Food & Nutrition

57 Secrets Your Restaurant Server Isn’t Telling You

Watch out for this server lingo

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Drive-by: Finding an excuse, such as refilling the water glasses or clearing plates, to stop by a particular table. “You’ve got to do a drive-by on the woman at table 22. She’s hot.”

Upsell: Swaying diners to order more than they normally would or to order a higher-priced item, driving up the bill and hence the tip. Customer: “I’d like a gin and tonic, please.” Waiter: “Bombay Sapphire?”

Camper: A diner who hangs around too long after he’s eaten. Restaurants typically allot about 50 minutes for lunch and up to 90 minutes for dinner, depending on the type of restaurant. You can make up for camping by leaving a bigger tip. Here are some other little dining etiquette rules for eating in a restaurant.

Think twice about being rude to your waiter

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CEOs say the way a potential employee treats a waiter offers insight into that person’s character and ability to lead, according to an article in USA Today. And a 2005 survey of 2,500 members of It’s Just Lunch, a dating service for professionals, found that being rude to waiters ranked No. 1 as the worst in dining etiquette, at 52 percent, way ahead of blowing your nose at the table, at 35.

Check, please

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Studies indicate that waiters can boost their tips by: lightly touching the customer, crouching next to the table, introducing themselves by name, and—believe it or not—drawing a smiley face on the check.

If you are a pack of females, you want separate checks

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“And I don’t mean split evenly by the number of people. I mean split down to the exact number of Diet Cokes with lime each person consumed. And if eight gals order a $ 14 appetizer to share, that needs to be split into $ 1.75 each. If you are a pack of females over age 55, I’m near tears. You want all of the above, plus you’re going to complain about every single thing.”—Kansas City waitress Charity Ohlund

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