When you dine out, the brief relationship you share with your server should be a two-way street. Yes, you should expect good service—but you should also behave like a respectful patron. You don’t expect to be treated badly at a restaurant, and neither should the wait staff. Better attitudes often equate to better service.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind.
When your server approaches the table to take your order, put down your cell phone. Take out the earbuds. Listen to the specials so they don’t have to be repeated. Remember: You’re not the only table being served.
When the server arrives with your plates, make room on the table so the food can be placed where you want it. Sure, the server can shuffle things around on the table, but that means arranging your drinks and touching your plates in ways that may make you uncomfortable.
Don’t blame the server for things that aren’t their fault.
Sure, there’s such a thing as bad service—neglecting tables, taking incorrect orders, and so on—but servers often get stiffed for things over which they have no control. If the food’s coming out slow, it’s not the server’s fault. Cold soup? Also not the server’s fault. The entire burden of your dining experience shouldn’t fall on your server’s shoulders.
Don’t stack plates.
Sometimes customers clear the table and stack plates themselves. This is a considerate practice in theory, but it can be counterproductive. Servers often have their own process of clearing the table. Believe it or not, there is logic behind stacking and clearing. Let the server do it. That’s their job, after all, and it’s part of the reason you’re paying to eat.
Always leave a tip.
The tip isn’t just for the server. The tip is for the hostess, cook, and bartender, too. When you stiff the server, you stiff them all. If you feel like you received truly poor service, talk to the manager. But don’t let the tip go dry. Also, remember that the standard tip is 20 percent—not 15 percent and certainly not ten.