are, i will probably still be working on it when the entrees arrive for everyone else.
    of course, if they get it right, the tip goes up

  121. floraposte says:

    @The_IT_Crone: I’m totally behind you on that, or on any semblance of attitude at the request.

  122. thesadtomato says:

    @Michael Belisle: I didn’t say I act like I don’t recognize the people I see every time. That would be dumb. In fact, I’m pretty sure my server does a better job for my husband and I because we come in together every week and he knows we’re not one-off customers.

  123. princesspineisempowered says:

    @Michael Belisle: Apparently you have a heart so I hearted you

  124. LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

    @Ihaveasmartpuppy: You dear people are about to make me swear off eating out in restaurants altogether. ;-)

  125. Opoponax says:

    @burnedout: There’s a part of me that thinks it’s a low-level restaurant management strategy to have the servers ask a lot of questions about the diner’s preferences. Bottled water or tap? Would you like fresh pepper? Do you want change? Do you need separate checks? Will this be cash or charge? etc. The idea being that the customer will take away a sense of being catered to. When of course the reality is that they just had a bunch of meaningless questions hurled at them.

  126. h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

    @thesadtomato: If you can’t abide the overly friendly service (oh noes! People are daring to ask how you are and possibly volunteer a small example of their personal preferences or personality to you! THE HORROR!), stop going. Complain to the manager. Find somewhere where the waiters never talk to you except to ask how you want your steak cooked. And please understand how incredibly insulting your behavior comes off as when you label people as “the proletariat” when discussing something as trivial as a restaurant choice. I have an inkling that you’re already aware, but it bears repeating.

  127. LadyTL says:

    @mazzic1083: So you are being rude and annoying to everyone else around you because your server couldn’t see into the future? That’s just so smart.

  128. floraposte says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: It’s an actual etiquette convention, in fact–you don’t clear the plates from the course until everybody’s finished. It’s neither a fault nor a problem, any more than eating with a fork is a fault or a problem. “Keeping the area clean” isn’t the priority of dining together. People who want their plates removed can easily ask for it–it’s not like anybody’s insisting that the plates must stay no matter what the customer wants. But if the restaurant’s practice is to ignore the fact that dining is still going on in favor of a clean area? Then to me that’s a priority that’s not the customer’s experience.

  129. thesadtomato says:

    @h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes: I’m sorry if you feel insulted, I assure you I don’t want to insult anyone.

    I think if you read the original article, and what many other people have posted here, that the fault, dear h3llcat lies not in the server but in the way restaurants are run, and they now cater to people who prefer to be treated as xtc46 described in the next post:@xtc46 – thinksmarter on twitter: “If you are my server, I better know your name, I want you to be excited, and chatty, and if you compliment my girlfriends makeup, I wont be mad. She will be happy, and that will in turn, make me happy, and you will get a better tip. I want to know what you think is a good dish, becasue you are around the food all day, if you dont like a partiular dish, thats cool, you can let me know why, if you say you dont like the fish dish beasue you dont like fish…then hey thats being honest.”

    And I happen to agree with Opoponax and floraposte.

    I don’t want to be treated that way and traditionally, that’s not how restaurant service works. It is the way it works now and that’s not necessarily a great thing. I think the list of “50 things restaurant staffers should never do” points to that.

  130. TJ says:

    @stephennmcdonald:
    Can’t you not know the waiters name and have them be attentive at the same time?

    In my experience the best restaurants have several staff members attending to you and you never feel bothered, you may not even notice they are there.

  131. Michael Belisle says:

    @thesadtomato: Fair enough for me. I rescind my Internet criticism.*

    ___
    * In•ter•net crit•i•cism n. Criticism that is directed at a person based on the writer’s assumptions about what the other is like in real life. Typically based on two or three facts. Very rarely corresponds with reality.

