10 Ways to Earn Brownie Points with Restaurant Waitstaff

published Sep 13, 2017
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(Image credit: Kitchn)
(Image credit: Eviled)

Whether you’re trying out a restaurant while on vacation or trying to make a new-to-you place a regular go-to, there are a few things you can do to help win over the waitstaff. Because let’s face it — it’s nice if they like you as much as you like them.

1. Stick to your reservation.

If you have a reservation, honor that time and arrive as close to it as possible. If you’re going to be more than 10 minutes late, give the restaurant a call to give them a heads up. They might not be able to hold your table and that’s on you — not them. If you’re late and the staff ends up holding your table, that’s time your waiter isn’t making money.

2. Be nice.

This is one of those goes-without-saying things, but it’s still worth being said. Don’t be rude to the waitstaff! It’s not nice and it doesn’t look good on you. Also, be understanding. It’s probably not your waiter’s fault that the kitchen is backed up or if the bartenders have to change the keg. Just keep calm.

3. Keep your stuff out of the way.

Servers and bussers have to carry a lot of hot (and fragile!) dishes. If your backpack, giant purse, or shopping bag is in the way, that becomes a tripping hazard. And that’s dangerous for everyone. Do your best to keep the paths clear.

4. Don’t make your server come back a million times.

Meeting up with a friend you haven’t seen in years? While you may be tempted to jump right into the storytelling, take a minute to look at the menu and at least pick out a drink (alcoholic or not!). This way, when your server comes over, you’re ready for the first step. While she may tell you to take your time and that it’s totally fine, don’t keep promising to look at the menu and then not do it.

5. Be quiet-ish.

We know, you’re excited to see your friend. Just try to keep your noise level down to match that of those around you. If you just have one of those laughs, try to keep your neighbors in mind.

6. Ask questions.

The waitstaff at any decent restaurant is bound to be excited about the food. Ask your server for her suggestions. What does she like? What cocktail goes with your appetizers? What the heck is guanciale?

7. Help your server put down all those dishes.

Don’t just sit there and watch your waiter struggle to put down your four shared appetizers. Help clear some space by rearranging your glasses, moving the bread plates, and getting your menus out of the way.

8. Let your waiter know of special dietary needs up front.

Even if your waiter doesn’t come right out and ask, let him know if you have any major dietary needs up front. If you aren’t comfortable doing that (or you don’t have a super serious allergy) you can always ask, “Hey, is there dairy in that sauce?” before you order.

9. Tip well.

This is going to be controversial, but we’re going to say it anyway: Tip your server 20 percent. That’s pretty standard and we don’t support anything less than that.

10. Don’t linger at your table if people are waiting.

Are there a bunch of people by the door waiting for a table? Are you finished eating? Don’t linger at your table. It’s rude to the people waiting and it prevents your waiter from making money.

(Image credit: Kitchn)