12 Truths Behind “Service with a Smile”


“Hi th…!” – Server

“Coffee. Glass of water with a lemon” – Customer

“Sure, I’ll be right back with that” – Server.

Imagine a time in your life when you just met somebody for the first time..you gave them the time of day, you let them introduce themselves, say their name, heck maybe even where they were from and alas, that person now knows that you are capable of having a conversation and you didn’t cut them off..why should it be any different in a restaurant?

Now, I know there are things that people expect from servers in a restaurant; when you wine and dine you want to get what you pay for..and what are you paying for exactly? You want a table upon arriving, a cheery server, a full glass, and hot food. Uh oh, your server forgot the lemon..she had one job. As she is returning to get your lemon another table stops her “ma’am can I get some ketchup?” Your server returns to the kitchen to grab some ketchup and a lemon as she realizes hot food is waiting in the window for table 44..or was it 54? Did they end up sitting in a booth or did they move to the table?

She forgot to send out a dinner salad before that table’s food came up.  She quickly makes the salad and preps her food that is currently dying in the window.  She goes to grab a lemon all while the ketchup bottle in her pocket is weighing down her apron. Shoot, no lemons cut, she runs to the walk – in..grabs a lemon, cuts it quickly. Delivers the food, delivers the ketchup, and gets poked in the back with an accompanying “ahem, my lemon?!”

Servers are the face of a restaurant..if something doesn’t go as planned, they have to grin and bear it and deal with the repercussions. I’ve heard the age old tale “If servers hate their jobs so much why don’t they just quit”.  It’s not necessarily the actual work that makes it hard..there are certain things that we as customers can do to make a servers job easier and make everybody receive that guarantee of “service..with a GENUINE smile”.

  • That table you’re sitting at..it’s not random!
    • I have written a whole post on this before..the hostess is here to help you receive the best service possible!  Depending on rotation, restaurant policy, and other factors. There is a very strategic reason why you are put in the seat you are put in and we want you to know that it’s not personal..whether you’re by the kitchen or the window.
  • Only tell your server you are ready to order..when you are actually ready.
    • The time that servers waste waiting for you to decide what you want to order if you weren’t ready can be allocated easily to another customer..perhaps getting that lemon we mentioned previously.
  • Allow your significant other to order for themselves.
    • I know, I know.  It’s cute ordering for your wife, husband, girlfriend but don’t.  It’s true that most orders come with a follow up question..how do you like your eggs done? How do you like your steak prepared? If you aren’t prepared this is going to make the ordering process longer.  I also understand if your SO doesn’t have the ability to order for themselves. It’s a situation I can get behind in that case.
  • I am not trying to get with your date.
    • I know it’s hard to believe but most of us servers have significant others of our own.  We don’t want your boyfriend and we certainly aren’t flirting.  We are paid to be nice to you.
  • We cannot read your mind.
    • PLEASE communicate your concerns to your server!  We understand if you want to abide by your health kick by asking to substitute your fries for veggies or if you just happen to prefer a different cheese on your burger. However, when substitutions turn into absurd requests that are not even on the menu, a line needs to be drawn. Understand that when you are going to a restaurant, you are choosing not to make your own meal and to try a specific chef’s recipe.
  • Do not snap your fingers, whistle, or touch your server.
    • We are humans.  I repeat, we are humans.  I don’t want you to touch me or whistle at me.  You can get my attention in other ways that are way less disrespectful.  Be polite.  It pays off in the end.
  • Do not interrupt your server while he or she is at another table.
    • Believe me.  I know you’re there.  I have other guests that have my attention right now.  It’s rude for both them and myself.
  • Do not let your children run around.
    • I have seen it happen, to me personally even.  Your child runs around.  A server walks out with a tray of hot food.  Your child runs underneath it and all of a sudden a steaming pile of omelet is in their hair.  Your child is burned and we have a lawsuit on our hands.  It’s better to just keep your child safe.
  • Yes, your server is ALWAYS busy.
    • Besides the few lazy server exceptions, most of us are always multitasking. Servers have a surplus of side work that managers constantly wonder why we can’t finish. Realize if I have not been around to check on you in five minutes, it’s probably because I have been rolling up silverware, serving other customers or trying to sneak a bite to eat in place of a meal break.
  • Shocker: Asking for extra will cost you extra! 
    • It’s unbelievable how many people are surprised with a charge for ranch when it’s not supposed to come with your meal.  You want a side of ranch for your fries then you certainly are going to pay for it.  We have humans that get paid to make the ranch.
  • If your server did a great job, let them know! 
    • Verbal tips and cash tips are great.  I just wouldn’t give a verbal one without the cash to back it up ;).
  • Treat us as servers, not as servants.
    • I’m here to make sure you have a great time.  I want you to enjoy your meal and I also want to make sure that you have a good time whether it’s impressing friends or a date, etc. We want to develop relationships with our regulars and leave positive, lasting impressions. We go to work and tie our aprons just as you leave for the office and tighten your tie.

      If you come in with all this in mind, you will make servers’ lives easier, which in turn, will help you have a smooth, enjoyable dining experience.




  1. Anna Winter

    All of this is so true!! I just started reading your blog and I love it! I’ve been thinking about starting one myself.

    1. hautedishblog (Post author)

      Thanks Anna! You should! It’s so much fun!


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