  132. LeChiffre says:

    @h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes: Nicely said h3llc4t. It takes nothing to be kind to someone serving your food regardless of what you make the conversation out to be, which is probably wrong. You folks need to lighten up and let go of your ego; try using empathy and know what it’s like to serve you folks complaining. Trust me, I’ve been there. You’re no picnic. I’ve heard it all, “this ain’t right, it’s too hot, “you brought me the wrong food”, “it’s too cold”, “where’s my tea”, blah, blah, blah.” And don’t even get going on being asked to watch your sh!t-stained little brats of yours that are crawling all over the damn floor and seats, bothering everyone and God, throwing temper-tantrums and throwing utensil’s at people. But oh no, I am supposed to just stand there and SMILE. I’ll smile when I shove my foot up your ass, ok? And do you even know how embarrassing it is to have YOUR CREDIT CARD denied and then having to tell YOU about it? And at the same time saying it nice and quiet so the next table of morons won’t hear it? Yep, that’s you. LOL. If you have only $50.00 left on a $3,000 limit cc, well guess what. YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO EAT A McD’s, let alone where you’re currently sitting. Go HOME because I ain’t getting’ no tip. And this is the “middle-aged” group. Let’s talk about the “college-aged” group. You know who I mean? The ones that “bundle” their meal ticket together so that one very special person pays (or gets screwed depending on how you look at it). Yeah that’s right. When I see this coming I know I am not getting a big tip, if one at all. There is always one of you in the group that underpays or doesn’t pay at all, takes off before the bill is paid, and WE get stiff for the cash from our own pocket if your “buddies” that you left behind doesn’t have enough cash to carry you through, which is rare. So please,,,,there are two sides to every story here. LOL.

  133. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    @floraposte: @econobiker: Lordy, this person.

    Don’t go to 2 other customer’s tables to find out if they need anything. That’s just RUDE!

    Oh my GAWD, such an entitlement whore.

    I picture this person’s face swelling up and turning red as I read the comments (most of which she’s just copied bits from instead of allowing them to be on her site).

  134. floraposte says:

    @thesadtomato: I suspect also that there are a fair amount of servers that don’t actually want to be paid friends to people whose names they don’t know and whose plates they’re carrying. I think there’s as much server protection as customer protection in taking the personal expectation out of the professional situation.

    I think that “friendly” has achieved such dominance as an adjective that we sometimes have a hard time remembering that you can have warm and cordial exchanges with people just on a business footing. “Not friends” doesn’t mean cold and mean.

  135. theblackdog says:

    @econobiker: Easier than mine, I have one of those crank grinders, and I have to tighten a screw on the bottom of it to adjust the grinding.

  136. thesadtomato says:

    @floraposte: Absolutely. People say they want friendly, and “friendly” to me is “familiar,” which is not cordial. Cordial used to be the standard in service. That way neither server for diner is uncomfortable.

  137. mac-phisto says:

    @thesadtomato: you missed the “curb your enthusiasm” reference.

    @pecan 3.14159265: it bothers me b/c essentially the waiter/ress is saying “you are all the same to me.” it would be no different than calling everyone at the table john.

  138. floraposte says:

    @econobiker: The squat makes me feel like I’m five and they’re trying to avoid frightening me as they ask me when I last saw my mommy.

  139. thesadtomato says:

    @Michael Belisle: I take prole drift to mean that things popular among proletarians drift upward to encompass things enjoyed by the middle class, so that everything is what the lowest common denominator enjoys.

    Again, I used to be a server, so no, it has nothing to do with servers and everything to do with restaurateurs. I’m not saying anything about the server’s class.

    In “Office Space” the owner/manager is making the server wear 15 pieces of flair and be over-friendly at Tchotchkes, and so when I walk into a restaurant (not Tchotchkes or Bennigan’s) and get the same treatment, that is prole drift.

    I don’t eat at Bennigan’s or restaurants like it. That doesn’t make me an elitist any more than it makes people who don’t eat at Japanese restaurants xenophobes.

  140. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    @mac-phisto: I see it as being kind of demeaning. The resaon why a waitress would call my husband hon and not my father in law is because of their age difference. Despite my husband being an adult, the waitress insists on speaking to him as a child. That’s what bothers me about waitresses calling people hon. I recognize that to me, it’s annoying, but they don’t see the problem with it so I have tried to learn to see it how they see it. I know they don’t necessarily mean any offense, but I’m (apparently) a yankee who just doesn’t like it.

  141. stephennmcdonald says:

    @floraposte: Agreed. But some customers do want it. And from a server’s perspective, it’s better to be on top of things/more forward, make sure you’re doing the most you can do, and deal with the people who get offended because you’re trying to do your job properly.

