Posted in Opinions

Four things you should avoid doing when dining out

Try to empathize more with the people who feed you

Image Credits: Justine Crawford

Everyone needs food to survive. What you don’t need is to spend $30-plus on some small-portion piece of sustenance while being waited on hand and foot — this is a privilege, not a right.

Yet, I find so many people who’ve always got something to criticize about their restaurant experience, despite having little insight on what might be going on behind the scenes, or even having all that much to really complain about.

So next time you kick back at Cactus Club, remember these faux pas of dining out so that you don’t become your server’s next squeaky, bad-tempered imitation!

Choose-your-own adventure seating

Don’t get me wrong: sometimes there are really valid reasons for needing specific seating accommodations, such as accessibility needs. Maybe it’s a very slow day and where you sit doesn’t matter that much. Maybe you’re picky, but also totally patient about waiting for a table to open up.

Moving across the restaurant mid-meal because you’ve decided you like that seat better? Not the coolest. Bigger restaurants are typically split between servers by section, and moving after someone’s already been assigned to you can cause confusion about who’s taking care of you and how to fix things in the computer to make sure your order gets processed properly.

Also, take notice of your surroundings! If you see that the place is packed, maybe it’s not the time to quibble over getting a table instead of a booth. The more you make the staff run around for minor things, the less likely the more important parts of your restaurant experience will go right.

“How dare you mess up my order? My 30 friends all got theirs!”

Okay, I’m going to be really real here: if your group takes up the whole restaurant, please have some sympathy. With a huge volume of orders, something is going to be missed; human error is a thing.

It’s fine to point it out — and your server will probably do everything they can to fix things for you — but all I can say is, you try copying down everything you hear perfectly while everyone else at the table is talking over each and little children are shrieking like the barons of hell.

Know who’s in charge of what

Everyone on the floor has a different duty. The host who seats you is normally not the same person as your server, so try to save your drink requests until you’re seated and settled. Your server isn’t the one who makes your food, so if it’s not to your satisfaction, remember that it might not be their bad. On the flipside, sometimes the server does mess up your modifications, so the kitchen’s not always at fault either.

Complaints are valid to make, but always remember who to talk to about what — pulling a random employee aside to yell at them is both disrespectful and a little pointless.

“Why do I have to tip?”

Keep in mind that in many areas of the world, a server’s minimum wage is actually lower than the normal minimum wage. In BC, for instance, a waiter at a place that serves alcohol makes a minimum of $9.60 as opposed to the more common lower bar of $10.85.

Tips make up that difference and more — if people tip well. But most establishments require waiters to share their tips with various combinations of kitchen staff and fellow front-of-house workers, based on their tip income, sales, and/or hours worked.

On a busy night, food is bound to run longer and mistakes are bound to happen, but when too many guests punish servers for ‘bad service’ by not tipping, or when they ‘don’t believe’ in doing it, there are two possible outcomes. Either support staff are getting shortchanged, or the waiter is paying them out of pocket and potentially making less than minimum for a surprisingly taxing job.

Either way, you’re probably indirectly punishing someone for a bad experience with which they had nothing to do.