How Servers At Restaurants Use Special Waity Sense To Read Your Table

Maybe you didn’t even realize you wanted more water, or were ready to tell your server what you’ll be ordering for dinner, but among good waiters, the practice of reading a table means they’ve got a sense of what you need and when you’re ready for them.

The Wall Street Journal looks into the waity sense of being able to read a table, which comes in handy if a group is just kicking back and gabbing instead of looking at the menu. Servers don’t want to have to stand by your table while you ignore them, so they employ tactics like placing a palm down on the table to gently encourage diners to pay attention.

Having “eyes for the table” is key to making service individualized and providing a quality experience at many restaurants, say industry insiders. It’s gotten stale to hear, “Hi, I’m Mindy and I’ll be your server,” apparently.

Those scripts are being tossed aside in favor of taking cues from diners. For example, someone with a laptop open on the table might not want an appetizer that’s good for sharing, or care about the cocktail menu.

“We changed ‘suggestive selling’ to ‘situational selling,’ ” says Rene Zimmerman, senior director of training and development for Bob Evans Farms Inc., a family-style restaurant and food maker. Instead of offering every breakfast guest one additional item, say biscuits and gravy, waiters are taught to adjust their offer depending upon the guest. For a diner who places a lighter order, like a bagel and fruit, the waiter might suggest a cup of coffee or tea.

So what signals are you sending to your server? Check out a few to tweak what kind of service you get, and read the rest at the Wall Street Journal.

• Acting chatty: A waiter will assume your friendly, talkative table is ready to let loose. Expect offers for more drinks and dessert.

‚Ä¢ To a waiter, “it’s okay” means, “I’m not happy with my meal.

• Arriving dressed to the nines for an early dinner might lead your waiter to assume you have another event later on, and will speed up your service.

• If you act like the leader of the pack, the waiter might defer to your wants over the others in your party.

*Thanks to Wendy for the tip!

How Waiters Read Your Table [Wall Street Journal]

Comments

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  1. j2.718ff says:

    “Maybe you didn’t even realize you wanted more water”

    … read the entire article in the hopes of discovering how a waiter would know I need more water before I did. No mention was made.

  2. Silverhawk says:

    I wish special waity sense included being able to tell when we’re ready to have our order taken, need refills and when we’re done eating and would like the table cleared.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      That’s not special waity sense, that’s just common sense. It is not that hard to be a waiter/waitress, but it does take some perception skills and common sense plus a sprinkle of initiative. Wait staff who can’t keep waters topped off and checks served are either noobs, overwhelmed, or just plain lazy. Sometimes a combo of those three.

      This “special waity sense” is the dumbest thing I’ve read today, and trust me that is saying something.

    • ARP says:

      Re: Table clearing. That varies. In Europe and fancier restaurants, they don’t clear plates until everyone is done. It’s considered rude to interrupt while others are still eating. In other restaurants, they’ll clear as you finish. But agreed, if you’re all done, they should clear relatively soon.

      • Silverhawk says:

        Oh, I understand that. My comment was sarcastic. I encounter way too much non-intuitive service in restaurants these days. I don’t appreciate is having to scoot plates around to find a place to fill out the receipt because they never bothered to clear the table at all.

        • Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

          I was once at this Chinese restaurant in NY, and the waitstaff were so impatient, when the main course was ready to be served, they cleared all the soup bowls from the table, including the one I was still eating.

          They took my half-full bowl, just as I was scooping up a spoonful of my wonton soup, while the spoon was still in transit to my mouth!

          • orion70 says:

            Have had this happen with appetizers a couple of times in restaurants. The main is ready and either we’re still picking at a shared appetizer, or saving a bit, and without a word, the server takes the plate away. I guess they decide when we’ve had enough.

  3. Cicadymn says:

    Waity sense implies magical powers. I was very disappointed to see it was basically reading behavioral cues about your table.

    Call me when you find a waiter equivalent of spiderman.

    “MY WAITY SENSE IS TINGLING.”

  4. etz says:

    I was recently at a restaurant that had a little transmitter gizmo superglued to each table. It had 3 dedicated buttons for ‘water’, ‘check/bill’, and ‘server’. When you press a button, the water guy or the actual server would be there withing seconds. It was kind of cool.

    • Dallas_shopper says:

      I wish every restaurant had this.

      • tungstencoil says:

        A long time ago I worked in a restaurant that piloted something similar. It was just one button, to be pressed if someone needed something.

