Rules for Eating Out

I’ve avoided this topic ever since I started this blog, mainly because every server blog I’ve read has one just like it, however, I think it’s high time that I made the post anyway. People have a problem with these rules, and they make everyone’s life easier.

Here we go =).

Rule #1: When you sit down at your table, don’t wave at us, don’t holler and yell at us, and don’t sit with your arms crossed. We see you sitting down, and if we’re busy, it might take a minute. Rest assured, we know you’re there. If we don’t happen to be in the area when you sit down, someone WILL let us know about it. You pay our bills, we don’t like making you mad.

Rule #2: When we walk up to the table, and say “How are you guys doing today?” or “How are you today?”, we really do want to know how you are doing. That helps us to judge how the course of the meal is going to go, and what we need to do to stay on your good side. Grunting or immediately starting your order is not acceptable, and sets a tone that most of us just don’t want to deal with. Getting on our bad side is a bad way to start your meal, because at that point, we know you aren’t going to tip, and no longer care.

Rule #3: When we start our spiel of drinks, specials, appetizers, etc., please please Please do not interrupt us with your order. We’re doing our job, and we can be disciplined for not doing our job. Also, for those of you with the constantus interruptus issue, if we didn’t do said spiel, you’d say something to the management about our not doing our spiel with you, and we’d still be disciplined.

Rule #4: When we are waiting for your alcoholic beverage, and you see us standing by the bar with our arms crossed, unless you see us giggling and laughing with our friends, we are usually upset at the amount of time we have to wait for your drink. As I said before, pissing you off hurts our money, unless you’ve upset us first, that’s not what we want.

Rule #5: If you say that you’re ready to order, and we begin taking your order, that is NOT the time to ask us why we don’t have spaghetti and meatballs in the pasta portion of our menu. If it’s not there, then we obviously don’t serve spaghetti and meatballs. When you tell us that you’re ready to order, we take that to mean that you’re ready to order. Little questions are okay, e.g., “Does this have any nuts in it?”. If side items are not listed, then yes, by all means, ask us about the side items. Don’t get mad at us when we say that you can’t substitute something without an upcharge, we don’t make the rules, we just play by them.

Rule #6: If the kitchen is running long because of the restaurant being slammed, we have no control over how long your food takes to be prepared. Please please PLEASE do not take your anger at the kitchen out on us. We don’t want your food running long either because, after working in the industry for a while, we know that our tip suffers when food runs long. Most people don’t care if it’s our fault or not, we still have to deal with the consequences.

Rule #7: When your food is delivered, if something is given to you that you didn’t order, please don’t say to us “Well, last time I was here, I got….”. Usually, that’s nothing but a lie, the menu doesn’t change every week at most places, especially at corporate places. If you ordered a Blackened Chicken Pasta, that’s what you’re going to get. You won’t get a normal Grilled Chicken Alfredo, Blackened Chicken is just that, blackened chicken. If you receive something you didn’t order, sometimes mistakes happen. If it’s our fault the mistake happened, we will happily admit our fuck-up, and we will do our best to fix it. If the food runner has given you something wrong, please don’t take it out on us, sometimes they just don’t read the ticket right. Don’t take it out on them either. Mistakes happen.

Rule #8: When we ask you how your meal is, we really want to know. Don’t just poke that lone mushroom around with your fork, if something is wrong with the dish, let us try to fix it. If you don’t, or don’t tell us anything is wrong, we can’t help you. Once again, don’t take your problems out on us, allow us to help with your problems if we can.

Rule #9: When we come by with a dessert menu, and offer you a few things, actually look at the menu before asking if we have hot fudge cake. Sometimes, menu’s varies between restaurants, and one place won’t have something another place has. Also, that “Last time I was here, I got…” statement doesn’t work in this situation either. We know our menu, we are trained well on our menu, and we train others on our menu. Asking us for something off the menu won’t change the fact that we don’t offer it, or have the things to make it.

Rule #10: When we drop off the check, actually take the time to look at and consider paying it. Don’t try to walk out, most of us will tackle you as your on the way out the door, and if we’re in a mall, you’ll be detained by security until we get our money. If there’s a problem on your check, let us know so that we can fix it. Usually, it’ll only take a minute…60 seconds…just let us know. Don’t use the ticket book as an armrest. Don’t camp for three hours. We need our table so that we can make our rent.

Rule #11: After paying your check, please consider tipping on our service, not on how long the food took or how the food tasted. Please tip on our attitude, along with the check amount. Tip on the total bill. Doubling the tax does not a good tip make. Two dollars on a hundred dollar bill does not a good tip make. That kind of tip is insulting, especially if we’ve catered to your every whim and done it quickly and friendly. We work hard to make your day, night, lunch, or dinner a good one, and we have bills to pay. Most servers make 2.13 an hour. Some make more now that the minimum wage laws have changed, but we still generally make below the poverty line before our tips. When you leave us less than 10% that’s just wrong.

