Eat & Drink

How Not to be a Karen or Kyle If You’re Unhappy With Your Restaurant Meal

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If you’re unhappy with your food or service while dining in a restaurant, there is a right way and a wrong way to express your dissatisfaction. Doing it the wrong way opens you up to the possibility of being labeled a Karen or a Kyle and the world is already full of those. The last thing anyone needs is one more Karen or Kyle emerging from the depths of society to display their wrath on unsuspecting restaurant workers. Doing it the right way will ensure that you get what you want and also keep your server from despising your very existence.

Here’s what you SHOULD NOT do if you’re unhappy with your food:

  • Don’t go to the restaurant’s Facebook or Instagram page and post a photo of your overcooked hamburger complaining about it.
  • Don’t begrudgingly eat overly salted green beans so that you can go home and sulk about how difficult it was to swallow.
  • Don’t leave a note on the credit card receipt explaining how the chef could have adjusted the recipe for the risotto.
  • Don’t complain to other customers and compare their fried fish filet to your fish taco.
  • Don’t make a scene as if getting mashed potatoes instead of cous cous is the end of the world.
  • Don’t get angry.

Here is what you SHOULD do if you’re unhappy with your food:

Use your words. Once you have received your food, it’s important to make sure it’s to your liking as quickly as possible. When the server places it before you and asks if everything is okay, don’t casually say, “yes, everything’s fine” without actually considering your answer. Look at it your plate. Is it what you ordered? Does it look appetizing? Do you have everything you requested? If you say it’s fine, the server is going to believe you and begin focusing on their next table. If there’s something wrong, say it as soon as you realize it. Eating three quarters of an entree and then deciding it tastes funny doesn’t mean you’ll get it for free. All it means is that the manager you’ve summoned to your table is going to think you’re a scammer. A good manager will call you out and shame you to the bottom of your soul like this woman did. Tell your server immediately so that the problem can be fixed. They want it to be right for you, because the happier you are with your food, the more likely it is you’ll leave a good tip.

If your server isn’t nearby when you come across a problem, scan the room so they can be alerted. If you don’t see them, ask another employee to find them for you. If the problem can be fixed, your server and the manager will do it. However, this does not give you full license to look at the menu as a big taste test. Sending food back because you don’t like the taste isn’t the same thing as sending something back because it was cooked incorrectly. A chef can recook a meal, but they can’t change your taste buds. If your issue is simply that you tried something new and don’t like it, you might have to chalk it up to a taste experiment gone awry. You can certainly tell your server it wasn’t what you were hoping for, but don’t expect it to be automatically taken off the bill. Perhaps they’ll offer you a free dessert or an after dinner cocktail to cleanse your palate of disappointment, but they aren’t required to give it to you for free because you learned that roasted duck with figs isn’t your cup of tea.

Bottom line: if you’re unhappy with your food, use the resources at hand to make it better. Your server is your resource. A polite explanation of what’s wrong is going to go a lot further than yelling at someone about a steak so dry that it tastes like an old shoe. Don’t be a Karen or a Kyle.

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Bitchy Waiter

Bitchy Waiter

Darron Cardosa is a writer, actor, singer, and waiter. He lives and and works in New York City and enjoys "The Brady Bunch," "The Facts of Life" and cocktails almost as much as he hates your baby.