The 4 Questions You Should Never Ask Your Server, Experts Warn
Avoiding these asks will assure you better service at a restaurant.
When it comes to being a respectful restaurant guest, there's much to keep in mind. You'll want to arrive on time for your reservation, practice your best table manners, and, of course, leave an appropriate tip. But perhaps the most important thing you can do is be kind to your server. And while "please" and "thank you" are always a must, there are a few asks to avoid. We scoured the internet and etiquette books to find the four questions you should never ask your server. Read on to learn which queries to keep to yourself.
"What's your favorite dish on the menu?"
Sure, you could ask this question—but you might not get an honest answer. "Somewhere in the back of every server's mind is their check average," Daniel Liberson, a former waiter, told Washingtonian. "At the end of the day, up-selling is critical—it's how we're paying our rent."
Translation: If you ask your server for their favorite dish, they may direct you to some of the pricier options on the menu. That's not to say they're dishonest. While they might truly love both the steak and the burger, the steak might get the bigger push. If you're really interested in choosing the most creative or delicious item, do some research ahead of time to learn the restaurant's specialties or their most popular dishes (a quick skim on Yelp should suffice).
"Can you take this back?"
So, this one is only true in certain situations. If you're given the wrong dish or something inedible, then you're well within your right to send it back and have it removed from the bill. However, you should never send something back simply because you don't like it, and there's nothing wrong with the food.
"If a guest changes their mind after receiving a meal, it's key to be upfront with the server and specific in terms of what exactly they didn't like as the description of the item may need to be tweaked in the future," Eric Marx, co-owner of The Wayfarer, told USA Today. Noting that something is too salty or too cold is acceptable. Complaining that you don't appreciate a seasoning blend is not.
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"Can we split this 12 ways?"
You probably already knew that asking this was frustrating—but we're here to tell you to skip it forever. "Make sure to talk with your server to see if the bill can be split," Liz Bryant, the president and founder of Liz Bryant Business Etiquette in Richmond, Virginia, told Apartment Therapy. "Some restaurants will offer multiple checks for a table, while others will not."
If you think splitting the bill could be an issue for your group, Bryant recommends calling ahead to ask what's allowed. You might also want to choose a designated person to pay or bring cash. In the instance that you do decide to split, make sure your math adds up so your server gets the appropriate tip. You'd be surprised how often poor arithmetic winds up stiffing the staff.
"Can I get your number?"
Like splitting the bill, this question can be extremely annoying for your server, not to mention inappropriate. Just because they are kind doesn't mean they want to go on a date. For The Takeout, The Salty Waitress notes you should ask yourself a few questions before you proceed to leave your number on a napkin: "What's motivating you to ask her out in the first place? Do you know much about her? Has she shown any interest in you? (Note: Being polite is not an indication of sexual desire.) If it's just a fleeting physical attraction for her, there are lots of pretty fish in the sea, including ones that don't work at your regular lunch spot."
Instead of dropping your digits, leave something every server will appreciate: a great tip.