Saturday, November 7, 2009

100 Things a Customer Should Never Do -Part 1

After reading Bruce Buschel's "100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do" on the New York Times blog, my first reaction was "where did they find this arrogant clown?" When I thought about it more, however, It inspired me to compile my list of ways that one could be a better customer. Here are the first 50 - the next will be open for suggestions....

Things that restaurant customers should never do. Part one:

1. Assume anyone else enjoys your children as much as you do.
2. Not tip on the wine.
3. Insist on putting your bulky-ass winter coat on the back of a chair when we clearly have a coat rack.
4. Talk about your wine collection at home and what you paid for it.
5. Touch us, unless we hang out later and maybe sleep together.
6. Ask us to get you drugs when we don’t even know you.
7. Attempt to order something that’s not on the menu based on ingredients you see listed elsewhere.
8. Argue with us when informed that you can’t have something.
9. Assume you’re always right.
10. Use the “Can I take that to go?” or “I hated it!” joke when we clear your empty plate.
11. Get drunk enough that we need to cut you off. It’s uncomfortable for everyone involved.
12. Give your kids a bag of Cheerios to throw all over the fucking floor.
13. Show up for your reservation with a different amount of people without calling first.
14. No call, no show on a reservation.
15. Talk about “How much money you spend in here.” It actually makes you sound cheap and stupid.
16. Complain that your food is taking too long when you order a well-done piece of meat and no starter.
17. Try to speak restaurant lingo to impress us. You sound like an idiot.
18. Continue to talk when we’re clearly ready to tell you about the specials.
19. Make noises or faces that imply you don’t like one of the specials. Simply don’t order it.
20. Assume that because you see an empty table, it’s available. It’s called a reservation.
21. Try to impress us with what you know about wine. If you do this, chances are you don’t know shit.
22. Leave your fucking gift wrap everywhere after you have a birthday. We didn’t sign on for this.
23. Ask if you get something free for your birthday. What are you, five years old?
24. Assume when you tell us about an allergy that we don’t actually want to harm you.
25. Tell us that you’re allergic to something when you simply don’t like it.
26. Act like it’s our responsibility to fix one of your poor choices.
27. Spend a lot of money to impress your friends/date and not tip on it. If you’re going to be a big shot, follow through.
28. Tell us stories that never end. We have shit to do.
29. Go someplace where you’re out of your comfort zone and act like it’s our fault. There are plenty of other restaurants and servers for you to annoy the living shit out of.
30. Complain about vintages on what are clearly grocery store wines. Once again, you sound like a complete idiot.
31. Assume that when you order a bottle of wine and are poured a taste, it’s to see if you like it. False. It’s to check if the wine is flawed or not and that’s all. The only time this isn’t true is if the server aggressively sells you the bottle instead of your first choice. In this case, you have the option to say you don’t like it.
32. Take a mile when we give an inch.
33. Linger when you’ve clearly over-stayed your welcome.
34. Act like you don’t understand tipping because you’re from “abroad.”
35. Fill up on bread because it’s free.
36. Ask us to play music you want to hear. That’s why you have your house or apartment.
37. Tell us how to run our restaurant. Nobody is stopping you from opening your own.
38. Name-drop. Nobody cares….
39. Put your dirty plates on other tables, nothing makes us want to dump a drink on your head more.
40. Re-arrange tables or chairs without permission.
41. Complain about gratuity on a large party. If you don’t like it, dine in smaller numbers.
42. Complain solely based on the fact that you want something for free. We can see right through your bullshit....
43. Assume that entrees always come with a salad, and that salads always have a choice of dressings.
44. Assume that anyone gives a shit who you are or what you do.
45. Talk on your cell phone – I know, I shouldn’t even have to mention this but I do!
46. Piss all over the seat in the bathroom and not clean it up.
47. Have people join your table late, especially when they are only drinking. This takes up space not to mention is loud and annoying.
48. Assume that because you’re cold/ warm, everyone is.
49. Steal our fucking pens.
50. Take your signed credit card receipt – this is weirdly aggravating.

More to come!


  1. Excellent answer to his column, thanks. Bruce assumes that everyone wants server-bots and that the customer is always right (whereas, I find they rarely are. They're really like big 2-year-olds with wallets.)

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  3. do people actually calculate their tips only on food?? that is weird. can't say I ever experienced that when I worked as a server. maybe it's a Maine thing?

  4. I laughed out loud when I read #23. Great post.

  5. #1--My freshman year of college, I was a waitress at Friendly's. I started debating the merits of reproduction after watching fifteen kids throw Monster Mash Sundaes at each other with their parents looking on approvingly. (And being a stupid birthday party, they also sucked a la #22 and #23!)

