I recently talked about difficult diners in the restaurant. If you found yourself guilty of any of those transgressions, it’s OK. A new day and a new restaurant means a new opportunity for a pleasant dinner. Remember, dining out should be enjoyable for both parties—server and guest—and while there might be some dining experiences beyond saving, there are simple things you can do to be a more pleasant human being in general.
Changing your status from a difficult to delightful diner is as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Call ahead
Do you have reservations but you’re running late? Most restaurants understand that traffic, kids and life gets in the way of making appointments on time, but consider this—a reservation IS an appointment. If you’re running late, give the restaurant a quick call to let them know. Often I find the staff so surprised that I called in the first place that they are more than accommodating and pleasant the rest of the meal. A phone call takes you 90 seconds or less, and it’ll spare you the stink eye upon arrival.
2. Keep it clean
Unfortunately this one is really for the kiddos. I get that throwing puffs on the floor is all too fun (I know, I’ve got a little one myself), but when that puff becomes crushed into the carpet, it makes a big mess that might not get vacuumed until service is over. On the extreme end of this spectrum, I once witnessed a child smearing rice and black beans all over the table of a nice dinner establishment. The table, a party of 8 (and adults) watched on in delight.
If you cared less about the mess because it’s the restaurant’s job to clean up, consider this: as a diner would you want to be seated at a table with crushed tortilla chips in the booth? Out of respect for others (and yourself), do the best you can to minimize the mess.
**Restaurateurs, consider adding a commercial floor sweeper to quickly and quietly clean up those messes during service.
3. Don’t be passive aggressive
Few things are more frustrating to a server than a passive aggressive diner. A server spends her time thinking that all is well…she laughed, you laughed…but when the check comes here’s something noticeably absent—a tip. What happened? Did she do something wrong? If you’re unhappy with the service during the meal, voice your concerns to your server. If at that point the server still wasn’t doing her job, then the tip may reflect that. Pretending that all is well only blind side the server with an unexpectedly low tip does little to resolve the issue (which could be larger) at hand.