How Do You Behave In Nice Restaurants?

I truly enjoy eating at a nice restaurant. After a lifetime of cooking, it’s a real treat. The “eating out” experience is so much different today than when I was growing up. I don’t recall our family eating out until I was in my mid-teens. Oh sure, we stopped at The Spot for an occasional hotdog and root beer float, but that was a summer treat and the food was eaten outdoors at their picnic tables.

It’s not that we didn’t have “fancy” meals where we learned the proper placement and use of silverware and cloth napkins and other table manners. That’s what Sunday dinners were all about. But many of today’s families are able to expose their children to nice restaurants at a much earlier age. For the most part, I don’t observe terrible table manners among diners when I eat out. Do you?

Waiter RantSteve Dublanica would disagree with me. He’s a professional waiter at high-end restaurants in New York City and the author of an interesting book: Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter. I don’t spend every day in restaurants so I should probably take Mr. Dublanica’s word for it, but he seems to encounter an amazing amount of rude and badly mannered people. He does admit to being cynical so perhaps he notices the rudeness more than I do.

Reading this book opened my eyes to the business side of a restaurant. Many nice restaurants seem to operate on very tight budgets, long hours, poor physical conditions, and for the wait-staff, rude and overly demanding customers. Misbehaving customers is probably the main theme of the book. I couldn’t help but think of my own behavior as I read the book. Has my behavior been offensive to waiters?

As the author related example after example of customer rudeness, I was horrified. I’d like to think the author is overlooking all the well mannered people who visit. In the back of the book are a few appendices. One of them a list of tips on how to be a good restaurant customer. Here are a few:

  • Always make reservations, especially on the weekend. Then keep the reservation
  • Don’t whine about the table.
  • Don’t snap you fingers to get the waiter’s attention.
  • Make your waiter go through the specials only once.
  • Don’t order off the menu. It forces the restaurant to make something they don’t normally cook well.
  • Cultivate a restaurant and it’s staff with good behavior and frequent visits if you want to be treated like a regular customer.
  • Don’t aggressively grab a waiter or bus person.
  • Don’t monopolize the waiter’s time.
  • Pay the check within five minutes of receiving the bill.
  • Don’t ask for separate checks at the end of the meal.
  • Tip at least 15 to 20%. Tip 20% to a favorite waiter. A 25% tip should be saved for special occasions or extraordinary service.

Although I was horrified at some of the examples of poor behavior in this book, I must say that it was a fun book to read. The author has a nice way of poking fun at himself and he wrote a well organized analysis of the restaurants he worked for. Overall, I recommend you check it out.

Warning: There is a plethora of f and other four-letter obscenities in this book.


I’m linking this post to Weekend Cooking. You can find more Weekend Cooking  posts at Beth Fish Reads.


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13 Responses to How Do You Behave In Nice Restaurants?

  1. Beth F says:

    I remember seeing the title of this book somewhere or other and thought it sounded interesting. Your review caught my attention. I’ll have to add this to my wish list. I can only imagine some of the things waiters have to put up with.

  2. Ha! I think I’d like this and am currently reading a novel set in the restaurant industry covering similar themes….Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler, which is terrific so far.

    Also saw you’re reading Lucy Barton, which I loved too!

  3. My first job ever was waiting tables and I encountered very few rude or demanding customers, even when I was new and kind of bungling at it. Of course, I didn’t work at a fine restaurant like that but, still, just about everyone I waited on was kind and polite. I do know the restaurant business is a tough one. Having said all that, I think I’d like to read this book.

  4. Claudia says:

    I think he had a blog with that title for awhile there, maybe a few years ago? I remember it was pretty funny.

  5. This sounds interesting. I’ve never really noticed horrible behavior either but both my girls have waited tables at different times and they have some stories to tell! I think the bulk of people are generally pretty decent but the ones that aren’t take bad behavior to whole new levels!

  6. Wait staff are treated pretty well in NZ – we are a small country so odds are your waiter is the child of someone who you know! We don’t have a culture of tipping at all – which makes travelling abroad a challenge! Have a great week. Cheers from Carole’s Chatter

  7. mae says:

    That’s a one-sided view: the waiter’s view, not the customers’. A couple of those don’t strike me as ok. If they give you the bill to hurry you out, I don’t see why you should pay it before YOU are ready to leave. And _insisting_ that you reserve isn’t very customer-oriented either. Sounds like an interesting book, though.

    best… mae at

  8. jama says:

    Wow, this book sounds really interesting! It would be good to get an insider’s POV. In general the people I’ve noticed in restaurants aren’t rude, and we try not to piss the wait staff off, for fear of them sabotaging our food in some way before serving it.
    The weirdest thing we experienced was an Easter Sunday lunch, when a couple was arguing very loudly at a nearby table. This was clearly disturbing all the other customers, but the wait staff didn’t do anything until my husband asked them to talk to the couple. The couple stormed off without paying. Now I think it was a ruse — they probably did this everywhere they went to get free meals.

  9. For the most part, we’ve had very good experiences in nice restaurants. But we did watch very bad behavior mess up the entire room on one memorable occasion. The rest of us felt sorry for the wait staff, so we didn’t make it worse by complaining. Still, we paid a lot of money for a nice evening out that wasn’t nice at all.

  10. Although I have not ever worked at a restaurant myself, I have been in retail and quick service enough to have witnessed some very bad customer behavior so I can see why restaurant workers would have need to rant.

    I’ve heard of this book and it does sound pretty interesting–thanks for sharing. 😉

  11. Tina says:

    I very much enjoyed that book, read it years back and I always meant to see if he wrote a follow up. Love the part about Russell Crowe visiting the restaurant.

  12. This definitely looks like a book I would enjoy.

  13. I picked this up as a kindle daily deal not too long ago. Think I’m going to love it!

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