        Most of the time, it was pressed either (1) “Wow, I wondered if that actually did anything”, and (2) by people who confessed that they thought it was funny to press it just as they saw you walking into the back. It also set an expectation that the waiter would be there RIGHT AWAY once you pressed it.

        Good waiting skills involve a certain rhythm, and if you’ve got your groove on augmented by some teamwork from your fellow, it will all go well and you won’t need such a thing. If an organization finds this to be “a good idea”, they have a training issue.

        Yes, most places have said training issue, but the button won’t fix it (IMO), it will make things worse and more chaotic.

    • donovanr says:

      I second this motion. For the love of everything great I second it.

    • Round-Eye §ñ‰∫∫„ÅØ„Ç≥„É≥„Çπ„Éû„É™„ÉÉ„Çπ„Éà„ÅåÂ•Ω„Åç„Åß„Åô„ÄÇ says:

      These are essentially fixtures in all Japanese “family-style” eateries. Though it’s just one button that calls the waiter/waitress. But it’s great because you can set the pace for ordering, refilling, leaving. And it’s not considered rude, just the way it is.

  5. pinkbunnyslippers says:

    Did anyone else have the old A&W restaurants where you could just order straight from your table? BRING THAT BACK, PEOPLE!

    • pinkbunnyslippers says:

      And by “straight from your table”, I mean via telephone to the kitchen.

      • yosemitemtb says:

        I remember those, but I was very young. It must have been the late 1960′s.

      • delicatedisarray says:

        There is a Sonic in Little Rock like that. The entire place was themed, the food was just standard Sonic- you did get refills though!

    • orion70 says:

      I wish they still had a few of those drive-in A&W’s around. Food came to a tray hung on the window somehow. Many a family got a full set of glass mugs that way too.

  6. captadam says:

    Suggested sells piss me off.

    When slumming it at Bob Evans, I ordered home fries. The waitperson asked, “And will those home fries be smothered today?”

    So much obnoxiousness packed into such a short question.

    • pythonspam says:

      How about, “How would you like that burger cooked?” or even “Do you want everything on that burger?” keeping in mind that the latter ‘everything’ should not include premium toppings such as cheese or bacon that usually incur upcharges, but should include the condiments and accoutrement that come standard.
      Sometimes they ask questions so they prepare it the way you want it the first time.

      What about “Would you like anything on those hashbrowns?” If the normal person orders them with at least one additional enhancement and a particular guest didn’t specify covered, topped, or capped, the server might ask the question to verify that the person wanted them plain.

      • bomber991 says:

        Ugh, I work at a Pei Wei. The only actually upselling I do is asking people if they’d like a soda or tea to drink, and really that’s usually cause whoever is ordering doesn’t tell me what they want to drink. What’s annoying is that after someone tells me what they want, I have to ask them if they wanted it with chicken, steak (not beef anymore, gotta say steak), shrimp, or vegetables and tofu. I then have to ask if they want white rice, brown rice, fried rice, or noodles. Shit’s so much easier when someone simply tells me they want a sesame chicken with fried rice and a drink.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      Del Taco sells at least 3x per transaction. They start by asking if you want some combo meal (you don’t), then ask if you’d like a drink, then a dessert. Sometimes they also inquire about shakes. I’m polite about it, because I know they hate asking as much as I hate responding.

    • Alessar says:

      Last time I was at Bob Evans they were doing this obnoxious spiel about carry-out soup. They were setting quart containers down on the table, and my server was insistent about doing her thing after I said was not interested.

  7. Murph1908 says:

    Waiting tables should be about serving. Not selling.

    I don’t want your recommendations unless I ask for it. You’ll get a better tip from me if you spend more time seeing to my needs and asking if there is anything I want, and less time trying to tell me what I want or need.

    (Former waiter/bartender).

    • bhr says:

      Selling is a big part of waiting tables, and honestly, most people would complain if they didn’t do a little. I (MANY MANY) years ago was a trainer/waiter for a chain, and going through the normal “selling” including things like pointing out features/specials, wine/drink pairings, desserts. I agree with you that it is annoying to get the “Would you like to add shrimp for $2″ pitch, you would be surprised that we had more complaints from customers who weren’t offered the upgrade.

      The key is telling the difference between upselling and being greedy. One of the tricks we trained folks was to recommend two mid-priced items they really liked and one pricey one, it was a bit more honest and customers didn’t notice that you were pushing up the bill.

