What are the top things one can do to make the life of servers in restaurants easier?: originally appeared on Quora: The best answer to any question. Ask a question, get a great answer. Learn from experts and access insider knowledge. You can follow Quora on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
Answer by Brian MacKay, Former waiter and current owner of Tooq Inc.
If you are going to be late, or cannot make it, please call. This lets the restaurant make adjustments to keep all clientele happy.
Don't try and buy your way in when you didn't make a reservation. It shows your entitlement and we'll only be nice to drain your wallet, but really we loathe you.
Be aware of your surroundings while being seated. Staff will work around you, but try and ensure that as you take off coats, and greet your dining companions, etc, that you're not blocking main traffic flows.
- Show up on time for your reservation. This helps the whole operation run smoothly.
When everyone's menus are closed and resting on the table, we know you're ready to order. If asked if you're ready to order, please ensure you really are. Questions are cool, but taking eight minutes to order while I'm chained to your table makes my other customers suffer.
Let us know about any allergies as soon as possible. We don't want anyone rushing to the hospital and letting the kitchen know they'll have a special order coming in lets them get prepared.
Don't tell us you have an allergy when you really you just don't like something. Allergies are serious business and people that lie about them are f***ing despicable. If you really don't like something, just tell us that you really don't like it and we'll oblige.
When finished, simply lay your cutlery together across your plate. This signals that you are finished and the plate can be removed. In fine dining, it is proper to wait until everyone is finished before clearing plates, but feel free to ask for your plate to be removed if you'd rather not wait for chatty Aunt Martha to finish eating.
When possible, try and consolidate requests with your dining companions. This saves rapid repeat trips to the same table and allows us to serve other tables effectively.
If something is not right with your meal, let us know early and we'll fix it. Please don't eat everything and lay the guilt trip. Especially don't eat everything and then ask for it to be comped.
If something is not right with the service, you might play this by ear. A good server should be able to take criticism in stride and thank you for the feedback. You can also ask to speak to the manager and relay your complaint to them. If you do provide direct feedback, keep it civil and constructive. If it's chaotically busy, it's probably best to talk to a manager as I'll be worried about how much more I'm falling to the weeds while you display your unhappiness with my service.
If food is taking forever, it is fine to ask your server for an update. A good server will not hide during these times, but it seems to be pretty much the norm to hide in the back when the BoH gets weeded. Generally, your server isn't empowered to do much but wait. In some establishments, they may be able to provide a round of drinks or something to snack on while you wait.
Kids are for the parents to parent, not us. We're often carrying hot plates, coffee urns full of boiling hot liquid, knives and things that break easily. Please don't let your kids wander in a restaurant, for their safety and our sanity. Quiet and well behaved is good too.
- Don't be afraid to communicate what you would like. If you want a leisurely pace to dinner and prefer that you not be rushed, just say so. If you are in a rush, let us know, but don't put the onus on us to feed you three courses in 20 minutes so you can make the theatre. Let us help you figure out how to get you there on time without going hungry. We'll give you suggestions and do our best. Ideally, we'll read the pacing, but don't be afraid to be explicit.
If presented with a bill fold, ensure when you are ready to pay that the card is visible and close to the edge of the table where we can reach it.
If it nears closing time, you are usually welcome to sit as long as you would like, but if you clear your bill when finished dessert and coffee, your server will love you for it. We can get our cashout done, count our beer fund and then finish cleaning up and you get to enjoy extended conversation without eye daggers stabbing your soul.
- Not such a big deal nowadays (as POS systems have greatly improved), but let us know at the beginning of the meal that you require separate bills. This ensures that we keep everything organized and plan an appropriate amount of time to create the separate checks for everyone.
When splitting a tab between friends, don't be the "Oh guys, there's too much money here. Everyone take some back" person. Everyone pitched what they thought was appropriate, leave it in the pile.
Also, watch the guy that collects the cash and pays with credit card. Seven out of ten times, that guy's not putting it all back. Depending on your perspective, he's either screwing me out of a tip or you out of the tip you thought you left me.
Tips in cash are always appreciated. Many restaurants hold credit card and debit tips anywhere from a day to a month. We understand that not everyone carries cash at all times though.
There are times that 0 tip is appropriate. Not a lot of them, but sometimes.
A server that asks if you would like change deserves to be slapped upside the head. Change should always be brought unless told that no change is required.
A server that fails to break change into a proper tip amount deserves what they get. If you pay a $29 bill with two twenties, and they bring back a $10 bill and a single instead of breaking the ten, they deserve the dollar. They are either trying to rope you into the very large tip, or it's a miracle they have managed to feed and clothe themselves for this long.
Until you can legally make a mortgage payment with religious pamphlets, they are not an appropriate tipping currency. Besides, we're all heathens anyways.
- 15-25% is greatly appreciated and has become the 'norm'. If you don't believe that amount is deserved, or no tip is deserved, an explanation (either verbal or written on the check) is appreciated, but not expected. Some people just don't tip, but overall, it balances out.
Want great service? Add "when you have a minute" or "no rush" to almost any request to a server. Giving the server flexibility to get to something, usually means you'll get treated like gold.
Not one item in this post is a rule. As a guest in a dining establishment, you should feel comfortable and not feel like you have to follow a waiter's playbook to get good service. It's our job, not yours.
- We're all human. Be kind and understanding. It can be a hellish job sometimes, but understanding customers can make those shifts better.
* I realized part way through that I was writing this as if I still worked in the industry, It's been several years since I have, but I guess it still comes naturally.