Restaurant Pet Peeves

I wrote this blog post 1 year before joining my current company.  I had previously worked in a restaurant when I was in college and I HATED it.  Now, as the General Manager of a restaurant, I read this and it all still rings true for me as a diner. Many restaurant employees are not trained to anticipate guest needs, manage infection control or have authentic manners.  

After 18 years in the hospitality industry, I really struggle to enjoy a night out at a restaurant since so many restaurants aren’t up to my service standards. Let’s talk about service aspects…we’re going to take this from the top:

photo of handshakeImagine entering a restaurant to see a Manager greeting customers by shaking hands one right after the other, he extends his hand out so each guest is obligated to shake his hand and just like that I have a germ milkshake! No one wants a germ milkshake on their hands before grazing on chips and salsa!

Waitstaff…check that all your tables are clean and they aren’t wobbly – fix them before the shift starts…leaning tables are the worst! And don’t forget to wipe down the chairs, grated cheese lid and salt/pepper shakers between each seating. I hate sitting down and having to ask for someone to “tend” to the table. Also, if I am dining alone, please don’t say “just one today” as if you are sorry for me.  Yes, I enjoy eating alone and it’s not JUST me, IT’S ALL ME!

Think about the server bringing said chips and salsa and you are missing waters and silver ware/napkins… I can’t dive into that chip bowl and end up waiting for a drink. Always offer a drink before I ever have the opportunity to eat.

pic of salsa

Waiting for a server to greet me more than 3 minutes is painful, at least stop by my table and say I’ll be with you in just a bit if you need to do so.


If I order a cocktail, wine, etc. bring me a water too.  Oh and don’t forget that paper cocktail napkin if my drink is going to puddle water. It’s a necessity, especially if I am on an outside table with holes in it. Please don’t touch the rim of the glass. I don’t want to drink off of the area you just touched with your possibly dirty hands. If you are bringing a glass of wine, use a tray or hold the glass by the stem.

Smile or at least pretend that you are grateful to have a job and glad I am there ! Look me in the eyes please – it helps me feel connected to you.

Please use your order pad or electronic device, most likely you are going to miss something if you put my order in by memory.order waitress picture

If you mess up, be honest…I understand human error but I don’t appreciate a lie.

Know how I prefer service, a great professional can read and anticipate how I want to be treated. Some guests really only want to chat up a manager if they need service and don’t want to be interrupted.  True hospitality requires some common sense, empathy as well as knowing how to anticipate a guests’ needs.

When bringing my drink or meal to the table, don’t reach over me or in front of any other guests. If I am in a booth, serve the furthest person first and make your way to the outside of the booth.  Deliver food to the female guest first and never auction the food – know who ordered what before delivering!

placesettingBe sure my salad plate is not hot and my entree plate is not cold (unless it is a cold plated entree like an entree salad), plates should compliment the temperature of the item placed on the plate!

Serve all plates at once, and clear them all at once, so that courses come out together. Please don’t bring my entree until I have completed my salad or appetizer.

Always clean under the tables and booths before your next guest is seated. It’s not a great feeling to step on a crayon left behind from the last child at the table.

Do not chew gum, drink or eat in front of guests. Please don’t stick your hands in your pockets or anywhere near your face and hair. If you smoke, be sure there is no evidence of it as your guests don’t want a whiff of that with their filet!

If I am still dining, DO NOT start cleaning up around our dining space.  Dining is intended to be a relaxing experience, be mindful of your private conversations in front of guests.  Kitchen staff must always wear hair nets, hats or something to keep the hair out of my food.

I know there are more little pet peeves for restaurant service…what are yours? Share below!

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