What Are Your Restaurant Pet Peeves?

August 23, 2011 99 Comments

Restaurant Pet Peeves

Restaurant Pet Peeves

I don’t know about you, but when I go out to a restaurant there are certain things that drive me crazy and can ruin the entire experience. Of course if the food is bad, it’s not going to be a great experience. But what about those times when the food is great but the experience still stinks?

I would always give up a little food quality for great service compared to incredible food and mediocre service. We go out to dinner to enjoy the food, the service, and the atmosphere. I love trying new restaurants and having a good time enjoying someone else’s cooking but it way more than that.

Besides the food, the decor, service and food all come together to create a memorable occasion. I started to think about some of my own restaurant pet peeves on this vacation and wanted to share them with you and find out some of your own dislikes.

Luckily, most of the restaurants we’ve dined at here at the Jersey shore have been excellent. Good food and good service. But there are a couple of restaurants that made me think about other experiences not so enjoyable.

Let me be clear, I understand there are some restaurants that are more casual and I don’t expect white tablecloth service, but it still should be competent service, and the waiters should know what they are doing.

Restaurant Pet PeevesSome of My Most Annoying Restaurant Pet Peeves

So here are some of my personal restaurant pet peeves, and I hope you can share some of your own with me:

  1. Snotty greeters, maitre d’s or hosts – Nothing can start the night off on the wrong foot like a host or hostess with attitude. You walk into a new restaurant excited about enjoying some incredible food and the host gives you attitude. Who knows if they are having a bad day or they hate their job but this is the first person you come in contact with and how they greet you will affect the rest of the night. Please maitre d’s, smile and make your guests feel welcome.
  2. Waiters who stand over your shoulder reading your menu and telling you what they like and what you should order. And why is it they always like the most expensive items on the menu? Waiters, please don’t tell me what you like on the menu unless I ask.
  3. Reading the specials from their ordering pad. It’s usually one or two appetizer specials and one or two entree specials. The chef went to a lot of trouble coming up with these specials, so please take the time to learn what they are and what’s in them. And if you do have to read them, please slow down and enunciate. I’m getting older and my hearing’s not as good as it used to be.
  4. Pouring wine to the top of the wine glass. Red or white, I like to swirl my wine and I like my white wine chilled. I like to pace myself with a bottle of wine when I’m out to dinner with friends, make it last the entire meal. If a waiter overpours, I typically over drink and then there’s none to enjoy with the main course and I have to order another glass or bottle. Most of the time after tasting the wine, I ask the waiter to let me do the pouring. Besides making it last, I enjoy the control.
  5. Expensive restaurants that require you to get up and order your own food. Haven’t experienced many of these but on this vacation, we went to a pretty nice restaurant that wasn’t cheap and you had to walk up to a window, place your order and then prepare a salad at the salad bar. A waitress then serves you your food and drink. I understand the concept, but if you have a wait staff to do the serving, why not let them take your order?
    #5a. Expensive restaurants that require you to cook your own food (e.g. Fondue). Why bother? I mean, we can do that at home.
  6. Serving really good food in Styrofoam containers when plates, even inexpensive plates, would be so much nicer. There is a really fun restaurant that serves excellent local fish in a wonderful outdoor setting but I’m not thrilled to go there because the waiters serve everything in Styrofoam containers. Besides being a drag on the environment, I find it hard to enjoy local flounder, fresh corn and tomatoes out of styrofoam containers.Besides, for the amount of money the food costs, they could certainly afford to put it on a plate.

What Can A Restaurant Do?

So, that’s my list. I rarely run up against #5 and #5a, but the rest of the issues happen frequently enough that it bothers me. And not wanting to be one who comes up with a list of complaints without proposing some solutions, it seems to me that a lot of my pet peeves can be remedied by good training. Managers really need to take the time to teach the hosts and hostesses that they are the face of the restaurant and to behave accordingly.

Whoever is in charge of training the wait staff should be very specific in telling the servers how and when to recommend menu items. Of course, especially with corporate restaurants, the wait staff may be instructed to suggest pricier items. If that’s the case, I most likely wouldn’t bother going back to that restaurant.

