From whipping up sandwiches to banging out a line full of hot and iced lattes, I’ve worked my fair share of food service jobs. It wasn’t until I became a server, that I began to realize the amount of work that goes into making someone’s dining experience great. Here are a couple of tips to keep in mind when you decide to go dining out.
Patience Is A Virtue
We’ve all been in a situation where we’ve had to wait a lengthy period of time to get a table. Sometimes, it’s so long that you’ve already planned a three-course meal. Then, once you get to the table you have to wait what seems like a lifetime for the server to come over, even though you can see them running around to other tables. Unfortunately, what people don’t realize is, although you’ve just been seated, two or three other tables could’ve just been seated in that same section before you. Or, if the server isn’t struggling to greet all of these new tables at once, three of their tables are trying to leave and are requesting their checks all at once. While you may be anxious to put your drink orders in and start eating, it’s only fair for the server to greet the tables who sat before you or who are finishing up and trying to leave. So the next time you decide to go dining out, remember to be patient. The server is trying their best to balance everyone’s needs. Before you know it, you’ll be trying to leave and you’ll be happy the server took the time to pack your food and run your check before focusing their attention on a new table.
It’s Not Always The Server’s Fault
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been blamed or scolded because someone isn’t happy with how their food came out. Whether it doesn’t taste how they expected, it was under or overcooked, or the food came out cold, people are quick to jump down the server’s throat. 90% of the time, if something goes wrong with the food, it is not the server’s fault. If you wanted your burger medium but it came out medium rare, that’s the kitchen’s fault, not the server’s. If you ordered extra sauce on the side, but it didn’t come out with the meal, chances are the server put it into the computer that way, but the kitchen or the food runner’s forgot it. Whatever the problem, we servers are more than happy to grab that extra sauce for you or help you pick out a new item to order. Just remember, if something goes wrong when you choose to go dining out, don’t take it out on the server. We are more than willing to find a solution to your problem.
Tips Are Appreciated
It’s no secret that servers make their money through tips. That’s why nothing is more gut-wrenching than when you go to pick up the checkbook and there’s no tip. In fact, it’s pretty much a slap in the face. While serving seems like a piece of cake, there’s a lot of effort that goes into making someone’s experience worthwhile. Whether it’s grabbing the table refills or making multiple stops into the kitchen for extra bread or dressing, we do these things to make our guests happy. You wouldn’t ask for someone’s services and decide you just weren’t going to pay them. So why would you do that to a server? When you go out to eat, you’re paying for the meal you just ate, that money doesn’t go to the server. So the next time you’re dining out and you’re ready to pay, make sure to include a tip. We appreciate it more than you know.
Everyone Makes Mistakes
Just like everyone else, servers make mistakes. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve made a couple mistakes throughout my serving experience. Whether it’s forgetting to ring in a side of broccoli or forgetting to grab a drink from the bar, mistakes will be made. I’m sure you’ve made a couple of mistakes while working your job. Bottom line, mistakes aren’t the end of the world. 99% of the time, whatever the mistake may be, there’s a way to fix it. That’s why, if your server makes a mistake, don’t throw a fit or start screaming at your server. For all you know, they’re having a rough day, week, or month and they’re trying their best. Not to mention, we realize when we mess up and we know it’s on us to own up to it. The next time you’re dining out and your server makes a mistake, just remember, everyone makes mistakes.
Bad Attitudes Won’t Get You What You Want
Nothing is worse than when you’re trying your hardest to please a table and they just won’t budge. Whenever I’m interacting with my tables, I always try to be polite and accommodating. If someone’s unhappy about their food I make the effort to offer a different drink or food item. If someone complains about the restaurant being too cold, I tell my manager. If someone is upset that the tables dirty, even though it’s filled with breadcrumbs that they dropped, I’ll grab a rag and wash the table myself. But nothing is more irritating than when you make the effort to do these things and your table is still unhappy. While working in the food industry, I’ve had to constantly remind myself that you can’t make everyone happy, no matter what you do. But at the same time, if you’re going to continue to complain despite the numerous efforts I’ve made to please you, I’m going to put you on the back burner and tend to the tables who are more pleasant. So the next time you’re dining out, try to leave Oscar the Grouch at home.
