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The Unwritten Laws of Restaurant Dining

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Mike Money, Jun 8, 2003.

  1. Mike Money

    Mike Money In Memoriam

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    "The Unwritten Rules of Restaurant Dining"

    The restaurant. A wonderful concept. When the turkey gets burned or there just wasn't time during the week to go grocery shopping, the restaurant pulls through. For the right price you can get a meal that's just as good as, or in some cases better than, one you can make at home. A steak and shrimp dinner with a baked potato and sour cream, a cheeseburger with sauteed mushrooms and swiss cheese with fries on the side, tortellini in a creamy marinara sauce, an all-you-can-eat sushi bar... The choices are endless. You just have to find the right restaurant.

    Rule One: Remember that you're in public. And certain things shouldn't be brought into public. Unless you're a doctor, cellular phones should be turned off. It's a restaurant, not a phone booth. Pagers are okay, but set them to vibrate so the incessant beeping doesn't annoy those around you. A restaurant is a place for eating, not for making business deals with partners across the country. Save that for the office. It's called a lunch BREAK for a reason. And if you must use your lunch break to make business plans, order take-out or delivery.

    Rule Two: Also, because you're in public, remember that not everyone wants to hear about your cousin in Albuquerque who had an enema last Thursday. Actually I'm sure most of us don't, especially while we're eating. So remember what you learned in kindergarten about using your indoor voices. A restaurant is a loud place, sure. But if everyone wasn't trying to talk over everyone else, the noise would be much more bearable for all.

    Rule Three: You know that person who's always coming to your table with drinks and food? That's your server. You're THAT person's priority. You're not the priority of the other servers you see going to other tables. They have their own customers, their own priorities. They'll be happy to deliver an urgent request, but otherwise ask your own server the next time s/he comes around.

    Rule Four: An expansion of Rule Three, try to think of everything you might need for your meal at once, and ask your server for these things all at once. It might be amusing to watch your server run back and forth between your table and the kitchen, but in the meantime you're taking time away from the server, time that would probably be spent helping other customers. Wasting your server's time by sending her/him on multiple trips is comparable to stealing from people at other tables.

    Rule Five: And remember that you're not your server's only customer. Most restaurants give each of their servers between five and ten tables at a time. If your drink is served a little later than you expected, it's probably not because your server decided to shoot the breeze with the other servers instead of bringing it to you. Sometimes you'll have a server like that (see Rule Ten), but it's most likely to be because other customers had other requests so the server's time was otherwise occupied. You aren't the only one getting your request fulfilled later than optimally desired.

    Rule Six: If you have a complaint about the food, if the portion is too small or the food isn't what you ordered, tell your server immediately when you realize the problem. It couldn't be all that bad if you ate everything and THEN complained about it. Most restaurants will be more than happy to fix a meal if you tell them the problem right away. But if the soup is too cold and they bring you a hot bowl, don't leave the bowl sitting on the table for five minutes before tasting it. That's probably why it was cold in the first place.

    Rule Seven: Tipping is not a city in China. Well it might be, but T.I.P.S. originally stood for To Insure Prompt Service. And if you have a moderately competent server (they are generally easy to find because they're the ones who still have their jobs) you'll receive the promptest service as is possible for the circumstances. Generally the amount of tip is directly proportionate to the amount of time the server spends at the table, and one customer can easily take that amount of time and reduce it dramatically. Try to be sympathetic of your server. If s/he is exceptionally busy, s/he is probably trying to remember several orders, several special requests for condiments, and several other requests, while also trying to maintain some level of sanity. For single parents, this concept is easy to realize. The years of life that the stress takes from the server are precious. Leaving a decent tip is the least an understanding customer can do.

    Rule Eight: A specification of Rule Seven, a tip that is fifteen percent of the total bill ($1.50 per $10, move the decimal point one space to the left and take half again that number. Or round up to the nearest dollar if your math skills aren’t that great) is customary to recognize good service. If the service was better than good, twenty percent (move the decimal point one space to the left and double the number) is in order. If something arose that was the server's fault and caused a problem with the enjoyment of the meal, ten percent (move the decimal point one space to the left) may be left. If you feel the urge to leave less than that because of bad service, leave nothing and explain your reason to a manager. Leaving a quarter or a couple pennies is not only incredibly insulting to the server, it also demonstrates the ill manners of the customer.

