Ten rudest things servers and bartenders do to guests to make them wish they'd never come in

Categories: Behind the Bar

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As a service-industry lifer/professional, I loved Lori Midson's list of the "Ten rudest things things customers do to make servers wish you'd never come to their restaurants." Over the course of my 27-year career in service, I've seen examples of all of her top ten...and more.

But what really gets to me is when people in my industry treat guests like they're doing the guests a favor by taking care of them. In my opinion, the hospitality starts with us regardless of the attitude or actions of our guests. It is our job to turn any poor treatment around; that's what we are here for. So I came up with my own list, of the ten rudest things that servers/bartenders do to make guests wish they'd never come into their restaurants:

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10. Not focusing on the guest in front of you.
I know servers/bartenders are supposed to have eyes on the whole room -- but that only applies when you are away from your guests. To maintain hospitality while at a table, you must make those guests feel like they are the only ones in the room; your focus must be completely on the people in front of you. Looking at other tables while waiting on another gives the impression that you are disinterested, and that those guests are not as important as someone else. Save your scanning eyes for when you step away. And on a related note, it is rude for other servers or managers to interrupt you while you are at a table, taking orders.

9. Being too familiar.
I am all about getting to know your guests and building a relationship, but joining in conversations uninvited or talking about yourself without being asked is just plain wrong. My wife and I once had to sit at a local restaurant for twenty minutes while our food got cold and our server told us about her experiences in Lebanon....all because we ordered hummus. If guests ask your opinion or ask about you, that's fine -- but keep your answers interesting and keep them brief. The experience is about the guest, not about you.

8. Sitting down on the job.
This one happened to me just last week. My wife and I went to a Denver restaurant for brunch. When we walked in the door, the hostess was sitting in the waiting area. She got up begrudgingly, grabbed some menus and took us to a table. We felt like we were inconveniencing her by showing up. After we'd been seated and didn't see a server for at least ten minutes, I walked back up to the lounge/waiting area (where another host and two servers had since joined her) and asked if we could order. Her response? "Oh, I figured someone would have seen you by now." Brilliant. Employees should not be sitting down in view of their guests; it gives them the impression that taking care of them is an inconvenience. Break time should be somewhere in the back of the house.

7. Being on the phone/texting.
Sometime last year, at a bar that will remain anonymous, a bartender walked up to us with his cell phone in hand, actively texting. "Hi" he said, barely looking up from his phone, "What can I get you?" My response? "I could text you our order if that would make it easier for you..." That seemed to wake him up, and he put his phone away, startled. Then he took our order. This is a severe example, but I see variations all over town. I love it when I can see a phone lighting up in someone's apron while he's taking our order. That's s just plain rude -- leave it in your locker or bag.


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78 comments
Sterling Meeks Isatool
Sterling Meeks Isatool

My butt doesn't hurt anymore FYI. Poker party at my house Friday. My mom doesn't know Ssshhhhh

Aldo Covarrubias
Aldo Covarrubias

yeah, specially hipsters that hate their server, burrito making, bar tending jobs.

Miri Plough
Miri Plough

You're still a fucking jerk. RaeLynn was right. also, maybe incite a conversation with something that's true instead of making up some idiotic comment. How's that tasting you self righteous dick????

Justin Jordan
Justin Jordan

I would love an article now telling people the ten rudest things customers do. This whole article in satire. Ha

Carlos Murillo
Carlos Murillo

Jesus, everyone needs to calm the fuck down. You're an idiot if you think that servers or employees can't be the rude or obnoxious ones (and no, I'm not one of those assholes who doesn't tip or hits on the chicks--I usually get into better conversations with them than 99% of others do *and* tip way above average). Yes, it's almost always the customers causing trouble, but if you think it's impossible to fault a server then you need to reevaluate your views on people.

Kristen Marie
Kristen Marie

Yeah it doesn't even make any sense. I was in the restaurant industry my entire life. My dad was a bartender turned bar owner. I, myself, have done a few of these things maybe once or twice. I know how to give incredible service and 99% of the time I have. I have worked while sick, hungover, during family emergencies and for the 6 months my father was dying of cancer. And I'm sorry, sometimes, you are not my 100% priority and sometimes that will show. However, I'd love to come to your place of business and make sure that you're 100% on the top of your game every second of the day. And then write a list and complain about all of the horrible things you did.

Jason Wagner
Jason Wagner

Someone upset you don't get five star service at Denny's?

Covana
Covana

This guy really needs to take himself less serious and possibly start cooking more at home.

Peter William Goodwin
Peter William Goodwin

You can keep quoting that one part of the article, but it isn't changing the tone or point at all.

