8 Ways Adults Are Misbehaving in Restaurants

Brandi Puga

When we go to restaurants with kids we deserve kindness from others but adults are misbehaving in restaurants too. How can adults set the best example for our kids when it comes to behaving in a restaurant? Start here. These are 8 ways adults are misbehaving in restaurants.

1. Sit Where You Are Seated

Shockingly, when you go into a restaurant, you are not the center of their universe. Rather, you become part of theirs. There is a very specific system to seating guests that ensures that each server receives the same number of tables and, thus, an equal opportunity to make money. Likewise, this system keeps servers from becoming overwhelmed with too many tables and being unable to provide proper service. There are obviously exceptions; if you have several kids I understand that you want a booth so you can trap the little monsters against the wall. The hostess will always be receptive to a person’s needs, like requiring a table close to the entrance because of an ailment or injury. But if you waltz in like Barbara Streisand and appraise each table before finally demanding to be settled exactly where it will cause the most frustration for the staff, well you probably won’t be getting the service you think you deserve. And one extra tip when you are being seated, Get Off Your Phone. Customers expect to be greeted within 2 minutes of being seated so that they can have drinks in front of them within 5 minutes.  Do your waitstaff a favor and set your phone down until you have put in your drink order. A patron on the phone is a ticking time bomb to a server.  If you interrupt they will label you as rude, down goes the tip percentage. If you don’t interrupt they will be dissatisfied with the amount of time they had to wait for a drink, again, less money in the server’s pocket. So put down your phone when you get seated.

2.  NEVER Wave to a Server

Oh, did you need something? Sorry, I was just over here doing my JOB at another table and couldn’t drop everything to fetch you your third helping of ranch dressing. But since you waved like a cheerleader, I guess that changes everything. NOT! Waving at your server is not only demeaning and annoying, it is the #1 way to assure that you don’t get the most prompt service. If you have a SERIOUS issue, sure flag me down, but if you wag your finger in my direction because you have too much ice in your coke you can go ahead and shove that finger in your eye. Most waitstaff are rather good at their jobs, we multitask like champs and are constantly checking to be sure you have everything you need. Thus, being good at their jobs and wanting to make the most money, servers are very receptive their customers needs. However, don’t interrupt your server while they are busy with another table, and rather than waving your hand like a friggin’ diva, try saying “excuse me?” Polite behavior will go a long way to getting you what you want.

3. Read The Menu

As restaurant staff, we have been schooled on the menu that you have been handed. We know the specials, the sides, the ingredients in the drinks, we know things you never wanted to know about your food. Despite all this knowledge, we don’t want to recite the menu to you. There is nothing more frustrating on a busy night than having a customer ask you what steaks you carry, especially when you work at a steakhouse. We are happy to answer questions and let you know our personal opinions about dishes, but we do not appreciate taking a verbal test with our patrons. Look the menu over, decide what you want. Pretty simple.

4.  Take Charge of Your Own Order

After you have read the menu, decide what sounds good to you and order that. Pretty obvious right? You would be shocked how many people ask me to “surprise” them with a drink or appetizer, or even and entree! Asking your server to “surprise you” is like telling your boss to only pay you what he thinks you would like. Your server not only doesn’t know your preferences but his/her idea of “delicious” may be completely opposite to yours. The words “surprise me,” to your server, means a stressful decision that could lead to a lesser tip. Act like an adult and order your own food to suit your own desires. Waitstaff are always happy to share their opinions but they never want the responsibility of choosing what you are going to pay for.

5.  Tidy Up Your Table

Yes, you have come to a restaurant so that you do not have to do your own dishes or cook your own food and deal with the mess that comes with it. That doesn’t mean your server is your there to clean up God’s greatest dinner disaster. Your waitstaff is prepared to pick up your dishes, linens and cups. They are not there to pry your gum off the table, scoop your baby’s 8 million cheerios off the floor, or fish gnawed upon chicken bones off your still warm seat. Clean up your own freaking nasty garbage for Pete’s sake. Use your manners like your mama taught you and treat your server like a human being. I clean up my children’s messes when we go to restaurants and helpfully stack our plates so our poor server doesn’t have to touch more people’s germ-filled utensils than absolutely necessary. Do the same.

6.  Don’t Judge Your Server For Back Of House Mistakes

Everyone has gone to dinner and had their steak come out too well done or not done enough, they have had their entrees come out too early or very late. 99% of the time, your server had no control over these issues and was in the back sweating over the problem before you even knew about it. Waitstaff and bartenders alike are at the mercy of a team of back of house employees that are, likewise, relying on machines and other individuals to correctly do their jobs, all so that your food can come out perfectly. It’s a quite complex process with a ridiculous number of things that can go wrong with one simple order. Your server is doing their best to make sure that your food and that of their other tables is being attended to correctly while also refilling drinks, answering questions, running other staff’s food, doing side-work, all while hungry themselves because they are serving you dinner at the same time that they would like to be eating it. So don’t blame your server when the food cooked by someone else isn’t perfect or is late or came when you weren’t finished with your salad. Give them a break and recognize them for the hard work they do, not the work of their compatriots.

7.  Avoid The Verbal Tip

Most people these days go to work to make, you guessed it, MONEY. Your server or bartender also attends and attempts to excel at their place of employment to acquire currency. In fact, servers smile in the face of patronizing customers, clean up your kids’ horrific messes and even throw up, they listen to horrible jokes and pretend they didn’t see you staring at their butt or making lewd gestures with your buddies or lady friends. Restaurant staff put up with a lot crap and work hard to be gracious while giving you the best meal and experience possible. They do all this for your tips, so that they can pay rent, feed themselves and, in some cases, their children, or, God forbid, have some cash-o-la to spend on a night off. Therefore, if you take the time to praise their serving ability and warn their heart with compliments, it is devastating for them to see the signed receipt with little or no tip. And NO, 10% does not count as an appropriate amount unless your server was severely lax in their abilities. If you were happy with the service, waitstaff are always thrilled to hear that they did a good job, but please pass the buck as well. Your words will turn to poison if you don’t leave a decent tip in the wake of your verbal applause. Not to mention, that server will remember you for all the wrong reasons and that does not bode well should you frequent that establishment.

8.  Don’t Eat Out If You Can’t Tip

The frustration that surrounds the “verbal tip” brings me to my next point. If you are short on cash and cannot afford to eat out AND leave a tip, DON’T EAT OUT. Or go to McDonald’s or another fast food chain where the employees don’t rely on tips to survive from day to day. Our family does not roll around in moolah and, therefore, cannot eat out every week. We save up so that we can enjoy a meal out every 3-6 months, and part of that savings ensures that we don’t screw our waitress when we leave. Your server is there to help you have an enjoyable dining experience, reward them accordingly for the services they provide. 18-20% is much appreciated by your waitstaff, 15% is acceptable if they were having a really off night, but it’s still a slap in the face. I always tip 20% if I leave feeling that my server did their best, even if they had a mishap or two. Bad stuff happens in your life too, how would you like it if you were docked $5 every time you screwed up?

So there you have it, stick with the tips above and you won’t be labeled a total jerk every time you eat out. In fact, your server may even come to enjoy your presence simply because you will stand out as a decent human among the gross majority of people that they encounter every day.


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Ways Adults Are Misbehaving in Restaurants


Brandi is a mother of 5 and workout enthusiast. She spends her time cooking and attempting to keep up with housework, but generally failing. She also works part time as a bartender and blogger. You can check out her blog at bigfitfam.com.