For Bon Appétit, by Christina Chaey.
After working brunch service at a super-busy neighborhood restaurant for a year, I can tell you that for every brunch enthusiast who lives for bottomless mimosas and eggs Benedict, there is a service industry worker who dreads Saturday and Sunday mornings like most people dread going to the dentist. So I crowdsourced advice from current and former brunch servers on the 10 things they really, really want you to know about (almost) everyone's favorite meal.
1. Thou Shalt Not Ask for a Frappuccino
Restaurants don't print out coffee menus for decoration--they're there to let you know what the house policy is on things like coffee refills and coconut milk substitutions. So don't throw a post-four-cups-of-coffee tantrum at your server for tacking $3 onto your bill. If you're ever tempted to go off-menu (your friends can't believe you ordered a mocha frap), don't. Chances are the person making your coffee won't know how to properly make it, or have the same syrups you're used to at Starbucks, because it's not on the menu. And whatever you do, don't opt for the almond milk cappuccino. The stuff doesn't get nearly as creamy and foamy as dairy (or even soy), leaving you with a curdled mess of sadness in your coffee cup.
2. Thou Shalt Not Seat Thyself Before the Restaurant Is Open
When a restaurant says it opens for brunch at 10 a.m., that does not mean 9:45 a.m., 9:58 a.m., or any other time that classifies as "basically 10." Servers, bartenders, and the kitchen often need every last minute to set tables, brew coffee, and prep food for the busy day ahead, and having them all drop everything because you really need to sit down right now is the fastest way to get some serious side eye from all parties involved.
3. Thou Shalt Not Try to Order from the Dinner Menu
At every brunch service, there are always a handful of customers who expect they can order from the dinner menu. Don't be that guy. Restaurant kitchens usually have to change out staff and their mise en place between brunch and dinner service, which means they're not capable of cooking dinner food until, y'know, dinner. Stick to what's on the menu in front of you and try not to give your server a hard time. ("Not even the cheese plate?" No. Not even the cheese plate.)
4. Thou Shalt Not Build Thine Own Brunch Plate
Don't be the person who orders "just bacon, two eggs, and pancakes" without bothering to check the menu first--after all, this isn't a diner. It might not seem like a big deal, but special orders slow down the kitchen while the cooks are already trying to complete all the other food tickets. Plus, whatever you order likely won't come out exactly the way you want it. So save the bacon and eggs for Sunday morning breakfast at home in your PJs.
5. Thou Shalt Not Be An Egg Diva
Eggs are secretly the bane of every brunch line cook's existence. The thing is, you can't really have a brunch menu without at least a couple of egg dishes. But a shocking number of people also seem to not be able to order egg dishes straight off the menu and will read "Poached eggs with hollandaise, spinach, and red peppers on toasted English muffins" as an invitation to get "the poached eggs but instead of poached can I get them over easy and can I get the hollandaise on the side and also I don't like red peppers and don't like English muffins." These are often the same people who are surprised that they didn't get a discount on their bill because they "didn't have the peppers or the English muffin!" (see commandment #7).
6. Thou Shalt Not Treat Bottomless Brunch As Thy Personal Mimosa Firehose
Yes, you paid a whole $30 for that bottomless brunch and you want to get your money's worth. But you also don't want to heckle your server for drinks so often that eventually he/she will "magically" disappear for long swaths of time. General rule of thumb: There should be no more empty mimosa glasses at the table than there are people.
7. Thou Shalt Not Lose Thy Sh*t Over Upcharges
Okay, so most restaurants won't slap you with a $7 charge for a side of avocado. But anytime you're asking for substitutions or a side of something and are unsure if you'll be charged for it, talk to your server before you order. Related: Asking for a sausage-and-egg dish with no sausage will not knock a few dollars off your bill. It's not actually saving the restaurant money to omit that sausage, as everything not used during service will likely get thrown out at the end of the day.
8. Thou Shalt Not Tip Less Because It's "Just Brunch"
Here's the dirty secret of the service industry: No one--really, no one--ever wants to work brunch. Everyone who's ever worked in the biz knows brunch workers have to seriously hustle to keep up with the crush of the daytime crowd, and unless all of your tables are ordering Bloody Marys with abandon, the checks are virtually always smaller than dinner tabs, which also translates to tips. The next time you have a great experience, consider leaving a few extra bucks. (No matter how busy it is, everyone remembers a shitty tipper!)
9. Thou Shalt Not Camp
So you've had your eggs Benny and your two cups of coffee, paid your check, but you still definitely have at least an hour more of "catching up" to do because seriously, how long has it been since we've seen each other?! This is fine if you're dining at a non-busy brunch spot, a.k.a. the weekenders' holy grail. But if you can see a line of people out the door and notice your server has surreptitiously cleared your table of everything but water glasses, it's time to take the catch-up session to a nearby coffee shop.
10. Thou Shalt Not Split Thy Check Between 6 Credit Cards
Nothing slows a server down in the middle of a brunch crush like having to drop everything to run six individual credit cards for one bill. If most people at the table have cash, try to keep the cards to a minimum. Download Venmo already. Your server will thank you.
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