      • Murph1908 says:

        Chains are the worst, and it doesn’t surprise me that you were trained that way at a chain. As I was at the chains I worked at.

        I never said waiting tables IS about serving, not selling. Saying it should be. You may have more people complain about not being “offered” the special, but you are discounting the people who don’t complain and don’t come back.

        One particular italian chain finds it necessary to spend 2 minutes pushing a bottle of wine on my wife and I at the beginning of the encounter. I’ll choose other places over it, and this is part of the reason. As a server, being used to managing 4 or 5 tables in a section, I would much rather have that 8 to 10 minutes per seating to take care of my customers, instead of wasting it pushing wine on people who don’t want it, or who would have ordered wine anyway.

        “…it was a bit more honest and customers didn’t notice that you were pushing up the bill.” This statement contradicts itself.

      • orion70 says:

        I like that at least that statement includes the $2 mention. Ordering stuff like nachos that typically come with hot peppers, and asked about whether I want them, and later finding a $2 charge for a few measly jalapenos…not so much.

      • orion70 says:

        I like that at least that statement includes the $2 mention. Ordering stuff like nachos that typically come with hot peppers, and asked about whether I want them, and later finding a $2 charge for a few measly jalapenos…not so much.

  8. Bob S says:

    When the Waiter/Waitress starts off with “Hi, I’m Mindy and I’ll be your server,” I usually tag on “We’re Bob and Betty and we will be your customers”.

    If they ever refer to us as guests I like to have a bit of fun and say to them….”The meal is going to be free then, right?” When I get a puzzled look back I say “Well we never charge guests for meals when they come to our house”. Betty usually just rolls her eyes and mumbles “here we go” under her breath since she has seen the routine before. After a bit of time I let them know that I am just kidding so they don’t go and get the manager involved with my shenanigans.

    • TerpBE says:

      That’s not nice to let them know you’re kidding. Then they start feeling all guilty about the stuff they did to your food before they brought it out.

      • Doubting thomas says:

        no we don’t

      • Bob S says:

        I don’t let it get to that point. I let them in on the joke factor before they ever leave the table.

        Occasionally the waiter and I will join forces and have him/her get the manger involved if they know that the manger will see the humor in it too. We only do this if the place isn’t hopping though.

        Can’t have a little fun get in the way of the business at hand now can we. There are after all other guests…oops…customers to think about.

    • tournant says:

      Bob: Don’t do that, Bob. It’s not funny; it’s grimace inducing. Thanks, Bob.

    • Maltboy wanders aimlessly through the Uncanny Valley says:

      Dude, was that you? I soooooo teabagged your drink!

    • 99 1/2 Days says:

      You are not amusing the 85% of the people who serve you.

      While I’m on the subject, you jokesters, you who mess with customer service reps who ask if you had any problems by responding “Yes!” and then laugh and say, “I’m just KIDDING, just wanted to see the look on your face!!!” after the CSR apologises to you? You are not funny, you are malicious jerks.

    • Anna Kossua says:

      Years ago I waited tables, and we’d get people that would say “…and we’ll be your customers.” It’s a little silly and I heard it often, but who cares? It just shows the customer is in a good mood, is having fun. They’re just being friendly. Nothing wrong with that!

      A side note… I wish I had friends with the names Bob and Betty. It’s just a great name combination, conjures up images of people who would be a lot of fun. “We’re going bowling with Bob and Betty tonight; then on Saturday we’re going to a barbecue at their house.” Yeah, Bob and Betty just sounds fun!

  9. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    So I’m being successfully read? Bummer.

    I kinda hoped I’d be a riddle wrapped in an enigma wrapped in an onion wrapped in a flour tortilla deep fried and drizzled with a thick raspberry cream sauce.

  10. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I like waiters who get to me fairly quickly, are nice, bring my food out fast and check on me once or twice without bothering me. Usually I don’t eat out on my own, so I’m talking to my dining companion, and if I am alone, I bring a book.

    I took my honey to a local place this last weekend and the service was perfect. Exactly like I just said. Yes, I left a cash tip. He paid so I don’t know if he tacked on anything but I like cash because it’s instant money for them.

