Restaurant Etiquette


Let's get real for a knew this was coming. The actress living in LA...working as a server...who has to joyfully acquiesce to the meanderings of obnoxious restaurant patrons.

Instead of posting a rant or venting about things that nobody really cares about, I thought I would put my findings into one helpful post about modern restaurant etiquette. The things you can do or not do to keep from sending your server into a cussing flurry the second they're out of your sight.

At this point, if you're thinking "I don't really care. They're there to serve me, I'll do whatever I want." I am genuinely and honestly sorry for you. That is a human being who is serving you...and you are a jackass (my grandpa used that word one time, so I decided I'm allowed to use it now too).

Or if you think you're an amazing patron, kudos to you :) Thanks for being awesome. Maybe you have a friend you can send this to!

So here we go!

First of all, you must understand that servers are expected to provide excellent service (duh), but we are also expected to sell a certain amount of food. And alcohol. This is why a server always suggests certain appetizers and beverages when you go out to eat. Some people think is incredibly annoying, but your server would get fired if they did not offer those things. Also, we are trained to offer items that will complement your meal! And we want to make sure you don't forget anything. If you want your burger with bacon but forget to tell me, then you'll remember when I offer it to you!

Which brings me to alcohol. Please, for the love of sunshine, don't be offended when your server offers you alcohol. If it's a Sunday afternoon and you just came from church with your lovely family and you just spent the morning listening to why alcohol is bad, and your server offers you a margarita...calm yourself. Smile and order a tea. Our performance at work is judged by how much alcohol we sell.

And for goodness sake, bring your ID.

Don't steal the pen. We have to buy our own!

Children are awesome. I love kids! But there is a dark place inside of me that thinks some adults should be spayed and neutered after working at a restaurant.

Keep your children sitting down. Or at the very least, keep them contained to your table/booth. It is SO DANGEROUS to allow your children to wander around a restaurant. What if someone else has dropped a knife on the floor? What if someone is carrying hot food and can't see your five year old dancing in the aisle? Not to mention it is obnoxious for everyone else in the restaurant.

If you have kids, they made a mess. Even if you can't see it. The poured salt under the table. They broke their crayon into a million pieces and shoved it in between the seat. They poured out all the salt packets.  They put their veggies on the floor to make you think they ate them. Kids are expensive. When going out to eat, that means you leave an extra tip because of your kids. Because someone has to clean that ish up.

Last note on kids.... Teach your children how to tip. Teenagers are the worst. If your kids are going out to eat, give them extra money to leave a good tip. And set a good example for them growing up.

Coupons are awesome. So are Kids Eat Free nights, Buy One Get One deals, lunch specials and Happy Hour. Seriously, they're the best! But your server is providing you with the same service you would have received even without the special. Which means....tip off the original total! 

Now, tips are tricky. They're something unique to the United States, and everyone has different opinions on them. I happen to be incredibly lucky in CA because I still get standard minimum wage along with my tips ($8/hr). I have a friend in Utah who gets $2.13 an hour. We make our living off of tips.

Tipping étiquette is something that has changed over the years. So here is a current, Tiffany-ized tip table.

10% - Thanks for trying to do your job, but you weren't that great.

15% - You were pretty good!

20% - That was exactly what I expect when I go out to eat.

25% - Not only were you an amazing server, but I can tell you went above and beyond for us (this is kid territory, hint, hint). You're probably one of the best servers I've ever had.

30% - You were amazing, your smile is contagious, and we all enjoyed ourselves so much because of the environment you created for us.

30%+ - All of the we're rich and we like to bless people.

If you can't understand my cool tip table, it means that 20% is a standard tip.

What?! That's so high!

I don't make the rules, I just know that 20% is what everyone expects where I work. Although, most of us are content with 15%.

If you ever tip less than 10%, you shouldn't go out to eat. (This is where most teenagers fall.)

When it comes to ordering your food, read the menu. We have absolutely no problem answering questions about the menu, in fact, we like doing it! But it does get annoying when people ask if we serve burgers at Islands. Nope, we're a pasta place. .::sigh::.

Don't be afraid to ask for what you want! Most restaurants can take the sauce from that thing and put it on this thing while adding a little bit of that other thing.

Ask for your condiments when you order. If you know you like ranch with your fries...then ask for it when you order your fries. If you know you usually like more dressing than is normally on a salad...then ask for more when you order the salad. If you eat BBQ with everything, then ask for BBQ when you order. But, if you forget, then ask later. We'd rather you have your meal the way you want it than not ask for ranch because you don't want to be obnoxious.

We don't spit in your food. That's disgusting. And after eight months of working in a restaurant I have never seen or heard of anyone intentionally contaminating the food. We'll complain about you, but we won't mess with your food.

Tell the manager if someone was awesome or terrible, or if something was awesome or terrible. They want to know!

Not all drink policies are created equal. Even when drinks are refillable, not all places do automatic refills. At Islands the first one is automatic, but after that you need to ask for it. So please don't get upset when your drink isn't full all the time.

If you're eating alone, welcome to the club! I do this all the time. Learn to embrace the bar. Servers are only allowed to have a certain number of tables (in most restaurants). And if you're going to sit and read a book for an hour and half while you enjoy your wine and snack on your dinner then only tip $ should sit at the bar instead of taking up someone's table.

I think that's all I've got for this round! I know I have lots of friends who are servers...anyone have anything to add?

And feel free to ask questions! :)