Mariah Salazar
Mariah Salazar

Whoever wrote this is clearly not in the industry. Most of these things aren't true at any normal restaurant

bondadprevalece
bondadprevalece topcommenter

My biggest pet peeve re: #2 is when the FIRST thing a host or hostess says is "Reservation?" It makes me want to turn around and go. Your restaurant is half-empty on a weeknight, and that's the thing you're greeting people with?

Kay Dirling
Kay Dirling

Yeah, but he's saying don't embarrass them. As he said, if you repeat it back correctly, that's educating them without making them feel ignorant.

Kay Dirling
Kay Dirling

Oh, you can complain about table 22. People can be dicks no matter how awesome your service is. Just don't do it in front of other customers! Be professional, is what he's saying, and I agree 100%.

Kay Dirling
Kay Dirling

I worked in a restaurant for over a decade. He is spot-on. Any one of these things is terrible service.

Kay Dirling
Kay Dirling

Vent to a coworker in private. Check your phone away from the table. His remarks are about people who do these things in front of customers - which is rude. Period.

Alexis Renee N
Alexis Renee N

Dumb article! Here's an idea, stay home and make your own god damn food!

Brittany Chanel Price
Brittany Chanel Price

I disagreed with #5, as a server it's your job to educate your guest when they come in. If they are pronouncing something wrong you should tell them the correct way. It's kind of fucked up to let them continue to sound dumb. And really scotch whiskey was a bad example. Most ppl who drink scotch whiskey know what it is and the pronunciation

Randall Erkelens
Randall Erkelens

My burger came to table wrong. I told server. He said that's the the way I ordered it. No. Sorry. I'm 46. I know exactly how I ordered it. This time and the last 30 years if ordering it jackass.

Pam Stiffler
Pam Stiffler

Thank you...for the article AND it's one of the least used words in the service industry anymore

Michael McCarthy
Michael McCarthy

Hi RaeLynn! I do have a spectular life. I've been a server and a manager of several sports bars and restaurants prior to being a writer and photographer. I am sympathetic to what servers must put up with day in and day out. I said what I said in the beginning to incite conversation. Basically, I made it up. Did it work? How are things tasting now?

RaeLynn Lovell
RaeLynn Lovell

I really found number seven to be a bit of a stretch. I have NEVER seen a server texting while at a table, unless it was, as you said, using their mobile POS system. I really do not believe that this person is in the service industry.

Tamara Munroe
Tamara Munroe

Some restaurants ARE able to take orders on phones, or devices that look like phones- he probably looked surprised because you weren't smart enough to realize he was sending in your drink orders. Everyone should work in a restaurant. If you haven't you would be surprised what we put up with every single day.

RaeLynn Lovell
RaeLynn Lovell

Perhaps you could write a follow up article about some of the things you do appreciate from a server and things servers have done to make your dining experience extra enjoyable. I feel this article was incredible negative.

RaeLynn Lovell
RaeLynn Lovell

Well Michael, you must have a pretty spectacular life if something as minute as a server's grammar bothers you.

James Speiser
James Speiser

What posts do Westword make that make us wish there was some better journalism and demonstrate that they are in touch with the heart and soul of Denver.

James Speiser
James Speiser

Chenea Myers you said what I couldn't put into words.

RaeLynn Lovell
RaeLynn Lovell

Fair enough. I guess I just do not see this article that way. The tone of the article does not feel that way to me. However, I will reread it now and consider your POV and see how I feel. :)

Robin Shaw
Robin Shaw

I waited tables all through college. Lived down South where being cordial was a way of life. It's offensive how many servers in Colorado consider being cordial an option (one that many do not choose). I would have been fired many times over if I was so dismissive to my customers! In any case, I place blame on management for such disregard... Managers set the tone and expectations for their staff.

Kellan Andreakos
Kellan Andreakos

I would venture to say he has not only had bad experiences. He did say a 27 veteran. I see this list more Martin Luther pinning a list to the door than Oscar the Grouch pissing on everything. If a scientific paper I gather he would. But westword is for entertainment. And they packaged him as they saw fit. Unfortunately Scholarly journals that post both sides of an argument rarely get the readership. Those of us who took the time to read the article I think will agree that again, to paraphrase "if we are in this industry, then it is our responsibility to create and manage change and not that of the guest." I guess to sum up: Don't complain about table 22. Ask why you did not connect or recover with the people who happened to sit at table 22.

Paisley Print
Paisley Print

For every rude server there's 1,000 stories of how shabbily servers are treated. It's shameful how people assume they can treat someone who barely makes a living, rarely has health insurance and is exposed to your continual cooties, and just want to do their work and go home. Yes, there are bad servers. There are bad doctors, lawyers and judges, too. But who do we always smack around? People barely scraping by. Easy targets. Good job.

Miles Wyatt
Miles Wyatt

Some passionate comments here... (Still polishing my wine glass while texting behind my bar.. Two drink tickets sitting there waiting to be made)..

