Restaurant etiquette is something that should come naturally or learned through experience. Have you ever watched someone snap their fingers at their server? Have you stood next to a friend silently as they left a pathetic tip for no reason?

Poor restaurant etiquette happens more often than it should and the people with the best restaurant etiquette seem to be those who know what it’s like to work in the service industry. They know the struggle of waiting tables and dealing with testy customers. As someone who has worked in the service industry for five years, I’ll let you in on the do’s and don’ts of dining out.


Below are just four common examples of poor restaurant etiquette and my suggestions for not being “that guy.”

  1. Put the phone down. If you’re taking the time to go out to dinner, enjoy the entire experience. The restaurant is there for you, the customer, and if you’d rather scroll your Facebook feed than enjoy the ambiance, I might forget your Diet Coke. It’s sad to see a couple more infatuated with their iPhones than spending quality time with the person sitting across the table from them. There’s plenty of time to look at your phone; I think you could pause Candy Crush for 45 minutes.
  2. Engage in conversation with your server. There’s nothing worse than greeting a table with a smile and receiving silence and blank stares. I can’t read minds and right now I think you hate me. Life can be serious enough, enjoying a night out doesn’t have to be. Something so simple as a smile can improve your overall experience in a big way and who knows, you might have something in common with your server you could talk about. It’s the little things that make a difference.
  3. Think twice before complaining. If your meal comes out wrong, let your server fix it, it’s their job. Pouting and saying, “It’s fine,” and eating the whole meal won’t make anybody happy. If your food is taking what seems to be too long, consider the time of day you’re eating out and how busy the restaurant at the time. If it is a Friday night at 8 and the place is packed, your entrées may easily take 30 minutes. Relax; everything is going to be OK. Order another drink to make the wait go by faster.
  4. Tip appropriately, not ignorantly. Servers survive off the tips they make, not the $4 they make an hour. A good rule of thumb for leaving a tip is to double the first digit of the total and leave that. If your check comes to $25, leave $5 to round up a bit. There’s no reason to leave a 10 percent tip unless you’re from a country where tipping is included in the check’s total or there was something seriously wrong with your experience. A poor tip is a slap in the face for the server. I repeat, tip appropriately, not ignorantly.

So next time you go out to dinner enjoy the experience, smile, put the phone away and communicate effectively with your server because remember, they are the ones handling your food.

That Guy

That Guy