15 Things You Should Never Do in a Restaurant (If You Don’t Want to Piss Off the Staff)

Brace yourself: A restaurant vet unleashes some real talk about how to get the stink eye from the service industry.


For those in the service industry, a good day at work hinges on the patrons. Depending on what types of customers walk in the door and how they behave, work can be a gratifying, convivial experience or a soul-crushing, existential nightmare that has you scrolling through Craigslist employment ads as soon as you get home.

Want to know what restaurant staff gripes about over drinks after service? The practices and behaviors that we talk endless shit about? Here are the 15 Things You Should Never Do in a Restaurant.

Smoke an e-cigarette.

How about just never smoking an e-cigarette. Ever.


Walk into a restaurant at 11:45 when the kitchen closes at midnight and ordering a three-course meal.

…unless you want shitty service and a pissed-off kitchen crew.

No show, no call on a reservation.

It’s just plain rude. Restaurants organize the structure of service around the size and time of booked reservations. If you’ve made one, we’ve planned accordingly and are expecting you to uphold your half of the engagement. If you need to cancel, even if it’s last minute, give us a call.

Attempt to bring your lap dog in because it’s a “service animal.”

This despicable behavior has been on the upswing lately—tiny dogs, often with rhinestone collars and little bows, carried into dining rooms in handbags that owners claim are “service animals” which are legally permitted in restaurants to aid those with disabilities.

Photo: China Daily

Photo: China Daily

Split a check that is less than $30.

Really? You can’t buy your friend breakfast? You’re not going to offer to spring for a round for your pal? Let’s cultivate some reciprocity, friendly diners. Or bring cash.

Order firing (a.k.a., forcing the kitchen to cook only one course).

We know that sometimes this can’t be avoided, but if you are in the habit of ordering an entree, like a large piece of protein or a pasta with nothing before it, you are going to have to wait. When a ten-top sits down and steamrolls the kitchen with an order of three risottos, five chicken entrees, and a porterhouse without any appetizers in front of it, that noise you just heard coming from the kitchen is an explosion of expletives.

Request that your food to be altered so it doesn’t look like an animal.

You ordered the whole roasted chicken. It came to the table with its foot attached. You request that it is taken back down to the kitchen and brought back to your table without its foot because you “feel bad” about eating a chicken that looks like an actual chicken. Same with fish heads, shrimp bodies, pork snouts. Time to come to terms with your omnivorousness.

Photo: Liz Barclay

Photo: Liz Barclay

Three words…

Egg. White. Omelet.

Sit down at uncleared tables.

Even if you want that specific table or that spot at the bar really, really badly—don’t. Sitting down at a messy table hinders the floor staff by making it harder to clean that table, shows what an impatient douche you are, and disrespects the bussers.

Say you have an allergy if you do not have a diagnosed allergy.

Allergies are no joke. Not killing patrons through cross-contamination is kind of a priority in most restaurants, so if you are allergic to nuts, dairy, wheat, whatever, the kitchen will bend over backwards to accommodate you. But if you are trying to steer clear of gluten, it doesn’t mean you have celiac disease. If you don’t like onions, it does not mean you have an allium allergy. It means you don’t fucking like onions. Ask politely if the offensive ingredient can be removed from your dish. If you say you have a dairy allergy because you don’t want a cup of cream in your parsnip soup, but then dig in when dessert comes, you’re gonna get the stink eye.

Photo: Instagram/oxpdx

Photo: Instagram/oxpdx

Get something to go and proceed to eat it out of the box in the restaurant.

Avoiding the tip while actually getting table service? Wasting take-out containers? Not wanting to interact with other humans even though you are out in public? Not a good look.

Leave your cell phone on the bar when you’re dining solo.

It’s not a place marker, it’s an easy steal. When you go to the bathroom or out for a smoke break, it’s not the barkeeps responsibility to keep track of your stuff.

Tip $1 on a fancy $15 drink.

Until tipping practice shifts on a national scale, if you are throwing down $15 for a well-made cocktail, you can afford to tip the appropriate 20%, alright? Also, buying a round for a group of friends does not circumvent tipping for each drink. And while we’re on it, tip your barista! They’re the forgotten workhorses of the industry.