RaeLynn Lovell
RaeLynn Lovell

I agree with what you say. I hope that the man who wrote this article has felt the need to write it because he has experienced these unacceptable server behaviors enough times that he felt he needed to speak out, rather than just a few bad experiences. It is absolutely our job in the service industry to make sure our guests are happy and comfortable from beginning to end. When complaints come in, corrections should be applied so that the next guest does not have the same bad experience. The points he makes do NEED to be addressed by those who are guilty. My issue is with the all around negativity I felt throughout reading this article. It sounds like a giant rant to me and I think he could have added some positive examples because I highly doubt every single time he as gone out has been met with a negative server experience.

Miles Wyatt
Miles Wyatt

Yawn... (Stands there staring at you polishing a wine glass)..

RaeLynn Lovell
RaeLynn Lovell

You must have a pretty spectacular life if that is something that bothers you.

RaeLynn Lovell
RaeLynn Lovell

I fully agree. I hate when my fellow servers ask if their guest wants change. I think it sounds incredibly presumptuous. However, I do think it is just a bad habit and improper training, not because they are "asking for a tip".

Kellan Andreakos
Kellan Andreakos

In case you missed it: "But what really gets to me is when people in my industry treat guests like they're doing the guests a favor by taking care of them. In my opinion, the hospitality starts with us regardless of the attitude or actions of our guests. It is our job to turn any poor treatment around; that's what we are here for." I also recommend the referenced article from Lori Midson.

Kellan Andreakos
Kellan Andreakos

Perhaps the part you missed from the preface, though important: "But what really gets to me is when people in my industry treat guests like they're doing the guests a favor by taking care of them. In my opinion, the hospitality starts with us regardless of the attitude or actions of our guests. It is our job to turn any poor treatment around; that's what we are here for." - Sean Kenyon

Kellan Andreakos
Kellan Andreakos

For clarity and nothing else; from preface "But what really gets to me is when people in my industry treat guests like they're doing the guests a favor by taking care of them. In my opinion, the hospitality starts with us regardless of the attitude or actions of our guests. It is our job to turn any poor treatment around; that's what we are here for." - Sean Kenyon

Blake Bryant
Blake Bryant

I read one page of this article and wanted to punch this cunt in the face!

RaeLynn Lovell
RaeLynn Lovell

Perhaps you could write a follow up article about some the things you do appreciate from a server and things servers have done to make your dining experience extra enjoyable... I feel this article was incredible negative.

RaeLynn Lovell
RaeLynn Lovell

This is the WORST article I have read in a long time.

Kellan Andreakos
Kellan Andreakos

And now some general thoughts: 1. This list is a great read because it reminds us of when we err, we can create self-fulfilling behaviors and incredulous people. Look know further than the comments of the article. The simply fact that we are all guilty of one or more of these has little bearing on us or the profession as a whole. If we do nothing about it, then we are everything negative ascribed in the comments and the article. This plea for a more productive and effective perspective needs to be said, considered and call us to better action.

Michael McCarthy
Michael McCarthy

"I am leaving your check On the table, there is absolutely no hurry, I will take care of it when you are ready. It was a real pleasure serving you folks. When you come back again be sure to ask for me."

Kellan Andreakos
Kellan Andreakos

While I took the article for what Sean Kenyon (self proclaimed "service-industry lifer/professional") it is rather clear was attempting to communicate, I was disturbed to see that the comments clearly have missed the boat. In an effort to return us all to what the article is about...do be kind and reread the preface and opening paragraph to the list. Context in any article or speech has some bearing on what you read. (Just think: Mr. Gorbachev tear down this wall can be taken as a threat, or a plea for cohesion). Clearly for those of us who consider ours a noble profession, we would do well to listen to Sean: "In my opinion, the hospitality starts with us regardless of the attitude or actions of our guests."

Miri Plough
Miri Plough

yeah...I have waited tables for several years and there are many annoying things that servers do and I've been one of them. when I first started, I really sucked and it took many years to become great at serving and making a great living doing it. BUT in all of these years, there isn't anything I haven't seen or heard from the customers I've served and it's a hard job. I wish that people would take us servers a little more seriously because we aren't all the"losers"that you think we are. Many servers make a very decent living and have great educations. Take it easy folks!! Enjoy yourselves when you go out to eat!! it's a luxury!

bondadprevalece
bondadprevalece topcommenter

There is one. This was a follow-up to that. Why are we allowing Facebook comments again?

bondadprevalece
bondadprevalece topcommenter

I tend to agree. Waitstaff have a tendency to be deified and praised for their saintly ability to be quietly abused. We live in a time where you're a gigantic asshole if you tip the waitstaff based on service quality.

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