Going out to eat is a pleasure, and most diners treat their server with respect. At least, most people wouldn't dream of snapping at a server or seriously stiffing their tip. It's just rude. But there may be some surprising things you're doing that annoy restaurant servers without even meaning it. Considering the restaurant experience from the server's point of view can make the whole meal more pleasant for everyone involved.
It's a perfect time to think about these pet peeves, because servers and diners are interacting more than ever. Since 2003, consumer spending on meals eaten outside the home has increased a giant 94 percent, as reported by the Neilson Company. Going out to eat is wildly common now, even with the prevalence of food delivery options and at-home meal kits. There's just something special about restaurant dining, and diners can help make the whole experience better for their servers as well.
To learn more about these accidental annoyances from diners, Romper spoke with "Jay," a longtime server in New Orleans fine dining establishments. Even in a city that's renowned for its dining culture, restaurant patrons can unknowingly make life a little harder for the serving staff. It's important to remember that your server is hard at work when you're enjoying a nice meal.
1. Bring Your Own Birthday Cake
Bringing a birthday cake to a restaurant puts a lot of added stress on the server. Not only does the server miss out on your potential dessert order, but they're also responsible for bringing plates and clearing the table for another entire course. It's a lot of extra work for no extra money, as Jay explained. It's much kinder to order desserts from the restaurant, and then tip your server accordingly.
2. Switch Seats
Don't switch seats after ordering. "I don't remember your face, just where you sat," said Jay. If you roll up in a party of 50 and then trade seats, the server is not going to get the right order to the right person.
3. Stay Too Late
Don't hang around the restaurant way past closing time. "I once had a customer stay until 4:00 am trying to close a deal," said Jay. Forcing your server to stay way past their shift is not cool at all.
4. Fib About Food Allergies
Food allergies are treated very seriously by most people in the restaurant industry. So when a guest claims to have a serious gluten allergy, but orders a beer, then this obvious lie is annoying, as Jay explained. It's totally cool if you have certain food preferences, just don't pass them off as potentially life-threatening allergies.
5. Ignore The Server's Hints
Pay attention if the server subtly tries to steer you away from a certain dish. "Maybe he's trying to do you a solid, and the fish is old," said Jay. The server probably know's what's best in the kitchen that day.
This idea is also backed up by others in the food service industry as well. In fact, because restaurants don't get fresh deliveries on that day, Sundays are not the best time to order fish from many restaurants, according to a survey of chefs by the Food Network. It's another reason to pay attention to your server's hints.
6. Complain About Well-Done Meat
The topic of well-done meat is a contentious one. "Don't order a filet well-done and then complain that it's dry," said Jay. That particular cut of meat is too tender to be cooked for so long. If you're going to order well-done meat, then know what you're getting in to.
7. Complain About Long Cook Time
Consider the potential cook time of dishes when you order. Again, tread carefully when it comes to well-done meat. "Don't order a 45 ounce rib-eye and complain when it takes 45 minutes to cook," said Jay. Your best bet? Stick with a medium-rare to medium cook time. If you're starving, then ask which dishes can be prepared quickly. Just keep this and a few other tips in mind to make your chef, server, and dining party happy.
After experiencing a traumatic c-section, this mother sought out a doula to support her through her second child’s delivery. Watch as that doula helps this mom reclaim the birth she felt robbed of with her first child, in Episode Three of Romper's Doula Diaries, Season Two, below. Visit Bustle Digital Group's YouTube page for more episodes, launching Mondays in December.