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Seven ways to be kind to restaurant food servers

FALLBROOK – The restaurant industry is booming, with new restaurants entering the challenging foodservice market every day. The National Restaurant Association says restaurants in the United States generate roughly $2 billion in sales on a typical day.

Food servers are among some of the hardest working employees in the foodservice industry, but sometimes their efforts go unrecognized. The following are a handful of ways diners can show their appreciation to the men and women who work hard to ensure their customers enjoy their dining experiences.

  1. Recognize that waiting tables is no easy task. Waiting tables is both physically and mentally demanding. Servers spend hours on their feet carrying and balancing plates of food during their shifts. Servers also must anticipate the needs of diners and do their best to accommodate them. Acknowledge that servers' jobs are not easy when dining out, and express your gratitude for their hard work whenever possible.
  2. Recognize that slow food often is not the server's fault. Very often a food server has no control over how fast the food comes out of the kitchen. A very busy meal service can stall an inexperienced kitchen. Diners shouldn't blame the server because the food took longer than expected to arrive on their table. If they're in a hurry, they can let the server know in advance so he or she can work with them.
  3. Diners should look up at their server. Eye contact shows respect and it will help get one's order across clearly, reducing the likelihood of a mix up regarding the order.
  4. Put down cell phones. Distracted diners are sometimes to blame for slow service. In 2014, a popular New York restaurant took matters into its own hands after constant complaints of slow service. After examining surveillance footage of the dining room from 2004 to 2014, the restaurant owner discovered the wait staff hadn't changed its techniques, but the customers' use of cell phones had slowed table turnover from one hour and five minutes to one hour and 55 minutes. Taking pictures of food, texting before ordering or asking a server to take a group photo can contribute to slower service, which puts added stress on servers.
  5. Holidays can put a monkey wrench in restaurant flow. Certain times of the year are popular for dining out. Mother's Day, Father's Day, Valentine's Day, and winter holidays are busy times for the restaurant business. Diners should recognize this and exhibit extra patience when dining out during these busy times of year. If they aren't up for the crowds, abbreviated menus and other factors that come with holiday dining, they should choose another day to go out.
  6. Tip with courtesy and respect. Tips are important to servers because their income may not be steady. Some restaurants do not pay servers minimum wage, expecting their salaries to be offset by tipping. Tip according to how the service was, not the taste of the food or beverages. A 15 percent tip is customary, but you may want to tip 20 percent for exceptional service. People shouldn't dine out if they cannot afford or do not plan to tip.
  7. Diners should ask ahead of time if they need a split bill. Multiple checks can prove time-consuming. Address this need early on and pay as punctually as possible.
The restaurant business is fast-paced and challenging. Customers can do their part by being patient and pleasant patrons and showing their servers the respect they deserve.


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