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Friday, September 9, 2011

How To Treat Your Server

I hope you will enjoy this article that I wrote for wikiHow about how to treat a server in a restaurant. This article needs to be seen by the world. Share the hell out of it.

How to Treat Your Server in a Restaurant
from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Everyone loves to eat out in a restaurant, but sometimes people forget how to treat that person who takes care of them while they are there. This article will let you know how your server wants and deserves to be treated.


  1. When your server approaches your table, give him your full attention. This means put down your stupid cell phone and take out your ear phones. Smile and wait for the server to speak to you first. He is in charge of this situation.
  2. The server will probably make some banal comment like, "How are you today?" Please know he does not really care, he is just trying to initiate some conversation so that he can develop a rapport with you. It is imperative that you respond to the server when he makes this conversation. If you simply say something like, "Gimme a water with a lemon" he will think you are rude.
  3. The server will announce the specials. Please try to pay attention to them so he doesn't have to say them again in three minutes. After this dialogue, he will ask you what you would like to drink. If you don't know yet and need more time, just say so. Don't hem and haw while you make him stand there watching you strain your brain trying to decide if you want a Cosmopolitan or a Diet Coke. And do not say, "What do you have?" All restaurants have the same basic beverages; water, soda, juice, coffee and usually a bar. Figure it out.
  4. After your server has taken your drink order, this is the time for you to decide what you would like to eat. Use the menu. That is what it is for. When you know what you would like, it is best to close your menu and place it on the table. This is the signal to the waiter that you are ready to order. If you leave it open he will assume you are still looking it over and will not come to your table.
  5. When it comes time to place your food order, be audible and clear. Do not make the waiter try to decipher your mumbling. Do not point at something in the menu. Use your words. If there are children at the table, order for them. Do not say, "Tell the man what you want, sweetie."
  6. Let the waiter decide who places their order first. He will usually start with the women and then go from there. He has a system. Do not let your whole table just yell out willy nilly what they want at the same time. This is rude and confusing and will make your serve irritated with your table. This is also the time to ask any questions you have about the food. Ten minutes later is not the time to inform him of your peanut allergy and you need to know if the Chinese Chicken Salad with Peanut Dressing has peanuts in it. it does.
  7. Your order has been placed and your beverages are at your table. Enjoy your conversation with your friends and/or family. Your food is coming. You do not need to call your waiter over to see if it's done yet or to ask how much longer it will be. When it is ready, he will bring it to the table. Trust your server. He wants your food to get to you quickly just as much as you do. The sooner it comes out, the sooner you eat and the sooner he can turn the table over and make more money.
  8. When your food arrives, please make sure you have what you ordered. Do not eat half of the chicken club sandwich before you realize that you ordered a burger. When the food is placed, think for a moment about what else you may need during the course of the meal. Ketchup, mayo, fresh pepper, extra napkins, more soda, water refills? These are all things that you should ask your server for now. He can get them all in one trip instead of five of them. If you make him do that, he will grow to resent you.
  9. A good server will come back to your table in two minutes to "check back" on you to make sure everything is to your liking. This would be when you ask for your medium rare burger to be cooked more because it "has too much pink in it." Or this would be the time to tell him that french fries are "ice cold" or that you need more salad dressing because the Caesar salad has "no dressing on it whatsoever."
  10. When it is time for him to clear the plates, let him do it. Do not try to help him by stacking them. That does not help him. He has his own method for clearing plates so let him do his job. It's nice that you want to help and all that, but don't bother. Do not say something stupid like 'Oh it was horrible" as he clears a plate that you obviously licked clean. It's a tired joke that every waiter has heard a hundred million times and it's never ever even a little bit funny at all.
  11. He will then offer you dessert and coffee. If you want it, have it. if you don't, don't. He doesn't care either way.
  12. When he presents you with the check, pay it. Do not argue amongst yourselves about who owes whom or who paid the last time. Do not thrust several credit cards at him saying "No take this one!" He will take whichever one touches his hand first because he does not care who pays for the check as long as it gets paid. If you want separate checks, you should have told him that at the beginning. It is now your problem. Pull out your calculator and figure it out.
  13. Now is the time for you to compute your tip. 15-20% is expected. If you don't think that tipping is something you should be responsible for then you should eat at McDonald's or live in Europe. A good way to figure out the tip is to look at the tax and then double it. Or you can use one of those stupid smart phone apps if math is too complicated for you.
  14. As you leave, look around your table to make sure you didn't leave any of your personal belongings. This is also a good time to see if your child left a pile of Cheerios or french fries on the floor. If you left more than a 20%, tip feel free to leave the mess. If you left 10% or less, then you need to get on your hands and knees and clean that mess up.


