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5 things you should never do in a restaurant, according to a server

Move the tables? Leave dirty tissues behind? One veteran server sets the record straight about how not to behave in a restaurant.
/ Source: TODAY

Who doesn’t like to go out for a meal? Whether you are looking for a casual bite or a fancy dinner at a five-star steakhouse, there are plenty of options satiate your appetite. There are also some unwritten rules, though, about what a customer should and shouldn’t do.

So, before you plop down into a booth and order up an appetizer for the table, make sure you follow some simple advice from Darron Cardosa, an author and blogger for The Bitchy Waiter, who has spent more than three decades as a server. On TODAY Jan. 18, he spoke about the five things a customer should never do in a restaurant.

1. Rearrange the tables to suit your needs.

Customers are not at a restaurant to treat the layout as their own personal Tetris game.

“Those tables are placed there methodically. There is a method to the madness,” Cardosa said.

He noted that servers know which tables are theirs to handle, and it’s not a customer’s place to wreak havoc by making any changes.

“If you just start moving them around, it just makes it wonky in there and nobody knows who’s in charge of what table,” he explained.

2. Handle a menu without washing your hands immediately afterwards.

Menus are mouthwatering gateways to the food you are about to eat, but they’re also kind of yucky.

"I would never use a physical menu without washing my hands immediately because those things are like petri dishes. They’re pretty gross,” Cardosa said, while mentioning all of the different places they can wind up, including the floor. He also said it’s not exactly hygienic to touch them and then use your hands to grab the complimentary bread lots of restaurants provide.

3. Send food back because it wasn’t what you expected.

Cardosa said it’s fine to send back food if it’s improperly cooked or if it’s the wrong dish entirely, but he draws the line at sending it back just because you don’t like it.

"If you order a squash soup that's got cumin in it and that's what it says on the menu, and then you taste it and you're like, 'Hm, I don't like squash soup with cumin,' that's not a good reason to send it back," he said.

“You just have ask for them to wrap it up and maybe somebody at home will eat it for you,” he advised.

4. Stiff a server.

You know the drill, right? Poor service equals a bad tip or no tip at all. Or maybe you're just plain cheap. Whatever the reason, Cardosa said it's a no-no.

“I would never, ever leave a server no tip, even if the service is subpar, because servers, they’re paying taxes on the tips that the government assumes you’re making and a lot of times you’re tipping out a bartender, a busser, a food runner, and if the customer doesn’t leave a tip for you, then we’re reaching into our own pocket to tip those people out and then we’re basically losing money to ... wait on these people,” he said.

He also said a standard tip should be 20% of the check total.

5. Leave unsanitary items on the table.

If you blow your nose, take the tissue with you. If you change your baby, throw the diaper into a garbage. You'd think most people would know this, but Cardosa said not so.

“It happens far too often,” he said. "I would never leave like a used tissue or an old mask or a dirty diaper.

"It has happened twice in my career and it is two times too many, so why anybody would do that, I don’t understand."