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Horrible Things to STOP Doing at Restaurants, and a Couple to Start

There are many situations that can cause major pain for your server, hostess or any restaurant staff in general that may go unnoticed by the general public. The restaurant industry is a tough business. There are long hours on your feet, testy and rude customers and the hefty job of learning to multitask as fast as you can. Somehow, most remember to grab you extra butter or can think ahead and know when you need more water before you do, so give them some grace and think before you do some of these restaurant no-nos.

  1. Cutting Your Server Off. The amount of times I am unable to get out even my first name before someone cuts me off with “Just water.”, or their full out dinner order is astonishing. Not only is it rude to not let your waiter or waitress introduce themselves and ask you what you would like, it starts the whole exchange off on a really sour note.

  2. Camping. This is a term used by staff to describe people who stay way beyond their welcome. After paying your bill, staying at the table and hanging out is not only inconveniencing the staff, it’s preventing your server from making more money off of that table.

  3. Notorious Regulars. It can be a good thing to be known, but it can also be very negative. If the staff have to run and pray they don’t get sat with you in their section, you’re doing something wrong. Poor tipping, reoccuring ‘complaints’, hard to please guests, and rude comments are all things you don’t want to be remembered by.

  4. Not Listening. Whether you are on your phone, can’t be bothered to pause your conversation, or just like to tune out until it’s your turn to order, not listening to your server is only going to make the experience more painful for everyone. Believe me, I really don’t want to list the soups in detail for every person at the table- but it happens way too often.

  5. NOT TIPPING. I could go ON and ON. This one is self explanatory these days, or it should be. Your servers wages are practically based on the generosity, or lack thereof of their guests. The percentage that they do receive from each table is not too much to ask for the amount of effort that is put in. Tipping any less than 20% is a direct shot at your servers livelihood, and that’s an hour of labor that went unpaid or severely underpaid for them. In the normal situation where they made their best effort to offer you the most pleasant experience possible, please remember that your server only has control over so much. They don’t cook your food, they don’t control the temperature in the restaurant or that loud family in the corner booth. If something is completely unacceptable about your the night, ask to speak with a manager and give them a chance to make it right instead of punishing your server after the fact.

Also, don’t go out to eat if you can’t “afford” to tip, that is not a valid excuse. If compensating someone who has done you a personal service doesn’t work for you, then you should consider cooking from home or going somewhere where it isn’t needed. That’s the bottom line.

  1. Being Inappropriate. We get it, you’re hilarious- with your friends or in another context it may be just fine to joke around. However, if you’re making your server the target of your puns and borderline harassment-esque comments, you are not funny. This is their job, and that is why they are giving you attention and may feel obligated to put up with any harassment that comes their way. No one enjoys having to brush off your comments in a desperate attempt to save the tip without making everyone else deeply uncomfortable.

  2. Not Handling Your Liquor. Let’s just say that a restaurant is not the place to push your limits, if you’re ‘feeling it’ that is definitely the place to stop. Restaurants have every right to refuse to serve you that next drink, but you don’t want it to get to that point where it’s uncomfortable for everyone.

  3. Being Loud. Your server fully wants you to enjoy yourself and make the most of your evening out, whatever the occasion. However, if your lively experience starts to interrupt or disturb other guests, you may need to tone it down a couple notches. Also, keeping your young ones or family in check and under control within reason is just common courtesy to everyone else in the restaurant.

  4. Showing up Right Before Close. If you’re aware of the establishments hours of operation, which you should be since they are posted right on the door and available online, respect them. Know you cannot receive full service and let workers go home at a reasonable time after close if you walk in even 20 minutes before they lock the doors at a sit down place. It’s rude to the staff, you’ll likely be dissatisfied with available options, and it will leave everyone fairly unhappy.

Since we addressed some of the things you shouldn’t do when eating out, let’s look at a few DO’s for restaurant etiquette.

  1. Be Patient. When you slow down a little, have some grace for people and aren’t expecting to receive everything you demand at the drop of a hat, you are going to enjoy your night out a lot more- and your server will be utterly indebted to you for your kindness and patience. Especially in the middle of a jam packed restaurant, it’s easy to be flustered- but test yourself next time to have some understanding for the staff who are busting their butts to serve you!

  2. Be Aware. Just know what’s going on around you, and be somewhat courteous and considerate of others and everything will be a lot more enjoyable for everyone involved. No one likes an oblivious or ignorant customer, so just being slightly inclined to what’s going on around you will help you contribute to a better experience and environment.

  3. Communicate. If something is wrong, you have to make it clear that you aren’t satisfied or most times it won’t be solved. Restaurants want you to have a great experience, but they aren’t mind readers. Just be open and honest about what you want so they can do their best to serve you!

After a little refresher course on some restaurant do’s and don’ts, you’re ready to go chow down! Eating out should be an enjoyable experience for all parties involved, and just a little common courtesy can go a long way to make that happen easily for everyone!


I am a senior Marketing major and Innovation and Entrepreneurship minor at MNSU, Mankato. I've been in charge of both the Marketing and Event teams for my Her Campus chapter and I love every second! Just a small town girl who loves Jesus, cooking and baking, being active, getting lots of sunshine, traveling, and spending time with her amazing family! 
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