It's 11 a.m. on a Tuesday. You're keeping quiet at your desk, secretly checking Facebook in between emails, because sometimes it's just so good to be so bad. Then it happens. Sarah in HR told Alex in accounting that it's Dylan in sales' birthday and everyone is going out to lunch. What a great idea! The whole office hasn't been out together since Kyle got drunk at the Applebee's Christmas party and almost put his wang in the spinach dip!
By the time lunch hits, you're a member of a party of 20 who didn't call ahead, wondering why there's a 45-minute wait for you to get seated together, but you see three empty tables right there! Relax and understand that everything we do in the restaurant industry is done for a reason. Maybe we just sat six tables before you and don't want to seat a huge party and back up the kitchen? Maybe those tables are dirty? Maybe we just honestly hate you and don't give a shit about Dylan's birthday?
The truth of the matter is we wholeheartedly want you to have the best experience possible from the moment you walk in the doors to the moment you leave, but we are only a part of that. There is a lot of responsibility that falls on you as the guest as well. Whether you're living out the nightmare of the hypothetical office luncheon above or it's just you and a friend grabbing lunch, here's some things you can do to not be a total dipshit when dining out.
Know how many people are in your party
Have you ever planned an event and only a few people RSVP? You're stuck freaking out wondering how much food to make, how much booze to buy, what if Tom shows up with his new girlfriend and Amanda gets pissed?! This is how the host stand feels when you tell them you have between 6 and 23 people showing up. "I think Frank said he was coming. Oh and Debbie said she might stop by too." Figure this shit out before you step in the door. We can't quote you a wait time, get you sat in the right section, or properly serve you if we don't know how many of you there are. Sure, minor adjustments can be made if more or less people show up than anticipated, but don't be a dick and say you have 10 when you really have 5 because you "like the extra leg room."
Actually take time to read the menu
Let's use the same scenario of you throwing a party. How frustrated do you get when you send out an invitation and then two days before a friend texts you asking the time, your address, what they should bring and if there's a theme? That's our life. Everyday. So just try to make it easier and do your research before asking questions. It may seem weird, but that's why we gave you the menu. The company has spent thousands of dollars to have the items we offer neatly printed so that you can conveniently make an informed decision on your meal. Do not be that guy who sits down, doesn't touch the menu, and vaguely orders "wings," with no specification as to amount, flavor, condiment accompaniment or anything else. Or worse, sit with a closed menu and ask 25 questions to the server about what kind of salads we have and what's on all of them. Guess where you can find the answer to literally every question you just asked? In. The. Fucking. Menu. If you have a specific question about an item, please, by all means, ask it, but for the love of God, do not waste literally everyone's time inquiring about every ingredient on the Greek salad, when it is listed 12 inches in front of your face.
It may be hard to understand why the food is taking longer than anticipated when "all you ordered was a salad," but what you have to understand and accept, and this may be the hardest part, is that both the universe and this restaurant do not revolve around you. If you are a part of a large group, chances are you don't know what everyone ordered, and even more likely than that, Kyle ordered a well done burger with extra crispy fries. Fucking Kyle. Always ruining shit. The whole idea, and frankly science, behind the kitchen of a restaurant is to time things out so that everyone in the party gets their food at the same time. So yes, it may only take us 4 minutes to prepare your salad, but goddamn Kyle's hockey puck of burger takes about 15. So be patient. Oh, and asking the server every 3 minutes, "Is our food coming?" isn't going to speed up the process at all. (It will, however, allow for us to break the ice with the new trainee. "By the way, business people are super impatient with their lunch, for instance, table 20 ... .")
