Things that restaurants want you to know

Being raised by restauranteurs, and having spent many nights waitressing at several of my parents’ restaurants, there are some things that I have learned about dining out. Despite rude service that may convince you otherwise, the staff are there to serve you and ensure that you have a great dining experience so that you will come back, and also tell all your friends about it.

Sometimes, as diners, we put ourselves above everyone else, such as the staff and our dining companions. This may end up in an unpleasant experience for everyone involved. Here are some tips or things that you may not have thought about.

Making a reservation is not just about holding a table

If we’re looking to eat out at a popular restaurant, making a reservation is essential to score a table. There’s nothing worse than turning up to your favourite restaurant to find out that you’re going to have to wait for over an hour, or end up traipsing somewhere else for a feed.

However if you know you’re heading out for a meal and where you’re going, it is still worthwhile making a reservation. Doing this means that the restaurant has an idea ahead of time how busy it will be and try to roster on staff accordingly. This will hopefully prevent situations where there are loads of full tables and only one harried staff member on the floor (because the restaurant had no idea that they would be busy!), and all the diners getting majorly annoyed at the length of time needed to have their order or to get their drinks.

Make special requests well in advance

Restaurants understand that there are people with allergies or food intolerances. With notice, they can easily accommodate any special requests that you or your companions may have, including preparation of an alternative meal. However, dropping a special request at the time of ordering, particularly when the restaurant is already in the middle of a busy service, means that errors may happen that can impact your dining experience.

Similarly, if the restaurant is busy and you are trying to order a seafood pasta but without onions, and with more prawns in place of the mussels, don’t be upset if they tell you that it’s not possible. Chopping and changing the standard offering creates more effort for the kitchen staff and more failure points. If you have a genuine allergy, notify the restaurant in advance, otherwise if you’re just a fussy eater, order something else!

If you have to complain, do it politely

If your steak was served medium well instead of rare, or the air-conditioning is way too cold, or you were served a drink that you didn’t order, most restaurants would be horrified that you weren’t enjoying your experience or you were receiving sub-standard service. Therefore, there is no need to make a big drama about it. If you do make a song and dance about it, you’re more likely to make your dining companions feel awkward, and you’ll put the staff in a foul mood, which may affect the rest of your dining experience, and that of others in the restaurant.

The best thing to do if you have a complaint is the politely tell the waitstaff the problem, and politely request an alternative. They will then quickly try to resolve the issue with a minimum of fuss.

Not everyone thinks your kids are angels

Eating out with children can be a joy or a nightmare, depending on how well behaved they are. Parents will no doubt forgive a lot of the nuisances that their kids are causing, perhaps even being completely oblivious to headache that they are causing the restaurant staff or fellow diners.

I’ve seen children running around the dining room or crawling under tables with their legs poking out into the path of waitstaff carrying hot dishes, or yelling loudly at each other, while their parents are either ignoring them or deep in conversation and not realising that their kids were in danger of causing an accident. I’ve seen diners at other tables get up and leave the restaurant because they were sick of kids running around their tables and screaming in their ears.

You may think that butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth, but I can assure you that many restaurants dread having tables of children. If you do dine out with your kids, be sure to keep an eye on them to check that they are not harrassing other diners, the staff, and that they are not posing a safety hazard.

waiter holding tray

What dining tips do you have?

* Image courtesy of BRW

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