At Your Service: Top 10 Etiquette Tips for Restaurant Servers
3. Don't act impatient
Photo from Seattle Municipal Archives
When restaurants have a high turnover, and you need to make rent this month, it can be tempting to get diners in and out quickly in order to make more tips. But it's kind of rude. I've written previously that diners need to leave in a timely manner once their meal and drinks are finished, but don't start clearing the table if they're still munching on dessert. Subtly placing the check on the table once you're sure no one is ordering anything else is fine, and I like having the check ready instead of being forced to ask for it multiple times. It's fine to want to get rid of me; just don't show that you want to get rid of me.
2. Don't eat or drink leftovers
OK, this is something I probably wouldn't ever see you do, but my dad told me he used to do it all the time when he was a poor, starving waiter, and just thinking about it totally grosses me out. "This guy would order a steak, eat two bites and then say he was done and leave," my dad explains. "So we'd cut off the part he bit into and eat the rest. You can't let good steak go to waste!" I don't know, Dad, I really think sometimes you can. It's not that I don't want to share my food or anything. And honestly, it doesn't affect my life one way or the other if you eat my leftovers. It's just kind of gross. And I doubt any decent manager would approve. So just befriend a chef in the kitchen and get yourself some good leftovers. Please.
1. Smile and be polite
This should be obvious, but it's amazing how many surly servers I've encountered out there. Like I said before, I know it's often a thankless job. Customers treat you like crap. You don't make as much money as you should. But part of the job is customer service, and it's difficult to give good service if you seem like you're in a foul mood. I have many friends from theater who wait tables (cliché, I know), and they've perfected acting like they're in a good mood, even when they're not. So put on a smile! Act happy! Sometimes, pretending to be happy actually improves your mood. And I promise it'll improve your tips.
Now I have an etiquette question for you: How do you feel about the terms waiter versus waitress? Is it necessary to differentiate by gender? Should everyone be called a waiter? Should everyone be called a server? What do you think it the proper terminology?