"Ma'am, I don't doubt the steak was over-cooked, but did you have to eat it all before you complained about it?"
If you have ever watched the movie "Waiting," you may be wondering....."do things like that really going on at a restaurant?" Well, I'm here to answer your question: YES.
Being in the service industry is like having a front row seat at a freak show. Sometimes I really cannot believe the people that come through the door. And as a bartender, in particular, I find it my necessary duty to give you some advice on what to do, and not to do, while dining out. And before you think that I'm just another bitter service worker, I'd like to say that most of my customers are perfectly lovely. But to those of you who need a little help in the lovely department, here you go:
Okay, first of all, the DO NOT:
1. Unless it's at the bar, never seat yourself. The tables in a restaurant are divided up into sections that have servers assigned to them. If you just go and sit down, chances are you could be sitting in a section that is not assigned, and no one will come up to you. So yes, you'll sit there for a good 10 minutes stewing over the fact that no one has so much as taken your drink order, you'll get up and angrily say to an innocent bystander "um, excuse me, we have been sitting here for 10 minutes and no one has even come over yet!" At that point, the said innocent bystander will walk to the hostess stand, say "hey, we have some stupid self-seaters who are pissed off." This will result in the all the servers arguing over who has to take you.... see the point? Your night will not go well.
2. Don't say you're ready to order when you aren't. I've literally stood at a table for over 10 minutes before while the customer decided on what they wanted, though they said they were ready. Unless you're the only customer in the place, please, allow me to do my job, don't take 10 minutes to order. Thanks.
3. Do not whistle or yell from the other side of the restaurant to get your servers attention. It's just rude.
4. Pay attention to what you're ordering. If the menu says that the nachos come with cheese, lettuce, salsa, and onions, the nachos will come out with cheese, lettuce, salsa, and onions. Don't order them and then say, "I don't want these, they have lettuce all over them." Yeah....it said that on the menu.
And the most important:
5. DON'T BE A JERK. If you are a jerk, if you send food back every time you go to a restaurant, if your drink is never made correctly, and if you prefer not to tip...please....just stay home.
Okay.... so now for the DO part. These are insider secrets on how to get the best service at a restaurant, ready?:
1. Be nice. When you speak to your server or bartender, remember that they are a person too. Smile, be friendly, ask how they are doing. You will get better service.
2. Tip on the first round, then open a tab. At a bar, when you order your drinks, leave a great tip on the first round. Then, go back to the same bartender, and start a tab for the rest of the night. The bartender then knows that you're a great tipper. Your drinks will be better, and they will bypass other customers to get to you. Don't assume that bartenders split tips, they don't always.
3. Always tip at least 15%. A good tip is 15%. A better tip is 20% or more. If you had great service and you want to insure even better service in the future, tip 20% or more. If your service wasn't great, take into consideration how busy it was, and other factors. Always tip something!
4. Learn your server/bartender's name and ask for them in the future. Establish a relationship and come back! Trust me, we'll remember you as a good tipper and we'll do just about whatever you want to insure another good tip. But just as a warning, we will also remember you if you're a bad tipper, and we will not wait on you.
5. Be patient. If it's a busy night, look around and notice. You might have to wait a minute.
As a bartender, there's nothing better than a great customer! We enjoy serving you when you're kind, patient, and... you tip! Remember that servers make on average $2.15 an hour, and bartenders usually no more than minimum wage. We work for tips. And we'll work for you...as long as you remember your manners!
And if in fact you decide to be a jerk....beware....the rumors are true.