Want to have a good time when you eat out? Start by trying to be a good customer. What is a good customer? If you were not raised by wolves, you should already know the answer to this.
Please and thank you
This is a great starting point. Saying please and thank you will most often get you what you want. I joke with my students that I hate it when they say please, because then I actually have to fulfill their request.
It is kind of baffling to me why customers don’t use these words more often. Don’t they know it is one of the most effective ways to get what they want?
The golden rule
It stands to reason that if you treat people the way you expect to be treated, you will have much more success in just about everything. You want the server to be nice to you? In fact, I bet you expect the server to be nice. Be nice to them.
Pay attention just a little. Yes, I know you are out with friends having a good time, but if you are paying attention, even a little, you can quickly pick up what is going on and be of some help to the server.
I had to wait on a party of 8 once that included a group of old celebrities/comedians. Don Rickles, Bob Newhart, Larry King, and others. I was a bit terrified as I approached the table to see if I could get them something to drink. I did not want to interrupt their banter as they traded one-liners and stories of the old days.
Don Rickeles (of all people) saw me approach the table, quieted everyone, and helped me out. “I’m sorry, what’s your name again?” (As if he remembered me.) “Oh yeah, Tom” “Nice to see you again.” “Honey what would you like to drink?”
Here is a guy who could have completely ignored me and just enjoyed the company of his guests. BUT. He recognized by helping me out a little, he made sure his experience was better.
Be that guest
Be the guest who notices if the server is busy and help them out. Be the guest who calls ahead to say the number in your group changed from 2 to 4. Or changed from 6 to 4. A heads up to the restaurant can make the difference and turn a potential bumpy evening into a smooth one. Say please and thank you.
With the slightest bit of effort you can save a dining experience. Why wouldn’t you make that effort?