34 Things You Should Never, Ever Say to a Restaurant Server

angry restaurant server
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

Servers hear a lot of the same stuff from customers over and over and over. It’s inevitable that since the framework of our interactions with customers is the same, people are going to overlap each other. And that’s fine; it’s not like being asked to recite the specials or hearing “hi!” ever gets annoying. But there are certain things customers can say that are, in fact, EXTREMELY annoying -- especially when you have to hear them repeatedly from the same type of annoying assholes. Don't be a terrible stereotype in a restaurant. Start by scrubbing these (alarmingly common) phrases from your vocabulary.

“The customer is always right!”

This isn't going to end well, is it?

“There's no price on this. DOES THAT MEAN IT'S FREE HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.”

Of all the dad jokes out there, this is the worst one.

“Is this the [insert entree or beverage here]?”

No, genius, the spaghetti is actually a taco.

“My food is too hot.”

So wait two minutes and thermodynamics will take care of it.

"I better be nice or you'll spit in my food.”

We don’t do this.

“Why don’t you smile more?!”

Because I have to deal with you.

"We'll tip you better if you don't put the automatic gratuity on the check."

Hell no, I’m not falling for this again.

"Come on, hook me up!"

I don’t even know you!

"I'm going to leave you a real good tip.”

No one who has ever said this has ever left a good tip.

*to a bartender* “Make it strong!”

The charge isn’t for glass rental!

*in response to a friendly "hello" from the server* “Water.”

I’m sorry, is this your first time interacting with other humans?

“What's your real job?”

We’re not all struggling actors, broheim.

“Do you guys have napkins?”

Are... are there restaurants that don’t?

“Can you turn the AC up/down?”

I’m just going to say yes, not do it, and let the placebo effect do its work.

“Can I just get water with extra lemon and some more sugars?”

Just pay for the lemonade, you cheap son of a bitch.

*at dinner* “Can we still get the lunch specials?”


“Is the food good here?”

You do realize my entire income depends on saying “yes” to this, right?

“What do you mean, the substitution is extra?!”

You are literally the devil.

Angry restaurant server
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

“Got a new cook back there?”

Well, shit, there goes my tip.

“If this Coke runs out *taps glass* you don’t get a tip.”

There is a hell underneath hell specifically for you. 

*when the individual item ingredients are laid out clearly on the menu* “What comes on/with your [insert food item]?”

Why do none of you read menus?!

“I don't have much money right now, but I'll tip you really well next time…”

You have got to be shitting me.

“What’s the fastest thing you can make? We are in a hurry.”

A swift kick out the door.

*points to empty plate* "I didn't like it."

You’re not fooling anyone, sparky.

“Well, you are only doing this to get through college, right?”

This says more about the way you think of servers than you think it does.

“What’s good here?”

Come on, man, at least give me a food category to work with.

“Take this cash and put the rest on the card.”

Sure, lady, I’d love what amounts to a 9% tip because your dumb ass can’t do math and won’t tip me on the cash portion.

“How spicy is [insert food item]?”

I have no clue what your tolerance level is, what am I supposed to say here?

“Make my steak medium-to-medium-rare-to-rare.”

Lady, all I’ve got is a button.

“Why did that table get their food first when we sat down first?”

Because physics decrees that their salad takes less time to cook than your hockey puck of a well done steak.

“What’s the most popular item on the menu?”

A 20% tip for me. *sad laughter breaking into tears*

“It’s not on the menu, but can I have [made up thing]?”

If you want to have the chef brandish cutlery at you instead of me, sure.

“Can I have your number?”

Time to say “yes” and give you a fake one so I still get a tip.

“You don’t close for another 15 minutes, do you?”

Oh God, you’re going to be here until 2am, aren’t you?

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C.A. Pinkham is a former server who somehow fell ass-backwards into this whole getting paid to make words good thing. He will blog for and about food.