13 Things Your Waiter Won’t Tell You

Written by Reader’s Digest

Waiters share insider secrets about restaurant — from what days to avoid dining out to how much to tip.

1. Avoid eating out on holidays and Saturday nights. The sheer volume of customers guarantees that most kitchens will be pushed beyond their ability to produce a high-quality dish.

2. There are almost never any sick days in the restaurant business. A busboy with a kid to support isn’t going to stay home and miss out on $100 because he’s got strep throat. And these are the people handling your food.

3. When customers’ dissatisfaction devolves into personal attacks, adulterating food or drink is a convenient way for servers to exact covert vengeance. Waiters can and do spit in people’s food.

4. Never say “I’m friends with the owner.” Restaurant owners don’t have friends. This marks you as a clueless poseur the moment you walk in the door.

5. Treat others as you want to be treated. (Yes, people need to be reminded of this.)

6. Don’t snap your fingers to get our attention. Remember, we have shears that cut through bone in the kitchen.

7. Don’t order meals that aren’t on the menu. You’re forcing the chef to cook something he doesn’t make on a regular basis. If he makes the same entrée 10,000 times a month, the odds are good that the dish will be a home run every time.

8. Splitting entrées is okay, but don’t ask for water, lemon, and sugar so you can make your own lemonade. What’s next, grapes so you can press your own wine?

9. If you find a waiter you like, always ask to be seated in his or her section. Tell all your friends so they’ll start asking for that server as well. You’ve just made that waiter look indispensable to the owner. The server will be grateful and take good care of you.

10. If you can’t afford to leave a tip, you can’t afford to eat in the restaurant. Servers could be giving 20 to 40 percent to the busboys, bartenders, maître d’, or hostess.

11. Always examine the check. Sometimes large parties are unaware that a gratuity has been added to the bill, so they tip on top of it. Waiters “facilitate” this error. It’s dishonest, it’s wrong-and I did it all the time.

12. If you want to hang out, that’s fine. But increase the tip to make up for money the server would have made if he or she had had another seating at that table.

13. Never, ever come in 15 minutes before closing time. The cooks are tired and will cook your dinner right away. So while you’re chitchatting over salads, your entrées will be languishing under the heat lamp while the dishwasher is spraying industrial-strength, carcinogenic cleaning solvents in their immediate vicinity.

From Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter by The Waiter (Ecco/HarperCollins, $24.95)

14 thoughts on “13 Things Your Waiter Won’t Tell You

  1. DentShop

    All this crap over tipping. Thats why its such a stupid, illogical and unappealing process to the rest of world.

  2. temptationsgirl

    11. Always examine the check. Sometimes large parties are unaware that a gratuity has been added to the bill, so they tip on top of it. Waiters “facilitate” this error. It’s dishonest, it’s wrong-and I did it all the time.

    That said, always examine the check because there are restaurants out there with a no gratuity for large parties policy. The place that I worked at that had that policy (or lack of, depending how you phrase it) said the 18% gratuity was “tacky”. I cannot tell you how many times I got stiffed because the person who paid assumed there was gratuity included on the bill and just signed the slip and thanked me for my excellent service.

  3. caf

    Wait people are the hardest-working and lowest-paid employees of all. If you get a good one, they should be well rewarded. Likewise, lousy sullen service should be rewarded with a dime.

  4. fabio

    I work in a very busy place that servers lots of tourists from around of the world. We, the servers hate most of the foreign people. They don’t tip and some of them are very rude. The Russians and the middle east people are the most hated at this place. Nobody like to serve them. I myself only like to serve Americans. They know how to behave at an America restaurant. The Europeans also are not the most favorites customers but they are not rude like the Russians and meddle east people.

  5. fabio

    We get paid minimum wage. Some places in the USA we get paid $3 an hour. Some place a little more. Now if we didn’t get tips there would be no servers. Also if there weren’t tips the restaurants owners would have to pay more to the servers and they would charge more for their dishes.

  6. slopslinger

    Here’s a 14th thing your waiter won’t tell you: If you are being a jerk and/or an idiot, your waiter/waitress/server IS talking trash about you in the back of house. AND getting other front of house employees, cooks, chefs, managers, etc. involved in the conversation. And everyone is probably using VERY profane words in the conversation. And lastly, your waiter is doing EVERYTHING in their power to GET YOU OFF THE PROPERTY as soon as humanly possible.

  7. Litost

    I’ve worked three years as a waitress, and honestly, so many people are rude. I mean, you’d think since I’m handling your FOOD. The thing that you pay $10 for and then put in your MOUTH.
    I, personally, have never spit in someone’s food/drink before, but I’ve witnessed it happen, and watched in delight as the rude customer ‘enjoyed’ their meal :]

  8. Viper

    I worked as a waitress for three months until I got fired for (purposelly) spilling coffee on a rude customer. It was so worth it >=)

  9. Destiny

    I have been waitressing for just over a year now. Lots of people don’t realize that we get taxed on our tips. They don’t realize that if they don’t tip, we literally pay for the opportunity to serve them. I used to have a group that called every Saturday morning (our busiest time) for a to-go order that would cost over a hundred dollars, and they wouldn’t ever tip.

  10. DeclinedPatient

    i just want to ask.. am i right to choose HRM(hotel and restaurant management) as my course in college?.. I know ill become a waiter after that.. is it worth it to work at the hotels and/or restaurant as a waiter?

  11. Pissed

    It’s articles like this that give servers a bad name. Servers DO NOT spit in peoples food, I have been at it for 10+ years and have never done this or have ever seen anyone else do this. WTF? I am sure that it has happened before but this article makes it out to happen all the time. I am so sick of this.

    Whoever wrote this is a complete d-bag!

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