Things I Never Do While Eating at a Restaurant After Working in the Service Industry for 9 Years
This essay article is part of a Narcity Media series. The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Narcity Media.
I landed my first restaurant job when I was 15 and spent nine long years learning the ins and outs of the service industry.
Although I’ve spent most of my career at the front of the house, I’ve held almost every position, from head waiter to kitchen manager to bartender.
You learn a lot of valuable life lessons raised by the service industry, like how to deal with adult tantrums, how to barter free stuff, and how to survive change fueled only by chili-stuffed olives and Fernet-Branca. .
But perhaps the most practical knowledge is bar etiquette and how to conduct yourself off the clock in a restaurant in order to respect other workers in the industry.
Here are 11 things I never do in restaurants based on my personal experience and customer-induced headaches.
Sitting at a dirty table
Unless there is a sign directing you to sit down, I always see a host. Sitting at a random table, especially a dirty table that has not yet been served by the bus, is not only confusing, it can disrupt the flow of service.
Server sections, waiting lists and party size are all important factors in deciding where to sit. Bypassing the host and sitting down is not only awkward for the staff, it’s also rude.
Applaud when someone breaks something
I don’t know where this tradition originated, but I hate it. Clapping sarcastically when a waiter or bartender breaks something deserves an instant peek.
This draws unnecessary attention to the skid and can be embarrassing. Even if you do it with light intentions, I guarantee you’re just boring.
Standing in front of the bar serving well
The service pit is the part of the bar dedicated to preparing drinks for the tables on the floor rather than serving walk-in customers. You can usually identify a service well because the bartender will do orders printed on tickets and waiters come and go serving drinks.
Well blocking service by standing in front is inconvenient for staff trying to work around you. If you see the bartender in this section making several drinks before taking your order, he doesn’t ignore you, he builds rounds for all the other customers seated at tables.
Rudely report a server
There are several ways to get your server’s attention, my favorite being a polite wave or simply by making eye contact.
Hissing, yelling or slamming are in my opinion unacceptable ways to get the attention of your servers. It’s demeaning and boring, and as someone working in the industry, I’ll probably ignore you until you come to me with manners.
Speak on the phone when ordering
Talking on the phone while you’re trying to tell your server your order is also bad manners. This can be confusing for both the person you’re talking to and the worker serving you, and usually results in a longer order time.
End a conversation before starting another, or just step away for a second for your phone call. Nobody wants to feel like they’re interrupting you when they’re just trying to do their job.
Order dishes out of season
The time of year can make or break a great meal, especially if you’re dining at a place with a menu that relies heavily on produce.
Ordering dishes with seasonal ingredients will usually result in a fresher, more satisfying, and long-lasting meal. Don’t worry if your summer squash ravioli you ordered in the middle of January aren’t up to par.
Asking for dishes that are not on the menu
There are exceptions to this rule if the restaurant is known for its unlisted specialties or “secret menus”. But for the most part, if it’s not listed, it’s because they’re not selling it.
I’m currently a bartender at an upscale place specializing in Mediterranean tapas and regularly encounter disgruntled customers who complain that we don’t have chicken wings in the kitchen in case anyone wants them.
If you don’t see your favorite dish on the menu, get out of your comfort zone and try something new. If you’re an incredibly picky eater, check the map ahead and plan accordingly.
Divide the tab into large groups
In the age of Venmo, PayPal, and Cash App, there’s no reason your server should spend 20 minutes detailing a $400 tab, especially if you didn’t tell them in advance that you would be paying. all separately.
If you insist on doing so, consider ordering many plates to share and then dividing the final amount evenly. It’s a lot easier than having to huddle around a POS system trying to remember who ordered what, who swapped seat numbers, and who the company thinks should pay for the hummus because they ate most of it.
Leave a bad tip
It should go without saying, but tip your service workers. We all have bills to pay and 20% tips are the norm these days.
If you’re not a fan of a certain dish, don’t like the art on the walls, or are just in a bad mood, don’t blame the staff by tipping badly. Many restaurants only pay hospitality members $2.13 an hour, and their wages are dependent on tips.
If someone takes the time to care for you, they deserve to be compensated appropriately. Bonus points if you tip in cash.
Stay Beyond Closing
Listen everyone, we want to go HOME.
Some closing tasks can’t be completed until all customers have left the restaurant, and staying after closing can mean your carers have to stay much longer than necessary while waiting for you to finish. the drink you’ve been nursing for an hour. .
If it’s late, be aware of what time the kitchen closes, when the bar is last called, and when to ask for the bill. If you’re not sure, just ask. Your server or bartender will appreciate the effort you make to respect their time.
Leave random trash
It’s my number one pet peeve. Bringing outside trash into the establishment and then leaving it on tables for others to clean up is rude and impolite. Crushing gum on a plate means someone will have to scrape it off so it doesn’t end up ruining a load of dishes.
If you bring rubbish with you that needs to be thrown away, just ask where the nearest trash can is.
Once a man left a pile of 50 damp newspapers sitting on the bar. Not only did I have to clean it, but I never got any answers as to why it was carrying around 50 damp newspapers on a sunny day. Clean up after yourself.