Anyone who knows me knows that I’ve spent the better part of the last three years working in various food places. If you’ve spent any good amount of time around me, you’ve probably been lucky enough to hear at least one of my work horror stories. Nobody wants to be the antagonist of one of these stories, so I, along with the help of some friends, have compiled some information that will help you be the best guest you can be in any restaurant.
1. We have absolutely nothing to do with the pricing of any menu item.
In almost every restaurant, the prices are set by some higher-up that we’ve never even met, and we have no control over price increases. If you have a question about the way we ring things in, ask us to explain it to you, or ask to speak with a manager. Yelling at us and causing a scene will not result in us changing the price just for you, and you’ll probably just make a fool of yourself. The next time you’re at a register and have a problem with company policy, remember that the person working the register is really just there to push the buttons and collect money. If there’s a serious concern, ask to be put in contact with the owner or with a corporate office.
2. Be respectful of opening and closing times.
There have been times where I’ve needed to go somewhere right when they open, and I can sympathize with wanting to grab some lunch to go before heading to work for the day; however, arriving outside of our restaurant 30 minutes before we open and then staring at us through the window while checking your watch every minute or so is really not necessary. We are not going to open any sooner than the sign says. Also, understand that we are expected to be able to shut down the restaurant in a certain amount of time each night. If it takes longer, our bosses tend to be unhappy, which can then make our lives a little less pleasant. If you need a large order and absolutely have to show up within 10 minutes of our closing time, call ahead or come in and take it to go.
3. Sometimes we don’t have certain items and that’s that.
“NO GUAC?!?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN NO GUAC?!” That’s right, sometimes restaurants run out of things. Maybe we’re out of your favorite menu item, or we have to substitute one item for another, and we really do apologize. Believe us, we know it’s not ideal that we don’t have what you’re looking for – as you’ve told us, along with the 13 people who came in before you. Sometimes, life happens. Maybe there was a problem with the food order, maybe the truck didn’t come, maybe we haven’t prepped it yet, or we’ve run out for the night (see number 2). If we’re out of an item, there’s nothing we can do. Many restaurants are contracted into using produce and other products from specific providers, so we can’t even go to the store. At most, we can apologize for the inconvenience. This is another instance where giving the employee any sort of trouble will not accomplish a thing.
4. If we’ve made a mistake, tell us.
Humans are prone to mistakes. Food workers, just like you, are really only human. Every once in a while, we miss something. If you get your food and it’s not prepared the way you asked, say something and let us fix it. If it’s beyond repair, ask to speak to a manager, and they will offer a refund or discount if it is appropriate for the situation. We know that after handling check after check, the orders can all sort of blur together and create room for error. We’d be more than happy to remake your food – you just have to let us know.
5. Refunds serve a specific purpose.
Please do not bring me the remaining bite of a burger you ate and tell me you didn’t like it and that you want a refund. Refunds are for things you took a bite of and spit out because you didn’t want to eat it. Refunds are for the rare occasions where you find a hair in your food or something is undercooked or something really unfortunate actually happens. Refunds are NOT for trying to get your money back over nothing. Refunds are a restaurant’s last choice. Unless you physically cannot eat the food we brought you and you really aren’t interested in a remake, then you don’t need a refund. I’ve had people ask for refunds over things like not liking the music played, not having plastic knives, and pretty much any other ridiculous complaint you can think of.
Overall, just bear in mind that food service workers are people, and we deserve to be treated as such. At one of the restaurants I’ve worked for, I had a regular customer who said, “If everyone had to work food service for just a few months of their lives, the world would be full of nicer, more patient people,” and I believe that’s true.