The same holds true for the specials. Both the front of the house manager and the kitchen manager/chef should collaborate in this area. The kitchen should make sure that the servers are knowledgeable about not only what is in the specials but also how they taste. That means that all servers should be able to taste all specials before service begins so that they can make informed recommendations.

The wine issue is a matter for the sommelier or bar/beverage manager. Restaurants make the most profit on beverages, by far. And pouring more than 4-6 ounces into a diner’s wine glass can really affect the bottom line.

And, lastly, I would hope that restaurants that serve exclusively on/in Styrofoam and plastic would switch to a recyclable material, or at least one that is biodegradable. The way we take care of–or don’t take care of–our environment is a huge issue. And with the trend towards green restaurants, it seems to me that the days of serving on Styrofoam are numbered.

So What Are Your Pet Peeves?

I gave you a few of mine but I would love to hear more about what are some of your restaurant pet peeves. Here’s your change to let everyone know what gets under your skin when dinning out.

Last modified on Mon 27 October 2014 1:33 pm

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Comments (99)

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  1. Jenni says:

    My number 1 pet peeve is overly hover-y service. I don’t want to feel rushed. Great service should be well-paced and unobtrusive. (Now who sounds like a snob?!)

    Number 2: not offering dessert. A simple “would you be interested in looking at the dessert menu” would at least give us the option. Esp as a former working pastry chef, I hate when they just bring the check w/o asking about dessert! And then I have to ask to see it. It’s another way servers can make you feel rushed. Plus (and I just thought of this) the unspoken message is “I’m helping you with your diet; you obviously could stand to skip a dessert or two!” :/

  2. yoshi says:

    Restaurants that re-fill you water glass every 3 seconds.
    Restaurants that insist on outlining how the menu is layed out. If you menu is that difficult to figure out – perhaps you should redesign the menu.
    re: 2
    I hear this often and as someone who eats out three or four times a week – I never run into this. I’m convinced someone somewhere ran into this one time and the story has been repeated over and over again.
    re: 4
    This is your issue – not the restaurants.
    re: 5, 5a, and 6
    How are these pet peeves? The reason you go out in the first place is the atmosphere and entertainment. Don’t like the type of restaurant – DON’T GO!

    Hi Yoshi, thanks for the comments. As for issue #2, try dining out in Park City, UT or any vacation destination where the restaurants hire temporary servers. As for the rest, unless I don’t know that is how the restaurant operates, I follow your advise and don’t go. Thanks for sharing. – RG

  3. Peggy says:

    When there are several available tables in a restaurant and the hostess seats you next to the bathroom or kitchen! Yuck!

    Yeah Peggy, why do they do that? – RG

  4. EY says:

    Pepper shakers filled to the brim. No choice but to unscrew the top and mete out what you need.

  5. Julia Mason says:

    Our pet peeve is when the they seat you and ask if you would like something to drink and then the drinks do not arrive until after the meal comes out.

  6. Jan Shuman says:

    I hate feeling rushed and I feel especially rushed when the waiters start clearing the dishes too soon. I’ve had to hold onto my plate and indicate that we still need certain things on the table. I let the management know and try one more time. If it happens again, I don’t return.

  7. Jan Shuman says:

    When they don’t check to see if we need refills on beverages, and, later, if we need more coffee/tea. They should check back at least once.

  8. Karen says:

    Background music! Especially loud background music and especially fast paced music. I go to a restaurant to enjoy a relaxed meal of good food with pleasant conversation. Diners can get loud anyway, sometimes intrusively so, but that’s another peeve, comes with the territory, but music forces people to speak/yell over it to hear each other. Also, studies in the retail industry have shown that fast paced music stimulates people to move faster, buy more. It has a similar effect when dining. Good for turnover, not for digestion, not mine, anyway.