Remember what you ordered
Oh, please, for the love of God, REMEMBER WHAT YOU ORDERED! Seems like a no brainer, right? WRONG! This is by far my biggest pet peeve because it happens to me at least once a shift. I just don't understand it. From the moment I order my meal, all I think about is how badly I want that food in and around my face. How do you forget what you chose to fuel your body?! Here's the scene: I am running food to a table that is not mine, so I have no idea what each guest has ordered. I'm literally just the middleman. And I say, "Bacon cheeseburger?" Complete silence. Everyone is just blankly staring at each other with the same look of confusion the entire universe had when Trump won. If you are one of the good ones who does remember their order, this is not the time to participate unless it is your meal. So, when I say, "Bacon cheeseburger?" with what is clearly a bacon cheeseburger in my hand, don't chime in with, "I had a Caesar salad." You are helping no one. I can only imagine you're the same person who compares someone's relative dying to when you lost your dog back in sixth grade. We get that you're trying to help, but there's a time and a place, like if I had a Caesar salad in my hand and not a bacon cheeseburger. Or if I was as close to my dog as I was to my Aunt Mary. Dick.
If there is something wrong, say something
But then and only then. So if you ordered a burger medium and got one clearly well done, let the server know. I promise we are more than happy to fix our mistakes. However, if you modified the shit out of one of our salads, and then have the audacity to say, "Ohhhhhhh, I didn't know this had tomatoes," know that you are openly being mocked in the server's station. I know this one is punching some of you right in your celiac disease-ridden gut, but it's simple logic. How the hell can you modify a salad to the point of "no bacon, no cheese, no croutons, add egg, add cucumber and sub the romaine lettuce for spinach," and then claim to not know about the tomatoes that were listed smack dab in the middle of everything you changed? We want you to enjoy the meal and will do everything in our power to make that happen, and honestly even if you are the one who messed up, we still want to make it right, but how about everyone avoid this situation and closely follow pointer number 2?
Be courteous and help pre bus
I know, I know. You work hard for your money and no one helps you so why should you stack plates when that's the server's job? Hell, at that point, what are you tipping them for anyway!? How about because it's a nice thing to do that will only speed along the entire process? I'm not saying you have to go over the top and stack everything on the table so that it's completely clean when the server comes over, but just lend a helping hand and when you're done with something, move it to the side of the table. We see this the same way we see someone waving a hand when you let them into your lane — polite, respectful. But if they ignore it we cuss you out until you're out of sight, and even after that.
When the checks come a droppin', don't go a floppin'
Ugh, the worst part of it. Oh, you mean the pop isn't free? Well, sir, you had nine Diet Cokes, so yes, you have to pay the $1.49. Feel free to look over your bill before paying, but don't be so frugal that you have to question every single item on it. Extras are extra. If you ask for a side of something that doesn't come with your meal, you're going to be charged for that side, whether it is a 50-cent ranch, or a $3 onion ring, extras are extra. Again, I'm sorry you didn't read the menu (ahem, rule 2, yet again. Is it sinking in yet?) but you have to pay for the things you consume.
TIP (We'll say it again: Tip)
And do it well. If you had literally no issues with your experience from start to finish, then when the check comes it is not the time to evaluate your service. "Well she did only bring us two refills and our ketchup was empty soooo ... ." Stop. Just stop. You've heard the age-old saying, "If you can't afford to tip, don't go out." This is 100% true. You are going out for the atmosphere, experience and convenience. This is something you have to pay for. You are taking advantage of an amazing system that has been set in place so that you can go into a place and your five children can take over the dining room tossing fries, crayons and each other as far as the eye can see. The least you can do is leave your server a 20% tip. Thats right, 20% is the norm. Not 18%, not, "Jesus only gets 10%, why should you get 15?" 20%. So if you loved them, 30% is great! I am not saying that if you had the worst server of all time who was absent and missed things and messed up your order you still have to tip, but if you enjoyed yourself and the service was great, there's no reason to leave less than a 20% tip for that server or bartender. The hourly rate for the service industry is currently $4. Show them you appreciate all of their hard work, and believe me, even if you were a total nightmare to deal with, a 25% tip will erase almost everything you did and will leave us happy and eager to serve you the next time you're in. Even if you break every other rule above. (But don't break them. Please.)