Customer Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts

Follow these dos and don’ts to make your servers happy.

“Sit up straight and use your manners,” said Mother. Johnny was a good boy when we went out to eat. Now, Jonathan is a naughty, messy rude man who forgot how to dine properly.

This is a message from all of his servers.

DO: Acknowledge your server


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It is unbearably awkward standing in front of two people carrying on a conversation as if we were invisible. To save us the embarrassment, join us in greeting each other to get the ball rolling.

Go ahead and “Hi” and humor our spiel of the Tuesday specials.

DON’T: Greet with an order


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There’s nothing quite like a customer flat out denying our politeness. Last time I checked, “Can I get a Coke and that white sauce?” wasn’t a standard reply to, “Hi guys how are you?” 

Good servers introduce themselves and by job description must greet their table. We have feelings too.

DO: Tip on your original bill


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Coupons are awesome! Who doesn’t love a good coupon to cut your bill in half or worse, the entire thing? However, this does not mean our service was purely for our health. Tip.

DO: Imagine dinner at your mother’s


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Would you spill balsamic dressing or worse two million grains of salt or sugar on your dear Momma’s dining room table without attempting to tidy up?

Perhaps you have a whole in your chin and that’s why half of your food is strewn about under your chair, but otherwise, please remember: our restaurant isn’t a barn.

DON’T: Camp

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There is no money in waiting for you to leave after sitting in our section for two hours. We count on turning our tables for the most lucrative shift. Sure if we’re slow, by all means chew that salad in slow motion.

But putting it honestly, our goal is to get you in and out as fast as possible without rushing you. Kindly enjoy your digestion, but do not pitch a tent and start a fire unless you plan on ordering dessert and whiskey.

DON’T: Put your dirty glasses or plates on nearby tables

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Manners 101: dirty plates go to the dish pit, not on a clean table where other guests will sit. It’s borderline littering. We will remove your unwanted dishware, relax.

DO: Research the United States’ tipping terms and regulations

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Perhaps you’ve just arrived in the U.S. for the first time and have granted us with your presence. Welcome, bonjour. Or, maybe you’re a Brit and reside in town.

Whether foreign or not, this should go without saying– servers in the United States do not make minimum wage.

Hourly pay is $2.13 so we deeply depend on your tipping discretion. Tipping $1.77 on a $50 tab is a sin.

DON’T: Have separate checks for 10+ customers and then pay with cash

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Greeaaaaat. It’s a hassle and a half and you’ll be waiting another thirty minutes for us to breathe through the painful math of making change and closing out your checks. 

DON’T: Shoot the messenger

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“If I order my filet medium, is it actually going to be medium? Because if not, I’m just letting you know, I’m going to send it back,” said the kind gentleman.

“Sorry, we don’t make cappuccinos.” *Customer rolls eyes, fumes, and flips table*

Please don’t catch an attitude about things out of our control. First of all, if you hadn’t noticed, we aren’t the ones who cook your food.

If your food doesn’t come out how you ordered, 9 times out of 10 it wasn’t a server error. Secondly, we cannot create items that don’t exist on our menu.

If we don’t have decaf tea and it’s severely going to affect the rest of your afternoon, take it up with the manager.

DO: Help us out!


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You’d think all of humanity would share the same excitement when the entrees arrive: whispering, “food’s here”, sitting up in your seat and shifting your existing plates and silverware so that your server can easily set down your food.

Especially if we take on two scalding plates of food at once, we unfortunately do not have the means or chromosomes to extend a third appendage to make room.

DO: Read the menu and remember what you ordered


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Calling out “Chicken Oscar” or “steak fajitas” multiple times without someone to claim them tests our patience.

Also, if you look here at the menu, you should be able to see that yes, bacon comes on our spinach salads and maybe you would’ve liked to have shared with me that you don’t eat bacon before receiving your meal.

“Thank you, sir! It was a pleasure having you, I hope you enjoyed everything and we hope to see you again.

