5 Tips for Tippers
A Former Waitress Offers a Few Easy Ways For Diners to Help Staff Help Them
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by Lily Stoicheff on Oct 03, 2012
Food brings people together. This is particularly true when you’re dining knee-to-knee in a restaurant at peak capacity on a Saturday night. And nothing tears diners and staff apart quite like a botched entrée or—gasp!—a split check.
My mother is a chef and, in addition to growing up in a kitchen, I’ve been waiting tables for eight years. I also love dining out and do so as often as I can. I’ve experienced my fair share of horror stories as both server and served. Most of the time these mishaps are the results of miscommunication or simple misconceptions.
In the hope of preventing a new generation of disgruntled Yelpers, I’ve compiled a list of tips for diners that could help make the lives of both sides easier. Are there exceptions to these rules? You bet. Is this a complete list? Absolutely not. This is just one restaurant lover attempting to make the world a better place.
1. It’s okay if you don’t like your meal, but tell the server right away. Maybe you asked for medium rare, and your ribeye came charred. Maybe you thought you liked eggplant parmesan up until the moment when you realized you didn’t. Either way, the restaurant wants you to enjoy your time there, and it doesn’t do anybody any good for you to pick unhappily at your food.
2. For some reason, “I’m good” and ambiguous answers like it have become popular responses to the server inquiry, “Can I take that away for you?” Are you “good” as in finished? Or “good” as in still happy to hold on to your plate? Keep it simple and straightforward, or expect a blank look of confusion.
3. When I waited tables I always found it very helpful if, after I dropped off a check, the guests would leave the bill some place I could easily reach without disturbing them, with their credit card or cash poking out a bit. That way I didn’t have to stalk them while wondering if they were ready for me to ring up their bill.
4. Splitting a check three ways is pretty much the max a server can do without busting out the calculator. Anything larger than that and you do the math. Better yet, have one guest pick up the check and figure out who owes who what the next day, when you haven’t just had a couple glasses of wine.
5. If your meal is blundered, try to consider if it was actually your server’s fault. If they were attentive, but you fell prey to long kitchen times or a sloppy bartender, make an effort to direct your complaint to a manager and don’t take it out of your server’s tip.