  • Always say "please" and "thank you." It will make all the difference in the world.
  • If you have a problem with the food, alert your server but keep in mind that he didn't cook it. All he did was punch some buttons on a computer and hoped that the cook would know the difference between "rare" and "well done."
  • Remember that your server wants you to have a good time because the more you enjoy your meal, the better his tip will (should) be. He is not out to get you or make you wait longer for your food than the table next to you.
  • If you have children, please keep them at the table. The restaurant can be a dangerous place to let a child run freely. There may be a shard of glass on the floor or maybe a food runner who is carrying a tray of hot and heavy plates won't see your child sitting in the aisle and playing with a toy.

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Treat Your Server in a Restaurant. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

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Anonymous said...

Very basic and true tips about going out to a restaurant! I'm surprised though, no snarkiness from the Bitchy Waiter in this post??
I especially like the tip about not getting mad at the server when your food comes out and it is not to your liking. They didn't make it so keep THAT in mind!!

Jess said...

I always make that joke about the food being "horrible" when the plate's clean. Oh well, they all hate me now. :-( haha

omcdurham said...

If YOU are chatting incessantly on your cellphone when I approach the table, and YOU fail to acknowledge ME, I WILL walk away until you put the phone away. Just like you, my time is money. And...when we finally make person to person contact, act like you've been in a restaurant before. READ THE MENU! Don't ask me for a "regular salad", as there is nothing on the menu called a "regular salad"!

Anonymous said...

All great tips! As for the part about doubling the taxes to figure out the tips, it must be nice to have such low taxes! Our taxes here are already 15%, so I just use that and usually a dollar or two more.

Thomas said...

Round up the change on the bill to the next dime (e.g., 43 to 50, 65 to 70) move the decimal over one to the left and that's 10%. Add half gives you 15%, double is 20%.

And my word verification is 'foodiers'.

Krissy said...

Calling us a waiter is so outdated and sexist. The term server is more respectable. It makes us sound more dignified and it caters to both men and women.

Number 11 erks me so much. This is me going over to clear a table.

Noticing clear plates I say, "So I take it everything was delicious today?" ending on a smile.
My guest. "Oh no. Everything was terrible. " laughing as though they made the wises crack in the world.
Giving a fake smile because they just annoyed me. As I'm clearing the dirty plates I say, "Haa haa! Yeah. I don't believe you." being unimpressed. "Would you all like to share a desert?"
"No. Just the bill. "
I drop the bill.
As I'm walking away. "Assholes. "

As far as the tip goes, it doesn't only have to be doubled by the tax. You could also round up to the nearest 5 and divide by 5. 20-25% is expected. 15% and below just shows how much of a cheap ass you really are and how you don't deserve to be severed. Stay your cheap ass at home!

Have you ever read Waiter Rant, Bitchy? I learned everything I needed to know from that book when I first began to serve April 2010. The whole "round up and divide by 5." thing was something I freakishly figured out one night while I was at a restaurant. Nonetheless, waiters unite! :) said...

Brilliant! I know a few people who need to read this.

Christin Joyful said...

So very true! (as usual).

TacoDave said...

