Nobody ever said that waiting tables was easy. Dealing with dozens of hungry (sometimes hangry!) customers a night, many of them making crazy demands, is enough to put anyone on edge. Adding insult to injury, servers also face the brunt of complaints from diners (and the resulting bad tips), even when the offending issue isn’t their fault. Though your server may have a smile on his or her face, in many cases it’s a bit of an acting job. However, a great table of courteous diners can be a genuine pleasure and the highlight of a server’s shift, so here are five tips to keep in mind if you want your server to like you.
1. Be Respectful
When they’re telling you about the evening’s specials, pay attention. Not only will this communicate that you actually care about what they’re telling you, it’ll also prevent them from having to repeat themselves. Also, don’t say “Give me…” when you’re ordering; say please and thank you, and never ever touch them.
2. Don’t Dawdle
If your waiter or waitress comes to take your order and you’re not ready, politely ask them to come back in a couple minutes. This will give them time to deal with other tables instead of standing around wasting time as you read the menu for the 10th time. When you do order, speak up and speak clearly. Also, once you’ve paid the bill, it’s time to leave. If you’re not going to be ordering anything else, you’re taking up valuable time, because the more table turnovers, the more tips.
3. Clear Some Space
When a server emerges from the kitchen carrying heavy plates of food, they’re going to need to put them down, and quick. If your phone, drink, etc. is on the table right in front of you, then there’s nowhere for the plate to go. It might seem minor, but clearing some room for it will win you major points.
4. Be Patient
Unfortunately, you’re not the center of the universe. If your server is attending to another table, or walking with a pile of dishes, now is not the time to get his or her attention. Wait until they’ve finished what they’re doing, then call them over. And don’t flail your arms or shout. The polite way to call a waiter is to make eye contact and nod. Also, don’t take it out on them if your dish is taking a while to come out of the kitchen. Kitchen backups are rarely, if ever, the server’s fault; a well-done steak takes a while to cook.
The best way to get onto your server’s good side? Tip! Twenty percent is the minimum expected tip these days; servers work hard for very little pay and largely depend on tips for their income. If you enjoyed your meal and the service was good, thank the staff by leaving a generous tip.