Dining out at all types of restaurants is a large part of many people’s lives, whether you’re from Lebanon or America or anywhere in between. But while dining out may be a shared experience, working in the food industry, especially as a Server who deals directly with diners, is not.

As a restaurant server for longer than I care to admit, there are a few things I’ve learned along the way about dining out. I am by no means the leading voice of all servers, but I have talked to many, worked with many and have been one for years, so I believe I could share a few things with the public in the hope of making everyone’s dining experience all that much better.

Five things restaurant servers wish they could say to guests:

  • Do not try to get my attention while I’m at another table

Not to mention this is just plain rude, a server can only listen to one person at a time so kindly wait your turn. And since we’re on the topic, snapping one’s fingers to get a server’s attention will likely lead to being ignored. Servers are notorious for pretending not to hear or see things. (Not saying it’s right but it’s true.)

  • Don’t enter a sit-down restaurant less than ten minutes till close

There are many layers to dining at a sit down restaurant – menus, drinks, ordering, cooking, coursing, desert, and bill – so if you enter a restaurant that’s closing in ten minutes, know there is a lot of breaking down and cleaning that has to get done and one lagging table could pause that entire process.

So if you know a restaurant is closing, be aware and act accordingly. Eat your meal, pay your tab and enjoy the rest of your night elsewhere.

  • Leave the jokes to the comedians

There are some jokes servers have to hear over and over again; even fake laughing is no longer possible. Like when a server says a restaurant is out of something, must you say, “That’s it, we’re leaving!” and then pretend to leave until people laugh?

Unless you’re Conan O’Brian, we ask you not to test your material out on us. So when a server brings you a cocktail and you were expecting something bigger, maybe not say, “Where’s the rest of it?” and expect a laugh.

  • Verbal tips don’t pay the bills

While a server loves compliments, it’s custom to show your appreciation through tipping.

Yes, most servers would be the first to agree that bad service does not deserve a good tip (though it often physically pains servers to tip less than 15%), but great service does. There is much more to dining out than the food placed in front of you, from the ambiance to the service. Verbal tips are always welcomed and appreciated but if they’re matched with a poor tip, they wind up mostly just causing confusion. Also, something most don’t know is a server will likely lose money when tipped 10% or less because at the end of the night, they tip out to staff based on what is expected from their sales. Do you really want a server to pay for YOU to go out and eat?

  • Since you were going to order what you wanted all along, was it really worth the twenty minutes you made me spend talking about my favorites?

We get it.

You want to know what the server thinks is good. Who better to know the menu? But if you’re one who doesn’t venture outside the box, pretty much never takes a recommendation and typically orders exactly what looks best to them no matter the restaurant, then why oh why do you waste a server’s time with all the questions? Also please note, there is little worse to a server than after giving a lengthy and descriptive answer to a question, someone from the table asks the exact same question because they weren’t listening.

Servers are asked for suggestions more often than most people, right? In that vein, I hope you enjoyed these “suggestions” and would love to hear your own!