You think you’re being nice when you help a server at a restaurant, but you really might be annoying them. That’s right. Servers can’t stand some seemingly nice acts patrons do. Ahead, see which “nice” things you should stop doing at restaurants.
Nice isn’t always nice
“We love all our guests — especially the ones who go out of their way to be pleasant and helpful,” Suzanne Perry, co-owner of Datz Restaurant Group, tells Food & Wine. But being too nice can get annoying. “Sometimes a kind and helpful guest can be a server’s nightmare,” she adds.
So what should you stop doing at restaurants? Read on to find out.
Hint: Don’t do a server’s job.
1. Grabbing something off a server’s tray
“You may think you’re helping by reaching for that front martini or pint glass, but chances you — or your server — will be taking a bar bath,” Perry tells Food & Wine. She emphasizes this is a big no-no. “Please just don’t do it,” she adds. So the next time a drink on your server’s tray is on the verge of falling, don’t immediately take action.
Hint: There’s a simple fix to this next faux pas.
2. Providing your payment before the rest of your party
“When a server drops off several checks and one very prepared guest immediately hands over his or her credit card, before anyone else at the table has even looked at their bills, that’s not helpful,” Perry tells Food & Wine. When you provide your payment before everyone else it actually complicates and slows the process for your whole dining party.
Hint: Be patient with everyone in your party.
3. Finishing too quickly
Instead of checking out before the rest of your party, Perry suggests practicing patience. “Unless your wife is going into labor, just wait until all of your party is ready with their checks, too,” Perry tells Food & Wine. This might be difficult to practice for those who are always going, going, going. But remember, you’re helping your server by waiting for the rest of your group.
Hint: Don’t clear your own table.
4. Busing your own table
You might think stacking plates with silverware and straw wrappers saves time for restaurant staff. On the contrary, busing your own table can cause more harm than good. “Handing a server a stack of plates, layered with food and silverware that isn’t balanced — and plopping a wad of napkins on top — is a little insulting and messier than it really needs to be,” Perry says.
Hint: Nearly everyone’s guilty of doing this at restaurants.
5. Filling your water glass
“Your server may be at another table or in the kitchen getting your food, but helping yourself only makes everyone look bad,” Perry tells Food & Wine. If the service is bad, speak up. “If you’re getting bad service, ask to speak with a manager,” she says. “But helping yourself isn’t helpful.”
Hint: Strategically place family members at the table.
6. Letting your child ‘help’ the server
This might sound mean, but Perry recommends keeping children as far away from your server as possible. Have your child sit inside a booth or at the end of a table opposite the server. “We understand that your little person may be excited or over-tired,” she says. So keeping them removed from the server helps to prevent any accidents from occurring, such as children burning themselves on a hot plate.
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