Restaurant Etiquette 101

by Melissa on November 25, 2010 · 0 comments

Have you ever been sitting in a restaurant and noticed the table over there (wherever there may be) who is just having a field day harassing the poor waitstaff?  You know.  The demanding bitch or sourpuss old guy who is just extremely particular about things.  The one you know there’s no pleasing.  After having worked in the restaurant business as both a server and bartender for over 3 years, I definitely have seen my fair share of those who simply forgot the message their mother taught them about being nice to others.  Some people just need to learn how to behave in public.  This is restaurant etiquette 101.


This particular blog idea came to me after witnessing a woman — most likely in her 40s– at a table with 3 men having a late breakfast at a restaurant this past Monday while I was in Montreal.  As my friend and I patiently waited for our meals to arrive we both couldn’t help but overhear this woman rudely and very loudly demand that the waitress bring her “toast that is NOT ice cold and bacon that is cooked PROPERLY” (apparently hers was hard as a rock).  While she waited for her food to be remade, she went on and on extremely loudly about how it was ridiculous and so and and so forth.  Intonation is everything.  The way in which the words come out of your mouth really say a lot about you as a person.  I couldn’t help but become enraged, as it reminded me of the countless times some overly picky customer would complain about something so minute and seemingly ridiculous.

I’ve seen it and heard it all.  I’ve had a woman basically tear me a new one because there was gravy on her mashed potatoes and now it was touching her garlic bread.  I’ve had a woman insinuate that the reason I wasn’t paying attention to her table (of 2 women) was because they weren’t a group of 8 or because they weren’t MEN — when in actual fact she couldn’t take two seconds out of stuffing her face to realize that I was working two sections and had nearly 14 tables occupied.  Not to mention it was a holiday and we were short staffed.  I’ve had men complain about the amount of wine that was poured into their glass — at one restaurant I worked at, we had very large wine glasses so the 6oz standard pour ended up looking minuscule.  I’ve had people of both sexes accuse me of charging them for too many drinks because there is no possible way they had those 4 glasses of wine, they only remembered having 3.  And the kicker was the one woman who basically said I was “nothing but a fucking waitress, what could I really know”.  I’m sure I could go on and on.

Serve chilled.

It seems like more and more people seem to think they have the right to look down at waitstaff and treat them as if they are nothing more than their servants and personal punching bags.  From my experience, the servers I have worked with (for the most part) actually have tons of education, or are in the midst of putting themselves through school — so assuming that they are doing the job because that is all they are qualified to do, is generally a very wrong assumption.  In my own case, I have my Honours BA — there was no work in my field, after North America had just gone through a recession, and I needed to make quick easy money.  Did I enjoy being looked down upon and spoken to like a piece of crap?  HELL NO.  But at the end of the day I can pride myself on the fact that I was making at least $20k more than my friends who had just started their entry-level career type jobs.

Society, these days, seems to think that they have a free pass to do or say whatever they’d like.  Even if it’s at the expense of humiliating or just being downright mean to people they barely know.  What ever happened to the golden rule?  Treat others how you’d like to be treated.  A simple concept that was taught in kindergarten is seemingly thrown out the window when people don’t get their way.  Excuse me spoiled brat, party of one.  To these people I simply say, “get over yourself.” be nice to people

I’m sure I could go on and on, but I won’t.  I’m simply trying to spread the word that when out in public, and dealing with people you may not know, think about what you’re saying and how you’re saying it.  There’s really no need for rudeness.  And especially in a restuarant situation, don’t take the fact that you let your calamari sit there for 20 minutes and now it’s cold out on the waitstaff.  Also, don’t rip the server a new one because your sangria tastes ‘off’, let them know the situation kindly and calmly — no need to get hysterical– it is, afterall, just a drink.  When treated kindly and spoken to nicely, people are much more likely to go and rectify the issue without being tempted to spit in your food or drop your ‘clean’ cutlery on the floor.  (Not saying I ever did those types of things myself, but I have witnessed others get revenge on particularly awful customers.)  Everyone should go to and read some things that are posted there.  It may give you some insight as to what waitstaff really do go through.

I suppose this blog can be summed up into two lessons.

  1. Remember the golden rule and treat and speak to others the way you’d like to be treated and spoken to.
  2. Don’t fuck with the people who handle your food and drinks.  Trust me on that one.

Oh and one more thing… don’t forget to tip at least 15% when going out.  If you can’t afford to tip your server, you can’t afford to eat out.  Don’t be cheap.  Hope my quick tutorial – restaurant etiquette 101 – has been able to remind you that your servers are people too!


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