Rule #12: If you have comments to make before you leave, please don’t bad-mouth us if we’ve done a good job. If you want to compliment our service, we can get you a manager, or you can feel free to call the restaurant at a later time. You can call our corporate office. Don’t just complain just to complain, or to get a free meal, especially if there was nothing wrong with it. We work hard, and you shouldn’t make light of our job.

So many people seem to think that servers are worthless, and are there to just deliver food. We run more than a lot of people who work in offices, and make less. We stay on our feet at all times, and have to take attitude from 60% of our guests. We try to stay polite and nice, because we’ll lose our jobs or not make our bills if we don’t. Please treat us with the respect we deserve. We don’t spit in your food if you are evil, this is real life. We don’t put hair in food just to be mean, because we wouldn’t want that to be done to our food. WE WORK HARD!


I’ll have posts up soon on some simple tipping etiquette and rules for dining out with children, but I figured this would be a good start to the series. Sometimes, these things need to be said.

Thanks for reading,



8 thoughts on “Rules for Eating Out

  1. Springs1:
    Have you yourself ever been a server before? Do you have any idea how hard it can be? How many things do you think you can remember at one time? It seems like you go out to eat, just waiting for a server to make a mistake so you can enact your weird brand of fanatic restaurant justice. What do you do for a living? Are you perfect at it? Do you get pay cuts for making mistakes? Consider this:
    I work from 12am to 9pm without a break, save getting to eat for 15 minutes. I am on my feet the entire time. When is the last time you stood up for nine hours straight? Not only am I on my feet, I’m running around like a retard the whole time. It gets a little hectic in my brain sometimes. It’s like I have a mental list of everything i need to do and in what order. It’s usually a list of six to ten things. When my mental list gets interrupted by someone who grabs me and says they need more dressing, sometimes things get forgotten. It happens. You shouldn’t be condemning people for forgetting things. You act like you’re the only customer in the restaurant. I have to please twenty people at once. I’m human. You’re just a wicked bitch. I dare you to get a job as a server for one week and see what it’s like.

  2. nicole
    “Have you yourself ever been a server before?”

    NO, but I have served people in a donut shop/diner for OVER 2 years off and on between 1998-2002. I served people just like a waitress at times at the booths, counter, and at the 2-seater tables. I sometimes took their order just like a waitress would, got refills, sometimes brought their check & rung it up, sometimes they came to the register like Denny’s or Waffle House, got them condiments, brought them plates. I wrote down their order and put it into the computer as well as a lot of times brought their food out as well. We had drive-thru and to-go. 2 people during the week in the morning shift 6a.m.-11a.m., then usually one of the 2 people would work all the way til 2p.m. from 6a.m. If the next person didn’t show up, GUESS WHAT? I would have to work a DOUBLE SHIFT. One time I worked 19hrs straight. Someone asked me to come in at 11a.m., instead of coming in for the 2p.m.-10p.m. shift. Turns out, the person quit with NO ONE to replace me, so I ended up working from 11a.m. till after 6a.m. the next morning, because we always had to z-out the register which usually took around 15 minutes or more after the shift depending on when the people would show up for the next shift.

    I have done 6a.m.-10p.m. a few times. I have done 2p.m.-6a.m. a few times also. I also sometimes got a break with one cook that did the counter before, so she’d do the counter from 2a.m. on from me being there from 2p.m. I have had a LOT of co-workers be irresponsible not to show up. It sucked. One of my checks was literally over 70 hours one time. I sometimes had even worked 60-65hrs a week, which was straight pay, because they did not pay time and a half for overtime. We made m-f around $20-$30 a shift in tips and around $10-$15 on Sat and Sun. Of course, sometimes I have made more than that, sometimes less, it depends. On Christmas 2000, I made $45 in tips from 12p.m.-10p.m.

    “How many things do you think you can remember at one time?”

    From just pure memory, maybe one order I can remember at one time, maybe if that. From a WRITTEN LIST, I wouldn’t have to “REMEMBER”, because I could ***REREAD*** all of them. It’s called WRITING EVERY ORDER DOWN YOU GET. Have you EVER, SERIOUSLY THOUGHT OF WRITING THINGS DOWN? I mean seriously. I sucked when I didn’t write the order down. I honestly couldn’t remember ONE order if they said they wanted cheese on their burgers or not or if they wanted cajun or regular fries if I didn’t WRITE THE ORDER DOWN. If I WROTE IT DOWN, THEN I WOULD BE ABLE TO GET IT CORRECT.

    This waiter one time at Chili


    I meant to say “WITHOUT SITTING DOWN.” See, I NEVER SAID I WAS PERFECT, because NO ONE IS. All I am saying is customers EXPECT there not to be mistakes when you serve them. Me writing this doesn’t determine my pay, so I missed that mistake. If it determined my pay, I would have reread it.

