The Things Restaurant Servers Notice About You

by SharonKurheg

People always say that first impressions are important. For better or for worse, people make assumptions about you – both good and bad – based on that first impression. We’ve discussed how certain people in the travel industry may handle that first impression:

Unless you’re staying at someone’s home, chances are that while you travel you’re going to be eating out a lot. Restaurant workers also get a first impression of you. A good server can tell, sometimes just by body language and possibly a few sentences, what kind of mood you’re in, if you’re in a rush, etc. You might not care what a restaurant worker’s first impression of you is, but it actually can have a decent-sized impact on your dining experience. Here’s why and how:

Your response when they introduce themselves

“Hi! My name is Chris and I’m going to be your server today!”

Your response to this is very telling. Do you say hello? Ignore their introduction? That first impression tells a server how attentive you are, how nice you might be, etc. Depending on the server, that could affect their response to you for the rest of the meal, as well.

How they interact with you

Do you remember your server’s name throughout the meal?  Do you say please and thank-you? Do you smile? Apologize if your kid spills their water? Do you snap your fingers to get your server’s attention? Do you treat the server as if they’re beneath you? The server notices.

The group dynamic

a group of people around a table

PC: Olive Garden

Servers see who you’re dining with and your interactions with them, and it gives them an idea of what to expect from you.

Are you in a family group, with lots of kids who aren’t behaving well? The server might expect a mess on the floor by the end of the night, so they’ll make a mental note to give extra time after you leave, for cleanup. The server may also speed up your meal, without your even noticing, so the kids, who are being boisterous and running around, bother other patrons for as short of a time as possible.

Is it just you and one other adult? If it looks like you’re on a date or a business meeting, the server may purposely not come back as often, so you can have your privacy. Or they also may ask if you’re in a hurry (like if you have a show  to catch after the meal) or want the meal to go slower. That will let them know how fast/slow to bring out the next course, etc.

How well do the people at your table treat each other? If you’re dismissive of your partner, date, kids, etc., your server will know there won’t be much hope you’ll be particularly nice to them, either.

Have you been there before?

a man holding a bottle of wine and a woman holding a glass of wineFirst impressions set aside, lasting impressions count, too.

If you’ve been to this restaurant before and they remember you, you better hope it’s a good memory. If you’ve established yourself as a lousy tipper, a server may not see any reason to give you their best foot forward because, really, why bother? On the other hand, if you’re known to tip well, the server may bend over backward to keep you happy.

If they remember you as the big, argumentative family with the loud kids who run around everywhere, they’ll get you out as quickly as possible.

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