  142. RandomHookup says:

    @pecan 3.14159265: Try being a 22 year old officer in the military. My first sergeant was in the Army when I was born, but it was “yes, sir” all day long. Once you get used to it, you don’t even notice it. If you are Southern or spent time in the military, it’s a hard habit to break.

  143. Michael Belisle says:

    @thesadtomato: On rereading the original usage of prole drift, I see I had it backwards and your usage is correct. The thing here is that your words, as I read them, suggest that prole drift is undesirable. I’m not sure I agree, but then again, I’m a child of the suburbs. My ancestors fled the overt classism of the city for the more subtle classism in the suburbs.

  144. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    @thesadtomato: @floraposte: Exactly. When a server asks me how my day is going, I reply accordingly, and then ask them how theirs is – it’s just polite.

    But I don’t expect or want a server to delve into their personal life – if I’m at the office and I’m meeting someone for the first time, I wouldn’t expect or want them to go on about their personal lives – why should I want that from a waiter, who is also a complete stranger to me?

    It’s not about the server – it’s about the stranger. The fact that the stranger is a waiter makes no difference to me. It’s just etiquette. Cordial is great – polite chatter, banter is great sometimes, and can make things smoother and more enjoyable. But like you would have a very light chat with a person at a person in the line at the grocery store, you would do the same with a server.

    It’s the ones who think a restaurant is a good place to talk personal details who irritate me.

  145. stephennmcdonald says:

    @floraposte: I’m not disagreeing that a lot of servers are overly forward about it, taking plates as quickly as possible and whatnot. And that is absolutely annoying as hell.

    But, in my experience in many years as a server, more often than not people were very thankful when I cleared their place for them, especially around the lunch rush when they’re also trying to sit and have coffee and converse with a friend, or do work. I see nothing wrong with noticing that someone is done their plate (having signaled by putting their napkin or silverware on it), and politely asking “may I take this out of your way for you” – and perhaps it’s just where I was serving, but people seemed to be appreciative.

    I’ve also had customers say to me, and I’m not kidding, “Yo, are you going to clean up these dishes, or what?” – and I don’t mean as a one-time thing.

    FWIW, my side is partially based on what I as a customer think – but also the responses I’d get from customers when I was on the business end of the equation as well.

    Keep in mind, you’re assuming, possibly incorrectly, that they’re trying to rush you out of your seat. More often than not (in my experience), that’s not the motive, just your interpretation – a server like me, anyway, is just trying to make sure you have a tidy place to eat. You can take as long as you want. And I’ll only come to your table to bus it when it’s obvious you’re done.

    Setting aside the servers who are terrible at their job, and in your face the second you finish, or anything pushy like that – if any customer is so offended by me, as a server, trying to keep their table clean for them and removing bulky, messy plates from in front of them, regardless of whether there’s one or two stragglers still pickign at their fries – well, that customer is probably going to cause problems in other areas, from my experience. It’s not like they’re slapping you in the face with the plate, they’re (potentially) just trying to keep the table neat for you.

    I speak for the good servers only. I fully admit some (many?) are pushy, and suck at their job.

    All I’m saying is, try not to assume they want to push you out the door by taking your plate. It could be a perfectly innocent thing, and just as many people (from what I’ve seen) are upset when they’re forced to sit in front of a pile of food scraps for more than 10 minutes after they’re done.

  146. thesadtomato says:

    @Michael Belisle: Don’t Paul Fussell’s words make it clear why prole drift would be undesirable?

  147. sardonumspa says:

    @floraposte: I am not saying that’s not the case.

    The point I am trying to make has more to do with whether or not some people’s expectations are reasonable.

    And, in my humble opinion, some of the ones on the list are not.

  148. Opoponax says:

    @Michael Belisle: Not at all. More like “It is the opinion of the management that restaurant guests are not patronizing this restaurant for the pleasure of discovering the staff’s culinary opinions, but for the opportunity to try our food for themselves.”

    Seriously, the restaurant industry is hardly the only field where professional behavior is expected of employees.

  149. stephennmcdonald says:

    @thesadtomato: Ok, I can understand that. But, you also have to keep in mind, for a lot of people, especially families and couples, part of the experience is being served. It’s a production for some, their entertainment for the night. A server can’t necessarily know what kind of table they have at the time, so they have to assume that the person at their table wants service.