  4. Re: Rule #1

    I’ve had a particular problem with having one restaurant (I don’t eat their anymore because of bad service) not waiting on my party in a timely manner after being seated. On two separate occassions, after waiting more than 15 minutes without so much as a ‘hello’ (which would have been just ok, so long as I knew that my server knew I was there), I actually called into the restaurant and ask if the manager would have someone come wait on us.

    It may have been tacky, but it did get results.

    Usually I’m not nearly as obnoxious.

  5. Regarding #6, if the kitchen is taking a while, I’d like my server to tell me. If they let me know, then I don’t feel ignored, and I can wait a while longer. We had a new guy serving us at a steakhouse, and our steaks came out undercooked. Turns out that he was hustling the cook to get our food out. I told him I’d rather wait a little longer and get our stuff cooked the way it should, than to have to send back an undercooked steak. I try to work with the server as much as I can, because I’ve been there and done that… and I just want to know what’s going on.

  6. Please, please PLEASE tell people that according to proper rules of etiqutte, you ALWAYS, yes ALWAYS tip at least 15%. Even if the actual service SUCKED, you tip 15% and voice your complaints to management. For great to exceptional service, you always tip 20% or more. If you have a coupon, you tip on the full amount of your bill, not on the discounted rate. So if your bill is $100 and you have a $15 off coupon, you tip on $100. If you have a coupon for free dessert and the bill is $85 with the dessert price included, you tip on $85, still tipping on the free dessert.

    Ms. Manners ran these ages ago and when I was a server in high school & college, I wished I could have handed out laminated copies to customers.

    On a side note, I worked at a Jillian’s in Raleigh, NC back in 2000. We had to wear skimpy daisy dukes and tiny shirts tied up right under our breasts (barring our bellies) on the weekends and black pants with well-fitted white, short-sleeved tops the rest of the week. We had to carry & make change, to the penny, at that time (I read a post about Jillian’s menu saying servers don’t carry change, but couldn’t remmember where the post was. My apologies!).

  7. Jenna
    “Please, please PLEASE tell people that according to proper rules of etiqutte, you ALWAYS, yes ALWAYS tip at least 15%. Even if the actual service SUCKED, you tip 15% and voice your complaints to management.”


    I have had a waiter overcharge me on my credit card almost $11 with NO apology. Do you HONESTLY THINK THAT DESERVES A TIP AT ALL FOR NO APOLOGY? Be NICE and I will be nice back. It’s called treating a another person as YOU’D like to be treated if THAT WERE TRULY YOU. My husband’s credit card got overchared $21.50 at Chili’s in Aug. 2005 with NO APOLOGY from the waiter. HOW COULD ANYONE, ANYONE be SO DAMN MEAN? FUCK PEOPLE THAT ARE THAT MEAN BY STIFFING THEM! YOU FUCK WITH MY MONEY, I FUCK WITH YOURS, IT’S THAT SIMPLE!

    If you mess up, I do NOT care if I tell you mean, if it’s a LOT of money like those 2 situations, you FUCKING DESERVE to be treated like crap. If I am overcharged under a dollar it’s one thing, but $5 or over DOES make people VERY PISSED OFF. Your tip goes WAY HIGHER with that overcharge that you COULD have done purposely, WHO REALLY KNOWS BUT THAT SERVER?

    As far as complaining to management, I tried that, it DOESN’T ALWAYS help. A manager at Fox and Hound got let go last year due to his LACK OF CARING. He even brought me my food once, which I ordered potato salad and got delivered fries. I HONESTLY believe the waitress put in the order correctly. One of the corporate guys from another state had to come in to fix the manager’s ignorance. My point is, talking to the manager DOESN’T ALWAYS make the server do what is RIGHT or the MANAGER even. The server should ALWAYS APOLOGIZE for something they could PREVENT from getting to the customer if posssible, which the wrong side dish HONESTLY I feel was the MANAGER’S FAULT THEY LET GO. Secondly, the server should TRY at the very least to get something comped from their manager if it’s a MAJOR error such as a wrong entree or an overcharge. Thirdly, the server should always just be nice about things, because honestly, the customer will be nicer back if the server seems to have some SYMPATHY towards the customer. I feel if my server doesn’t care, WHY should I give them a tip at all if they have completely RUINED my outing WITHOUT ONE APOLOGY? You treat me like crap, WHY is it not OK to treat you the EXACT SAME WAY YOU TREATED ME BY TIPPING YOU LESS OR NOTHING?

    ‘If you have a coupon, you tip on the full amount of your bill, not on the discounted rate.”

    I agree when it’s a huge amount, but when it’s a few dollars off, NO I COMPLETELY DISAGREE.

    I think it

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