Most people enjoy dining out for various reasons, including the opportunity to try new flavors, interact socially and avoid cooking and cleaning up at home. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the first time in history, between 2015 and 2016 Americans spent more money at bars and restaurants ($54.857 billion) than they did on groceries ($52.503 billion). Canadians, too, are dining out more often. A Dalhousie University survey found that nearly 42 percent of Canadians either buy ready-to-eat meals or dine at a restaurant once or twice a week, while another 3 percent admitted to doing so on a daily basis.
Dining out puts customers in direct contact with the people who make restaurants run like clockwork and most notably, food servers. While big tips are a great way for diners to express their gratitude to their servers, there are other ways to show thanks.
Make a reservation and arrive on time. When a reservation has been made, make sure all members of the dining party arrive on time. A punctual arrival helps the restaurant run more smoothly, especially if it is a large party. If you will be running late, call the restaurant and notify them.
Let needs be known early on. If you’re rushing to make it to a movie, let the server know that time is of the essence so service can be expedited. If you prefer to lounge, ask to be seated in an out-of-the way spot.
Only signal the server when you’re ready to order. Do not call the server over if you need to continue perusing the menu.
Be courteous to the server and fellow customers. It is important for all customers to wait their turn and avoid interrupting waiters when they are taking other customers’ orders. In addition, allow servers to mention the specials before ordering.
Alert staff to food allergies when ordering so that the kitchen can be notified that a special order will be coming in. This enables everyone to be prepared and reduces the risk of someone getting sick.
If something is not right with the meal, mention it early so it can be remedied. Do not eat an entire meal before filing a complaint with the server.
Recognize that servers have nothing to do with the wait time for a table. Do not take your frustration out on the server if it takes awhile before you’re seated.
Clean up after yourself and children. If your party makes a big mess or a child gets sick or spills something, make an effort to clean up the table.
Consider the bigger picture when deciding what to leave as a tip. Servers have no control over the quality of the food, wait times or even the atmosphere. Take up issues with the management and make sure the tip reflects the job done by the server.
Restaurants require a lot of moving parts working together to make service efficient. Customers can do their part by being courteous and respectful toward the staff.