How to Behave in a Restaurant – Part 1

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You know how in places like Israel and Switzerland it’s mandatory for every citizen to spend a certain amount of time in the military?  I’ve always thought that it should be the same in the US, but that instead of the army or navy, Americans should have to be in the service industry for six months.  I honestly believe it would make us a hell of a lot nicer and more considerate to each other.

Many of us Broke-Asses have toiled as restaurant employees at some point or another because it’s a way to have a flexible schedule while still making okay money.  For those of you who this applies to, I’m dedicating this piece to you.  For those of you who’ve never worked in a restaurant, please pay attention to the following so you don’t make an ass out of yourself:

The only way youre allowed to snap your fingers at your server is if youre this guy. Youre not.

The only way you’re allowed to snap your fingers at your server is if you’re this guy. You’re not.

Be Respectful: Do not, by any means, snap your fingers at your server, and call out “Waiter”.  Who the hell do you think you are, Frank Sinatra?  Severs are people, not fucking puppies.  If you need something, make eye contact with them and smile.  Chances are you were next on their list of people to get to.  What people probably don’t realize is that waiting tables is like playing chess, servers are always thinking 10 steps ahead of whatever task they are currently doing.

Similarly don’t interrupt a server while they are talking with another customer.  The world does not revolve around the fact that you need an extra side of salad dressing.  Your business is very much appreciated…..just as much as the person who’s in the middle of being helped.  Simply wait until the server is done with the current customer and then say, “Excuse me…” and follow with your request.

OH JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! Are you really letting your kid do barefooted headstands at the table in a restaurant? At this point its the PARENTS that deserve to be spanked. This is bullshit!

OH JESUS FUCKING CHRIST! Are you really letting your kid do barefooted headstands at the table in a restaurant? At this point it’s the PARENTS that deserve to be spanked. This is bullshit!

Mind Your Children: I love kids.  They are cute little creatures that move around and act like people.  But no matter how precious your child might be outside of a restaurant, they are shitty liabilities once inside.  Think about it: if someone came into your work who made loud screeching noises when they didn’t get what they wanted, winged spoons and Cheerios across the room, and then left a giant mess when they departed, they would be called “assholes” and you would stop doing business with them.  Right?  Now why do you think it’s ok to let your children do that in a restaurant?

Look, I realize that raising kids is not easy, especially when they are just figuring out that having motor skills means being able to throw things.  But your job as the ADULT is to clean up after your progeny.  I’ll even make it easy for you, just buy one of these placemats and bring it with you when you dine out.  Not only does it have a trough to catch all the shit your kid drops, but it’s easy to clean and it’s reusable.  And if you do leave big mess and tip poorly on top of it, I hope somebody shits on your carpet…and then rubs it in.

Go squat in abandoned buildings, not in restaurants!

Go squat in abandoned buildings, not in restaurants!

Don’t Be a Squatter: If a restaurant is really busy, like there is a line of people waiting to be seated, don’t just sit there jabbering away after you eat.  It’s one thing to chill for a couple minutes after your meal and finish your drink, but hanging out for longer that 10 minutes is called loitering.  It’s also called be extremely inconsiderate.  You’re not only being rude to other patrons, you’re also fucking with the server’s money.  It’s quite simple: the less tables a server gets, the less tips they get.  The servers tip out everyone else, and therefore, everyone is getting less money.  Do you like it when people fuck with your income?

Aint that the truth?

Ain’t that the truth?

Tipping: I can’t stress how important it is to leave a good tip. For people who wait tables or bartend, tips are a major part of their income because the hourly wage is absolute shite!  I just read in Travel and Leisure Magazine that the average wage for servers in the US is $4.81!  So yeah, tips are important.  Having been a server for most of my adult life, I can’t tell you how insulting it is when you bust your ass to please someone only to receive a crappy tip. Therefore I will give you a rough guide to tipping. Tip your server 20%. How hard is that? I guess 18% is acceptable, but anything less than that sucks.  And if you’re in a bar tip a buck a drink. If it’s a drink that takes more than a minute to make, tip two bucks. The time spent making your complicated drink is time that otherwise would be spent serving someone else.

Consider yourself as being a patron of the arts. Most of the servers and bartenders I know only do it because it gives them enough freedom to pursue what they really want in life, so this means that by tipping well you’re helping artists, writers, actors and others survive. How’s this, if you think tipping 20% is too expensive, then just get your food to go and leave a couple bucks.  Tipping on to-go orders often helps supplement the income of the other restaurant employees like, hosts, bussers and the kitchen.

Basically what I’m saying is that bad tippers shouldn’t be allowed in restaurants or bars.  Those people are not upholding their end of the social contract and therefore shouldn’t be allowed to participate.

Now that you know how to behave in a restaurant, go out and get yourself a bite to eat.  Help keep this economy afloat dammit!  Stay tuned for future installments of How to Behave in a Restaurant.

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Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

Broke-Ass Stuart - Editor In Cheap

I've been called "an Underground legend": SF Chronicle , "an SF cult hero": SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap": Time Out New York, but to those familiar with my work, I'm just "that douchebag who writes books about cheap stuff and drinks a lot".