Just recently, a news story went viral about how a T.G.I. Fridays manager asked 3 cops to leave the restaurant while they were on their lunch break. The reason? They had guns!
Obviously, this has got to be one of the dumbest moves ever in the history of the food service industry, and in the age of social media the backlash was terrible and swift. Eventually, the corporate office issued an apology, assured customers that the manager had to undergo coaching to have a better understanding of the company gun policy, and the cops were invited back for a free lunch.
But while this case illustrates how restaurants can mistreat patrons, the reverse is also often true. Sometimes the patrons can be such a nightmare that their food servers fantasize about having them thrown out of the restaurant.
So if you’re a frequent patron of dining establishments, can you please be on your best behavior? Here are some types of customer behavior that give food servers a fit:
1. Bringing ill-mannered Children. Yes, it’s true that some kids are just so darn cute and lovable, and of course they need to eat too. But many food servers just wish parents won’t bring their kids along. The chances of kids with good manners seem to have deteriorated over the last couple of decades, and now many of them are ill-mannered, noisy, rambunctious, and just simply a nightmare to serve.
The truth of the matter is that the quality of child rearing has truly deteriorated, and now a generation of undisciplined kids are coming out and entering restaurants all over the world. They won’t sit down, or if they do take a seat they’re crying and screaming.
This is a call to all parents who have children screaming at the top of their lungs—go with takeout. Other patrons are trying to enjoy their meals, while servers are scurrying to serve as best as they can. The least you can do to not add to everyone else’s problems by bringing along your cranky kids in a restaurant.
Of course, this kind of nourish behavior isn’t limited to just minors. Adults who are supposed to know better can also display horrible table manners.
2. Saying you’re ready to order—when you’re not. In the best restaurants, you’re allowed to take some time to peruse the menu while you talk with your dining companions. There’s no NBA shot clock that requires you to order quickly. So if a food server asks if you’re ready to order and you’re not, then say so. The food server can then attend to other tables and come back when you’re ready to order.
What you shouldn’t do is to say yes and then you take a half hour to decide what to order. It’s just rude, and you make things much harder for the server. Do you honestly expect them to wait patiently while you have a summit meeting with your companions about what to order? Some customers even engage in discussions about their day (and go into lengthy anecdotes about what happened at work) before they give their order to the food server!
Most of the time, the server has other things to do—so please order right away when you say you’re ready to order.
3. Don’t order for items that are not on the menu. So many people have persisted in this practice that some fast food restaurants have adopted an “If you can’t beat them, join them” mentality. Now they have secret dishes that aren’t listed on the menu, and it creates curiosity and a feeling of exclusivity in people in the know.
But most of the time, if a restaurant doesn’t list a dish on the menu, it means they’re not serving that dish. So please stop ordering burger (or dim sum) when the menu clearly offers only pizza. And if the food server says that they’re all out of especial fried rice, just take their word for it and don’t insist that they serve you one immediately.
4. Ordering items one at a time. Here’s a routine that drives food servers everywhere up the wall. You order your meal, and then when the food servers deliver the dish you ask for salt. They bring the salt over and you ask for more water. Then when that’s brought to you, you ask for a salad…Are you sensing a pattern here?
Now of course, it’s part of the food server’s job to bring you what you need. They’re there to serve you more food items and bring you the condiments you need. But it’s your job as a decent restaurant diner to act with greater consideration. Ask for the condiments, extra salad, more drinks, more napkins, and everything else you need with just one visit of your food server to your table!
Finally, there’s always the tipping issue, which can be controversial. But sometimes even a great tip can’t compensate when you and your children behave horrible while your food server tries to do their job. Be polite, and only bring polite kids to public restaurants. If that’s impossible for you—think about having the food delivered instead!