A Primer on Restaurant Etiquette

I belong to an online support group called the SITS* Girls.  It is composed of over 10,000 women bloggers who are supporting one another’s efforts to express themselves online.  There was recently a project undertaken to have smaller groups work together to help one another in specific ways.  One of those ways was to invite another member to guest post on our blog.  So in the spirit of “sisterhood” I am presenting to you a post written by Sarita Edgerton.  Sarita blogs at “The Lone Tater.”  She is a home-schooling mother of four who has been blogging for about 2 1/2 years.  She also works part-time as a waitress and this post details her “Pet Peeves of a Waitress.”

I wait tables and when you are assisting others in one of the more intimate times in their day, you see some things that are disturbing.  First off, so many people won’t even look at me when I come to the table.  I am friendly so I say “Hi, I am Sarita and I’ll be taking care of you this evening.  Can I get you something to drink?”  Without even looking up at me, they grunt out a reply, “Tea.”

Ok. I get the drink and return. Then, thinking that they’ll speak to me this time, I ask if they are ready to order or have any questions.  Another grunt of an answer.  Finally, I just give up and have very little interaction at all.  If you are a Grumpy Gus, why in the world would you go to a restaurant?

Another thing: who lets their children run all over a restaurant?  My mother would not have tolerated this kind of behavior from us and I won’t from my own kids.  Some kids are allowed to go all over the place.  Sometimes, they approach other tables, interrupting the meals of the people at that table.  Why can’t they just stay in their seats unless they must go to the restroom?  I don’t know.  I don’t take my kids out to eat.  I just don’t want to deal with the stress.

Something else to think about: wait staff work for tips.  If you don’t want to tip, go to McDonald’s or Burger King.  We make $2.43 per hour.  I don’t automatically add gratuity to your ticket unless you are a large party.  I know that in Florida, the restaurants do that.  Well, if you are at my table, you are not in Florida.  The kind of tip you leave tells me what kind of server I have been.  Fifteen percent is adequate service and 20%+ is excellent.  I have actually heard, “You are the best server we have ever had, ” and then when I get the tip, it is less than 15%.  Your gratitude and compliment will not feed my kids.  I live by the saying that actions speak louder than words so you must have not meant what you said.

Most of you know that I am a Christian.  I have no problem with people leaving tracts with their tips.  I often write “God bless you” on the bill.  But please, for the love of all that is holy, leave a decent tip.  An unsaved server will not appreciate the Gospel when you are less than generous.  Trust me!   They come back and thrust them in my face and say is that what being a Christian is all about?  No it is not!

I love waiting tables.  I have been a school teacher and a sales rep for a fortune 500 company.  I enjoy the job more than any other that I have had.  I am able to do this so I can be a stay-at-home mom and home-school my kids.  Understand that these are just observations not condemnations.  No offense meant, just education!  Bon apetit!

*The Secret is in the Sauce

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  • Sle4life

    Thanks for having me host! It is a pleasure!

  • Aytgim

    It is always interesting to see the perspective from the other side of the table.
    Great guest post Sarita!

  • Aytgim

    It is always interesting to see the perspective from the other side of the table.
    Great guest post Sarita!

  • You’re right. There isn’t a more lousy witness than leaving a tract with a cheap tip. We always tip at least 15% even when we have bad service and obviously more if it’s better. I think it’s terrible when people don’t tip!

  • Anonymous

    I think anytime you work in a service industry you have to deal with all types of people. Fortunately, you can meet some really wonderful people. Of course, you also meet some really *interesting* people, too.

    My daughter worked one year at a fast-food restaurant and that was enough for her. She is such a good employee her boss paid her a premium to come back and work the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday) – but that was it. He would have loved for her to stay on but she just did not want to deal with it anymore. I give you a lot of credit Sarita, for putting up with all you do. Hopefully there are people who do make it (at least somewhat) worth it!

  • Donna Perugini

    I thought 25% was for the excellent wait-person. We’ve left that much when we’re thoroughly impressed by the great service. There are times we have to remind ourselves that you don’t cut the tip if the chef messed up by cooking eggs benedict too long…I hate that.

    Everyone has an off day. Why penalize someone who’s just trying to make a living?

    You come and wait at our table, Sarita, and we’ll tip you good!

  • Retha

    My mom was a waitress for 25 years (my entire childhood +), and her tips built our house. She taught us how to behave in a restaurant, and I have taught my children. Also a helpful tipping rule from her, for a good waitress tip $1 per person, for excellent $2 or more per person at your table. And although bad service is rare, it has happened once or twice, don’t completly hold the tip…
    I think your on to something Sarita, more people need to know what the restaurant dos and don’ts are all about!

  • I have to admit that for the longest time, I just rounded my bill up to the nearest whole number. My parents never “taught” me how to tip. It wasn’t until not too long ago I heard about 15/20% and how much a waitress actually makes. Never had been a waitress, I didn’t know they made so little! Now I add on 15/20% depending on service, THEN round it UP to the next 5/0. If you can’t afford the tip, don’t eat out!

    • Anonymous

      Well, it just goes to show we never know what people have been exposed to. I think this reveals two things…parents need to train their children how to act in many different social situations…and maybe servers shouldn’t always assume their customer is being a jerk. Maybe, like you, they just don’t know!

  • Caren with a “C”

    We’ve always left a 20% tip unless the service was just obviously bad, which hasn’t been very frequent.