  9. linda says:

    Don’t call me honey. Or sweetie. Or baby

  10. Sheri says:

    1. When they clear away all the plates but mine. I can’t help it my husband inhales his food!

    2. And waaaay more irritating than #1: restaurants that are supposed to be dinner (not music or clubs) and they are LOUD! Loud music, and sound of people talking, glasses clinking, or even, god forbid, you can hear the kitchen sounds bouncing off of the walls. Put some sound absorption up for goodness sake!

  11. Herb says:

    We used to dine out frequently on Cape Cod. Now we do not! Food is uniformly poorly prepared. Prices are outrageous! As a couple, we are treated like cattle, unwanted as patrons and rushed out the door! As far as the waitstaff…..well, let’s just say the term is an excellent characterization of the service experience. Finally, the last restaurant we went to told us we had one hour to eat and leave!

  12. Jan says:

    I think it’s becoming more and more common for wait staff to call diners “Hon”. I agree with Linda. I don’t like it! Also my all time pet peeve is bent fork tines. It can’t be that hard to check the fork as it’s going on the table.

  13. Terri :D says:

    I was a waitress for years and these issues still irritate me when I dine out….
    1. Don’t call me honey or any other “sweet” name, 2. Do not clear the table until everyone is finished!
    3. I detest automatic gratuity…take your chances and earn your money
    4.Do not ask me if I need change…just say,” I will be right back” let me tell you “It’s all set” if I don’t need change…

    • Nic says:

      As for number 2: not everyone is as old fashion as you. Some people get pissed when you’re not Johnny in the spot. A server should read each table. As for 3: servers don’t make the rules . If it’s bad service leave less, they can’t force gratuity and if they do good, leave more

  14. Suzanne says:

    Two things that have happened recently, dirty glassware…I don’t care that it just came out of the dishwasher. My wine glass was dirty…I requested a clean glass and new wine..I held on to the dirty glass so they did not just pour it in to a new glass…also server’s hands touching the food on the plate! She said “woops..sorry about that”..are you kidding me.. I find that local (Hartford, CT) restaurants are doing great fresh food, but the service is driving people away!

  15. Mark Cheron says:

    We visit our son in Toronto once a month and take him and his girlfriend out for lunch. And it’s always a mistake. Last week we went to an Italian place with a patio. during our meal the wind picked up and it started raining, so we went indoors. We were sitting by a door and the rain was coming in, getting us wet. We asked the waitress to please close the door, and she said she couldn’t because she would get wet. I guess it’s okay for the customers to get wet, but not her. Could not believe it. To make matters worse, our pizza was cold by the time we got it (45 minutes from the time we ordered it). And, they forgot our salad, which showed up halfway through the pizza. This is typical of our experiences in Toronto. On the other hand, we spent a week in NYC this summer and didn’t have one bad meal, and only one bad waiter experience in an over-hyped pizza place. It was wonderful, but disconcerting as we live near Toronto and can’t just go the NYC for lunch or dinner. Too bad, Toronto has a lot to learn.

  16. Eric says:

    I’m pretty easy to please, but 2 things get my goat:
    When I ask a server about an item on the menu, please don’t let them tell me they haven’t had it yet. that isn’t the fault of the server, its poor management.

    cobwebs – again, management

    A well-managed restaurant has an educated staff and an educated staff has pride in their product because management has pride in them. ’nuff said

  17. Joy says:

    I’m 74 years old and do not like being addressed as “Sweetie”, “Young Lady”, “Hon” or other terms of endearment by waitstaff or clerks. Generally, I smile and try to imagine that they loved their grandmother but it’s so discourteous. I’m listing this here in case someone reads and makes use of the comment. I don’t think it’s intended to be anything other than kind but it feels condescending. Especially when I have more education and money than they’ll ever know, most likely. Don’t assume that my mind is childlike because of my age.

  18. AndrewT says:

    or address the table as “you guys” . . . and please lower/get rid of the music.

  19. Laurie says:

    We only had this happen at one restaurant and I must blame management. We asked about a the preparation of a particular dish and the waitress replied, “Oh, I don’t know. I could NEVER afford to eat here.”

    Now that’s funny and sad too. – RG

  20. paula puma says:

    I hate getting the check before I finish my meal. How do the know I didn’t want to order anything else.