    Rule Nine: And an expansion of the previous Rule, remember that it isn't your server's fault if you aren't very hungry. A tip may be based on the total amount of sales, but the server's time is unreplaceable. If you only order a salad but spend as much time eating it as you would eating a full entree, leave a larger tip than fifteen or twenty percent. Generally one or two dollars per member of the party, minimum. Because no matter what you order, you're still occupying a table and preventing that server from waiting on hungrier customers.

    Rule Ten: If your server seems to be incompetent in her/his job, remember one simple truth. If the behavior is common with that server, the server will quickly lose her/his job. The server still has the job, so therefore the behavior must not be common. Simple deductive logic. And if a competent server seems incompetent, perhaps the one making the judgement should look somewhere other than at the server.

    Rule Eleven: Tables come in all shapes and sizes. Round, square, rectangular, oval; there are tables for two people, tables for four people, tables for twenty people, all kinds of tables. Shape isn't entirely important. But size is another story. If you're given a choice in where to sit, find a table that's no bigger than your party needs. Two people sitting at a table designed for ten means that if a party of ten comes in, there is one less option for where to seat them, sometimes meaning that they will have to wait until the two are finished. Again, a restaurant is a public place. You're not the only one there.

    Rule Twelve: If you have a few people who always want to pay for the meal, sort out who will be paying beforehand. DON’T hand your server a credit card and tell them not to let anyone else pay. Because if more than one person does that, suddenly your server is put in a pickle. Who should s/he let pay? The first one to give the card? Or the one who made the better argument? Either way, at least one person will be unhappy with the server. Your server does not deserve to be put in that position.

    Rule Thirteen: If you’re going to have a relatively large group (eight or more), make a reservation if the restaurant accepts reservations. More often than not, such get-togethers are planned at least a day in advance, which is ample time to let the restaurant know so they can arrange to have someone serve you. A large party is served better when the server is focused only on that party and not on other tables, and it’s unfair to the server’s other tables to have so many people occupying her/his time. Again, it is comparable to stealing from other customers. Making a reservation also assures that a table will be ready so you won’t have to wait so long. This Rule becomes more crucial as the size of your party increases, and (depending on the seating capacity of the restaurant) is an absolute for groups of more than ten or twelve people.

    Rule Fourteen: When eating with friends, there should be no need for each person at the table to have a separate check. If you're close enough to your companions to share a meal with them, it follows that you should be close enough to give or take a few cents for said meal. Remember what you ordered, remember the approximate price listed on the menu. Then pay approximately what your portion cost. A little over to compensate for tax. And a little over that for a gratuity. If your friendship is so fragile that a couple dollars at a restaurant will throw off its balance, then perhaps sharing a meal is not the best idea for you.
  2. godoze


    Oct 21, 2002
    one question: Why ?
  3. Mike Money

    Mike Money In Memoriam

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Because people in restaurants are crazy and need to read this.
  4. Suburban_punk


    May 13, 2003
    I disagree with rule four....My time at the table is to converse with friends.

    I think I'm entitled to ask for a few things through out the experience.

    I'll tip accordingly too. If I'm a pain, they get more...If they suck they get less..
  5. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
  6. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' Tubist in Residence

    Mar 24, 2002
    Silver Spring, MD
    Too long, didn't read.
  7. Johnalex


    Jul 20, 2001
    South Carolina
    I have worked in a restaurant for 5 years now. Many of these rules are true. Also remember not to be a jerk to your server. A little respect to the server will go a long way.

    ohh and the tips. 15% should be the lowest you ever give. The server might be a slacker, but they don't get pay checks, the only money they get is the tips.
  8. Suburban_punk


    May 13, 2003


    -- server in a past life as well
  9. ARA punk

    ARA punk

    Jul 11, 2001
    USA, Shelby, NC
    I agree with you completly. I know what its like to work hard. I'm someone who is all into the satisfaction i get from doing something for myself. Building something instead of going out an buying it, earning what you want instead of having it given to you. If i'm working as a waiter (I dont, never intend to) i would much rather have the people enjoy their meal than to be inconvenienced trying to assist the wait staff... thats what they're paid to do. Thats like taking off your shoes before you walk down a hall the janitor has just swept.... kinda... maybe not... i'm tired.