    From what I’ve seen, more people will complain about poor/missing service than they will about overbearing service.

    However to your point, I feel like there is a distinction between service, and overly-solicitous service as you’ve mentioned.

    I’m not excusing rude or overbearing service by any means. I see from a previous post that you are or have been a server; I have as well. As I’m sure you’ve seen in your experience, there are servers who come to your table every 5 minutes, readily interrupt conversation, and are generally obnoxious by being in your face way too much, or inappropriately conversing with the table when it’s obvious they’re not welcome.

    I don’t mean to defend *them* here, so I’m willing to wager we’re on the same page. My main point is that there are also servers who are legitimately concerned with the diner’s experience, and some of them believe that certain things will enhance that (the example I’ve been debating today is the pre-bus). For as many people as find that annoying and pushy, a similar number find it helpful or expected (especially when you bring families with children into the picture).

    In my opinion, it’s a matter of how it’s handled – it’s one thing to wait until it’s obvious someone is done, and during a lull in table conversation walk over and ask “may I take that out of your way for you” – it’s a completely different beast to hover at the drink station staring your table down, and run over and grab plates as soon as each person finishes.

    That’s why I have a problem with these kinds of lists – it all depends on the situation, and it’s hard to say “this is always right” – what’s right for diners A and B might be offensive to diner C. It’s the server’s job to determine what’s best whenever possible, based off their experience and their interaction with the table – not some random writer that’s just about to open his first restaurant and decided to blog about what he *thinks* will work. :)

  150. Michael Belisle says:

    @floraposte: To be honest, I don’t actually mind that much as a customer either way, but if I were running the place, I’d definitely prefer the staff stuck to the “only upon request.”

    Exactly my point when I emphasize that this is written from management’s perspective.

    Although I can see why management thinks it’s a good idea to limit the ability of your minions to exhibit independent thought, this is also why I hated working for corporate-run chains in the service industry. Corporate would dictate rules from hundreds of miles away, with the expectation that employees were to strictly follow instructions, and never deviate from the script. If a situation arose that wasn’t foreseen by corporate, then we were supposed to get a manager, rather than solve it ourselves.

    More often, we’d just try to get the problem to go away, because that’s less work for the same amount of pay. These 100 rules of operation isn’t the way to build employee morale. And more often than not, unhappy employees directly results in unhappy customers.

  151. richcreamerybutter says:

    @mythago: Yes, but customers love to kill the messenger. In any case you’re thinking of the glass as half-empty; a server like me would have saved your life by preventing you from ordering anything that could possibly have a trace of peanuts, even if the cook says “no” when asked. This process also probably deprived my other customers from receiving their orders in a timely manner, drink refills, or other assistance. Again, you’re welcome.

    True, the owner could hire legal kitchen staff, and pay all their employees a living wage with health benefits (on top of all the insane licenses to operate a restaurant, which are necessary to protect the consumer). Are you willing to pay more of a markup on the product?

  152. whylime says:

    @stephennmcdonald: I think what floraposte is trying to say is that it’s good business to play it safe. Don’t volunteer your name. Don’t volunteer your opinions of the menu. Don’t compliment the guests.

    Of course, it depends on the customer, and you’re free to use your judgement on a case by case basis. If the guest asks for your name, or asks what your opinions are on the menu, you’re free to share. But as a general rule it may be wise to keep personal remarks to yourself.

  153. floraposte says:

    @stephennmcdonald: I’m using the old-fashioned meaning of “personal remarks,” which are remarks about one’s person–in other words, I’m speaking specifically about the “complimenting” thing here. I haven’t heard anybody say that they won’t return to a restaurant where the waitperson didn’t compliment their appearance.

  154. shadowkahn says:

    @floraposte:

    Well. . .When DID you last see your mommy?

  155. thesadtomato says:

    @stephennmcdonald: Very well put, especially from a server perspective. It’s probably clear then, that for the restaurant this guy is going to open, if the servers follow these rules, I’ll be a happy customer.

    I think what I wanted to draw attention to is that this kind of over-solicitousness is becoming the norm, and it’s at the expense of what I consider truly good service.

    My manager used to say “The best waiter is invisible.” I.e., the best waiter doesn’t let the customer know he’s there, he knows when to approach the table and when to remove things and doesn’t have to be asked. You have to have a skill set to do that and it’s a stressful job.

