Oh Waiter

Diner’s Bill of Rights: ‘Be Very Friendly. But Don’t Try to Be My Friend’

Photo: istockphoto

Why are diners tipping more than ever before (18 percent on average)? An expert tells The Wall Street Journal it’s because we want our waiters to like us. So how can a waiter get even more out of a validation-starved patron? Pig Trip has a sassy (surly?) list of “40 Tips on How to Be a Good Waiter” (the flipside of “40 Tips on How to Be a Good Customer,” from Waiter Rant). After the jump, the ones with which we happen to agree.

• Be friendly. Be very friendly. But don’t try to be my friend, at least on the first visit. Don’t touch me. Don’t eavesdrop on my conversation and try to join in.

• Don’t sit with me to take my order. If I purposely sit at the edge of the booth in anticipation of your trying to sit with me, don’t ask me to move over so you can sit with me.

• When reciting the specials, include prices.

• If you’re going to correct my pronunciation of a menu item, you’d better be sure you’re right, chipolty-breath.

• Enter the orders into the system to ensure that the entrees do not arrive while we are still “working on” (to use your term) our appetizers.

• Check our drinks throughout the meal. They shouldn’t get any lower than 1/3 full before you ask for another. Conversely, conversing is difficult when you’re trying to replace my water after every sip.

• Check back with us about 90 seconds after serving. I empathize with you on this one, because there’s a fine line between too soon and not soon enough. Too soon and we haven’t really had enough time to assess everything. Not soon enough and you’re potentially compounding an error by making us wait longer for a correction.

• Look for clues that there may be a problem, even if nobody speaks up: a scowl, a mostly uneaten pile of food left defiantly on the plate, a hushed comment to a dining companion while pointing at the food. Ask if there’s something wrong with the dish or if there’s something you can do.

• When placing my second beer or glass of wine on the table, never ever remove the first one if there’s still a sip or more left.

• If I pay with cash, don’t ask if I want change. Just tell me you’ll bring me the change and leave it to me to tell you to keep the whole thing. If you do bring change, bring it promptly.

Esteemed waiters, are we wrong here? And diners, anything you’d like to add?

40 Tips on How to Be a Good Waiter [Pig Trip]
Tipping Point: What It Takes to Make Your Waiter Like You [WSJ]

Diner’s Bill of Rights: ‘Be Very Friendly. But Don’t Try to Be