    Yeah, definatly tip too. I've got a friend who is pregnant and trying to put herself through college with a waiting job. She gets paid 2.75 an hour. if she doesn't get tips shes screwed.
  10. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Well, they're not unwritten, now are they?
  11. Brendan

    Brendan Supporting Member

    Jun 18, 2000
    Austin, TX
    Urban legend.

    www.snopes2.com yo.
  12. Killdar


    Dec 16, 2002
    Portland Maine
    I, being a frequent restaurant goer, think those rules are good. I have never been a server, (never had a job before either:meh: ) but I have enough time while waiting for the food to arrive to think about all sorts of things, and I often observe the employees of the restaurant going about their business. I can only imagine what hell they go through, but I know I'd want the customers to be respectful if I ever were in a position of that sort.

    and BTW, IMO the people who ignore posts like that are exactly the type of people it is aimed at, methinks.
  13. It's not a city in Australia, either. I've never had to tip anyone, ever.

    Just be aware that not everybody in the universe follows your crazy American rules. :)
  14. FretNoMore

    FretNoMore * Cooking with GAS *

    Jan 25, 2002
    The frozen north
    Originally posted by ARA punk:
    Yeah, definatly tip too. I've got a friend who is pregnant and trying to put herself through college with a waiting job. She gets paid 2.75 an hour. if she doesn't get tips shes screwed.

    Too late. :D

    I'm sorry, I apologize!! But I just couldn't let that slip... I'M SORRY!:)
  15. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Great post!

    A whole page could be written about tipping. It really makes absolutely no sense!

    If the waitress/waiter is working for the restuarant, why the heck doesn't the restaurant pay them? If the standard is 15%, why not just increase the cost of the meal by that amount and the the help ALWAYS gets paid.

    Which also brings up the question of tipping bad service. Should you or shouldn't you?

    To me the restaurant is the villian in the whole tipping scenario! They know that they are going to be paid for every transaction but they put the help in an iffy position of having to live on gratuities. The very definition of gratuity makes the practice demeaning to the employee.

  16. mike, nice post! I had to do a bus boy job last year when my cousin was understaffed, man, the people treated me like sh**e...
  17. Ty McNeely

    Ty McNeely

    Mar 27, 2000

    I may be cold and heartless, but I don't care how bad off you are. If you can't do a decent job waiting tables (amount of tables is a consideration), then you DO NOT get 15%. If you're absolutely terrible, you won't get anything. It is NOT my fault that they can't wait tables, so I'm not going to pay someone for bad service.
  18. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    My son has a second job as a server in a national steak house chain restaurant. He has told me some amazing stories about bad customer behavior and I really sympathize with the plight of servers.

    On the the hand, my hubby and I eat out a lot as we really enjoy it, because most times our experiences are pleasant. However, just last week at Olive Garden, a young server dropped an entire tray of ice cold iced tea drinks on my lap, chair and purse and dish. I was frozen. He was very apologetic, but when we left I realized that our meal had been ruined, the shopping we had planned to do afterward was postponed, my pale beige purse had sustained tea stains, I had to launder my capris...luckily a floral print that didn't show stains and the server didn't even comp us drinks or at least comp me my drink for all the inconvenience and discomfort.

    In fact. Olive Garden always hands out a couple mints after the meal that I love. That waiter didn't even give us a couple extra mints...for crying out loud! But my soft-hearted husband (which is why we have been married 38 years) told me he tipped the server 20% because he felt sorry for the guy.

    As badly as customers can behave, servers have to remember it is the customer who keeps the restaurant in business. Every business that provides a product or service has to put up with a certain amount of bad behavior from some customers.

    I have had some pretty snooty, unpleasant, surley, or inattentive servers in all my years of dining. I know their work is arduos, demanding and often not well compensated, but waiters have to cut their customers some slack too.
  19. Mike Money

    Mike Money In Memoriam

    Mar 18, 2003
    Bakersfield California
    Avatar Speakers Endorsing Hooligan
    Olive garden used to be a cool place... it was quiet, and you could just sit there and talk with your family.

    Now they remodeled them all and are trying to achieve a new image.


    With this attempt at a new image came noise, and way to much of it.

    Those places are to damned loud...

    But they did give us crap load of mints because we had to wait like 10 minutes for a table on a SATURDAY NIGHT.... which is really not that long for that day.... bleh...
  20. ARA punk

    ARA punk

    Jul 11, 2001
    USA, Shelby, NC
    yeah.. lol. I thought the same thing as soon as i posted it... I figured someone would pick up on it. She really messed up, it'll be ok though.

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