Dining out? Before you make that reservation, take a minute to ponder what you the restaurant has a right to expect when you walk in.
Here, gleaned from more than 20 years of dining at and reviewing
restaurants, and with much input from dining companions and wait staffs, are things a restaurant (and its wait staff) have a right to expect from you.
— Rochelle Koff
- If you made a reservation, arrive on time, maybe even a few minutes early. If you can’t be here when you said you would, call ahead. We had a deal.
- You’re paying for a meal, and you can expect good service, but you don’t own me. I’m a professional, trying to do a good job. If you’re surly, you won’t get my best. And you may get considerably worse. If you’re in a bad mood, maybe you should have stayed at home.
- I don’t want to rush you, but study the menu a bit before you order. I’ll be glad to answer questions. But don’t chatter on forever with your friends, then make me stand around all night while you finally decide to take a look at the menu and delay everyone, including your dining companions, while you finally decide what you want. You have some responsibility here, too.
- Put the cell phone away. Just do it. If you have to be told why, then you’re just an ass.
- Don’t make up your own menu. Some changes, like rice instead of potatoes or leaving off the onions, the restaurant can probably handle. But if you don’t like what’s on the menu, maybe you should go somewhere where what you want is actually on the menu.
- Don’t send back wine if you just happen not to like it. If you don’t know that a Cabernet Sauvignon can be tannic, well, this isn’t a wine tasting. Do your homework, and be willing to explore.
- Don’t snap your fingers at me, or call me Garcon, or sweetie. Ever. It’ll just confirm to me and those around us that you’re a jerk. If I’m any good at my job, all you have to do is catch my eye. I’ll be there as soon as I can.
- Never touch me. Especially if I’m a young female and you’re an older guy who’s had a drink or two. If you do, expect to get slapped. You deserve it.
- Don’t expect me to entertain your kids; if I do, tip me generously for the babysitting in addition to the food service.
- Even if this is a place aimed specifically at kids or families, take your squalling, unpleasant brats outside to calm them down. They disrupt other customers. Me, too. Hire a babysitter next time; you’ll enjoy dining out more.
- Don’t talk too loudly and disturb other guests. And did we mention cell phones? No cell phones at the table! Not for texting, messaging, and for gosh sake, not for you to bellow on a phone call. If you absolutely have to use your phone, take it outside. You’re dining out because it’s supposed to be a pleasure and we’re giving you our attention. Give us yours.
- I’ll try very hard to bring your meal with dispatch, but understand that sometimes things will get delayed. You should try hard to relax, enjoy the downtime.
- Try very hard not to blame and punish me for the food if you dislike it. If your meal is truly bad, tell me right away and we can take it up with the kitchen.
- Don’t send something back after you’ve eaten a quarter of it. That’s not fooling anyone.
- I’ll try not to rush you, and you have the right to linger a bit and savor the experience. But after you’ve finished your meal and that last cup of coffee, start getting ready to leave. That’s especially true if the restaurant is busy.
- Tip 18 to 20 percent, on top of the tax. Don’t be a cheapskate. There’s a lot of debate about not tipping on tax. Just do it, 18 percent if that makes you feel better. You’d understand if you, or a family member, ever tried to make a living at being a waiter.
- Tell me ahead of time if your party is going to split the bill. And don’t split more than three ways if you’re in a group. And do it evenly. I hate to do your math.
- No verbal tipping. If I gave you great service, it’s great to tell me. But show me the money. I took care of you, now you take care of me.
Work at a restaurant? Want to add to this list? Send a comment? Email Rochelle at [email protected].