What Does it Take to Be the Perfect Restaurant Customer? Employees Tell All

A lot of people have opinions on what it takes to have a perfect restaurant. Customers expect great food, great service, and a great atmosphere. But have you, as the customer, ever wondered how restaurant employees feel about you? While it is a restaurant employee’s job to ensure their customer has a great dining experience, respect goes both ways. Treadmillreviews.net surveyed 350 restaurant employees to get their take on the worst customers.

If you’re one who does all of the following, you’re exactly the person servers, chefs, managers, and more want to serve.

Unhappy customer with her meal Portrait of woman complaining about food quality in restaurant.
Are you a terrible customer? | nortonrsx/iStock/Getty Images

You don’t let your children misbehave

Believe it or not, in a survey of 350 restaurant employees, this was the No. 1 way to be a good customer (it even beat out “paying your bill”). According to 83% of those surveyed, people who let their children run around, yell, cry, etc. in a restaurant setting were deemed the most despicable customers in the eyes of restaurant staff.

You pay for your meal

This should be obvious, but dining and ditching came in a close second for the best way to be the worst customer. If you plan on dining out, always pay your bill. People don’t work for free, including those who take your order, cook your food, and clean up after you.

You show up for your reservation

Plans change; it happens. But not informing the restaurant that you’re canceling your reservation is a great way to get on its bad side. The restaurant host sets up the seating for the night based on the number of reservations scheduled. Not showing up throws off the entire seating arrangement and leaves empty tables unoccupied, leading to longer wait times and unhappier customers. Always show up — on time — for your reservation, or call to cancel.

You arrive at the restaurant well before closing

The restaurant may be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., giving you 12 hours to dine. But if you show up 15 minutes before closing, you’re officially the most hated customer of the day. Employees can’t leave until the last diners leave, plus, then they have to wash your dishes and shine your silverware, easily keeping them there past midnight. Do everyone a favor and arrive at least 30 minutes before closing time.

You tip your server 20%

Occasionally, horrible service may warrant a subpar tip. But in most cases, your server works to earn 20%. Tipping anything less is a sign of disrespect, and while the restaurant should cater to you, it’s important to show respect to those serving you. Outstanding service should warrant more than 20%, and good service should be a solid 20%. If the service was just okay, maybe leave 15%, but anything below that should only be left if the experience was extraordinarily bad. (Unless you live in a state where servers are not dependent on tips; that is a different situation.)

You don’t get too drunk

Everyone wants to go out and have a good time after a long day at work, but know your limit. Restaurant employees hate dealing with men and women who have had too much to drink because it then becomes their responsibility to make sure that person gets home safely. Plus, drinking tends to bring out loud, obnoxious customers, and nobody wants to deal with that when they’ve already been on the clock for hours.

You don’t send your food back more than once

If there is a problem with your dish, it’s important to let the restaurant know. If you received what you didn’t order, you should definitely send it back. But if you force your server to send back your meal more than once for very minimal reasons, expect your server to vent about you while shining the silverware later that night. And bizarre requests won’t get you brownie points, either.

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