Restaurant servers share the 10 things customers do that annoy them the most

Photo: Jason Briscoe/Unsplash

The INSIDER Summary:

  • A recent Quora thread asked restaurant servers to share the things customers do that get under their skin.
  • Don’t steal the pens or stack the plates haphazardly.
  • Use your phone only when waiting in line for a table and not when you’re seated.

Anyone who’s spent time working in the service industry can tell you that it’s not always easy to juggle customers’ demands with the fast pace of a restaurant floor. Some people thrive on the frantic energy of the business and love working in hospitality. Others just do it to pay the bills.

A recent Quora thread asked restaurant servers to share the things customers do that get under their skin. Here are 10 of the worst offenses.

Making them run back and forth

Try to avoid making them run in circles.

Try to ask for everything you need at once to save your server the trouble of making several trips.

'The single most irritating thing that happened regularly while waiting tables has to be the table that asks for extra items, each after the delivery of the last so that I have to run back and forth several times,' wrote Quora user Kane Mantyla.

Treating them like a servant, not a server

Clem Onojeghuo/Unsplash
Don't talk down to them.

Servers are people, too. They're there to make sure you have everything you need for a positive dining experience, but they're not there for you to boss around or talk down to.

'Just because somebody's serving food to you doesn't mean they're below you. Their job is just different than yours,' wrote Quora user Cheryl Lemanski.

Snapping your fingers to get their attention

Snapping fingers is rude.

Just don't.

Letting kids run around the restaurant

Waitstaff aren't babysitters.

Some restaurants are meant to be kid-friendly, but if the little ones aren't capable of sitting still for a sit-down dinner, it's best to make other arrangements.

'Restaurants are not playgrounds, and waitstaff and other customers are not your babysitters, no matter how cute your kids are,' Lemanski wrote.

Forgetting to take your leftovers

Take your leftovers with you.

Pausing to wrap up leftovers breaks up a server's rhythm, so make it worth their while and don't forget to take them along.

'When they don't take it with, you wonder why they even bothered,' Lemanski wrote.

Stacking plates incorrectly

Leave it to the pros.

Sometimes, ill-fated attempts at helping do more harm than good. Leave the plate stacking to the pros.

'I really do appreciate the effort people go to so my job is slightly easier. But if you've haphazardly created an unstable pile, I'm going to have to awkwardly rearrange the mess you've created while you all watch,' wrote Tom Wilson.

Interrupting them while they're taking someone else's order

Wait your turn.

It's easy to feel like you're the only one at a restaurant -- even chefs, who know how much work goes into every order, get impatient when service is slow. Resist the urge to interrupt your server when they're with someone else and wait your turn.

'I'm sorry, but your second extra side of ranch can wait two seconds, don't be rude to my other guests,' wrote Quora user Megan Gietzen.

Being glued to your phone

Jacob Ufkes/
Put your phone away.

Restaurant owner Barbara Oritz wrote that cell phones are great for passing the time while waiting for a table, but should be put away once you're seated.

'That device is literally costing restaurants and servers money by lengthening table turn times. Not to mention all the irritating aspects of trying to get an order from someone while they look down at their cell.'

Stealing their pens

Leave them for the next guests.

Other people will need something to sign their receipts with. Leave them for the next customers so that servers don't have to search around for one when they bring the check.

Hitting on them

Let them do their jobs.

Don't ask your server if they're 'single and ready to mingle,' as people used to ask Quora user David Payne when he worked as a waiter. Let them do their jobs in peace.

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