OPINION: Are you restaurant ready?

Confused server and customer discuss the order

Demanding customer takes frustrations out on bartender. (Jordan Rangel/Lariat)

The omelet was quick, hot and the way he wanted it, but the guest still looks at the server puzzled and says, “I imagined you’d bring me toast.”

The idea a server can read your mind is a misconception many customers have when dining out.

According to a LivingSocial “Dining Out” survey conducted last month, the average U.S. adult eats 4.8 meals per week in a restaurant. Servers, bartenders and others in the industry feel the majority do not know how to behave in a restaurant.

“I love the quick pace and social interaction,” said Jasmine Castro, 25, a cocktail server at La Vida Cantina in Costa Mesa. “But I hate the lacking of manners and poor social skills possessed by most people.”

Whether casual dining, fine dining or just getting drinks, there is an appropriate way to behave in an establishment. There are things one must know, but unfortunately unless a person has been in the industry, they probably aren’t aware that not following certain procedures can affect the quality of service.

The host stand or front desk is the first contact a guest should have with sit down restaurants. Unless there is a sign that says, please seat yourself, it is disruptive to walk around the hostess and sit wherever you want. The hostess will not take you to a random table. They are balancing the tables between the servers. If there are open tables, it is because they are reserved or there is no server assigned to them.

“When a customer seats themselves it’s annoying, and it throws off the floor plan,” said Mekayla Cruz, 19, hostess at O’Neill’s Bar and Grill in Mission Viejo.

When put on a wait to be seated, the wait time is an estimate. No one at the front desk is in control of how long parties take. A longer wait time is not the front desk’s fault, but rather the result of a guest dining longer than expected.

Avoid asking questions that are on the menu or self-explanatory, what appetizers do you have? What comes with the halibut? What do you have to drink? What’s good on the menu? Do you have any lemons? Is it nice outside?

“It’s irritating when customers ask about the weather when they just came from outside,” said Kaitlyn Calhon, 27, CRA, O’Neill’s Bar and Grill. “I’m like, I don’t know, I’ve been inside all day.”

Do not snap your fingers or yell, the server is constantly scanning their tables for things their guests might need. If you are not ready to order, that is fine, but do not make the server stand there while you go over the menu deciding. In the server’s station, one guest is not more important than another, so keep in mind they have more than just your table to take care of.

“I hate how rude people could be, I find that a lot of people feel very entitled and that bothers me.” said Katie Kimmel, 23, server at Guapas Tapas in San Juan Capistrano.

Rudeness is unnecessary and never forgotten by the server. Though the server cannot be blatantly disrespectful without getting in trouble, if the guest is complaining, other things can be done. They will likely remember who you are if you visit in the future, so if you want great service, eliminating attitude is one way to get it.

If there is something wrong with your food or visit, let your server or a manager know, give them a chance to turn things around. If you act like everything is fine then servers have no way of knowing otherwise.

“I don’t like when guests don’t like something or make you aware of what’s going on,” said Todd McKenna, assistant manager, O’Neill’s Bar and Grill. “Then they get home and blog badly about their visit.”

Remember what you order, it is annoying when someone acts lost when you put their drink or food in front of them and they act like it is not what they ordered or they just can’t remember at all.

“When a guest orders something, I write it down exactly,” said Lazz Escobar, 35, server in Downtown Disney. “Then the food comes out and they say that it’s not what they ordered.”

Dogs don’t belong in restaurants either. You don’t need to print or buy something online to pretend your dog is a service dog, just leave it at home.

Do not come in right before or stay well past closing, that’s just rude. Hot tea is a nightmare, but hot water is worse. Do not ask for split checks, you can do the math. When you finish eating and pay, it is time to leave.

Do not sit and make-out at the table, no one wants to see that. If you are in a bad mood, don’t take it out on the employees. Servers do not make the prices, they have no power to change them.

Servers share a percentage of their tips based on their sales. When you tip 10 percent or less, the server has to pay other staff out of their pocket. If you had great service, tip 20 percent or more after tax, servers take it personally if you don’t.

If you had any discounts, tip off the original amount. “Great service” and “thank you so much” are nice compliments, but they are verbal tips and do not pay the bills. Lastly, they are not invisible, acknowledge them when they approach the table.

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