Featured Image: Bigstock

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2 Comments on Customer Etiquette: Do’s and Don’ts

  1. “If your food doesn’t come out how you ordered, 9 times out of 10 it wasn’t a server error.”

    This is NOT TRUE, HERE’S WHY:

    90% of the time it’s the SERVER’S FAULT:

    1. They can put in the order wrong into the computer or if it’s a written ticket they submit, they could have written something down wrong or hard to read.

    2. They could have forgotten to put in the order in the first place.

    3. Servers can also misunderstand what the customer is saying such as 2 times when I ordered 2 sides of bbq sauce and the stupid idiot servers thought I didn’t want bbq sauce on my ribs when I NEVER ONCE SAID I didn’t and I didn’t say “ON THE SIDE”, I SAID SIDES, which means extra. One of those times I said extra even.

    4. Most mistakes with food are visible:

    A. Condiments of any kind regardless of who brings out the food can be brought out by the server ahead of time.

    B. If someone orders extra crispy bacon with their pancakes, then the bacon looks limp, not stiff, and you can even see some white fat on it, guess what? MY SERVER COULD HAVE SEEN THAT TOO AND TOLD THE COOKS IT WASN’T CORRECT, TO RECOOK IT INSTEAD OF BRINGING IT TO ME WRONG IN THE FIRST PLACE!

    C. Any wrong side dishes or entrees are the fault of the server if they bring out the food even if they put in the order right. You can tell the difference between a baked potato and mac n’ cheese, yet, a waiter at Logan’s Roadhouse was so stupid as to bring me mac n’ cheese when I ordered a baked potato. I noticed it within 5 seconds of the food hitting my table. Like DUH a baked potato looks completely different from mac n’ cheese.

    D. Any MISSING side dishes, appetizers, condiments, or entrees ARE the server’s fault if they bring out the food as well. Have had that happen a few times or so. Our servers aren’t blind, so they can tell if something is missing or not.

    E. I have seen a red steak delivered to someone before at Outback which means let’s say the customer ordered their steak well done, that the server could have noticed the color difference as in someone’s example “Steak cooked rare instead of well done ? It’s not your server’s fault, they didn’t cook it, it’s the kitchen’s fault.”

    F. If something LOOKS burnt such as a piece of bread with the food and the person didn’t order it burnt, my server is at fault for serving me that.

    G. If my server forgets an item that an entree or appetizer comes with, that’s their fault if they brought me my food without the item such as a side dish or ranch.

    H. I have ordered at Outback my fries “lightly cooked” “Not overdone and yellow not brown.” I have had their fries before cooked the way I like them before many of times before this time I am talking about. This stupid waitress decided to blame the kitchen staff for REALLY DARK BROWN FRIES as if she was blind or something and my husband even told me he could see that they were really dark. My husband may not agree with me on every subject of course, but with that, you could EASILY tell just by LOOKING that those fries were overdone and very dark. She said she put in the order correctly. I am thinking, SO? I wish I could have said “Are you blind?” That was HER FAULT she DECIDED TO SERVE ME THOSE FRIES THAT WEREN’T CORRECT. I noticed the mistake within 3 seconds of my food being placed in front of me.

    You can tell in this picture above the bacon is very crispy just by simply LOOKING at it.

    You can tell in this picture above the bacon is NOT CRISPY, just by simple LOOKING at the bacon.

    While the server didn’t “COOK” the bacon, it’s obvious to the *SERVER’S* EYES that one batch of bacon is crispy and the other isn’t to decide to BRING the food to the customer wrong or not. It’s my server’s fault if they decide to bring me the bacon that’s like in picture 2 if I ordered it crispy that she or he didn’t tell the cooks it was wrong and get them to cook the bacon more instead of SERVING it wrong. WHY bring it out only for the food to be sent back?

    You can clearly see the fries are overdone in the picture above if the customer ordered them “NOT OVERDONE, lightly cooked.”

