Eat & DrinkNational

Your Server Does Not Care About Your Birthday

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Each and every day, there are approximately 385,000 babies born across the world, and more than 10,000 of those are in the United States. That’s more than four babies per second so in the time it took you to read that sentence, that means there are 22 new people on this earth. Many of those babies will eventually grow up to be self-absorbed enough to saunter into a restaurant and say to anyone who will listen, “Today’s my birthday. What do I get for it?”

Here’s the deal, though. Being born does not entitle you to anything free from a restaurant or any other business. The main opportunity one gets from being born is to simply live. Hopefully there is someone in your life who cares enough about you each year to celebrate your grand entrance into this world, but that person is 100% not your waiter or waitress at Chili’s.

Your server does not care, like, literally at all.

They may pretend to care as they half-heartedly sing a birthday song to you along with their co-workers who care even less, but it’s all a charade. No restaurant worker begrudges you for celebrating your birthday while eating and drinking. The restaurant depends on that. What they resent is people who expect something free because they are one of the 385,000 people born on that day. Grow up, you’re not at Chuck E. Cheese collecting tokens for video games. You’re an adult so stop going to bars and restaurants and expecting the red carpet to be rolled out for you just because your father dropped a hot load in your mom a few decades ago.

Fear not, If you absolutely feel like you should get something for free because you were, you know, born, there are some places that will appease you. Most of the time, you’ll have to join their email list or download their app because, despite what you may think, nothing is absolutely free anymore.

You can go to Applebee’s and get a free dessert if you spend $15 first by joining their email club. But if you have to send $15 to get something is it really free?

Black Angus Steakhouse will give you a free steak on your birthday, but you have to join their club first and there are lots of terms and conditions to agree to. Maybe it’s free, but maybe somehow you end up paying for it.

If you sign up for Denny’s Reward Program, you’ll get a “delicious birthday gift” during your birthday month, but seeing that it’s from Denny’s, I’m assuming they must order in for you.

Joining Houlihan’s email club will get you a free birthday entree, but having worked at Houlihan’s myself for several years, I can assure you that your server will not be happy about it.

Longhorn Steakhouse eClub will get you “special offers and coupons” on your birthday, but nowhere is the word “free” used.

Same thing when you join My Red Lobster Rewards Program. For your special day, they offer a “birthday reward” but it doesn’t say it’s free. For all we know it’s 10% off a single Cheddar Bay Biscuit and a paper hate that says “I ❤️ Shrimp.”

Again, there’s nothing wrong with celebrating your birthday. Another trip around the sun is no small feat these days and it deserves some recognition. It’s just that you can’t expect to go into a restaurant and have everyone bow down to you like you’re the second coming of Christ. If you want something free, do the homework. Join their club, sign up for their emails, or jump through whatever hoops there are that will give you that free scoop of vanilla ice cream. If you do get something for free, tip as if you paid for it, because the server shouldn’t make less just because you didn’t have to pay for it. And no matter what happens, please know that your server does not care.

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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.


  1. George M Davis
    June 30, 2022 at 5:06 pm — Reply

    Your antipathy to diners makes me not want to eat at fine dining establishments.

  2. Tired from Vegas
    July 3, 2022 at 5:45 pm — Reply

    What a depressing article. Thank you for reminding me why I want to leave San Francisco. I’m so tired of all the jaded people and making us feel like we’re a burden eating at a restaurant. I get it, we are all being worked to the bone, but it’s so refreshing to go to another city and everyone is friendly and welcoming and make you feel like they care, even if they don’t. Maybe it’s time you find something you’re not always complaining about.

    • July 7, 2022 at 11:55 am — Reply

      …said the person who came to this post just to complain. ‘Cause Vegas is just ALL ABOUT class and courtesy, right?

      If you were ever in SF at all (which I doubt purely from the details of your comment), rest assured no one missed you when you left.

  3. October 20, 2022 at 11:43 am — Reply

    I enjoyed this article for the honesty and the perspective of the restaurant staff. Think about it. Restaurants are a business, not a drop-in party service standing by just for you. Would you be thrilled if a friend and a pal or 2 showed up at your apartment unannounced and said it was your birthday? And then expected you to create a party for them.

    If you want to celebrate your birthday at a restaurant or business, make a reservation and arrangements. If you want a cake, buy it from them or bring it. Don’t expect anything free because it’s your birthday. Would you tip more or give a gift if it was the server’s or bartender’s birthday and they hadn’t told you earlier?

    If you expect free drinks or a meal, remember that it is a business with rent and employees to pay. Are you a long-time, good customer? Will you be bringing in a group of paying guests to favor the restaurant?
    Make a reservation and let them know you are creating a birthday party. Then they can set aside 1-2 tables for you. If you can bring in 3 or more guests, then you can ask if you can get a comp (complimentary, free) meal.

    Just consider that it is your birthday, not theirs. Even tho a bar or restaurant deals in large amounts of food and drinks does not mean that they can give it away for any celebration; especially after 2 years of the COVID lock down.

    Happy birthday in the serious restaurant business world!

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