When you’re in a restaurant, the behavior of your food server can make or break your dining experience. It’s surprising how the members of the restaurant staff can make more of an impression on customers than the décor in the place or even the quality of the food served. Dining out can turn out to be a terrible experience when food servers continue to act in so many irritating ways.
Here are some types of food server customs and behavior that many customers simply find irritating:
- False intimacy. Sometimes a very chipper food server will come up to you with a wide smile and an overly friendly greeting like “Hello, my name is Stacy and I’ll be your waitress this evening!” It seems a bit too manufactured a style and it sometimes seems like an obvious ploy to make more money off their patrons.
It’s annoying because it seems like a very contrived way to tell you that your food servers are human—and that they have needs too. It’s a not very subtle hint that because you’re being served by a “friend”, you should reciprocate by giving a large tip at the end of the meal.
Also, it seems like a contrived move to convince you to make the restaurant your “go to” place to dine out on a regular basis. After all, you’re all friends, right?
- Touchy-feely. If you think that an exuberantly friendly greeting can be bad, some things are worse. Some servers really feel so friendly that they may even touch you!
This is often a bit more common with waitresses, who can feel like an instant buddy that they’ll cheerfully tap on the shoulder at some point. After all, you’re all friends, right?
But this can get a bit creepy, especially with male food servers initiating physical contact. Gender equality is damned, but that can be construed as harassment, if not outright assault. So is it so difficult for food servers to just lay off, please?
- Everything’s “terrific”. Food servers can also be enthusiastic about the quality of their food, and some can wax poetically about the culinary delights available from their kitchen. And frankly, we patrons would rather not hear that everything is fantastic.
When we ask food servers for a recommendation, we hope that we can get some help in picking the best food off the menu. Saying that everything’s oh-so-wonderful doesn’t really help—and it can even make us believe that none of the food is actually great at all.
So when we ask for “what’s good?” please help by offering a solid recommendation. And please offer the very best—what you suggest will factor a lot on whether we’ll even be back.
- Pushy servers. You ask for recommendations, and sometimes the food servers just pick the most expensive items off the menu. Do you really think that that’s a coincidence, or that we patrons won’t notice? This can get really annoying, especially when we’ve given our order and then the food server tries to change our mind for something much more expensive.
And then there’s also the cutesy way they ask “What else?” when you order, as if whatever you’ve ordered just seems so insufficient. It’s the restaurant version of “You want fries with that?” except this is much more expensive.
- Everything’s pending. The nice thing about many fast food restaurants is that at least they really do try to keep things moving. They take the word “fast” seriously.
But in restaurants, things can take very long time, and sometimes food servers can contribute to the delay. Shouldn’t the water and the menu be presented as quickly as possible? And while we wait, a cocktail or bread may not a bad idea.
Sometimes food servers, however, go AWOL right when you need them. You look up from the menu and they’re not there by your side anymore. And somehow, you get the feeling that everyone’s avoiding looking at your table—you’ve become invisible!
- “Your” food server. You’d think that in a restaurant, the food servers can act as teammates, right? In some restaurants, you’d be wrong. Ask anyone other than “your” food server for anything, and you may be told to wait for your waiter or waitress instead.
So what if you have a question, or you need water? Some food servers won’t serve you because, hey, it’s not as if they’ll get a share of the tip afterward. And speaking of tips…
- “Do you need the change?” This is code—they’re essentially telling you to say “No, keep the change.” And it’s just plain rude—so give us our change already and then let us figure out the tip we want to give. And if you’re all guilty of all the sins we’ve listed here, then giving a small tip makes all the sense in the world.
We understand that some customers can really make a terrible work day for food servers. But then again, some food servers can really muck things up!