If you’ve ever thought about what goes on in a restaurant behind the scenes, have we got some news for you. Or rather, restaurant waiters have some secrets to spill, and it’s not all pretty.
Whenever we go out to eat, there’s a certain amount of confidence and trust that we have to place in the restaurant staff, particularly in our servers. Have you ever wondered if there’s anything they could be hiding from you?
As it turns out, restaurant servers are carrying quite a few secrets that they’d never tell you to your face—that’s why these servers decided to spill the beans online. Here are some secrets of working in a restaurant that your server would never tell you face-to-face.
What They Lie About
“On Christmas Day, when people ask why I’m there, I might say, ‘My sister’s been in the hospital,’ or, ‘My brother’s off to war, so we’re celebrating when he gets back.’ Then I rake in the tips.”—Chris, founder of bitterwaitress.com
Hey, no one wants to have to work on a holiday, so they might as well try to milk it for all it’s worth.
You might be quick to judge, but don’t assume you wouldn’t try to pull the same thing off if you were in their position.
“We’re not allowed to tell our customers we don’t like a dish. So if you ask your server how something is and she says, ‘It’s one of our most popular dishes,’ chances are she doesn’t like it.”—Anonymous, waitress at a pizza chain
We’re sure there are cases where the dish in question really is super popular at that particular restaurant, but it makes sense to think that an owner wouldn’t want their servers dissing any of the food.
We’d hope that a restaurant would ultimately remove anything its servers constantly have to lie about the quality of, but you never know.
“If someone orders a frozen drink that’s annoying to make, I’ll say, ‘Oh, we’re out. Sorry!’ when really I just don’t want to make it. But if you order water instead of another drink, suddenly we do have what you originally wanted because I don’t want to lose your drink on the bill.”—Anonymous, waitress at a Mexican restaurant
We understand not wanting to make a complicated drink on a busy night, but this is one confession that’s really not cool.
If you want to make a lazy server sweat, maybe it’ll teach them a lesson if you just stick with water after they pull this kind of stunt.
About The Food
“If your dessert says ‘homemade,’ it probably is. But it might be homemade at a bakery three miles away.”—Charity Ohlund
For most chain restaurants, just go ahead and safely assume that those desserts were made nowhere near the facility.
For something higher-end, though? A store-bought dessert isn’t worth the money.
“I knew one guy—he was a real jerk—he’d go to Costco and buy this gigantic carrot cake for $10 and tell us to say it’s homemade. Then he sold it for $10 a slice.”—Steve Dublanica, author of Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip — Confessions of a Cynical Waiter
No hard feelings towards Costco, because their desserts really are good.
For $10, though? You can just go there and buy the entire cake yourself!
What You REALLY Don’t Want to Know
“When I was at one bakery restaurant, they used to make this really yummy peach cobbler in a big tray. A lot of times, servers don’t have time to eat. So we all kept a fork in our aprons, and as we cruised through the kitchen, we’d stick our fork in the cobbler and take a bite. We’d use the same fork each time.”—Kathy Kniss
Nope, nope, a million times nope. We sincerely hope the owner of this restaurant didn’t know about this, because that’d be grounds for making the decision to never go there again.
It wouldn’t have been hard to keep a small bowl of the cobbler off to the side for snacking.
“I’ve seen some horrible things done to people’s food: steaks dropped on the floor, butter dipped in the dishwater.”—Anonymous, waiter in Chicago
Take this confession as a lesson in why you shouldn’t be mean to restaurant staff.
However, some people really just have no clue when it comes to food safety, and they legitimately think cooking something after it’s dropped makes it all good.
“If you make a big fuss about sending your soup back because it’s not hot enough, we like to take your spoon and run it under really hot water, so when you put the hot spoon in your mouth, you’re going to get the impression—often the very painful impression—that your soup is indeed hot.”—Chris
We can understand the frustration to some degree—people shouldn’t make a big deal about something small that can be fixed easily.