Photo: Liz Barclay

Photo: Liz Barclay

Lie to the host.

Lying about the number of people in your party to get a bigger table or so that you can sit immediately will not win you any friends at a restaurant. We’re not talking about the occasional add-on, or the unexpected no-show—we’re talking about blatant fibbing. We know you’re doing it.

Order fish dishes on Sundays/Mondays.

Seafood providers, like most food purveyors, do not deliver on Sundays. This is less of an issue for upscale places that buy the right amount of fish daily and store it properly. Most places will order fish on Friday to carry them through the weekend; nevertheless, depending on business, come Monday those striped bass fillets may have been luxuriating in the walk-in for a couple of days.

Scarlett Lindeman spent a decade cooking in kitchens in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and New York. She hung up her apron last year to pursue a Ph.D in Sociology.

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  • chunky_charlie

    Geez… sour grapes much? Find a new job gripey-pants.

    • Guest

      “Scarlett Lindeman spent a decade cooking in kitchens in Salt Lake City, Los Angeles, and New York. She hung up her apron last year to pursue a Ph.D in Sociology.”

      She has a new job. Did you not fucking read?

      • Chris:)

        PhD in Sociology? She’ll be back to waitressing. The market is inundated with sociologists. We can read. Can you comprehend and do the research? No.

  • Wenceslao

    It would be nice to know where this person works, so that we may stay away from this place in droves. What an ass.

    • thesouthizback

      GREAT, less headaches for them!!!!!!!!

  • ronshapley

    Get over yourself !!

  • bill wasson

    I totally agree with it all! Customers are our lifeblood and the biggest pain in our asses. You all must have real jobs not in the service industry…

  • Monsterdg

    OMG totally douchery right here. Agree, get the f over yourselves.

  • lrock711

    Wow, what a ridiculous list. Some of these make sense, but really, order firing and ordering fish dishes on Sundays or Mondays? What are you talking about? You sound like a douche

  • Brian Martenis

    As a fairly savvy diner, the fish complaint is sort of just being a whiner. The problem is you. Surprised you didn’t bitch about tipping. Find a new line of work.

    • thesouthizback

      Or, this is a totally new idea I came up with, you can eat at home!!!!! Just a suggestion.

  • jarober

    Many of these make sense, but get over yourself with the e-cigarettes.

  • tenderBar

    Most of the comments thus far were likely posted on smart phones by individuals sitting at a table with “friends” who are all smoking e-cigarettes and wondering why their order fire half-a-roast-chicken (“can you take the bones out? can I get broccoli or something instead? can I get the skin extra crispy?”) is taking so long. Moral = the level of entitlement that is socially acceptable today is staggering.

    • thesouthizback

      Because #Murica!!!!!!!

  • thesouthizback

    Aside from most of the comments on this post, I believe in common decency and not treating a hard working individual like a dog that owes me something. I respect the waiter, I respect the cook. Wanna know why? because they will respect you back, especially if you are a repeat customer who tips well (for good service that is). All of these things aren’t difficult, yes, yes you pay them good money for it, but they would rather you keep your money and not show up if you aren’t going to be reasonable and courteous. It’s called common sense people, use it or stay the FUCK at home. (I’m not a waiter, just a guy who likes to eat out from time to time and enjoy a good meal………….and I tip well for good service, so there’s that).

    • Chris:)

      You tip well for good service? Sure ya do. You tip after your meal, so go tell your b.s to someone else. As for your idiotic comments, it’s not up to the wait staff to make the rules. It’s the owner of the business. If they don’t like how they’re being treated by the customers, they can go the F home and stay there. They as well as you, need to remember, if customers stop coming to an establishment, the place shuts down. As for being courteous, again you’re full of s***. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have told people to stay the f*** home. Idiot!

  • Aldoogie

    While I’m generally a %20 tipper, I’m not sure I agree with the tip portion on the drinks. A $15 drink is generally absurd anyhow, now you want someone to tip $3?

  • ashes

    The fish thing is a little stupid. If a restaurant has an item on the menu, they need to be prepared to make it any day that they are open.

  • Howard Poindexter

    What a piece ‘o crap this website is. Related to huffpo I’m wagering

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