Krissy: I don't know how in the world you can think that "WAITER" is sexist. It's gender-neutral. Nutball. Maybe if the term was "Waiter-Man" you'd have something...

As for the list, I agree with all of it except for the "don't stack the plates" rule. I have four kids and they can make a mess when eating. At the end of each meal, I have them pick up all of their trash and put it on one plate, scrape the remaining food trash onto the same plate, and stack their plates.

I do this because I waited tables (briefly) and it's easy to put dishes in the dish room if you can just dump the trash from the top and put down a stack.

But maybe this is a "nice restaurant" thing and I'm too low class. :-)

maxi said...

Oh god I hate it when I check back and a guest tells me it's "terrible" when I've seen them heartily tucking into their meal. I'm pretty sure they're joking, but I've experienced the "terrible" joke that wasn't actually a joke. He seriously didn't like his meal but was all smiley and was eating it when I asked!

Now I dread it, and a look of sheer panic and confusion comes over me whenever I'm exposed to the "terrible" joke. Most guests feel so sorry for upsetting me that they immediately change up and say actually how good it is.

So not funny.

Krissy said...

You're right about one thing, TacoDave. I shouldn't have said "sexist". But you didn't have to be so harsh about it either. The point I was trying to get across was the word waiter means man and waitress means woman. The word waiter itself is outdated. Server is more appropriate for this day and age and caters to both male and female without offending either sex.


Nutball? Haa! Seriously. Grow up.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, as usual. And I'm laughing at the "there's no snarkiness" comment... number 9 still has me giggling.

TacoDave said...

Krissy: sorry if I seemed harsh. The "nutball" was meant to be more playful than jerky, but I can see how it doesn't read that way.

I just get really annoyed when someone tries to turn something neutral into a sexist/racist/ageist/bigoted term.

Really, it's nothing personal. We can hug it out! *big hug*

Diamondladyokc said...

As harsh as all of you have typed about your clients then I am suprised you think anyone on here is harsh about a "sexist" comment. I waited tables for a long time and I can not believe what I am reading. You chose the job as a "server". To serve people. Not for people to accomodate and make your job easier. For you to work for your pay! A tip is given as a thank you for great service. If your an ass like you guys say you are then you get less of a "gratuity"!! Its that simple. I learned to be a more efficent server and had repeat business with very large tips! You guys should get off your high horse and come back to earth! You didnt attend any special school for this job and its a job you chose!

Amy said...

yes yes yes a million times yes! how is this so hard for people to follow? I want to print copies of this and hand them out to all my tables :)

Anonymous said...

I love love love this! Everything is so true. This site my new favorite thing!

Anonymous said...

This is great. I feel that everyone should have to work in a restaurant at some point in their life. That way people would know how to properly "behave" when dining out.

Andrea said...

I'm pretty much the perfect customer as I follow all of these guidelines by using what I like to call common sense. I just have one request to waiters/waitresses....Don't ask me how my meal is while I have a mouthful unless you want to see how delicious it is for yourself :)

Anonymous said...

Server is incharge of the situation!? Get over yourself!! This post alone make me not want to dole out fair tips anymore. Yall can fakk off and talk ur base salary with a coke and a smile. You are NOT entitled to anymore, so that being said, if you provide 'aaa' service to a table and your tip isnt satisfactory. Keep in mind that your not entilted to shit, except your hourly, as well as you dont know the financial situation of the guest. What the service industry comes down to is simple, provide a standard level of service and expect a standard level of income. Stop reaching you fucks! People that get shit on while working at mcdicks drive-thru dont, demand certain treatment, they say "hey this job sucks, and i make fuck all for $$, maybe i should look for another job? or go to school so I can make a wage that is worth this "put out". Just common sense, stop bitching.