    We went to Mel’s Diner in Hollywood when we were there last year. We had the nicest waiter there, too. Usually in a very busy tourist place it’s easy to get a harried server, but this guy was awesome. I always try to be nice and not be a pain in the ass because I’ve done the job and it sucks, unless that’s your thing.

    As far as really upscale restaurants go, I can’t speak for them. I’ve never been able to afford any. That will only happen if a 1%-er takes me to lunch.

  11. weave says:

    I spent a few days in Merida, Mexico recently and like how they do the check thing. Apparently it’s considered rude to bring it out the check unless asked, so the waiter is checking the table from afar and soon as someone makes a little “writing a check in the air” motion with hands when they see the waiter, the check is whisked right over.

  12. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    A good friend of mine has a pretty neat system for handling waitstaff.

    “If you see the salt cellar near the edge of the table, we need something. Otherwise, we’re dandy, no need to check on us.”

    • MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

      Here’s my system for handling waitstaff:

      “If you see the manager near the edge of our table, it’s because we got tired of waiting for you and called him over. You don’t want to see the manager near the edge of our table, do you?”

      //Salt Cellar????? Does that go with the pepper attic?

  13. Pigfish99 the randomly insane says:

    So waiters get superpowers as a part of their job deal? Count me in.

  14. teke367 says:

    I used to work at a restaurant owned by a family that previously ran a successful breakfast place. The regulars begged them to add their 212 omelletes to the new restaurant menu. They did, but they still insisted we’d try to push dessert like normal. I’d basically ask, “would you like to wash down that omellete with a chocolate cake?”

    I like the suggestive selling if its means the managers start to understand one set of rules doesn’t apply to all situations, but overall, I don’t trust restaurant managers (and I loved the family who ran the restaurant I mentioned) to acknowledge that as the server, I’m more in tune with what the table wants more than they (the managers) are.

  15. humphrmi says:

    The thing that my waiters and waitresses always seem to miss is when I want the check. We’ve finished our meal, our napkins have been placed atop the plate, and yet I inevitably end up waiting 20 minutes longer than I wanted to for the check. Sometimes even after I’ve mentioned, politely, that we’re in a hurry. Yeah, I can ask for it (if the waiter / waitress manages to walk by our table) but it’d be nice if these table-reading waitstaff could figure out that when your table’s been fully bussed by the bus staff and you’re sitting around, not talking, looking at your watch, that maybe you want the check.

    • Not Given says:

      I just go to the cash register. Oh, sorry, I don’t know where she is with the check but I’m tired of waiting, we had _______ and ______.

    • gafpromise says:

      I think once they intuit that you’re not buying anything else from them this evening, they tend to ignore you unless they’re full and need the table back.

      • tbax929 says:

        But if they haven’t been tipped yet, why would they risk annoying the customer at the end of the meal? That makes no sense.

        It’s irritating when you’re finished and ready to leave, but you have to wait for the freaking check. That should be one of the easiest things to “read”. I put my napkin on my plate or the table when I’m finished. Don’t most people do this?

    • NHpurple says:

      Do what we did once, at a Famous Dave’s, after our waitress left us with our dinner and never came back. We went up to the register and gave them what we thought the dinner cost and walked out. We knew we were right on based on the menu – the tip. No problem from the cashier.

  16. ned4spd8874 says:

    Any tips on actually getting the server to replenish my drink? That’s my biggest pet peeve. Don’t let me go dry or you tip will suffer. Some places are pretty good at realizing it’s getting low and needs a refill.

    But some places don’t. I’ve had an empty glass sitting on the end of the table for 20 minutes or more at times and they server is no where in sight while I’m parched.

    • dolemite says:

      I love when they FINALLY ask if you want a refill as you are finishing your plate. “Well…no, I needed one 10 minutes ago. I might need a little bit to wash it down.” Then they bring you a huge refill to the brim. “Yes, this would have been great long ago. Not so much now. I only need a few sips now that I have no food to go along with it…am I suppose to just chug 20 ounces of soda now?”

    • Sarge1985 says:

      Reminds me of this time my dad told a waitress that the amount of her tip was directly proportional to the amount of coffee in his cup. Never once ran dry.

      • ned4spd8874 says:

        I wish I had the balls to say stuff like this. I once knew someone who’s grandfather used to sit a stack of quarters (like $10 worth!) on the table no matter what the meal was. It could be just coffee. But he would tell the server that every time he was unhappy, he would take a stack away, meaning $1 less each time.