    I also, hate when they say they are an Italian resturant and the food taste like it came out of a can. (Chef Boyardee)
    Another thing that gets my goat is bad service. If I get bad service, I leave no tip, because if I leave a small tip for bad service it means I’m cheap, however if the service is good, I tip very well.

  21. Tom Conner says:

    Commentary on what you order. “Good choice” or “Excellent” or asking you repeat with a quizzical look. I don’t care what the server thinks of my choices unless I ask and I don’t want people dining with me to think less of their own choices.

    Tom, there was a restaurant in NYC when I lived there called the Trois Canard that I went to all the time because they prepared great duck. The head waiter always seemed to wait on us and no matter what you ordered he would say, Excellent Choice!” It became a running joke that someday we were going to go in and order something disgusting and see what he says. Never did but we had a lot of laughs talking about it. – RG

  22. Nancy Birkett says:

    I agree with all of your pet peeves, especially #4. After the first glass is poured, I tell them I will do it from now on. They usually look miffed.

    Reciting specials of the night without the price. I always have to ask how much. I wouldn’t buy anything else without knowing the price so why would they think I’d blindly pay for a dinner without knowing what it is going to cost me? They are always expensive so I’m sure they don’t want us to know how much but I never, never fail to insist on the prices, even if I have to interrupt their speil after each special. When I know the price, even if it is high, I will often order the dish if it appeals to me. I just don’t like the feeling that they think the customer is too stupid or embarrassed to ask the price.
    Loud, irritating music…or worse, a radio with loud advertisements in between the songs.

    Servers putting their hands all over the edge of my drinking glass and/or utensils.

    Tables for two crammed in between large parties.

    Servers responding to a request with “No problem”. I would hope it’s not a problem to bring me Parmesan cheese or ice or salt, etc.

    Lights that are too bright. We are having dinner, not performing brain surgery. There is no need to have bright, glaring searchlights hanging over the table, unless you are in a McDonalds or a nursing home.

  23. Jan says:

    When servers ask “Are you still working on that?” when removing a plate. Umm, yeah, bring me a pick and shovel!!! It’s food, not concrete.

    And I agree with the volume levels being way too high. Why do restaurants think that being noisy adds to the “excitement” of dining out? I want to hear my companions, not the background noise.

  24. lulu says:

    I really hate to touch a sticky and or greasy salt and pepper shaker and edge of tables that haven’t been properly washed. It doesn’t take to long to wash them off when setting up the table for the next customer.

  25. Brigitta says:

    First of all, THANK YOU for posting this article–and inviting readers to share. I have been hatching a plan for too long for there to be something akin to Yelp but that would allow restaurant owners a chance to “make it right” before the post went live, for all the world to see.

    My husband and I are going-out-to-eat addicts and so have seen/heard it all. My personal biggest pet peeves, though are these:

    1. A favorite restaurant whose owners have told us time and again they wouldn’t have made it had it not been for us, will simultaneously welcome our feedback after an incident while also telling us stories of customers who have complained and how unfair it was. One incident involved undercooked food, which isn’t a common occurrence there but definitely has happened several times over the years–and one of the owners described this complaint (of another customer) to us as “a stake through the heart”–the ultimate insult to a chef. REALLY? She also claimed that she tasted the “alleged” undercooked food and proclaimed it was perfectly cooked. Oooohkay, whatever you say . . .

    2. Two types of music playing at the same time. Sometimes, kitchen staff will be listening to one song, while the restaurant pipes out something else. No, no, no, no, no. And I agree about volume and selection. Music is appreciated but should be in the background–not the forefront!

    3. Fingers in food and general lack of hygiene. This bit about fingers being cleaner than gloves . . . I don’t know–but don’t reveal the fact that you don’t know how to hand me my plate without allowing your fingers to touch the food! Also, once I saw one of the chefs preparing something up front and noticed her DIRTY fingernails. Unacceptable.