Anonymous said...

the last post was obviously written by the lowest fucking form of person. Servers do not get a normal wage and their money and way of life is dependent on tips you fuckin idiot. Oh and just so you know you piece of shit, most servers, like myself, do this as a means to an end.. Like me being able to pay for my double bachelors and masters. We are called "SERVERS"!!! THIS IN NO WAY MEANS "SERVANT"!! Eating out is a luxury that if you can't afford it, including tip, then don't do it.. Also don't forget the golden rule.. DON'T FUCK WITH THE PEOPLE THAT HANDLE YOUR FOOD. So YES the server is in charge of the situation!

Anonymous said...

^^^Wow you putts. You fucking wieners on here give all SERVERS a bad fucking name. I think this person that wrote the original post is the "lowest form of person" As you put it. Demanding a level of treatment!? I used to working in the automotive service industry (as a customer service rep so dont act like ive never been in your fucking shoes u little biotch). Try explaining something regarding someones vehicle that neither you nor the person ur explaining to fully understand what is being said....I had ppl go up one side of me and down the other!! But was i the one doing the work on the car!? (preparing the food as the articles example) Its part of the fucking job, the mechanic gets paid to deal with the vehicle, the rep gets paid to deal with the people. So i started to feel helpless and hated my job, so what do u think i did!? Picked MY OWN ass up and went back to school and got a better paying job, with less stress.......WOOOOOW amazing. As you say u are on ur way out, and have an end plan, fantastic. Why are u on here bitching then?? LMAO. Fact is if ur not happy, move the fuck on, and let the industry itself feel the wrath of well educated, sophisticated people leaving. This in turn will affect the level of service being provide althroughout the industry. You know what that will result in!? BASE WAGE being raised to try and improve the qual of ppl that the serv industry is attracting. Wake up ppl. Or wait we need ppl like you guys who just sit around and bitch about being themselves, keep on keepin on. Food for thought.

Lowestofthelow lowerson.

Anonymous said...

Just saw you on Dr Phil, wish you lived in West Michigan so you could be our Waiter. I'm sure you would be the best waiter and we would know how to be the best customer!!! Our future servers will appreciate your advise.

Anonymous said...

Typical bitter lifer WAITER, to threaten food tampering. If u do such a bad job that i dont tip enough, for you to then tamper with my food....what makes u think i'd be back to ur rest to give you the chance!? hah! Theres a real lack of common sense in here....perhaps thats why all i hear in here are spinning tires and frustration LOL last msg, remember this quote my uncle told me (who ironically has been a waiter (his term) his whole life, and just became GM: "You are not in control of a situation, until u are prepared to walk away from it." In other words be OKAY with the worst case scenario, then you wont be disappointed. We in the REAL world call it taking control of your own life. Good Luck with yours. FYI, i am some asshole that brings a whip with me when i dine out, and I do tip very well, as i have multiple family members that are servers. I just think that everyone needs to dial down their expectations. Thx for listenin, take care.

Thelowestofthelow Lowerson

Anonymous said...

***I am NOT some asshole***, sorry im operating with half a ketboard here, lol.

Unknown said...

OMG! You are amazing! I am your perfect customer, please come to Sacramento and be my "bithcy waiter" you would always get 25%!!!!

david said...

This is so on point. Every one of them hits home, especially the clean plate/ I hated it. I usually say, "yea I can tell" or beat them to the punch.

Justme said...

What is wrong with you waiters/servers? Obviously someone who has never been a waiter before and is trying to be friendly would say something they thought was funny regarding them eating it all. So you've heard a thousand times, big deal! Jeez, do you really have to cry about it or call someone an a--hole because they made the same joke everyone else has made and has not idea about it?? Good Lord, you guys need to take a happy pill..

