Secrets Of Waiters

Michelle Crouch at Reader’s Digest has compiled another list of secrets that your waiter won’t tell you. Some are just going to make you annoyed, like the waitress who lies for sympathy tips. But there are plenty of useful secrets on the list that might improve your experience the next time you go out to eat.

Here are a few of the good ones:

1. If your waiter says something is “one of our most popular dishes” but doesn’t personally vouch for it, that’s waiter-speak for “I don’t like it but I can’t talk trash about it.”

2. If you order a frozen drink and your waiter says they’re out, consider asking for water instead. If the waiter was lying, he’ll make the frozen drink after all to avoid losing the sale. Obviously this is a dangerous bluff, because you don’t want to be stuck with a glass of water when you really wanted a daquirini, but you can always order something else to drink later if your plan backfires.

3. Don’t order water for everyone at the table out of habit; make sure they want it. Otherwise you’re wasting your waiter’s time.

4. If you’re fighting and suddenly get great service, it’s just because the staff is bored and they want to listen in.

5. The pasta Alfredo is the cheap, easy, comfort dish that restaurants serve to the unimaginative. If you’re trying to be a more adventurous diner, look for something else.

6. If you don’t like a dish, complain and get it over with. Don’t pick at it through the meal and complain afterward.

7. Ask what’s in a smoothie; some restaurants use half-and-half, which makes it a nutritional landmine.

And this one isn’t a consumer tip, but it’s just a sappy heart-warming story that will cheer you up. You know, if you like reading about people being nice to each other and crap like that.

Once on Mother’s Day, this older lady came in alone and told me that her kids weren’t able to be with her that year, but they had mailed her a gift card. So I told my manager that we had to make this an exceptional experience for her. I told her to come back with a friend some time and use her gift card because tonight, her meal was on us. We comped her dinner, and I sat with her through dessert while she told me about her kids. My coworkers were happy to cover my other tables for 15 minutes. The woman told me she would remember that dinner forever.

—Melissa McCracken, longtime waitress in Hawaii

“30 Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You” [Reader’s Digest] (Thanks to Adam!)
“20 Secrets Your Waiter Won’t Tell You” [Reader’s Digest]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.