    In this picture above, you can see the fries don’t appear overdone and the bacon is NOT CRISPY. If a customer asked for their bacon to be crispy, I would REFUSE to serve it and I would have enough CARING and COMMON SENSE to get that fixed **BEFORE** I brought it to the customer only to have the customer send it back or leave me a bad tip for not caring about their food.

    My server’s job isn’t just to bring out what the kitchen staff gives them, it’s also getting the order OBVIOUSLY correct to the table as much as possible in order to get that good tip. As someone said on a blog or forum “They just want to be tipped well and will do pretty much anything reasonable to get your money”, which that IS VERY REASONABLE to think OUR SERVERS ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT THEIR TIP TO GET THINGS RIGHT TO HAVE A BETTER TIP!!

    Get what I am saying here? MOST of the mistakes happen due to either your server if they bring out the food or another server that doesn’t compare the ticket to the food(assuming the order was put in correctly by the original server of course).

    You also can notice if someone has wing sauce “On the side” vs. “On the wings” themselves. This isn’t rocket science.

    Most of the things that are wrong with the food can be caught by the server if they bring out the food, even if they didn’t cook it. If it’s another server, they can catch obvious errors on the ticket and menu(such as menu states the item comes with bbq sauce and the ticket doesn’t say “no bbq sauce”) if the ticket was correctly put in by the original server that took the order. Condiments(in bottles or on the side in containers) can always be offered to be brought out ahead of time REGARDLESS of WHO brings out the food to the table.

    So most of the time when the food has something wrong with it, chances are, your server or another server could have caught the mistake before it got to you in most instances. I NEVER said ALL, but in most cases, it can be caught BEFORE bringing out the food(unless another server brings out the food with the ticket wrong), because then the original server that took the order is at fault for putting the order in incorrectly into the computer.

    There are few rare cases where the food being wrong is the kitchen staff’s fault such as raw food(such as raw chicken), slightly undercooked or overcooked food that you’d have to CUT into to know if it was under or overcooked, or anything the server cannot see with their eyes unless they were to TOUCH the food. Things such as a pickle under a bun the server can’t notice unless they lift the bun, so unless they put the order in wrong, they wouldn’t be at fault, but in general most food mistakes can be caught BEFORE bringing the food to the table.

    What I am saying is, MOST mistakes ARE PREVENTABLE by the SERVER if they bring your order to you that they can NOTICE things wrong by comparing those written orders to the plates of food.

    Once a waiter at Chili’s said “The kitchen forgot” when I had ordered 2 sides of mayo and 1 side of mustard. The thing is, my waiter brought out the food, so NO, HE HE HE HE HE FORGOT, the kitchen staff didn’t step out the kitchen to bring me my food and forget obvious missing containers from my plate that aren’t covered up by anything. MY WAITER DID THOUGH!!

    You walk in one room in your house with a plate of food, but forget the ranch. Even if your mom or significant other plated your food, which you even told her you wanted a side of ranch for your fries, but you bring it to another room. HOW IS THAT THEIR FAULT? It’s YOUR FAULT YOU LEFT THE ROOM WITHOUT THE RANCH AND DIDN’T NOTICE IT SINCE IT’S SOMETHING OBVIOUS YOU DON’T HAVE TO *TOUCH* TO NOTICE THE MISTAKE!!

    Even if he didn’t bring out the food, that waiter could have prevented that type of thing from being forgotten since it needs no cooking to bring it out ahead of time. It is always the person bringing out the food that is at fault for any type of mistake that you don’t have to TOUCH the food to notice the mistake, unless of course, the order was put in wrong by the original server that took the order with another server bringing out the food. Of course unless, the kitchen goofs up, making it correctly even if the ticket is wrong, but that’s highly unlikely scenario.

    I cannot believe you honestly think that the server is not at fault for most food mistakes. WE LIVED THROUGH THE “DUH” MISTAKES, SO WE CAN SEE WITH OUR EYES WHO WAS AT FAULT!!