        That seems a little weird, but still…I would like to be able to bluntly say something at the beginning of the meal that I do not like to go dry. But in a nice way.

        • tungstencoil says:

          As a former waiter, I had someone try that exactly once.

          I calmly took his stack of singles, handed them to him, and said “now that we’ve gotten our expectations all ironed out, what can I get you to drink?” Still gave them good service, still got a decent tip, but it was truly obnoxious.

        • cspschofield says:

          My grandfather was a minister, and one of the mildest mannered men in the world, until someone tried to scr*w with him. When he came east to meet my mother he took my folks out to dinner in a very nice New York City restaurant, and the waiter decided he could embarrass the hick into tipping more than the then customary 15%;

          Waiter, “Sir, you forgot your change!”

          Grandfather, “I guess I did.” Takes it and walks out.

  17. dolemite says:

    My favorite: “I’ll have the appetizer, 16 oz steak and salad!”.

    Later, when my pant’s button has shot across the room and I don’t want to see food again for another 15 hours: “Will you guys be having desert tonight?” Umm…sorry, I am not a world champion hotdog eater…no.

  18. Not Given says:

    1. Don’t flirt with my husband. I’m the one doing the tipping, instead of $2-4 you’ll be getting 2¬¢. (We don’t do ‘fine’ dining.)

    • tbax929 says:

      I am flattered when the server flirts with my date (not married – my state won’t allow it for people like me). To me it just affirms that I have good taste.

    • noramine says:

      agreed. I was doing most of the talking and all of the paying once and the server could not stop talking to and only addressing my date. It felt really awkward for me to watch her stare and flirt with him. Equal attention, no matter the sexes, or more attention to the party addressing you. In my opinion.

  19. tbax929 says:

    I prefer my servers not “read” my table. That just means they’ll assume I don’t tip since I’m black, and I’ll get really shitty service. I find myself overtipping just to try to fight the stereotype.

    I tend to go to the same places over and over since they know I’m a generous tipper, and I get ood service at them. I can’t tell you how many restaurants I’ve tried to dine at before leaving after having been ignored by the waitstaff.

    So, yeah, don’t “read” my damn table. If you want to know something, just freaking ask me.

    • delicatedisarray says:

      Maybe I’m just incredibly naïve, but I was unaware of that stigma.

      I’ve never been a waitress, but if I were one I think my judgy-ness on tipping would come up with tables filled with teens. Which would be judgmental of me, I know I- and some of my friends- tipped well when we were teenagers.

      • tbax929 says:

        Oh, they refer to black diners in restaurants as “Canadians” so they can get away with saying it. I worked as a bartender, never a server, and servers would routinely make comments about how they knew a table wasn’t going to tip. I guess they felt comfortable enough around me to share their expertise on reading tables.

        I tip so well at my regular places that it’s not uncommon for me to walk in and have multiple servers trying to wait on me! Mind you, I tip well because I worked in the service industry and know what it’s like to depend on tips. The fact that I hope I’m helping ease the stereotype is just a bonus.

    • ChuckECheese says:

      STOP EATING AT DENNY’S!!!

    • KidRey says:

      Sorry, I couldn’t help laughing out loud at the sincerity of your plight.

      Mexicans (from Mexico) have the stereotype of shameless 5% tippers. Sad, when you see how many are actually in the service industry.

      • tbax929 says:

        They do say that about Mexicans. And church groups, actually.

        I know there’s a reason a stereotype becomes one. But when you give someone crap service just because you think they won’t tip well, you get what you deserve. I wonder how many of the stereotyped groups don’t tip well simply because they don’t get good service.

        • Dallas_shopper says:

          I’m white. I occasionally go out to lunch with a friend of mine who is black. The service is usually bad when I’m dining with her no matter where we go, and I always assumed it was because people would assume she’s a bad tipper due to her skin color. (For the record, she is a generous tipper.)

          I’ve also noticed that when we go shopping together, some employees will practically follow her around the entire store. That never happens to me. It’s pretty sad that crap like that still goes on.

  20. bubbledumpster says:

    My husband and I both look pretty young and generally dress fairly casually when we go out to eat, so our waiters generally assume that we aren’t going to tip well and give us really poor service.

    Self-fulfilling prophecies and all that.

