10 Things Your Server Needs You to Know About Dining in Restaurants Again

Aservice industry veteran has reached out to us with a timely list of reminders for restaurant guests who are keen to get back inside their favourite spots…

In the restaurant industry, we have been forced to adjust to changing Public Health Orders in order to keep ourselves and our guests safe. As you may have heard, since last week we have been allowed to invite diners back inside with the same restrictions that existed before the ‘circuit breaker’ shutdown. We know everyone is keen to visit and support their favourite restaurants, but this is by no means a return to normal. So let us share some ways that you, our guests, can make it easier for all involved…

1. A restaurant is a privately owned space that opens itself up to the public during business hours. It is not a public space like a government building. Appreciate you though we do, you are not entitled to be here.

2. For the time being, please consider masks to be part of a restaurant’s dress code, like a top hat. When we tell you it’s necessary to where one, we really mean it. If you want to argue this point, instead of doing so inside the restaurant, just remember point #1.

3. Please don’t touch things unnecessarily. Keep your hands off counters, other tables, other guests outside your party, and especially staff! Even before the pandemic, touching your server was never okay. You’d think that would go without saying, but…

4. Similarly, never ask your server for personal information. We don’t know if it’s creepy until it’s too late. Never be this person.

5. Please don’t table hop or ask to move tables needlessly. Everything and everyone must be sanitized constantly. This takes time and energy away from serving our guests, which is what we’d much prefer to be doing.

6. Please understand that the Provincial Heath Authority has asked us that we only engage with guests as needed. This totally goes against all of our training and experience of being hospitable. If it doesn’t ‘feel’ like you’re being looked after like you used to, chances are it’s because we’re operating in a pandemic.

7. Right now it remains for everyone’s safety that we still avoid doing three things: refilling water glasses (thereby touching a glass you’ve been touching), reaching between guests to set and clear tables, and chatting for longer than is necessary. These are just some of the rules we must follow right now. They are not discretionary.

8. When you have spare moment, confront your unconscious biases around being served and consider what your expectations are with restaurant service. Not feeling heard or adequately cared for in your personal life does not permit you to project the emotions of that unfulfilling situation onto your server, who should always be treated with patience and respect — pandemic or no pandemic.

9. Tipping remains the best, easiest and most appreciated way to show your gratitude! The current norms are: 20% if you enjoyed everything and feel like everyone cared about you and your experience. 15% tells us that things weren’t perfect, but the effort and intention was there. 10% is a tip from the last millennium, so unless you were born in the 1800s, this is not a tip. And tips over 20%? Well, we will probably remember you forever. Not because of the money, but for the gratitude.

10. Finally, please believe us when we say we are doing our best. The pandemic has been not only difficult for us professionally, but also personally. We navigated and survived it while striving to maintain – for you – an enjoyable environment of responsibility, conviviality and deliciousness.

Thank you for continuing to support the hospitality community in your region. Safe, neutral spaces for people to gather are our specialty, and we hope to continue to host your special occasions!

There are 11 comments

  1. Did the author wish to remain anonymous? I’d like to shake their hand… wait no, I’d like to buy them a drink.

  2. I worked in the industry for over a decade (who didn’t?) and I disagree with #9. Most of the servers I worked with did not have the self awareness to look at themselves and the service they offered if given a sub-par tip. Instead they wrote off the patrons as cheap.

    If something isn’t quite right, let your server know respectfully. This will ensure they understand a lower tip and will allow them to make any changes needed to solve the issue, either for you, or for the next guests.

  3. Tipping is a subject that should be mentioned sparingly, and advise on tipping is subjective. To suggest that 15% is a less than adequate amount does not take into many factors that you overlook. I am a server. As far as I am concerned tipping starts at 0% for indifferent poor service, and goes up from there. If someone appreciated good service, and 15% is what they are financially comfortable, so be it. 10% is a number I may take more issue with if all was good, and the customer seemed happy, but in the end, the lows, and the highs balance out, and we are fortunate that so many people have bought into a very voluntary system. I agree with much of what you put forward , but the discussion of tipping is unnecessary.

  4. If a waitress sounds interested in me, and I am interested in her, are you saying I cannot attempt to ask for her number? If someone is not interested in me, i can tell very easily, and won’t ask for her number, or, the waitress can refuse to give her number to me.

  5. Thomas Verinder,

    Please go back and read #s 6/7 to see if you understand properly what poor service may be in a pandemic. And then read #s 8/10 again. Especially #8. Seems you are just focusing on negative service experience which makes me think you tip 10% a little too often.

    I believe that they meant to imply that 10% is considered baseline 0. If you have not worked in a restaurant then here’s a little break down.

    Industry standard tip out to support staff and kitchen staff is 5% and can go as high as 10%. This is automatic and on sales. Not what is tipped. So a server starts out automatically owing this % to the house. Tipping anything less then 5 or 10 % means a server has now paid for you to dine. This goes for take out as well FYI.

    Mr. Man,

    Chances are you aren’t as good a mind reader as you think you are. Just don’t. 99% of the time just doing our jobs is interpreted as “being into you”. Asking a server at their place of work for personal information is a massive over reach and is creepy. Period.

  6. Can we have a proper discussion about tipping now that the minimum wage for servers has reached parity with other positions?

    How has the tip percentage in restaurants gone up when wages have also gone up? Inflation in food costs (and overall societal inflation) is already inherently reflected in the increased total price pre-tip, so that argument can be put to bed. Can we begin to stop with subsidizing employers’ wages with our own subjectively-assessed, guilt-ridden, compulsory add-on? Tipping is not a transparent, equitable, nor fair system of employment.

  7. A server just trying to get by,

    Have reread, as requested.

    Good service 20%. Poor service 10%.

    If 10% for poor service is not appreciated, 0% it is.