Dining Out 101

Things Waiters Hate to Hear at the Table.

1.  Why don’t you bring water for everyone.

Not everyone is a water drinker.  And even if they are they might not want water.  And even still, if they do want water let them order it for themselves.  You’ll get waited on much faster if I don’t have to bring 10 glasses of water to the table and only three people want it.

2.  Why aren’t the prices on the menu?

I don’t fucking KNOW!!!  It’s not like I was in the corporate office this morning and said to my team…you know what let’s screw with everyone and not put the prices on the menu.  Besides, NO ONE is able to tell me why they aren’t on the menu.  And before you start, asking me the price of a drink is far different than wanting to know WHY the prices aren’t in the menu.

3.  Do you have free refills?

The only people who ask this question are Americans.  The rest of the world only wants one soda with dinner and will sometimes get upset when you give them more than one.  And the minute someone asks if the refills are free it means that by the time you get to the computer and enter their dinners, the entire table will be flagging you down for more to drink.  I’ve had people drink 8 or 9 glasses of Pepsi with dinner.  And then they wonder why they are fat.

4.  Can we have separate checks?

This will piss some people off so get ready to leave your comment.

It’s not the separate check that annoys us, it’s the manner in which it’s presented.

If you are a ten top and need 10 separate checks then you need to allow almost 15 to 20 extra minutes for the checks to be processed.  It’s not a quick thing to do.  And if you are a ten top and want separate checks then you better tell me up front.  I’m not going to try and remember who had what at the end of the meal.  I can track it from the beginning but if you are already eating dinner when you ask, you are on your own.

Don’t be pissy about it.  And for god’s sake don’t say “Can we have seprit tickits?”  It’s the same as saying we don’t want to pay one cent more than we have to, including your tip.

Do you really need separate checks or separate receipts?  I’ve done the corporate thing and very few places need a receipt that just has the things you ordered on it.  You and the company can figure out that you only had a cheeseburger and a beer.

If you are dining with friends and are afraid to just split the check down the middle when basically you’ve all had the same thing then perhaps you need new friends.  I understand there are people who go out to eat with friends and they get the salad and their friend gets the T-bone.  No you shouldn’t have to pay more.  But if you go out every week together and sometimes you get the steak and sometimes he gets the steak then say fuck it and split the check.  Or even better take turns paying.

And if by chance you don’t get separate checks and you are doing the math yourself.  IT’S NOT MOLECULAR BIOLOGY!  You round up, guess at the tax, add the tip and you are there.  If you need to know to the penny, I suggest you stay home and cook for yourself.

5.  I am/was a waiter.

This is the kiss of death.  People who are/were waiters tend to keep this to themselves.  At least until the end of the meal.  And if they really were waiters then the ask about the job, etc.  If someone says I am a waiter at the beginning of the meal, then you are fucked.  You might as well spend your time on the next table because you are guaranteed a 10% tip.

6.  I’ll hook you up.

This is worse than “I’m a waiter.”  People who are going to hook you up don’t tell you they are going to hook you up.  They just do it.  And if you mean by “hooking me up” you are going to leave 10% on a 200 dollar tab then perhaps you should look up in the dictionary exactly what that term means.  Fewer words.  More action.

7.  Can you give this to us for free?  Are you going to hook us up with some free drinks?  Can we have the glasses for free?

I’ll stand by my constant statement on this.  IF YOU WOULDN’T WALK INTO THE GAP AND ASK FOR FREE JEANS THEN WHY DO YOU THINK YOU CAN GET A FREE LONG ISLAND TEA IN A RESTAURANT???  Really?  Why SHOULD I give you something for free?  Because you spent a lot of money.  We are a business.  You are a customer.  That’s the way this relationship works.  Because I forgot to bring your beer and it took a couple of minutes.  Shit happens.  If everyone in the world got something for free every time there was a mistake no one would make any money.  It’s one thing if you find a roach in your salad.  It’s something entirely different if you are just asking.  I had a table a couple of weeks ago ask for something free every time I went to the table.  I finally stopped going to the table.  And don’t think you are being funny… you are not.  And remember this:  If I’m caught giving your something for free…I get fired.  And trust me the extra four dollars you are going to give me isn’t worth losing my job.

8.  We’ll take four waters and an order of french fries.

Do you realize you just waited 45 minutes to sit at my table and spend 4 bucks?  Do you realize that?  And do you realize we’d all be happier if you’d gone to McDonald’s.  You would have gotten fries that taste better and didn’t cost so much.  And I could have four people sitting in my chairs that want to order food.  This is a restaurant by the way.  NOT someplace for you to sit and hang out because you are tired.

9.  Do you speak Spanish?  French?  German?  Italian?  Japanese?

Yes a couple of weeks ago a waiter at our restaurant was asked if she spoke Japanese.  Really do you think the restaurant you are sitting in, only hires linguistic majors?  Because god knows they can’t get jobs anywhere else.  No I don’t speak Spanish.  No I don’t speak French.  Do I look Italian?  And DO NOT refuse to let me wait on you till I get a Spanish speaking waiter to help you.  I have no problem getting some one Spanish to wait on you.  But you need to wait for a table in their section.  I won’t let someone else deal with my tables.  I won’t.  I wait on foreign tables all day long.  It’s what I do.  I will speak slowly, and concisely, and enunciate every word.  If you have any understanding of English we’ll be just fine.  Just be willing to work with me.   I won’t try to rip you off, or order things for you, you don’t want.  I won’t automatically give you the big beer.  I will tell you when you are ordering too much food for two people.  And all I ask in return is to let me wait on you.