  6. (posted this for a friend)

    We had a customer last week who sent back two perfectly good hamburgers because he claimed they were "ice cold". We cooked two more. They literally went from the grill to the plate to the table. He proceeded to make a scene sticking his fingers in to the burgers and demanding the server do it as well. She refused, comped all four burgers, had to stifle a cry (she is a superstar BTW). Wouldn't have pissed me off as much until I saw his charge receipt....a Maine state Senator....I would mention his name but the Barry Hobbin's campaign manager might get mad.

    Dave at the Great Lost Bear

  7. Kids and Cheerios? Doesn't sound like a fine dining place to me.

  8. A funny list, but I don't get where you were going with #24 because food allergies are not a joke.

    As a person with a shellfish allergy, I am very cognizant of the fact that I probably don't want to eat at an all seafood place, because the possiblility of my non-shellfish dish coming into contact with shellfish in the kitchen is high. I'll often times enquire about an entree, even if shellfish isn't obviously featured, because it could have been used in a stock to make the sauce on my fish, or used somewhere in the cooking process before it reached me. Once in a restaurnant I ordered a sweet potato cream shellfish there right? Wrong, it came garnished with a shrimp! Mind you I had mentioned to the server that I was allergic to shellfish!

    Yes I know my allergies are my responsiblity, however, I do expect that any restaurant I choose to dine at would be respectful enough of the seriousness of a food allergy to not take it lightly/dismiss it. Unless of course they don't mind a patron dropping dead in their establishment. Imagine how bad for business that would be.


  9. elrichard-

    #24 is clearly me joking around - nobody actually wants you to die.

    jbl - You'd be surprised.....

  10. Awesome...good to know. :)

  11. Does #11 mean no more asian restaurant reviews?

  12. Ummmm... Ok.... I MAY have broken a rule or two during the Asian Bar Reviews.. I MAY have. Yes. I Did.

  13. might I add: Do not ever snap your fingers at your server to get their attention. (grrr)

  14. Caligula- Why/how were they let in? BTW..where do you stand on customers stacking plates when they're done? When I was a server I kinda' liked it.

  15. The cheerios were smuggled in a ziplock bag by way of Mom's purse. I know that the parents intention was to distract the child with the cereal so they could enjoy their meal, but instead the child felt the need to throw them everywhere.
    Stacking plates? love it, as long as it's on your table. I actually think it's very considerate, but it depends on the setting. If you've got a team of servers already taking care of you, might as well let them do it.

  16. These are great. I'm glad you took the time to write them. I have to say that Bruce Buschel's lists were great, too. I was surprised at a lot of the comments on, people saying, basically, that they want a personal relationship with their waiter, they want chatty, etc. For me, the relationship is this: I pay for an experience that includes excellent food, drink, and service. I respect the apparatus (the restaurant and staff) that provides that to me. That means I'm polite, I don't make a big deal out of anything that's not perfect, I don't pee on the seat (I love that one - so true), and I tip very well. And I expect the same respect back--in the spirit of Buschel, if I want to know how your day has been or what you like on the menu, I'll ask. Nothing personal--this is business. One of our favorite restaurants seems to follow the Buschel lists to a tee, and the servers are warm, witty, personable people. Being an excellent server doesn't mean you lose your personality. It just means you keep it on the rails.


  17. I back that up. If you can afford a $1,200 bottle of wine, you can afford to tip on it. Or, if you are the douche who can't find a good bottle under $50, even with the help of a server, hand HAVE to order the $100 bottle of Kistler, based on price and name alone, you shouldn't be wasting our time. Go with the great find under $50, and tip your server appropriately and THEN SOME for finding you a value.

  18. wouldn't 20% on the total bill be considered tipping on wine?

  19. I enjoyed both lists for various reasons. Having been in the business for over 40 years (my husband for 32 yrs., BOH) I have witnessed almost every absurd scenario whether it involves a guest or a coworker. And by far, the customer missteps trump all, both in volume and idiocy.

    Just a few - whistling at your server; touching, grabbing or fondling your server; talking on your precious cell phone as we attempt to take care of you; screaming when you touch the HOT plate we just warned you about ( maybe the side towel I used should also have been a clue); eat your entire meal and then complain (WHA? - we know all about cheapskates like you); not tipping on the full amount of the tab of $200 when you are using a $150 gift card (REALLY?); making us stand there, in some passive/aggressive force field that you control totally, while you linger over the menu.

    There are too many to list and it would probably depress me to do so. Servers are people too. As fellow humans, I believe we deserve the same respect as our guests should expect and receive. Like Mom said - it's all about the Golden Rule. Maybe look it up a**holes. Jus' sayin'

  20. just pissed myself- great post! Keep them coming

  21. Just wanted to let everyone know that someone has been falsely posting as Steve Corry from 555. Steve is a friend of mine, and I confirmed with him today that someone has been fucking around. While I have my suspicions, I will keep them to myself for the time being.
    I have removed the false comment in the meantime..