However, a server also shouldn’t get mad at customers if it’s just because their request inconveniences them during a busy night, even if the customer wasn’t being nasty about it.
What They Hate
“We want you to enjoy yourself while you’re there eating, but when it’s over, you should go. Do you stay in the movie theater after the credits? No.”—Anonymous, waiter in Chicago
This is especially true on busy nights at popular restaurants. Ever sat through a two-hour wait time for a table?
It’s because some people treat the restaurant like their own personal kitchen table and sit there for a chat they could easily have somewhere else.
“Oh, you needed more water so badly, you had to snap or tap or whistle? I’ll be right back … in ten minutes.”—Charity Ohlund
If you need something, ask politely.
Snapping is never alright, whistling might be okay if you do it in a way that doesn’t seem like you’re trying to corral your server, and screaming is never a no-go.
“My biggest pet peeve? When I walk up to a table of six or seven people and one person decides everyone needs water. I’m making a trip to deliver seven waters, and four or five of them never get touched.”—Judi Santana
Do both your server and everyone at your table a favor—just let everyone order for themselves.
It can make your dining companions feel awkward and they might not end up with exactly what they didn’t want to correct you.
What They Actually Want You to Know
“Use your waiter’s name. When I say, ‘Hi, my name is JR, and I’ll be taking care of you,’ it’s great when you say, ‘Hi, JR. How are you doing tonight?’ Then, the next time you go in, ask for that waiter. He may not remember you, but if you requested him, he’s going to give you really special service.”—JR, creator of servernotslave.wordpress.com
Sadly, this should be a no-brainer, but most people don’t pay attention when their server introduces themselves.
Make sure you catch their name next time, though—why else would they be giving it to you if not for you to use it?
“If you’re having a disagreement over dinner and all of a sudden other servers come by to refill your water or clear your plates, or you notice a server slowly refilling the salt and pepper shakers at the table next to yours, assume that we’re listening.”—Charity Ohlund
People love to listen to the drama of strangers, and your server will be no different.
Hey, if you don’t want anyone else to hear you, don’t talk about something in a space filled to the brim with other people.
“If you walk out with the slip you wrote the tip on and leave behind the blank one, the server gets nothing. It happens all the time, especially with people who’ve had a few bottles of wine.”—Judi Santana
It’s an honest mistake that most people probably don’t mean to make, but it’s definitely a crappy situation for your server, because there’s truly nothing they can do about it.
Do them a favor and double check which copy of the receipt you’re grabbing next time.
“Sometimes, if you’ve been especially nice to me, I’ll tell the bartender, ‘Give me a [drink], and don’t put it in.’ That totally [screws] the company, but it helps me because you’ll give it back to me in tips, and the management won’t know the difference.”—Anonymous, waiter at a Mexican restaurant
While it might not be the nicest thing for a server to do to the restaurant they work at, it definitely shows how much they care about customers who treat them well.
Just another reason to be nice to restaurant staff!
“We always check the reservation book, scan the names, and hope for someone recognizable. I’m happy if the notes say something like ‘Previous number of reservations: 92.’ If they say something like ‘First-time guest, celebrating Grandma’s 80th birthday, need two high chairs, split checks, gluten allergy,’ then I start rummaging through my pockets for a crisp bill for the hostess and I make sure to tell her how much I love her hair fixed like that.”—Charity Ohlund
As nice as this type of party could potentially be, there are some servers who just can’t stand the stress of a really demanding party.
On the other hand, though, there are some who’ll gladly take them for the possibility of a huge tip—if you’re dining out and know that your server will have their hands full, tip them appropriately.
“I get this call all the time: ‘Is the chef there? This is so-and-so. I’m a good friend of his.’ If you’re his good friend, you’d have his cell.”—Chris
Yeah, you’re not fooling anyone by pulling tricks like this.
Plus, if you’re a friend of the chef and were coming to their restaurant, they’d likely tell their staff themselves to make sure you get the best service.