  156. mythago says:

    @Michael Belisle: Actually, what management wants to avoid is servers offending their customers through “independent thoughts” that are offensive, stupid and/or rude. Really, I doubt the restaurant owner has a deep desire to see bar codes stamped on the waiters’ foreheads.

  157. Michael Belisle says:

    @mythago: I know that’s one thing they’re trying to avoid, but my point is that most servers are not out to offend and strive not to offend. If you hire a server who’s an ass, 100 rules isn’t going to change the fact that they’re an ass. Better to hire people with competent people skills and give them leeway to serve the customers, rather than saddling the with a detailed corporate manual on how to be a corporate robot.

    If management feels the need to impose 100 rules on their staff, then management has said that they hired people they can’t trust to use good judgement when dealing with customers.

  158. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    @sardonumspa: Cheerfulness is usually appreciated by everyone, but specific personality traits may have trouble reaching an audience. I might be sarcastic with my friends, but you don’t get too far if you miss your mark and your sarcasm comes off as rudeness.

  159. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    @sardonumspa: Right, but this list is from a business owner, and if I’m a business owner, I DO want to be “walking on eggshells” around my customers so they come back!

    It would be a fairly stupid life-rule, but I don’t think it’s a bad service-industry rule at all. I can think of a few things people have said to me in my life that either came across as backhanded compliments, or that accidentally hit on a tender spot, and it made me feel uncomfortable or awkward. That’s not what I want my patrons feeling. (And I can remember a couple people who went out of their way to be bitches while in a service position, but I think we can all agree that’s a bad idea.)

    I mostly go out to casual places when I go out to eat where the servers chat with you and it’s very friendly, and it doesn’t bother me a bit. But this list is clearly aimed at a particular upscale dining “experience” where they’re trying to create a certain atmosphere, and you’re going to set a much higher standard of “eggshells” for that.

  160. veg-o-matic says:

    @sardonumspa: Your favorite pastime is willful misreading, isn’t it?

  161. richcreamerybutter says:

    @mythago: ‘But the situation is not “the customer is unreasonable for expecting that an order will be relayed accurately to the kitchen staff, who will then understand the order and prepare the food accordingly.”‘

    I neither said nor implied this. What I am saying is that I’ll risk appearing rude if I feel there’s a reasonable chance I cannot guarantee the food will be free of the offending ingredient. One day at a previous place of employment, the owner and I were opening for brunch and a woman who had received her take-out the day before had spent the evening in the emergency room due to the fact an item contained shellfish (this is not mentioned in this item’s ingredients on the menu). I sternly warned the owner that we needed to reprint the menu to include this information, and that we were extremely lucky the customer did not threaten legal action; the information went in one ear and out the other.

    Currently as a producer, I frequently have to cover my boss’s ass. I’m also forbidden from mentioning certain other details, so I also often have to lie. During most instances in which I’ve given a client a subtle warning in the interest of what’s best for everyone and the project, they have little or no appreciation that I’m putting my job on the line for their benefit.

    @catastrophegirl: You’re welcome!

  162. biswalt says:

    @Opoponax: How are you calling these meaningless questions? Bottled water or tap, fresh pepper. etc. Is how restaurants take care of people. That is catering to the customer! Otherwise you don’t ask the questions and assume that fresh pepper is or isn’t needed. Etc.

    I guess what I’m saying is, would you prefer to have your server not ask those questions?!?

    I’m also pretty sure they ask these question almost as much at fancy places as they do less fancy ones. What I suspect is that you take more notice of it when it’s a “low-level” restaurant b/c you’re already put off by it being a “low-level” restaurant.

  163. cameronl says:

    @biswalt: It sounds to me like maybe you’re a low-talker?
    Bwa-ha-ha! ME? Not a chance. No, I’m talking about a very obvious “let’s get chummy” move. Used to annoy the heck out of me.

  164. ChemicallyInert says:

    @biswalt: I have a brilliant idea:

    NAMETAGS!

    No need to thank me, really. All in a day’s work.

  165. coffeeswirl says:

    @GearheadGeek: I’m actually from Pennsylvania, very much a Yankee, filled with north eastern impatience and cute quips like youse meaning you guys. I just prefer “you all” because it sounds sweet instead of uneducated.