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Customer Pet Peeves: The Restaurant View

Most restaurants try hard to give you a good experience. They don’t always succeed. We as customers have our pet peeves. I’ve shared some of mine. But not everything is the restaurant’s fault. Sometimes it’s on us. Well, mostly you. 😉 And yes, restaurants have their own customer pet peeves.

A few things you can do (or not do) as the diner to make it easier for the restaurant to give you that good experience you want:

Customer Pet Peeve #1: Menu modification.
Unless you have an actual allergy, don’t modify your dish. Not only has the restaurant likely spent a great deal of time trying to get just the right balance, but they’ve prepped for their version of it. Your version isn’t what they’ve tested out–so don’t blame them if you don’t love it–and it’s often a big curveball in terms of the overall flow of the kitchen. Have an allergy? If this is a reservations type of spot, let them know when you book.

customer pet peeve Customer Pet Peeves: The Restaurant View Otus kai kata

The kai-kata at Otus Thai Kitchen & Coffee combines Thai sausage, ground chicken, eggs, green onions and more, with baguette to scoop it up. Don’t violate Customer Pet Peeve #1 and try to modify it, as it wouldn’t be the delicious dish that it is.

Customer Pet Peeve #2: The jerk.
Your server, despite occasional appearances to the contrary, is a human being. Treat him that way. The nicer you are, the more likely she will be to help you out and take good care of you.

Customer Pet Peeve #3: Gadgets.
Give your cell phone/tablet/device a rest. If you must be on it, silence it. Nobody wants to hear the video that you think is “neat” while they try to enjoy their meal. And if you need to have a conversation because it’s really urgent (e.g. your child is sick at home, your boss has called you and you can’t let it go), keep it down, or better yet, take it outside. But remember, if you disappear for an extended period of time, you’re going to disrupt the rhythm of service. Of course, if you’re actually eating with other people, it’s more than a little rude to choose your device over their company.

Customer Pet Peeve #4: Tipping.
Outside of the United States, servers are typically compensated with living wages, and tips range from being appreciated (Australia) to being frowned upon (Japan). If you’re traveling, learn about the local customs. In the US, servers receive extremely low pay (even below minimum wage), with the expectation that they’ll make up the difference in tips. Regardless of what you may personally think about that system, your server is stuck in it. If you get competent service, tip at least 15%. Personally, assuming my service is good, I’m a 20-percenter. But regardless of where you may fall in that continuum, that will be better than leaving a few bucks on a $100+ tab. Sure, if your server is truly unfriendly and giving you lousy service, send a message if you need to, but if your server is trying, just remember that your tip might be the difference between your server making her rent that month and, uh…not. And finally…

Customer Pet Peeve #5: The no show.
Can’t make your reservation? Cancel. It’s that simple. Sites like OpenTable allow you to cancel right in their mobile app or online, or just pick up the phone and make a 30-second phone call. Remember, that restaurant is holding space for you, space that may go empty if you just don’t show. That’s revenue out the door if they don’t get a heads up in advance, not to mention wasting any product they may have bought in anticipation of having that table filled, and just as bad, another diner who could have enjoyed the restaurant that night may lose out.

While there are no doubt many more customer pet peeves out there, if you can avoid triggering the first five, the restaurants you frequent will likely want you to come back, and treat you accordingly.

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