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This is What Your Restaurant Server Wants You to Know

Servers are one of the main aspects of restaurants and always get hit the hardest. Rude guests, large parties, and high maintenance tables: I’ve handled it all. I’ve seen it all. Have any of my shifts involved a quick crying session in the walk-in freezer? Absolutely. 

To help create a better experience for the two of us when you sit down at a restaurant, I’ve created a list of 10 things I wish guests knew:

We’re always doing something

To be a good server you need to have great time management skills, but it’s easy to get backed up. Table 260 needs more napkins, 258 has been waiting on their bill, and 250s food is taking longer than usual, so you need to check on it. On top of that, we have side work to complete. There is always something for us to do, and at times it can get overwhelming. Please know that we haven’t forgotten about you: we’re just getting the priorities handled.

Don’t trust the silverware

If there’s anything I’ve learned from all three restaurants that I’ve worked at, is to not trust the silverware. Silverware is typically put through two washes but still comes out with gunk stuck on them. I’m talking lettuce bits, chip dips, bread, and even straws. During a rush, a lot of servers and kitchen staff don’t check if the utensils are dirty and will give it to you how it is. So either bring your own plastic utensils or check them before you use them. 

Tip: If a server gives you a cup by holding the rim, request a new glass or use a straw. Gloves or not, you just don’t know what they’ve touched.

Leave a good review

A lot of guests use websites like Yelp to be negative and leave a poor review. But remember to use it if you had great service! Mention your server by name and what they did that made them stand out. The manager will see it, and it’ll possibly get your server more business because people can request them. Plus, the good review feels great and it helps the restaurant out. 

Speak up

Two things:

When ordering, be loud. We try our best to speak loudly, so try to do the same for us. At times it can be nearly impossible to hear with everything going on and we really don’t want to lean over the table to hear you. 

If you don’t like your dish or aren’t satisfied with your service, then tell us before your bill comes. Don’t act like you’re disappointed with your service once you see the price- we know when a guest is being genuine or not. 

Don’t tell us you’re ready to order when you aren’t

If you need more time, tell us! We really don’t want to make you feel rushed, plus the time I stand there waiting for you to respond could be time spent with another table.

Also, please look over the menu before you ask a question. I promise you that the menu answers 98% of your questions- and yes, that includes if the calories are per pizza slice or as a whole. 

We only get a percentage of our tips

A lot of restaurants require their servers to share a percentage of their tips with the bartender, busser, hostess, and/or food runner at the end of the night. So keep in mind that if you decide to stiff your server, then you truly are hurting them. 

Leave a cash tip

Speaking of tips.

If you want to guarantee that your server will keep your tip for themselves, then tip in cash. Cash tips belong solely to servers and aren’t given to other employees.  

Once we put your order in the system, we barely have any control over it

If your food or drink is taking a long time, I can ensure you that it is most likely not your server’s fault. Feel free to ask your server how much longer your food will take but know that once we put it in our system, it’s all in the kitchen’s hands now. We’re responsible for putting your order in, not cooking it. 

And trust me, we’re as anxious and annoyed as you are about the wait time. 

Avoid the lemons and limes

Here’s the thing. They don’t get washed, and everyone touches them. We cut them, put them in a can, and leave them out in the open. Bartenders typically use their bare hands to put them in your drink, which probably already has a good amount of germs on them.

Best to avoid them.

Finished eating? Then leave.

This is what we call table-hogging. Once you pay for your meal, please leave. We’re glad you’re having a fun time, but the longer you stay, the less money we’re making in tips. If you do stay awhile after you pay, then return the favor in your tip. 

Also, don’t be the table closer. If you see that all the surrounding tables are empty and your server is cleaning, then it’s a sign to leave. We can’t leave till you do. 

Makayla Holbrook is a Campus Correspondent here at HC Hawai'i and majoring in Secondary Education with a focus on English. Outside of writing, you can find her watching cooking competition shows, getting lost in romance novels, playing with her dogs, and trying new coffee shops.
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