Tales from a Former Server: 5 Things Customers Do at Restaurants That Servers & Bartenders Can't Stand

Foodable WebTV Network

Foodable WebTV Network

By an Anonymous Former Server, as part of our 'Tales from a Former Server' column

This week, I asked my server and bartender friends to tell me what they couldn’t stand most about customers. Out of all the responses I got, these were the most frequently hated customer habits/encounters.

I would just like to preface this blog with the statement that not all servers feel this way. In fact, we probably don’t really even care. It’s just that sometimes… well, sometimes after you’ve worked about a billion shifts in a row and it’s karaoke night, you start to lose it a little bit.

Hey, everyone hates parts of their job at some point or another, right? Anyway, I hope you enjoy. And should you have any server/bartender gripes of your own, please feel free to share in the comments below.

Kids (*Shudder*)

No, we don’t hate kids — well, most of us anyway. We hate unruly kids, which really means we aren’t too fond (to put it nicely) of the parents of said unruly kids. It’s understandable that sometimes you’re just fed up and would like to drown yourself in that chardonnay (let’s be honest, you probably deserve it), but just make sure your child is either strapped in or fully attended to. It’s not cool for little Johnny to be running around the restaurant. First, he’s annoying. Secondly, he’s going to hurt himself, and you’ll probably end up blaming the restaurant as opposed to your negligence. Also, please don’t let your children tear open sugar packets, throw them on the floor, throw food on the floor, etc. You’re a parent — you, of all people, understand that cleaning up after your child’s messes sucks.

Side Note: Even worse than kids is Kids Eat Free nights. Just picture a lot of kids, balloons, clowns, and then top it off with a $20.00 check average because half the restaurant’s food was comped. That being said, tip extra on Kids Eat Free nights — your server deserves it.


Have you ever snapped your fingers, waved your hand, shouted at or tapped a stranger on the shoulder while they were in the middle of a conversation with someone else? No? Yet you do interrupt the server while she is trying to talk to another table because you suddenly realized you needed ranch with your fries (that haven’t hit the table yet) and you just have to tell her right then and there or you might burst! Rude. You might be out to have a good time, but newsflash: your server is at work. And she has stuff to do that doesn’t involve you. Let her do her job and she’ll get you that ranch.

“What Else Do You Do?”

I hate this question. When I was in school, I could always reply with “school.” And then I graduated and didn’t do anything else. This question then would cause me to have a philosophical meltdown: What do I do? Does my job define me? Who am I? Dear God, WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE!?

Serving. I’m serving, and probably making more money than typical 9-5ers. That, and I get to make up my own hours, take off whenever I want, and eat good food all day because I work in a restaurant. Just because it’s called serving doesn’t mean I’m of a lower class, unworthy of your respect. People have to eat, and that food does not serve itself. Thus, out of necessity, serving was born. We’re not stupid. In fact, most of us have college degrees, and even if we didn’t, it wouldn’t matter. Quit being so judgmental and don’t treat me like I am a servant — or good luck getting that extra side of guac you wanted.

Bad Tippers

If I have to explain why we hate bad tippers, then you are a bad tipper and there is just no saving you. However, let me break this down for you: servers essentially “rent” their sections from the restaurant. At the end of the night, they have to tip out all the people that helped them during the shift: bartenders, hosts, bussers, etc. We tip them out on sales, not what you tipped us. So if you tip us badly, we are losing even more money because we have to tip out a flat percentage to everyone else. So basically, the rest of the staff — that did not wait on you — gets taken care of while we lose the (little) hard-earned money you saw fit to throw our way. Also, if you are one of those people that won’t tip because it’s not your problem that that’s how we get paid, it’s not our fault. We didn’t make the rules, we are simply playing the game. So be a gem and play along, won’t you?

Order Everything at Once

This mostly applies to ordering drinks at the bar, although it is appreciated if you order your meal and make all your silly requests at once so I don’t have to run around the restaurant like a chicken with my head cut off. For bartending, it’s a bit different because your bartender is trying to move quickly and take care of a high volume of people all at once. Do not order one drink at a time. Bartenders are not stupid and can handle a large order all at once. Just tell ’em what you want and let them do their magic as opposed to waiting for them to finish a drink and then order another one. I just witnessed a couple do this to an older bartender on one of the busiest nights I have ever seen at this particular bar. Poor dude had to walk back and forth and back and forth. Jerks.  

Pro Tip: If you don’t know what’s in a shot or drink, don’t order it. Seriously, WTF is an Cocaine Barbie? Did you mean California Cocaine, California Barbie? Just get a whiskey, man, and don’t hurt yourself.

Pro Tip #2: Don’t order anything that has to be blended, involves ice cream or has to be muddled — unless you’d like to stay sober the whole night because your bartender HATES you and will ignore you, so as not to make that crap.

Seriously, this list could go on forever, but I don’t have the time and you don’t have the patience, so this is it for now.

Enjoy these other annoyances that almost made the list:

“I know the owner.” Well aren’t you special. I know him, too.

“They did it for me last time.” Lady, there is no way in hell anyone in this restaurant would let you take your all-you-can-eat crab legs home.

“I know this isn’t on the menu, but…” Then why are you ordering it? This isn’t Salad Works, you can’t just make stuff up.

“There’s no alcohol in this drink.” No, the appropriate amount of alcohol is in that drink.

“I didn’t like this.” Then why did you eat the whole damn thing?

“It’s his birthday!” Awesome! I was *hoping* I’d get to stop all the work I was doing to sing embarrassingly loud to a complete stranger today.