10.  Is it okay if I order off the kids menu?

You are 40.  No it’s not okay.   Now suck it up and order like a grown up.

11.  We are ready to order.

You are ready to order if when I pull my book out of my apron you tell me what you want to eat.  You are not ready to order if you are still deciding.  You are not ready to order if you have questions.  You are not ready to order if you need advice.  Being ready to order is being ready to tell me what the fuck you are eating tonight.  I don’t mind coming back, I don’t mind answering questions, but DO NOT expect me to stand at the table while you decide.  I have other people who need things to.

There are about 50 more but it’s time for bed.

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11 thoughts on “Dining Out 101

  1. Lemuel January 14, 2009 / 06:08

    The split the check thing is something that upsets me about the group that I hang with on occassion. To their credit they usually do not insist on separate checks. The check is passed around and we each contribute our share of the cost and tip. I tend to be generous. What bugs me is that after it has gone around one of the “leaders” checks the cash against the check (good- make sure we have enough) EXCEPT on occassion I saw them *remove* money because “there was too much”!! (i.e., they thought the tip was too high). Whoa!

  2. Mike January 14, 2009 / 06:31

    You’d be surprised how often owner/operators of restaurants try the #7 from their distributors. Or, bitch because they have to pay right after getting service. A service tech once told me that he said to an owner “Can I come to your restaurant and eat and you send me a bill?” The owner said “That’s different.” No kidding.

    Splitting the check has become more popular in the advent of debit cards, yes? I almost never carry cash anymore and if a waitperson told me that he/she couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do it, I’d assume that they don’t want my business in the future.

  3. Sarah January 14, 2009 / 09:38

    Canada is a nation of separate check needers. Initially, I was mortified when the clamor for separate checks would occur but I’ve come to realize they all think it’s good form and the waiters are used to it. Though, if they did that in The States, I’d kill them.

    And why aren’t the prices on the menu? That’s a bullshit corporate policy that must be a daily aggrevation for the waitstaff. Especially since they won’t tell you the reason (my guess: cheaper to have one menu printed countrywide that never has to be updated).

  4. Peter January 14, 2009 / 10:42

    Jeff, you’re back in your element, thank the Godess! 😉

  5. urspo January 14, 2009 / 23:47

    another no no must be the old joke
    ” Do you have frog legs?”

  6. Rick January 15, 2009 / 06:33

    As a patron, I hate when members of my own party ask of separate checks at the end of the meal. I can always see the frustration in the server’s look.

  7. Rich January 15, 2009 / 12:33

    Found your blog through someone elses.
    Whenever My boyfriend (who is a waiter) and I (who was once a waiter for a short time) go out, we generally overtip.
    I don’t ask for refills unless I am dying of thirst, and usually I will just ask that a water be brought as well, as soda sometimes is just too much. If the waiter offers a refill I will usually say yes, but won’t flag them down for one.
    It is funny though, because whenever we go out to eat and start to order, we are almost always asked if we want separate checks as we are ordering.
    (we live like an hour and a half apart, so when we get to see each other, we always go out to dinner)

  8. Ultra Dave January 16, 2009 / 16:55

    I never leave less than 20%. If the service was exceptional, I have left as much as 50%. More than that they would have to be naked, hung, hot, and have great service.

  9. Donna January 23, 2009 / 23:14

    Where are you?

  10. Bonnie January 27, 2009 / 10:36

    Are you ok? I’m a regular reader but a lurker but am worried about you. I hop everything is ok. I miss you!

  11. Springs1 March 1, 2009 / 09:06

    “8. We’ll take four waters and an order of french fries.

    Do you realize you just waited 45 minutes to sit at my table and spend 4 bucks? Do you realize that? And do you realize we’d all be happier if you’d gone to McDonald’s. You would have gotten fries that taste better and didn’t cost so much. And I could have four people sitting in my chairs that want to order food. This is a restaurant by the way. NOT someplace for you to sit and hang out because you are tired.”

    This one gets me MAD! I have NEVER done that before, but, people should be able to order what they want to and they have EVERY RIGHT to get waters and something less than $10. If you don’t like it, TAKE YOUR OWN ADVICE, except WORK at McDonald’s instead of dining there.

    You said people that wanted to order food, well WTF do you think fries are? Do you think that’s not food? That’s food just like any other item on the menu.

    Who says they are just hanging out if people are getting drinks(even if they are free) and fries that they are paying for along with the tip? They are getting SOMETHING. I would say if they weren’t ordering anything at all that cost anything, that would be wrong, but they are at least ordering fries. You are SELFISH to complain about this ONLY THINKING ABOUT YOURSELF!!

    “4. Can we have separate checks?”

    I say tell the server when greeted when I have had this situation. I don’t see anything wrong with that. I do see something wrong with waiting until you want the check, then telling your server you want separate checks, because that’s VERY INCONSIDERATE! I feel as long as you tell them upfront, there shouldn’t be a problem.

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