Well, here's a few tidbits for the waiters/servers:
1. When you speak to me don't mumble or ramble off the specials so that I don't have to ask you 3 times to repeat yourself.
2. If you see my water glass is empty, then please assume I want it refilled before my meal is over! Don't come over and ask me do you want a refill? No, ummm, I'd like to choke on my food!
3. Once I finish eating if you don't want me to stack up the plates, then pick them up within a reasonable amount of time.
4. WRITE YOUR ORDER DOWN!!!! What is up with these waiters who don't write stuff down then get your order wrong!
5. If I ask for something extra on my plate, please let me know that there will be an additional charge.
6. If you want a nice tip, then B NICE!
7. If we ask you for separate checks at the beginning of the meal, then BRING ME SEPARATE CHECKS!!
8. I really DON'T CARE if you were assigned more tables then you could handle, or "if it's really busy in here today" that IS NOT MY PROBLEM, because NO i won't be understanding if you make me wait 45 min for my meal then 20 min for you to clear my table, another45 min for you to get my desert and bring me my bill!
9. If I ask for well done, No, I DON'T WANT TO SEE PINK IN MY MEAT and if I ask for rare, yes, I want the blood dripping onto my plate! That's why I specified how I wanted it cooked!
10. And last but not least, Don't touch me! What is up with servers touching you. Keep your hands to yourself!!

How's that for 10 things us patrons expect from our servers???

Have a great day everyone!

Lana said...

I have a lot of friends that are servers. They all work at my favorite restaurant and so I got used to being a good tipper. Now, I always leave at least 20% tip, usually way more, unless my waiter was seriously just horrible and blatantly rude. However, I do think its a little ridiculous the demands you and of some of these servers who have commented on here have made for your customers. Haven't you ever heard, "the customer is always right?" That's because YOU depend on THEM for your livelihood. I don't care how rude or annoying they are, no one forced you to work in a restaurant, so if you hate your job that much, get another job. Its pretty simple. I don't think its right for customers to treat their servers ugly even if they arent doing that great of a job because ya know, we all have bad days, and we all need to be shown some grace at times, but I still don't think its right for servers to have such a shitty attitude toward their customers just because their job is getting monotonous. There are very valid complaints from servers, but about half of yours are bogus. Just keep in mind, you are EARNING your tip. If you do a mediocre job, expect a mediocre tip and mediocre attitude from your customers. It goes both ways. Whether server or consumer, we should all remember the golden rule... treat others the way you would want to be treated. It would make restaurants a much better place.

ckodz said...

Yes, I agree that customers need to be polite to their servers and pay attention so that the server can do his/her job. I worked in restaurants through and after college before I settled into a career, so I know the joys as well as the frustrations of a very difficult job.
As for children, though: No, I don't tolerate rude or out-of-control kids in a restaurant and will not hesitate to ask to be moved to another table to get away from someone's screaming kid. And I agree that the server cannot be asked to control the situation - but the manager can. I have an 8-year-old that we've taken out to restaurants since she was an infant and we've taught her to be polite and quiet when we're out to eat. She now reads the menu and politely tells the server what she would like to eat and drink. If she was loud or unruly, we took care of it immediately and never had a problem. We tend to go to "kid-friendly" restaurants until such time as she is ready for "upscale" restaurants.
We did take her to an "upscale" restaurant (with a kids' menu) in Coral Gables, FL, when she was about 4. When we left, the manager rushed over to our table to tell me I didn't have to pick up the few french fries she had dropped on the floor. I told him that she made the mess, so I'd clean it up. He said she was one of the best behaved children he had ever seen in his establishment and he wished more parents were like us.
So please don't characterize all children as monsters. Some of us parents are trying to raise polite, respectful kids and teach them to behave in public.

Meg said...

Most people who are servers are educated people. Do people realize it's a recession and jobs are hard to come by. Also I'm paying my way through college and serving is helping that cause. I don't expect you to treat me like I'm a queen or something crazy but basic respect. It all comes back to treat people how you wanted to be treated.

Anonymous said...

Justme is a douche.

Anonymous said...

I am a SERVER (not waitor) and i want to post a list of websites and movies ("waiting")on the front door for customers to check out when they get home. DUH Right next to the time the restaurant closes. If we close @ 9, dont order food any later than 8:30 and thats pushing it!!!

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Claire K said...

Check out my blog on how you should not treat your server