I’ve been serving you drinks and food, and attending to you all night. For about 10 years. They’ve been the best years, mingling with patrons and reveling in how pleased they are with the menu and service – most of the time.
Professionalism is expected on my part, and I deliver. Now how about we discuss guest etiquette? Here are eight things I'd rather you never do again.
Don’t flag me over and not know what you want.
I hear golf claps around the world for this one. I see you’re hungry and thirsty and that you’ve managed to plant yourself in a restaurant. There are also 30 other guests in my section who feel the same way.
I’m required to sense urgency, so I come to you. If I do and you’re already irritated that I didn’t materialize before you raised your hand, only to hesitate and stall through 10 minutes of an existential crisis of choice, no one wins.
Why? You’re 37 and have been drinking margaritas since college. No need to reinvent the wheel and order a rum and Coke. We all know you won’t drink it. Now I have to politely excuse myself as five other tables are going down in (understandably) needy flames and come back to take your drink order. By then, your friends are buzzed and you’re drinkless and unhappy.
Like Ms. Edson said in third grade, “Have your statement ready before you raise your hand.”
Don’t touch me, my hair, or my tattoos.
Let’s get to the point. I’m your server for the evening, for an hourly wage plus tips. You’re a patron of the house, paying for food, drink, and service to your table. I’m happy to do that exceptionally. However, I’m not your servant or monkey. I won’t dance or clap on command, or stand to be petted.
I like my curly hair and my tattoos. I know they are visible and I’m happy to entertain a light compliment or question about either, but do not rake your hands through my hair or touch my arm (ugh, you just ate). They are not part of the “restaurant show” – they are parts of my body. It’s unsolicited and it’s awkward. Period.
Your cocktail does have enough booze. Don’t ask for more.
Your martini arrives with just enough room at the top to not spill as you bring it your lips. Somehow this courtesy disappoints and you ask why your glass doesn’t have enough vodka in it. You ask for the manager who explains it’s a proper pour, later don’t tip, and Yelp that Swanky Spoon swindled you.
A cocktail glass on average can hold three to five ounces of liquid. Most martini recipes call for three ounces of spirit, before being shaken or stirred. If I pour you a few five-ounce martinis filled to the rim, you will spill and be downright over-served.
I’m not dumping a bottle of booze in your glass because that’s $150 worth of product and a potential DUI. Thank me later.
When you ask for the manager or wine specialist, don’t be surprised it’s a woman.
Date night, and you want the finest red wine on the list. You ask for the sommelier and I, a woman, stop by your table. You look up, smile, but your eyes enlarge a bit. I smile (grimace) back as your mind is slowly, painfully, blown away by my presence.
There’s a lot of social upheaval abound, but it’s 2018. I’ve busted my butt for just about a decade running restaurants and studying wine notes in the wee hours of the night; I’m equipped and happy to suggest a bottle for you. Let’s move on.
Your date is now stuck with you, a bottle of wine, and your antiquated machismo.
Don’t report your allergies or aversions after placing your order.
THIS. THIS. THIS. My blood pressure is raised sky-high as I write this. You ordered spaghetti for your main course and now it’s here. You take a bite, then wave me over to casually ask if there’s garlic, onions, tomato, or cilantro. And then to say you’re severely allergic to these ingredients. HOLY CRAP THIS IS AN ITALIAN RESTAURANT. So now we both die, because I’m having a panic attack and going to prison for third-degree manslaughter.
Jokes aside, if you have a serious allergy, please let your server know before ordering. The restaurant will do all they can and properly advise you.
Don’t expect favors from Bobby, your buddy’s son who’s the back waiter.
Know Bobby? Great. Know the chef or owner? Wonderful. Don’t shamelessly name-drop to peddle favors through your server. You just sat and asked if Brad the owner is in. Now Christina has to run over to her manager, then the manager to the host to check the name on the reservation, to text Brad if he knows you – all for a free $10 dessert and a brief moment of status.
You don’t have his number, you don’t know where he lives, you haven’t a clue he’s on vacation. He doesn’t remember you from that flea market three months ago, and you’re not buddies.
Want a kale salad? If it’s not on the menu, don’t ask for it.
It’s not Burger King and you can’t always have it your way. Chez Suzette is not a supermarket where there are aisles of every ingredient for your taking. The menu reflects a culinary concept with specific produce in house. It’s like an amusement park ride; you’ve buckled in and signed up for a particular experience.
And trust me, no one has the time at Chez Suzette on a Friday night at 8 p.m. to run to Whole Foods for that Tuscan kale you want “properly massaged” (an actual request).
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Don’t yell, “Get a degree!” or “Get a real job!” if you’re dissatisfied.
For sake of argument, let’s imagine the worst-case scenario: You hated the wine and food and politely relayed an opinion, to zero feedback. And then a rat darts across your table.
Yes, you have all the right to be upset and formally report grievances to the manager and/or owner. You do not have the right to yell at the server or any employee and say, “Go to college and get a real job!” and storm out. It’s petty and downright disrespectful to the millions of people who cook, clean, serve, and manage for a living.
You are upset about the quality of your meal. Your server did not make the wine or the food. And frankly, your server’s level of institutional education is none of your business.