Here’s What Restaurant Servers Notice About You When You Eat Out

When you walk into a restaurant, you probably notice how friendly the hosts and servers are, what the atmosphere is like, what types of dishes are on the menu, and who else is eating there. But you’re not the only one paying attention to your surroundings. The restaurant server will also likely assess you and find out what kind of dining guest you will be.

“(Being a server) teaches you how to read people’s behavior quickly,” Kelly Ennis, who was a server for about 15 years, told Talk News. “You can tell when you walk up to the table whether they’re in a bad mood, whether they’re in a rush… It’s (all about) understanding body language and developing rapport quickly.”

We asked longtime restaurant servers what they observe about their guests when they eat out and why it matters to their jobs.

They observe how you respond when they introduce themselves.

When your waiter first comes to your table, do you stare at the menu with your arms crossed? Do you stop what you are doing and listen to them?

“There were people (who) came in … and barely recognized you and couldn’t remember what you looked like,” recalled Chuck Anderson, who was a server for about 20 years. He says even just calling your server by name and saying “please” and “thank you” is enough.

“To me, the biggest indicator that someone will be friendly, or at least nice, is eye contact,” says Darron Cardosa, a former server of about 25 years and blogger for The Bitchy Waiter. He says customers often don’t realize how simple actions like these can improve the relationship between them and their servers.

They can tell a lot about the dynamics at your table.

When you sit down at your table, servers usually pay attention to who you’re dining with, explains Simon K., who has about six years of serving experience.

“Are those two friends? Is this a date? … You can find out those things just by talking to the guests and finding out why they are there,” he said.

If there are children at the table, Simon tries to determine how well behaved they are: “You don’t know how lax the parents are in keeping the kids seated or letting them run around the restaurant, or how dirty the kids are. under the table there will be.”

Paying attention to details like these can help servers gauge how much attention each table needs, how to space orders, how long cleanup will take, and what the overall bill will look like.

Another very interesting observation for servers: how you treat others at your table.

“If someone belittles their partner, their date, or their children, you don’t have much hope that they will treat you better,” Cardosa says.

They pay attention to the right way you order.

Requesting reimbursement and splitting the check is usually acceptable. But a request like this should be logical, Cardosa explained.

For example, asking to replace a cheap material with an expensive one is probably not going to happen.

“You can’t just say, ‘I don’t want tomatoes, but can I just have shrimp,’” he said. “This is definitely an additional expense.”

And when it comes to splitting the check, “if someone wanted to… split bottles of wine three ways and… appetizers two ways and then appetizers four ways, that would be very confusing,” Simon said.

Excessive requests like this can make you come off as entitled or inconsiderate.

They will understand if you have poor time management.

“There’s a saying that goes, ‘Your lack of time management is not my problem.’ … That’s how I feel about people rushing things,” Cardosa said.

When he worked in Times Square, he often had customers come in and say they were in a hurry to get to a show.

“You know the show is at 8 p.m. “It’s not my responsibility to put your food ahead of other people’s because it’s already 07.15 and you’ve just arrived,” he said.

Another example of poor time management: When customers show up at a restaurant minutes before it closes, even though they know it will close soon.

“The last thing you want… is to have (a last minute table) order three dishes and then stay for two hours,” Simon shares. “Working in a restaurant is truly the most tiring job…people want to go home.”

Don't even think about snapping your fingers to get their attention.

Klaus Vedfelt via Getty Images

Don’t even think about snapping your fingers to get their attention.

They CANNOT judge how you treat them based on your appearance.

Whether customers are dressed in full suits or wearing grungy T-shirts and shorts, servers told Talk News that you never know how they will treat the waiter, how much they will spend, or how much tip they will give based solely on appearance .

In fact, Ennis remembers one of his regular customers appearing rude because of his appearance, but he was actually one of the best tippers.

“(I have learned to) never judge a book by its cover,” he said. “This may be the best book you will ever read.”

The most important thing for servers to pay attention to: Are you treating them with respect?

If you ignore your servers every time they come to your table or yell at them to prepare food and drinks faster, they will probably feel unappreciated.

“We’ve always had the mindset… ‘I’m the server, not your waiter,’” Anderson said. “I think (customers) need to remember that this is a lot of people’s livelihood… And being aware of who you’re (serving) and giving a little grace will allow you as a customer to have a better dining experience.”

Leave a comment