  22. Regarding tipping on wine: I am tipping for service. It doesn't matter if the wine is $10 or $1000, the service is the same, therefore the tip will not be dependent on the price of the wine. Converse rule for waitstaff: Don't expect expensive bottles of wine to be sources of larger tips. You are not offering the customer anything extra of value that would warrant a tip beyond what your median-priced wine would bring.

  23. About #3, sorry but your coat rack doesn't concern me, especially when it's next to the sign saying "not responsible for lost or stolen items." I'll keep my coat on my chair, thanks.

  24. Axlq -

    Your first comment makes no sense. Expensive bottles should ALWAYS be sources of larger tips. That's how it works.

    Your second comment would be valid in some situations, but not in others.

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  26. Very funny and so very true across the board. Those who aren't able to find the humor, should eat at home. Like the guest said to the waitress, "Can I have the salad prepared vegetarian style...and can you add chicken to that."
    Matt from The PineCrest Inn, Restaurant and Wine Bar.

  27. Hey Joe, you should come out the PineCrest sometime, we have a new wine list - 65 wines by the glass and bottle prices at $10 over retail. Foods, not bad either.



  29. #24 Too far. Other than that, great list.

    The NYtimes list was spot on. As a currently non-practicing waiter, I see how these are good guidelines for remaining professional.

    Your list takes into account that some people are jerks at best.

    I haven't been a waiter in Portland for many years. I'm clear that my reacting to a #15 customer in my day probably cost me tips with other tables. I was in my 20's and Tommy (his real name) was likely a sociopath. Thankfully, other servers usually got his table.

  30. Who the hell needs to be buddy buddy with their server? If you are that hard up for friends and your existence is that miserable then you should hang yourself now and do the world a favor. Servers should be polite and competent, thats all they need to be. Check your need for an emotional stroking at the door, or better yet, don't go out to eat

  31. I don't think most customers could handle the two of us on the floor at once, Matt. I guess It's a good thing that the MSG had no custys!

  32. Don't ask me what I do, as if bartending or serving is by nature a side job or beneath me. Go find someone who's not busy doing their job to insult while lamely attempting to flirt.

    Also I want to break the face (and neck) of the person who posted this comment to the NYT's list:

    "Waiters should initially be trained with a neck brace so they actually scan the room to see if a table needs assistance. About half the staff seem to go in the dining room and never scan the room. - TonyK"

  33. I want to tie TonyK to a chair and make him wear a neck brace so he has to watch while I do horrible things to his family.

    I think I should probably do a part 2...

  34. Hehe. I'm sure TonyK has no family to speak of, just pseudo socialite circle jerk social latter climbing acquaintances vying for to be the biggest douchebag in all the land.

    And yes, part 2...

  35. If I'm ever in Portland (or you're ever in Mpls, or NYC after this May), I'd like very much to eat good food and drink good drink with you. There is not much I like better in this world than dining with someone who knows and loves food and booze. It's the only thing I splurge on. It makes me giddy just thinking about it. Oh and I've been spoiled rotten! The tragedy of it all is that I'm a terrible cook. Ramble ramble. Feel free not to approve this post... it's a bit off topic. My name is Hadley, from Minneapolis. There aren't many of us.

  36. #25... I once had a customer spit out a piece of beef carpacio in my hand because she had a "garlic allergy" (but wasn't allergic to anything else in the onion family) and could "taste it" even after I assured her prior to this bite that there was absolutely no garlic in it. There wasn't. It was difficult refrain from jamming it back into her face.

  37. It's too bad you refrained.... I would have jammed that shit into her face so hard.....

  38. First I want you to know that I really try to treat all waitstaff as human beings. I do that where ever I go and need to work with anyone in the service industry. Why? Because I was once in the service industry, though not a waitress thank god, and understand how bad it can get.

    On the other hand, there seems to be a common thing that pisses off waitstaff that I do. I cannot stand to have my finished plate in front of me for very long. I'm weird I guess, but I start feeling claustrophobic. So if I can't move it aside I put it on an empty table. I only do this if I've waited for the server to show up for probably five minutes and haven't been able to see or catch them. I wish that the general population, apparently, didn't come to the conclusion that clearing plates from in front of diners who are finished isn't some sort of insult to the diners, or a sign of rushing the diners. Me? I'm way more relaxed when I'm not cornered by a messy plate. :-)

    Also, it concerned me a little when on another blog responding to this 100 server tips thing, a waiter got all pissy when another poster suggested that the waitstaff also ask if the diner would like more water, instead of just pouring it. My whole family get annoyed when waitstaff add more water constantly without asking. We generally don't drink more than a glass full and any more is a waste of potable water.

    These two things seem to be clashing with what typical waitstaff and diners think should be done. Yet, I want to be as kind to our waitstaff as possible. Rock/Me/Hardplace.