    We had a waiter once admitted he grabbed the wrong entrée from the kitchen. It was just my husband and I. This waiter not only admitted he didn’t compare the WRITTEN ORDER with the entrées he was bringing out, but also we saw he had other entrées for another table that he didn’t ONCE get his pad of paper out to see WHICH ENTRÉE WENT WITH WHICH TABLE!! So 2 times he could have caught his mistake, but didn’t *****TRY HIS BEST AS HE SHOULD HAVE, because that’s HIS JOB**!!

    He admitted that he grabbed the wrong entrée from the kitchen. He brought my husband fried shrimp w/fries when he ordered crawfish au gratin w/baked potato. Those items look NOTHING A LIKE, but yet THAT WAITER WAS TOO LAZY AND UNCARING TO VERIFY *WHAT* HE WAS BRINGING US!! We still left him 17% BTW, just to let you know since he profusely apologized TWICE and FIXED THE SITUATION IMMEDIATELY just about. We honestly shouldn’t have though, because that really didn’t make him LEARN anything. If I had to do it all over again, I would have tipped 13%. It’s because since that happened(a number of years ago, maybe like 4), me and my husband have had some terrible experiences. We have had good ones too of course, but the servers need to LEARN that they can’t just hand you ANYTHING like McDonald’s cashiers do. They are there to EARN a tip, NOT to just hand you anything.

    It’s very rare that it’s not the server’s fault. Things like if I order no pickles if you took my order and brought out my food, which there are some pickles under a bun that you’d have to lift it to see it, unless you admitted putting in the order wrong, I will assume it’s the kitchen staff that is at fault and probably is.

    Things like raw chicken tenders aren’t the fault of the server.

    A slightly over or undercooked steak if the order was put in correctly is not the server’s fault.

    Also, some people assume things as well, that end up being wrong.

    If another server brings out a wrong side dish or if they are missing items other than condiments, no it’s not the server’s fault if they put in the order correctly, but it still counts against the tip. It’s part of the service.

    Why also is it when you say “no pickles” or “ONLY lettuce and onions”, they still have a pickle on the plate? WHY you servers can’t understand that if the customer states they don’t want pickles, that means on the plate, because otherwise, they’d specifically state they would have wanted it “ON THE SIDE.” Think about it. WHY do I keep having servers bring me some pickles on the plate when I ordered no pickles? NO SERVERS ARE BLIND OR ILLITERATE that they cannot determine any of the obvious errors that don’t have to be touched to notice the mistakes or mistake.

    You really need to think **LOGICALLY** about what you have said. You are LYING to the public, WHY IS THAT, HUH?

    “DON’T: Have separate checks for 10+ customers and then pay with cash”

    DON’T **EXPECT** a GOOD TIP if you don’t want to do the ***********AMOUNT OF *************WORK***************** it takes to get that tip LAZY!!

    “DON’T: Greet with an order
”

    Since it’s ***OUR** MONEY, shouldn’t **WE** get to rule how long we wait for things, huh? You don’t get to dictate when we order if you want our money. You want our money, we want to get served, it’s that simple. It’s not being mean, it’s just that people want to order. They don’t want to waste **TIME** for no reason. Your job is to ask us what we want and our job is to tip you. I will thank you and ask nicely for things, but you have to be ***CONSIDERATE*** to our hunger, thirst, and time. Don’t take offense at people not answering how they are doing. They don’t have to. How **YOU** feel when **YOU** are hungry, huh?

    “DO: Tip on your original bill
”

    I agree if it’s a large amount, but not if you have a coupon for like $3 off or something like that, then it would almost negate the coupon then. Remember, your manager lowered the prices, so be mad at them, not the customer. As I said, I do agree if it’s a large amount, because you still got served and I only agree with it if the service is good.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to respond with your ideas and feedback ! You make very valid points.

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