    • bubbledumpster says:

      And we both work in the service industry, so on the rare occasions that we do have good service we generally tip 20%

    • iblamehistory says:

      We have that issue too. We’re 26 and even with a full (huge, lovely, huge) beard, we rarely get offered drink specials. Granted, he doesn’t drink, and I’m growing a person inside me at the moment so I don’t either. But they always flinch when I ask for drink specials after being offered tea and “virgin cocktails.” For obvious reasons I don’t ask for them currently, so when we go somewhere and we’re offered lemonade, I know right away we’ll barely see the server because it’s assumed we’re 15.

      We ate out a lot in college. Being in a longstanding relationship and despising the activities of our peers, we kept to ourselves and and disposable income (ha! I remember that!) so we’d eat out quite often. We’d constantly get terrible service. We’d tip a good 30% if on the offhand chance the service was good, meaning our order was taken, drinks were brought and refilled, and our food was brought to us not freezing after 40 minutes of being ready. We don’t expect handstands from servers; just bring our stuff and we’ll tip nicely. We know you have other tables to tend to.

      Even now it’s common for my husband to have to leave our table to go to the bar to get refills of our water. We get ignored while the middle aged couple behind us is brought beer after beer.

  21. superml says:

    I just have one little thing I encountered recently at a restaurant. It wasn’t busy, maybe five tables occupied in the whole place. The waiter would bring out more drinks when ours were only about 2/3 empty and take the one still with beverage in it away. What a waste.

  22. donovanr says:

    I would love a button like on airplanes where you could call a waiter when you needed them. I am sick of telling waiters that everything is great over and over, and if I want to see the desert menu I would ask. All they are saying when they interrupt my meal is “Don’t forget to tip me.”

    • kerry says:

      I recently visited South Korea, where 99% of the restaurants we went to had wireless doorbells at the table for just this reason. It’s common to just yell when you want service there, so the doorbell acts as a more polite version of going “hey over here!” We went places where the bell was discreet and silent in the dining room, simply displaying a table number at the wait station, and others where not only did it ring loud and clear but every server was required to look up and say “eh?” in unison when a bell rang. So much better than trying to catch a server’s attention by eye contact or hand signals.

  23. kerry says:

    “To a waiter, ‘it’s okay’ means, ‘I’m not happy with my meal.’”
    Man, you’re not kidding. A few weeks back I told a server that one of our dishes was “just OK” and she took it off the check entirely. It wasn’t that bad, it just wasn’t very good. I should be more careful about my language in the future.
    As for the rest of this: I wish more servers would pay attention. It’s amazing how much of a difference truly attentive service can make. Bad service can ruin an otherwise great meal, and great service can make mediocre food seem a lot better.

  24. Bent Rooney says:

    Come on, it does not take any Jedi mind tricks to see an empty glass and fill the dang thing up.

  25. Benyth says:

    Hell, I can’t even get a waiter to refill my iced tea without having to flag them down. If they were ‘reading’ the table, they should have seen the empty glass!

  26. DarkPsion says:

    I remember when I was attending a Paint Seminar at a nice hotel and we were having lunch.

    Everytime I set my fork down, the wait staff would try to take my plate. I would tell them, I was not done and I am just enjoying my food, but the next time I paused, here came a hand for my plate again.

  27. Levk says:

    mmmm… I never done any of that stuff and wanted that in return >.>

  28. waicool says:

    went to one of those “fine” restaurants for a special occasion with my fiance back in the day. it was a night for romance, well, that was our goal. at dinner, we had at least 3 waitstaff attendants assigned to our table, one filled our water, one removed used china and crumbs, one brought us bread/butter and of course our server who must have had a 7 course routine cued up for us. we were trying to have a conversation through all of these interuptions and after about 15 minutes of this one of em walked up and asked if there was anything they could remove from our table…..wait for it….yes……i said it….”you”. my wife and i still chuckle about that one. oh btw, we tipped standard that night.

  29. Sad Sam says:

    I like and reward good wait staff. If I’m out with the girls and we are chatting up a storm, don’t come by asking if we are ready to order meals until the menus are closed, but do encourage us to order drinks. Most of the time we do want to monopolize the table if I’m out with the girls, I generally ask the wait staff if we can sit at the table and I promise to reward for table use, I’ll keep an eye out for how many times the tables next to us turn and then I tip accordingly. Or we will switch from table to lounge area to continue our socializing.

