The Biggest Things Restaurant Servers Want You To Stop Doing

Working in the hospitality industry as a server is an extremely difficult job. You're on your feet all day, handling food and drink, and memorizing menu items and beverage lists. All the while, you're putting a smile on your face to the guests to ensure they have the best experience possible. This past year, servers have also had to work under extreme circumstances due to COVID — wearing masks for hours on end, taking double shifts to make up for staff shortages, and even pivoting to other restaurant positions during pandemic-related closures of dining rooms in most cities in the United States. 

The New York Times quotes Dr. Alex Jahangir, chairman of a coronavirus task force in Nashville, Tennessee: "It is critical for food and beverage workers to have access to the vaccine, especially as patrons who come have no guarantee that they will be vaccinated and obviously will not be masked when eating or drinking." 

Pandemic or no pandemic, we have expectations when we dine out. Come to find out, restaurant servers have a few requests for patrons, too. 

Don't be a poor tipper

Most servers make below minimum wage as a base salary, relying on tips to pay their bills, feed their children, and invest for the future. Fast Company reports that restaurateurs can legally pay servers less than $3 per hour in many states, putting the burden on customers to see that wait staff make a living. The rule of thumb, according to many servers?  "If you can afford to go out to eat, you can afford to tip," according to Fast Company.  

Although there are no rules to tipping, The Daily Meal's tipping guideline suggests tipping your server between 15% to 20% on the pre-tax check. Fast Company reports many people have actually become more generous during COVID, with their publication's Harris Poll finding 21% of people tipping more often then they used to. On the other hand, the website also reports that some 19% of people actually tipped less during COVID.

Don't leave a bad review online

Social media platforms like Twitter and online review forums like Yelp and Trip Advisor have allowed everyone to share their experiences at restaurants. And, although taking a picture of that delicious pizza (and the cheese pull) is always welcome, leaving a bad review of your server isn't.

A New Jersey server tells Food and Wine a better way to deal with any issues you may have with your service while dining at a restaurant: "Surface your issue in person or a private channel," he shares. The hospitality industry is called that because they're in the business of, well, being hospitable. But anyone can have a bad day. Servers want you to have a good experience, so if you feel like something wasn't right with your food or service, let your server — or their manager — know. Chances are, they'll make things right before you leave.

On the other hand, if you've had a great experience, feel free to share it with the world.

Don't be a jerk

During the pandemic, restaurants are understaffed. Restaurant Industry magazine QSR called the current staffing situation a "crisis," quoting Greene Turtle CEO Geovannie Concepcion as saying staffing is "the biggest, hands-down challenge [we face]."

When you go to dine at a restaurant, have a little patience. Many eateries have new rules regarding mask wearing (or not), with policies changing daily. Restaurant staff might be pulling double shifts to keep the doors open. With all that's facing the restaurant industry, there's one thing you can do, according to Food and Wine: Don't be a jerk.

Michael Strauss, owner of Mike's BBW in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, tells Food and Wine that "Patience, empathy, kindness, compassion, understanding, and self-control should all be worn on your sleeve ... or stay home." 

With many restaurants short-staffed, there may be longer waits for a table. Even if you see empty tables, remember that some cities have COVID-related rules regarding the number of people who can dine inside a restaurant. Eateries could be maintaining social distancing requirements that you might not know about.