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.

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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