How to Be a Good Diner (or How Not to Wind Up on ‘Waiter Rant’)

Stock recently ran a story about restaurant service with advice from our friend Steve Dublanica, the former professional wait staffer behind the snarky Waiter Rant blog and author of the book Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip — Confessions of a Cynical Waiter (HarperCollins). In it, he provides some tips for being a good patron, including not treating a restaurant as if it’s a day care center (Clean up after your kids.), not requesting an off-menu dish unless you accept the consequences (It might not taste great.), and refraining from showing up sans a reservation yet expecting the best table in the house (Use OpenTable.).

A few diner don’ts that come to my mind are things I’ve seen very recently. First, don’t ask a waiter to go through the entire menu with you. Use your reading comprehension skills and then ask specific questions. I saw a couple make a very patient server walk them through a five-page menu. It took 15 minutes on a busy Saturday night. This was not Daniel, mind you — just a lovely, unpretentious Mexican restaurant with entrees under $20 apiece. Next, if you have a food allergy, ask if certain ingredients are in a particular dish instead of giving your server a graphic explanation of your allergy. S/he probably doesn’t care, and it’s an overshare. Also, if you’re a picky eater, don’t make a face when the server explains the specials and they sound unappetizing to you. It’s not polite. Finally, if you don’t like your meal, speak up immediately (and kindly). Don’t wait until it’s too late to fix it and then simply rant about it later online. Give wait staff and managers an opportunity to serve you something you’ll enjoy.

What are your don’ts for diners when they’re out at restaurants? What have some of your past companions done to drive your server (and you!) crazy during a meal? Share your suggestions and stories here or on our Facebook.


  1. says

    Don’t treat your waitperson like a friend who wants to chat, but don’t treat them like a servant who’s in need of a beating, either. Treat the waitstaff with the same level (or better) professionalism that they show to you.

  2. says

    I always have a chuckle when travelling through europe when I hear foreigners, who cannot speak the local language, think that if they just speak more slowly and louder then the waiter will suddenly understand your language and accent.

    I think if you are going to a restaurant with non-english menus, even if you are given an english menu, have a go at pronouncing the native tongue dishes. If nothing else, it may give the Staff a chuckle.

    Lighten up. It’s dining out…it should be enjoyable for everyone…even for the people that work there.

  3. Dave says

    It is always a two street, respect on one side will generate respect on the other. Too bad it doesn’t always happen. There are lousy patrons and there are lousy servers that shouldn’t be in the service industry. No matter the profession, the other is still a human being.

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