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5 Rules for Restaurant Patrons

September 28, 2009

by Monsieur Anton

When dining at a restaurant, the onus is rightfully on the establishment to impress.  You are after all the one dropping your hard earned cash on the evening’s dinner.  This however, does not excuse the diner from all responsibility.  A hospitality professional can spot an amateur a mile away.  Not your problem you say?  Well it is.  A good customer makes it easier for the restaurant to provide you the the best experience possible, and allow the pros to afford that opportunity for all the people spending their dough (both you and the table next to you) to also enjoy their evening out.  A restaurant is a delicate balance.  When one table does not hold up their end of the deal, things swiftly go out of whack, and the restaurant cannot provide you with its optimum service and food, and worse still, the other people who follow the unwritten code.

So here we start to make the unwritten code, written.  Trust us. If you follow these rules, and future rules to come, you’ll enjoy trips to the best eateries in town all the more.

1. Let the host/hostess do their job. When you make a reservation, please arrive on time, or call ahead to let the restaurant know you will be late.  When you get there, please understand that reservations are not an exact science.  Some previous tables may linger over their dessert and coffee, and not leave at the expected time.  Be patient.  A good restaurant will always strive to make your wait as short and pleasant as possible.  If you don’t have a reservation, again, be patient.  It seems everyone in Cleveland wants to eat at 7:30, and you didn’t make a reservation to do so.

When you arrive don’t ever, ever, ever walk right past the host/hostess and seat yourself.  What, is this Mel’s Diner? Even if the host/hostess is not at the stand, and seating someone else…wait.  They’ll be right back, and the 45 seconds of your life spent  waiting will  come back to you in good karma.  You’re kid will be good looking, you’ll get that promotion at work, and marry the gorgeous woman.

When being seated, let the host/hostess choose your table.  There is a reason they seat you where they do.  There is a rotation for the servers, and they seat you within that rotation so that you can receive the best service.  Perhaps the server in that station has just been triple sat and will not be to get to you right away. If you want a specific table, say so when making your reservation.  What, you didn’t make a reservation?

2. Be ready to order when you say you are. There is nothing more infuriating to a server than asking a table if they are ready and waiting around for ten minutes while they further peruse the menu.  See the server’s eyes wondering around the room to their other tables that are ready to order?  Know what they’re thinking?  You don’t want to know what they’re thinking.  For the sake of your server’s mental health

and the diner’s around you, don’t order until you’re ready.

3. Special orders do upset us. Hold the pickle.  Hold the lettuce.  Special orders don’t upset us. Yeah right.  If you don’t have food allergies, special orders will drive restaurants up the wall.  Nothing will unite the front of the house, and the back of the house against a diner, like special orders.

The chef spends hours creating his epicurian marvel, and you who haven’t spent a lifetime studying the culinary arts can improve upon his dish?  Look, any good dining spot will do their best to accommodate your peccadilloes, but a little insight to how a professional kitchen works.  Food is preprepared, set up logically on the kitchen line to best allow the chef and his line to seamlessly create your artistic plate, until that is

you want to create your own masterpiece.  Now the kitchen loses it’s flow, the special ingredient is substituted (often requiring a trip to the walk in cooler), just because you think you saw on the Food Network that bacon goes well with poached sweetbreads.  You want to create your own dish?  Go to Mogolian BBQ.

“Chef Gusteau says:  Please pay attention to those special orders!  Yes, I will have my staff comply with your wishes…but you immediately waive your right as a guest to complain about that food!  Everything we do in the kitchen is to create food with balance…balance of color, flavor and texture.  It would be akin to you hiring an artist to paint you a beautiful picture, but not allowing the artist to use the colors yellow, orange, or red.  When you get the picture, you have no right to complain that it is “too dark” and needs bright colors….no kidding, I knew it needed those colors from the beginning.  Who is the artist?  Let the artist create.”

4. Your server is not your dog. This one is so simple it shouldn’t even need to said, but it does.  Do not snap your fingers at them.  Not only is it rude, but they’ll likely take even more time to come to your table cause you’re a jerk.

5. Save your camping for the KOA. A little restaurant terminology here.  Camping is when a table sits for an excessive amount of time after finishing their meal.  Servers have a limited number of tables with which to earn their tips.  If the tables don’t pay their tab, then another table (and opportunity for earnings) cannot be seated, and subsequently add to the server’s revenue.  If you absolutely must stay for two hours after finishing dinner, compensate the server accordingly, roughly to the tune of twice the gratuity.  This goes doubly for when you camp long after the restaurant has closed, keeping the server, bartender, manager and dishwasher at work late, and cutting into their after work drinking time.  If you simply must catch up on old time with your friends or business associates, do it at Starbuck’s.  They’re open late and don’t care if you camp.

Another thing to consider about camping, is something we discussed earlier…reservations.  If you don’t push yourself away from the table, which now has only empty coffee cups and water glasses, the guy who was responsible and made a reservation, will be cooling their heals at the front desk waiting for their table.  So if you don’t care about the server, how about your fellow diner?

These rules are just the start.  We’ll go over many more as we continue our journey, including tipping, which is a discussion all it’s own.  For now learn and live these rules and we’ll all get along just fine.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Sydney Cook permalink
    October 7, 2009 5:13 am

    this is amazing!!! more people should read this! it will make every ones life a lot easier.

    • October 26, 2009 2:58 am

      Monsieur Cook – I agree with you…this is amazing! Perhaps if we got Anton doing more work we could get even more people reading and help even more people…damn Anton.

  2. Gaseous Orangutan permalink
    October 13, 2009 12:56 am

    This is awesome. Next what I think you guys should do, is a 5 rules for parents who want to bring their children out to dine with them. On a side note, being a server, one thing that drives me crazy is people who stand up with their napkin still on their lap, and just let it fall to the ground. I just think it’s disrespectful. Keep up the good and entertaining work.

    • October 26, 2009 2:56 am

      Monsieur Orangutan – love the idea about 5 rules for parents with kids…keeping it to 5 would be a challenge…and “leave you child hanging on the coat rack” probably wouldn’t fly with most people. I will get Anton on it immediately.

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