Be a Good Customer

I thought of this blog post the other day when I was I working both Sunday and Monday night.  I always have to work Sundays and Mondays but this week was especially rough because of the holiday.  My normal shift is 3-11:30 (or so) on Sunday and 5:30 – 11:30 (or so) on Monday.  However, I had the joy of getting to work at 3 on Monday and basically having no real bbq joy.  I know that isn’t the real reason for the day, but as a guy who works two jobs already, I would like to have a full holiday where I don’t have anything to do.  Ultimately, if I have to spend a lot of time at work, I want to have a good time with good customers; however, that really doesn’t seem to be the case when you have customers who seem to not really understand proper etiquette when it comes to eating out.  I figured it was about high time I let everyone know what it takes to be a good customer.  I’m not assuming anyone who reads this is a bad customer or anything, but I need a place to vent and this is it.  So, if you have never thought of a few of these issues before, here are a few things that get on this employee’s nerves when it comes to trying my best to take care of you.

Children – We have the joy of being considered a family restaurant.  It’s really not all that bad.  We get some pretty large groups of people who come in and rack up some pretty high bills.  This of course helps to make for some hefty tips.  Unfortunately, this also means that we have a lot of little ones running around.  I don’t mind kids, I’m a teacher after all, but I don’t like having to play parent while you enjoy your meal.  Pay attention to your kids.  If they get up and start running around the restaurant be a good parent and get them to sit down and be still.  If you can actually manage that, you then need to try to make sure they aren’t yelling, screaming, or banging on everything.  There are people without kids eating in the restaurant too, and they don’t want to feel like it’s feeding time at your household.  If your child starts to cry or have a hissy fit, you need to take care of it.  I don’t care if you haven’t finished your country fried steak or peanut butter bacon burger; you need to take them outside and make things right.  Finally, if you have a child who likes to throw food everywhere, you need to clean it up.  If for some reason you don’t feel that is your responsibility, you need to tip extra for us literally having to sanitize the entire area before we can seat that table again.  Yes this even goes for if you end up sitting on the patio.  There are no wild animals on the streets of DC that will come along and clean up after you.

Ordering Food and Drinks: I understand you want things a certain way when you go out; however, it is nice if you actually have knowledge of what those things are before you tell me you are ready to order.  I make sure to ask if you are ready to order before I actually stand there and listen to you. There is nothing worse, especially when I have other tables to check on, than standing there listening to you discussing options.  If you’re not really ready, you can feel free to tell me to come back in a few minutes.  Additionally, if you ask for 5-6 different changes to a food item, understand that it may be hard for the little immigrants working in the back to understand everything that you wanted altered.  Also, a mistake in the kitchen doesn’t mean I screwed something up.  It means the kitchen did; therefore, you don’t need to take it out on me or my tip.  We normally comp your food or get you a new one, so you need to calm down.  Finally, if you order a drink you’ve never heard of before, don’t you dare get mad when you realize you don’t like it.  It’s great that you love Mad Men, but I don’t care if you though an Old Fashioned would be something sweeter or more delicious.

Common courtesy: We are human beings too, and I understand you may work for some big government agency; however, I like to be treated like one of God’s creatures as well.  I don’t always want to stand in front of you and take your order, but I show up with a smile on my face.  You want me to provide you with a service, so if you want the best possible service from me, you can smile right back at me too.  If you’re having a bad day, I am not the one you take that out on.  We don’t really have to come into too much contact; therefore, we should try to make it the most positive relationship possible.  This also means you need to realize we want to go home as well.  If you show up at 10:25 and we close at 10:30, you need to go down the street to the next option.  I understand you really want your milkshake or meatloaf, but I work two jobs and want to go home to my wife.  I’ll tell you the kitchen is open for another 5 minutes; however, that is not a time where you should high-five that you made it in time.  You don’t know what those people working there have going on in their life, and I know they aren’t high-fiving that they got one more customer after they already got a head start on cleaning up the kitchen.  I’m sure you’re not excited when something gets dropped on your desk five minutes before you head home.

