What unwritten rules do restaurant servers wish patrons would abide by? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
The relationship between a server and a customer can feel like an adverse one at times. Quite often, this is because the two parties simply misunderstand each other. I benefit from the experience of both working as a server, and being someone who dines out on the regular - so I understand what the dynamic is like from both sides.
For customers who get the most out of the dining experience, they understand the many nuances of the restaurant business, to include several unwritten rules that they have to go along with whether they like it or not. These are five unwritten rules that I find are rarely followed by customers. For those who dine out, I suggest reading these rules to understand how things work in the restaurant world. Sticking to these rules, you'll stand to have a much more enjoyable dining experience, as opposed to just going off of what you think is right.
This restaurant is not your house
You're a paying customer. We get that, and we respect that. But do not forget that you are a guest. In addition, you are not the only guest. There are other people here too. So when you request that we turn down the music, turn up the lights, or adjust the heat/air conditioning, you should know that we may not be able to make this accommodation, even if you ask nicely. If you go on to demand such accommodations, you're not only disrespecting us (because you're essentially treating the restaurant like your house, and us like servants who run it for you), you're also disrespecting the other guests (because they may not desire the same accommodations that you desire). This is not your house, and this is a space that you're sharing with other people - and if you're the only one asking for something to be changed, we're unlikely to do it if it will affect other guests.
Food takes longer to come out when we're busy
When a restaurant is busy, it's usually no secret. It's loud, it's full, staff are running around, the whole deal. You can also anticipate when a restaurant will be busy, like on Friday and Saturday nights. If you choose to dine at such times as these, you can expect your food to take longer to come out. Why? More people, more orders, more work for the kitchen to do. So if you've just placed your order now, it could take 20, 30, 40 minutes, or even longer than that. If that's too long for you, none of us have any sympathy for your complaints. You knew it was busy, so you knew it would take long. You chose to dine at this time, so you knew what you were getting into. We don't care that you're hungry. Everybody is hungry. That's why they're here! What do you think we're going to do? Bring your food out first before someone else's, just because you're complaining? Dream on.
Do not order anything that isn't on the menu
It's been my observation that a shockingly high percentage of restaurant patrons are either functionally illiterate, or are just extremely picky eaters. I say this because I've run into so many situations where customers want to make up their own dish that isn't on the menu (i.e. ordering fish and chips at an Italian restaurant). Perhaps it's because they don't know how to read, and therefore can't understand anything the menu says. Perhaps it's because they've never been to a restaurant before and aren't comfortable ordering anything they don't already know. Perhaps it's because they want to watch the world burn and cause the maximum amount of carnage. I don't know.
What I do know is that our menu items are specifically formulated based on cost, taste, tradition, and what our customers generally like to have. If I put in an order for a veal marsala, the chef knows exactly what to make. If I have to walk him through your whole set of instructions, that slows everything down - and it defeats the whole purpose of having a menu. That menu is there for a reason. Read it. Furthermore, it defeats the whole purpose of a restaurant. This is not a private chef service. Minor adjustments to menu items are okay, custom orders are not.
If something is wrong, say something!
You're not here to have a "just okay" meal, or even a bad or terrible meal. We couldn't survive as a business if we routinely turned out inferior food. It's not our objective to underwhelm you. If there's something wrong with the food, please say something. You're not going to offend me. I didn't make the food. It's not my place to take it the wrong way. If the pasta has too much sauce, we'll fix it. If the fish has no taste, we'll do something about it. If the steak is undercooked, we'll have it cooked to your liking. If you endure your way through the food and eat it all, then we can't do anything about it. We especially can't do anything about it if you leave the restaurant and write a negative review expecting that to change anything. It doesn't make sense for us to give you anything less than our best - and as such, it doesn't make sense for you to expect anything less than that either.
Do not address us as "waiter"/"waitress", or snap your fingers at us
This is basic human respect. I will openly ignore such requests for my attention, and you'll be waiting a while for me to come back.
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