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Seven hundred things restaurant customers should never do: servers react to Bruce Buschel’s rules for wait staff

Servers are people too, say servers

Well, it was bound to happen. The waiter-baiting, quip-slinging, hair-pulling, soup-spitting fight presently underway over Bruce Buschel’s New York Times blog entry “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do” has spawned numerous knock-off lists aimed at restaurant patrons. The most remarkable thing about the servers’ renditions is that they straddle a line between painfully obvious rules of decorum and mortifying behaviour that we didn’t even know existed. Our full examination, after the jump.

Take Patrick Maguire’s 64-point contribution on the blog I’m Your Server Not Your Servant, which includes “Rule 48: Sending an entrée back after you’ve eaten half of it is one of the oldest tricks in the book” (well, duh) and “Rule 9: Don’t make a reservation for six and show up with a total of four and say, ‘We just wanted lots of room’” (do people actually do this?). Maguire does come off as slightly more with-the-times than Buschel because he considers such things as cellphones and the Internet: “Rule 55: Don’t even jokingly threaten your server with a bad on-line review to curry favour.”

Laura Riley over at The Mouth of Tampa Bay may be less ambitious with her 10-point “Rebuttal: Things Customers Should Never Do,” but she makes up for it with bitterness: “Rule 7: If you want another glass of wine (or the chocolate cake), don’t say, ‘Oh, I shouldn’t’ and drift off, leaving the server to play the role of little-red-devil-on-the-one-shoulder or angel-on-the-other. Wear your big-girl pants and make the decision yourself.”

Over at the Cooking Junkies forum, a thread called “100 Things Restaurant Diners Should Always (Never?) Do” chastises patrons’ paranoia—“Rule 3: Don’t make a mess just because you can. We once went to dinner with someone who insisted on trashing the bread and rolls because ‘I want to make sure they don’t serve them again to another table. It’s the law’”—while a St. Louis Today commenter named Darth Waiter goes after aging women: “Rule 79: Leave Granny at home if she is senile. Don’t embarrass your family and Granny.”

The common threads through all these reactionary lists are that no server seems to like customers who try to upstage the sommelier or who claim to know the owner. Also slammed are bad tippers, those who try to invent menu items, shrill cries from bachelorette parties, people having sex in the washrooms, high-fiving boys on a night out and parents who can’t control their children.

• “100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do” sparks vitriol, praise [Toronto Life]
• Sixty-Four Suggestions for Restaurant Customers [I’m Your Server not Your Servant]
• Rebuttal: Things Customers Should Never Do [The Mouth of Tampa Bay]
• One Hundred Things Restaurant Diners Should Always (Never?) Do [Cooking Junkies]
• One Hundred Things Restaurant Customers Should Never Do (Part 1) [St. Louis Today]
• One Hundred Things Customers Should Never Do [Portland Food Coma]
• One Hundred Things Restaurant Customers Should Never Do [Michael Ferrell]
• One Hundred Things Restaurant Patrons Should Never Do [Yelp]

  • M Wms

    Also of interest: Waiter Rant’s point-by-point responses to the original (in two posts): and

  • Mel

    There are only two things a customer should never do:
    - bother other customers either physically or by being loud
    - throw up

    I know, you’ll probably say you can’t avoid the second one. Well then, be discreet!

  • anna

    As a bartender at an upscale resto I just want to make a plea to all my lovely patrons. Chances are I am busy making cocktails for the rest of the restaurant or serving my guests in the lounge area (who are eating meals and drinking wine). Please don’t bother me for a coffee, cappuccino or tea. That is just the worst. I don’t mind making it for you after you have enjoyed a meal and desert but please dont’ come in and “camp” at my tables for any soft drink. I find this rude. Especially in an upscale environment. The $10 you are going to spend compared to the $100 someone else is spending, isn’t worth my time and frankly their money. Your ridiculous water and tea requests takes more time than make a martini so you really are taking away from a real diners experience. No offense, but if you want the atmosphere of an upscale restaurant and the skill of a professional server/bartender then you are going to have to pay for it.

    It’s a business, please have the sense to respect us. I wholeheartedly invite you to join us when you are ready to order. However, for coffee and tea’s, go visit the Starbucks right around the corner.

  • Japhet

    I’m curious as to why this has devolved into a fight between guests and staff when a large portion of the blame can be laid at the feet of the managers and the owners who hire them.

    Poor performance is a result of bad training (or lack thereof).

    With that in mind, I created a counterpoint to Buschel’s list. Maybe he’ll even read it…

    25 Things Restaurant Owners Should Never Do:

  • Marion

    I am sorry Anna, but you are clearly working in the wrong industry if you think you should treat a customer that spends 10 $ different to one that spends 100$!