Servers Are Not Responsible For Prices
Throughout my time as a server, the number one complaint I hear from guests’ involves the prices. As a server, I have no control over how much a dish or drink may cost. If you want to substitute avocado for croutons, unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. Not all items can be substituted because some ingredients cost more than others. If you want to add extra chicken, avocado, or cheese to your dish, I’m going to have to charge you for. If a guest is ordering a meal that I think could be rung in for cheaper, I’m going to do it because I don’t think it’s necessary for someone to pay $22 when they can pay $18. However, if you’re upset because you think it’s ridiculous that you’re paying $20 for a pasta dish, guess what, I think it’s ridiculous too, but there’s nothing I can do about it. As a server, I’m required to hit a button and send in the food, I don’t have the authority to change the prices of a dish. So when you decide to go dining out, don’t get angry when you receive the check. If you want to discuss prices, take it up with the manager, but I assure you they won’t lower the prices either.
Just Because You’re Ready To Order, Doesn’t Mean I’m Ready To Take Your Order
As a server, I’m required to greet a table within 30 seconds to a minute that they’ve been seated. While some people are able to provide drink orders by then, others request a little more time to get settled in. Completely understandable. However, while you’re searching through the menu, I’m going to check in on my other tables or greet new tables who were just seated. As a server, I need to constantly be moving and checking on my tables. Whether that means checking on a table’s food, grabbing a drink from the bar, or helping someone pick out a dessert, there’s always something to be done. That’s why, when you see me running around helping other tables, and you flag me down because you’re ready to order after 10 minutes, doesn’t mean I’m ready to take your order. While you debated the idea of getting asparagus or broccoli with your meal, I’ve already started to pack up another table’s food or am in the process of taking another table’s order. Just like everyone else, you’re going to have to be patient and wait until I have a free second to make my way back over. If you’re dining out and your server isn’t able to take your order right away, just remember that we have five, or more, other tables we need to take care of as well. Flagging them down or stopping them while they have their hands full with plates, isn’t going to get your order rung in faster.
A Please And Thank You Would Be Nice
Growing up, I was taught the importance of manners. When I go out to eat, even before I became a server, I make sure to say “please” and “thank you” to my server. Nothing is more irritating than when someone starts throwing out demands. “I want a refill”, “I need more dressing”, “Bring us bread”, are just a few demands I hear on a daily basis. When you’re polite to your servers, we are more than happy to grab you whatever you need. But when you start barking out orders and expect for us to bend over backwards for you, your needs are going to be placed at the bottom of my list. It’s not that hard to say, “Can we please have more bread?” or “Thank you for grabbing my refill.” It takes two seconds and very minimal effort. If you’re dining out and you need to ask your server for something, consider using manners. It’s the little things that matter most.
No, I Can’t Grab The Check From You When My Hands Are Full
Believe it or not, carrying a full tray of drinks or a pile of dirty plates is harder than it looks, especially when you have an obstacle course of multiple guests and running children around you. If I’m walking by a table and I see you’re ready for me to take your payment, I’m going to head on over once my hands aren’t full. But if I have a stack of heavy plates I’m trying to bring to the kitchen, I don’t have a free hand to grab your check. Either way, I’m going to have to drop off those drinks or drop off those plates before I run your card. There have been times when my hands are completely full and someone will try to put their checkbook in my apron because they can’t wait five seconds. We understand you’re trying to leave and you want to get out as soon as possible. No worries, I’d be more than happy to run your card for you. But please don’t try to hand me your checkbook, or anything for that matter, if I don’t have a free hand to grab it myself.
We’re All Human
Servers are just like everyone else on this Earth, they’re human. Sometimes we have bad days and despite our struggles, we’re required to put on a happy face at all times. On the outside, we could look like the happiest of people, but on the inside, we may be dealing with the stress of school, losing a loved one, or going through financial struggles. Just like everyone else, we deal with hardships and sometimes those hardships can be hard to cover up. That’s why when people start yelling at their server or start acting incredibly rude, it can take a lot out of the person. In this industry, it’s especially helpful to have a thick skin because sometimes people will act a certain way or say things you wouldn’t imagine saying to another person. But those tables who are willing to say “please and thank you”, who are willing to wait a couple of minutes before you get to them, or who understand mistakes will be made, are the tables who can make your day go from terrible to better. So, the next time you decide to go dining out, remember, servers are humans too. We may be struggling on the inside, but we’re going to make sure you have the best dining experience possible.