AdviceHey, Bonita!

A Self-Proclaimed Server’s Slightly Suspect Guide to Dining Out in Athens

Dear Bonita,

My humble offering to local Athens restaurants. For the servers/staff:

  • When I enter, please acknowledge my presence by greeting me and thanking me for choosing your restaurant. It’s rude to stand behind a podium and stare and wait for me to approach you.

  • Look me in the eye when you speak, no matter my gender or race, and do so clearly and with confidence. While I might remind you of the parent you have a problem with, you, for the moment, are paid to put this aside.

  • A restaurant is instantly defined by its manager. Clean and attentive staff means the manager cares more about being a boss than a friend to his employees.

  • Don’t leave my food at the counter under the lights while you take other orders, or worse, while you are on your phone! Hot food equals a good tip.

  • If this isn’t a full-service restaurant, and you aren’t coming to my table a half-dozen times, don’t expect 20 percent for dropping two plates on the table while I get my own drink.

For the patrons:

  • Leave the tip in cash, even if you pay the bill by a card. Servers have to wait for the account to settle, and this way I get my cash at the end of my shift.

  • Small kids mean a higher-percentage tip. Do you like to clean up after your children at home for free? Neither do I.

  • I make around $2 an hour, and you are supposed to make up the difference by tipping. This arrangement is implicit, and you agree to it when you open the door. Do your part, and I’ll do mine.

  • Please sit your ass where I put you. There’s a reason why you are there and not by the window, the least of which is fairness to the other servers.

  • Yes, just because the bill is high, the tip percentage stays the same. Don’t cheap out and cap at a certain dollar amount. By the way, no one tips 15 percent anymore for full service; it’s usually 20 percent or more.

I’m sure there’s more, but this is a start, so we both can get what we want when we eat out in Athens!

There is no way you’re currently a server. You contradict yourself many times between these two lists, like relating the server’s tip to the amount of times they come to your table. Then, in your second list, you make it clear in two different bullet points that the customer is obligated to tip due to the nature of the server/customer relationship. You might have been a server at some shitty Shoney’s back in the ’90s, but you’re obviously not now if you’d be willing to skimp on a tip because you had to get your own drink.

Get real: You are the nightmare customer. You’re the person who comes in with a party of 25 during the dinner rush. You’re the person who expects your meal to be free because you had to wait 20 minutes when the kitchen was slammed. You’re the person who tells some arbitrary story about your job at that dump of a Shoney’s as you walk out, refusing to pay because of the most minor of transgressions.

Servers are not infallible, but you can ease your frustrations with what you deem to be bad service by being a better customer. Be patient, be kind, and communicate clearly with the server. Shorten your wait time by knowing what you want when you sit down, then order all of your meal at once when they walk up to take your drink order.

If you have a large group, call ahead. If you need a refill, wave politely to your server, and they’ll make their way around to you. You’re not the only customer in the restaurant, and they have lots of other tasks to complete beyond just “dropping two plates on the table.” If you expect to be treated like royalty at Rafferty’s, you should work on your self-esteem.

Need advice? Email, use our anonymous form, or find Bonita on Twitter: @flagpolebonita.


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