I eat out way too frequently, and as such, am an expert in how to treat waitstaff. And I know, this is going to vary for the international readers, especially when it comes to the whole tipping thing, but bear with me.
Treating waiters well is the key to a stellar dining experience. They control the flow of food and drinks, they are the masters of all in a restaurant. You wouldn’t think that treating a waiter well would be super hard but you see some things when you are out. Maybe you don’t get to go out often and the concept is foreign to you, or maybe you struggle with talking to strangers, or have trouble giving orders, that’s where I come in. Notes on this very topic can be found below.
Setting a rapport
Once a host has seated you, your waiter will introduce themself and run through the specials. This is a great time to make sure that the waiter knows that you are ready to have a good time.
Tell some jokes, flirt a little, be as punny as possible. If comedic banter isn’t your jam, go with physically comedy, chopsticks as walrus tusks, fork into the hidden ketchup packet, that kind of thing. Waiters love a lively bunch, sets the tone for the entire meal.
Be careful not to use your best material up front; you are in for the long haul, so you’re going to need to refresh when you decline the dessert menu.
When your tea runs low – or you need a fork to replace the fork that’s been stabbing those lovely little ketchup packets – you have to get the waiter’s attention. They are busy folks, running from table to table between smoke breaks, so be patient and polite.
One of the better ways to grab the waiter’s attention is to snap your fingers at them as they carry a tray past you. If they don’t hear you, give them a shout or a pat on the bottom and a wink. If you are wary of grabbing ass (because that doesn’t always fly with a jealous significant other) just get up and walk over to wherever they are and tell them what you need.
Occasionally, your waiter will be out of sight and you will be desperate for a napkin. Go ahead and get up; grab it yourself.
Customizing the menu
Restaurants exist for your pleasure. If you don’t like whats on the menu, ask them to make you something different. Take the pickles off your sandwich, add mayo to your burger, exchange a salad for fries, these are things that every restaurant is willing to do for you. Your waiter is on this. Don’t let the farm-to-fork, locavore joint tell you they don’t carry coconut milk for your latte, the grocery store is just next door, you tell your waiter you know that.
Sending it back
Once you’ve changed your pizza to gluten-free, sans cheese or meat, and loaded with olives, if it’s not exactly as you imagined, send it back to the kitchen. Your waiter will totally understand and will tell the kitchen exactly what you need.
If your olive cracker comes back out unsatisfactory, send it back again, this time request the menu pizza and make sure the waitress knows that you aren’t paying for this fiasco. They will happily relay your message to the kitchen again.
Because your waiter wants a decent tip so they can go out drinking after their shift they will do everything to please you. Tipping doesn’t have to be a guessing game for them, make it a real game.
They know that every returned plate or empty glass is a tick against their evening fun, so make it a game, place a pile of bills on the table at the beginning of your meal and put one back in your pocket for every infraction, keep them on their toes.
If the flirtation you used to set your rapport was green-lighted, don’t leave a monetary tip, leave your number and a statement about just the tip, money is nothing when true love is at stake, no one knows that better than the waitstaff of a white table clothed joint.
There is one place you don’t have to worry about leaving a tip: your regular spot. The waitstaff doesn’t have to work very hard if you come in and order the same thing for breakfast everyday and the coffee probably doesn’t taste all the good, even if your cup is always full.
“And if you’re just going to stay and drink, you might as well get the fuck out.”
I cannot take the credit for my final words. They came to me from a waitress that I encountered this evening while out with ten other women. This waitress was wise. We should be so lucky to encounter folks like her when enjoying ourselves.