    If I’m out with work folks, dressed in a suit, I want a speedy lunch, which some wait staff struggle with b/c I live in Palm Beach, Florida and the wait staff is used to serving season folks and tourists. I do want to hear about specials most of the time, but I’d rather have the offer, do you want to hear about specials and not have the specials spewed at me. I’m not really a fan of up selling but if I’m socializing I want an offer of coffee or an after dinner drink.

  30. Alessar says:

    Most of my waiters are functionally illiterate.

  31. 420greg says:

    My wife always ask “why is it taking so long for the waiter to take our order?”

    I always have to remind her to close her menu. A good waiter won’t come over if the menus are still open.

  32. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    “Arriving dressed to the nines for an early dinner might lead your waiter to assume you have another event later on, and will speed up your service. “

    Or they’re simply retired and will actually linger for a few hours.

  33. DrPizza says:

    For an example of good waiters, they use Bob Evans?????? LOLOL

  34. maxamus2 says:

    Unless you have a party of 6 or more where the “mandatory” 18% tip applies, in that case good luck getting service.

  35. gparlett says:

    I hate waiters who need to comment on how much food I’ve eaten. If I eat everything on the plate they just have to say ‘Looks like someone was hungry tonight.’ or ‘Looks like you really liked that.’ Or they’ll find some even more unique way to call me a fat pig in front of my friends. However if I leave even a scrap of food on the plate they’ll ask what was wrong with the meal. There is some magical amount of food to leave on a plate that will get the waiter to just shut up, but I’ve never found it.

  36. maxamus2 says:

    I do appreciate “attentive” wait staff, but I absolutely hate the staff that stops by your table every few minutes to ask “is everything ok here, can I get you anything”? If you continually interrupt me I will leave a lousy tip. Learn to read the table and anticipate, don’t just bug me.

    Same with that manager that has to come around to ask “and how was everything tonight”, cut that crap out. Trust me, if it was bad you will know about it and if I don’t say anything you can assume things went well.

  37. wrbwrx says:

    so, when i say “my meal was, okay”. what are they going to do about it? I have already tried eating it. i dont want to sit around for another 15minutes while they attempt to fix something that i simply dont like.

    another thing is when the portion is gigantic and i only eat a normal amount. the waitstaff seem to be offended that I only ate half of it and dont want to take home leftovers.

  38. iesika says:

    I drink a lot of water with my meal, and my glass will go from full to empty in just a few seconds. Whenever I go out, I always ask the server if they can leave a carafe or pitcher at the table. Even if they tell me that’s against some kind of policy, I at least feel like I’ve made my demanding, thirsty person disclaimer, and I usually get more prompt refills as a result. Not asking usually ends with me frustrated and thirsty with hot-pepper-mouth (I try not to take it out on the server since it’s my ‘drinking habit’ that’s ridiculous, but it doesn’t contribute to a pleasant dining experience).

    Being ignored at the start of a meal will sometimes irritate me enough to make me leave. Even if my dinner companion(s) and I are chatting, we’re going to get at least 20 minutes of empty space between ordering and getting our food – and then we’ll talk while we eat, and while we wait for the bill.

    (For the record, I’m a pretty good tipper. I’ve never lived off of tips, myself, but my sister and best friend both did it for years. I know how important they are, especially in the states that don’t require servers to be paid minimum wage.)

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

    “Hey fatty…you look like you could put away a few rashers of bacon. How about it?”

  40. RegBevWil says:

    I was a server for awhile and I did get pretty good at assessing whether or not a table was going to leave me a shitty tip before I even approached them for the first time. Sometimes you can just TELL that the people you’re serving are going to shaft you.

    I did also get very good at making sure none of my tables were wanting for anything, which is not easy. When you have a full section–six, even, even eight tables at once, which can be up to 40 customers–it’s quite easy to let little things like refilling the water glasses slip your mind.

    It’s not rocket science or magic…working in the industry you pick up on vibes and behavioral patterns and cues that guide how you service a table. My restaurant had weekly contests for the servers to see who could sell the most of a certain specialty cocktail or entree. The week I won the contest was “who can sell the most premium liquor cocktails”, which gave me fascinating insight into the power of suggestion. When customers asked for a cocktail (vodka soda, for example) I would ask “would you like Grey Goose or Ketel One?” Both are considered “premium” vodkas, and while clearly there are more choices than just those two, nine times out of ten the customer would choose one or the other, rather than asking for a lower-grade vodka.

    Sneaky, yes, but I won that week and got a bottle of wine to boot.