At Your Service: Top 10 Etiquette Tips for Restaurant Servers
7. Don't speak ill of others
Photo from the Imperial War Museum
If you do happen to decide we're chummy, please don't take that as a sign that you can bitch to me about the other waitress over there who always gets bigger tips than you do because she flirts with her customers 'cause she's such a freaking floozy. And then there's your manager who yells at everyone and is a total jerk, and that one customer who always grabs your ass like it's something that's suddenly socially acceptable. Ugh. You hate them all. I get it. And I sympathize. But it's not very professional to tell me all about it, especially because I might know someone you're talking about. Aside from that, it makes you seem rude, and I wonder what you might say about me when I leave. If you must vent, wait until you get home and tell your cat all about it.
6. Tell us the specials and how much they cost
Even if there's a big 'ol sign listing the specials, it would be great if you could go over them with my friends and me. I am notorious for neglecting to look at those special signs and missing out on good food because of it. I'm just not always that observant. So tell me about it. And when you're reciting the specials, please please tell me how much they cost. My parents once ate at a semi-fancy restaurant in Corpus where no single item on the menu was over $40. They ordered a special (and not something with truffles or caviar or lobster) and it was twice as much as any non-special item. They were shocked because the waiter hadn't given any indication that it was such an expensive special. They were also pissed and never went back. Unless I'm dining at a restaurant where I'm already expecting to be paying well over $100 for my meal alone, I'd like to know how much everything costs. It might seem gauche, but it's also helpful to those of us on a budget.
5. Know the menu
You don't have to have eaten everything on the menu, but you should have a good idea of what ingredients are in every dish and what other people say about it, and you should be able to answer my questions about it. If you don't know the answer to a question, I would much prefer you ask someone instead of making something up. No joke, I've caught waiters doing this. Just try to have a general knowledge of how big a portion size is, whether a dish is spicy and any hidden ingredients that might cause allergies. Be willing to give a recommendation, but for the love of God, don't tell me everything on the menu is a masterpiece.
4. Don't make a scene in front of diners
This is a rare occurrence, but I have seen waiters get in verbal arguments with one another while on the job, and it's super awkward. I mean, sometimes it can be entertaining, but it feels more voyeuristic than theatrical, and that makes most people uncomfortable. Similarly, if you must ask a customer to leave for whatever reason, try not to make a big deal out of it. The customer will probably be pretty unhappy, but you can take charge of the situation by being calm and collected. If you feel it's necessary, go ahead and apologize to the other diners once the unruly guest is gone, but never antagonize him further. Remember what happened to that couple on Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares several months ago? Yeah, don't be like them.