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What Your Server Wants You to Know About Eating in a Restaurant on Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving is here and with the Center for Disease Control strongly advising people to not travel for the holiday this year in order to lower the risk of getting and spreading COVID-19, more people may be searching for a restaurant to eat in instead. Depending on where you live and what kind of restrictions are in place, it may be a bit of a challenge to find a place that will seat all twelve members of your family indoors without charging you $50 a person for a rapid COVID test first. (Yes, that’s a thing.) That being said, if you do find yourself dining in a restaurant for Thanksgiving, there are a few things your server wants you to know:

BE ON TIME – Even without COVID restrictions, restaurants are working on a very tight schedule on Thanksgiving. If you’re reservation is for a two hour seating that begins at 1:00 and you don’t get there until 1:45, you’re still leaving at 3:00. You’ll just have to gobble-gobble down your food a little bit faster than you would have if you’d gotten there on time. Your poor time management is on you, not the restaurant.

LEAVE WHEN YOU’RE DONE – Even if you don’t have a time limitation, please realize that no one else can sit at your table until you pay your check and leave. A restaurant is not the place to unbuckle your pants so you can slide your hand down there and then watch a football game on your phone.

THE MENU IS THE MENU – If you are really craving your Aunt Shirley’s English Pea Salad, don’t expect it to be on the menu and don’t ask if the kitchen can whip it up for you. The menu has been decided weeks in advance and if you don’t like what the restaurant is serving, maybe cooking for yourself would have been a better option.

HAVE PATIENCE – Every server who is working in a restaurant on Thanksgiving wants you to have the best possible experience. After all, the happier the customer, the better the tip, presumably. If things are taking longer, just know it’s not intentional. Serving hundreds of customers at the exact same time isn’t easy, especially with so many COVID protocols in effect. Take advantage of the extra time that you’re waiting for your dinner to focus on how grateful you should be for having the option to have someone else cook for you.

BE APPRECIATIVE – If someone is working in a restaurant on Thanksgiving, there’s a pretty good chance they are giving up the opportunity to be with their own family that day to serve you instead. Surely, there are some servers who welcome the excuse to not be sitting at a table with their in-laws or nosy aunt or grandma, but for the most part, they’d probably rather be at home. Say thank you, but don’t feel sorry for them. And don’t ask them why they are working that day because you are the reason.

TIP GRACIOUSLY – Most servers aren’t getting paid extra to work on a holiday, so if they happen to be working in Texas, they are still only making $2.13 an hour. When a server is giving up a holiday to work, they want it to be worth their while and tips are what it’s about. Not only are they working on a holiday, they’re doing it during a pandemic, so dig a little deeper in your pocket when it comes time to tip. A few extra dollars isn’t going to change your life too much, but if every customer tips a bit extra, it can certainly change the servers’s day.

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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.