I would trust I don’t have a lot of readers who struggle with some of these issues, but I need a place to vent.  Even if you’ve screwed up in one of these areas before please keep these issues in mind from now on.  Thanks for listening to my ranting!



  1. My wife & I work with kids, but we don’t have any of our own. With that said, we have often thought that restaurants should take their pre-existing smoking sections & turn them into Family Zones. Now hear me out: the ENTIRE zone could be covered from floor to ceiling in the heavy-duty vinyl with a drain in the middle. At the end of the night, servers need only to power-wash the entire section. Also, this area can be sound-proofed And filled with balls like one giant ball-pit for the kids. Finally, families sitting in this section automatically get a 20% gratuity added to their bill. I’m still working on the patents for my ideas. 😀

    • Yeah I’m definitely okay with the kids only section. I don’t want to come off as hating kids, but I am blown away by parents who just want to neglect their kids despite the fact that they are in a public place. We had one kid who started carving in to the table and all the parent did was apologize. There was no effort to pay for it or even discipline the kid. It was more like, “Bah, at least it’s here and not my kitchen table”.

      • Oh definitely! Everyone gets a chance but if they blow it, Family Zone for them until their children are 22! (There will be a Wall of Shame!)

    • Please don’t make me sit in your Family Zone. I already tip at least 20%. I pick up food Maddy drops on the floor (or even on the table), and she is swiftly removed if she gets too loud. Can I get some sort of exemption, or something?

      • As a good parent I am willing to take you in the adult section. I don’t want to come off as saying all parents do this, but I do notice it an awful lot. I think I blame it on a lack of interaction with their kids. Some of these parents, you can tell, never need to actually interact with their kids. It’s like, “oh no the nanny or mommy isn’t around. How do I get my child to behave?” The restaurant is on Capitol Hill so I think a lot can be blamed on a total lack of contact some of these parents have with their kids. Plus, I think the other half of bad parents read a book or something on how saying no or disciplining their kids is bad. Drives me crazy! Thanks for being a good parent. I’d get you an extra beer for that!

  2. For me the issue of kids has always been give and take. If I’m in a “family” restaurant and some kid is being loud and fussy I don’t mind. Usually other patrons (with kids) are not so much annoyed as relieved that it’s not their child acting up. But if I’m at a more upscale place dropping $ on a meal, then I don’t want kids and will award you extra jackass points for bringing a kid to a place like that anyway.

    But all that is with the understanding that THE CHILD IS IN HIS/HER SEAT. Nothing annoys me more than a kid running around some place while his parents talk with no concern about the disruption the kid is being to fellow dinners.

    As for drinks it’s sad you can’t do what the craft bars around me do – tasters. Most of them have on the menu “We will gladly give you a taste of anything to try, but once you order a beer you are responsible for the cost”.

    • I’m mostly blown away by parents who let their kids just cry and scream without caring. I don’t mind that they are going to bang or be slightly louder than other patrons, but there has to be a ceiling where you realize you are the focus of everyone’s attention. I think for me it’s allowing your kid to throw stuff everywhere and then just leaving it. I should be able to charge you a clean up fee for that one. The drink thing only frustrates me on the level of mixed drinks. We only have two beers on tap so that is easy. I don’t care that someone once ordered a drink and you heard the name. If you don’t know the ingredients you’re probably not going to like it.

      • I agree that there is a difference between being noisy and an air raid siren. I too have seen parents just let a kid wail without doing something about it.

        I see your point on the mixed drink thing. Still, common sense (and I realize sometimes that does not get to be applied in these situations) should prevail. If the bartender makes the drink properly, and you don’t like it, tough on you, pay up. I know some friends who are more cocktail people who have just taken to asking the bartender, “How do you make your so-and-so” just to verify that they and the bartender are talking about the same drink. I always roll my eyes when I hear someone after taking a sip of a drink shout, “What did you put in this? That’s not how my bartender makes them!” Only to find out “their bartender” is 5 states away.

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