    4. Related to my #3 is SWEEPING THE FLOOR and/or putting up chairs while I am still eating. Not acceptable.

    5. Phony hours. If you are closing the kitchen–i.e., won’t take orders past a given time, like 8:30pm, then post that time vs. 9pm. Not everyone has food-service experience and understands unspoken cutoff times–but they do understand that when a restaurant’s sign says OPEN, they should probably be able to eat.

    There could be more. Thanks again for this–and I must say, I really don’t understand or appreciate Yoshi’s comments.

  26. Dianna says:

    My husband and I hate it when the waitress/waiter is overly attentive – or intrusive. We don’t want our conversation to interrupted every 5 minutes by “is everything okay?”. Yes, it is okay and if we need anything we will let you know. I understand them checking with us after our order comes to make sure our order was correct, but too many times is just rude.

  27. Diane says:

    …music and/or clanking dishes too loud for good conversation
    …taking my dishes before I’ve left (unless putting down a dessert etc)… and especially when it takes a while and I have to wait for awhile before continuing my conversation (which is intended only for the person I’m eating with)
    …hon… or even sweetie (when not directed at a child)
    …food not good enough to warrant the $$
    …and I agree about the curt/etc welcomers and also servers…yuk

  28. JaneR says:

    Servers who, when you say “thank you”, reply “no problem!” The correct response is “you are welcome.” This is probably a generational thing…
    Servers who deliver my glass holding it by the rim, where I will be drinking from.
    Restaurants that take your reservation, then call you the afternoon of your dinner and change it to another time.

  29. Susie says:

    Loud, obnoxious, crying or screaming children. The parents act like they cannot even hear them and really do not care that they are disturbing everyone in the restaurant! Dirty tables and utensils. You have on nice clothes, but hate to sit down for fear of your clothes getting permanent grease stains,etc. Waiting on and serving the man first. Acting as if the woman is not there!!

  30. Susie says:

    Loud, obnoxious, crying, screaming children! The parents act like they cannot even hear them when they are disturbing everyone in the restaurant! Dirty tables and utensils! When you are wearing nice clothing you hate to sit down for fear of permanent grease stains ruining your attire. Waitress serving the man first almost completely ignoring the woman.

  31. Linda B says:

    When I ask a waitstaff how is this ew dish tasting, I do NOT want to hear “Eveything here tastes good.”. Come on, let’s have a little honesty here. Not everythng on the menu is five-star.

    But, what I abhor the most is receiving hot food that is tepid or cold, and cold food that has warmed to room temperature. I don’t want to watch my food sit & sit after the chef worked so hard preparing it while my waitstaff is too busy to serve it to me. Has management never heard of ‘team serving”? Or is it beneath the manager to serve it while its still good….
    Even lowly Red Robin gets food out immediately afterpreparation. – Linda B

  32. Betty says:

    I love children except for the children that are allowed to run and throw things or scream. Parents please make your children behave or take them out of the resturant.

  33. Jules says:

    I went to a restaurant not long ago and was served my delicious meal on a chipped plate. As I am one of these quirky people who likes to photograph what I eat if it looks delicious (sometimes I try to get creative and replicate it at home, or just because I love the way great food looks), this was a particular bummer because I couldn’t get a good shot. But not only that, chipped plates are health risks, and out of all the plates they must have in their kitchen, surely they have many non-chipped ones, so why serve a paying customer on a chipped one.

  34. Pam says:

    Waitress sits next to you to take your order…too friendly.
    Dirty salt and pepper shakers.
    One item for dinner available…went to a local restaurant and the menu was pulled pork sandwich with cowboy beans. We settled on Coka Cola…the only drink besides beer.

  35. Jacquelyn says:

    1. When your food takes forever and no one is in the restaurant.

    2. (I really try not to do this because I work in a kitchen and it bugs me when customers do this.) When I ask for a substitute or omission of an ingredient and my order isn’t delivered according to what I’ve told the waiter.

    3. I hate when a waiter asks how my meal was and acts snotty if my response is less than pleasing. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know. Even still, the kitchen needs to know if their salmon is overcooked when I ask for medium or their vegetables are inedible due to seasoning. I’m always very nice to the waitstaff if I’m not completely satisfied because I hope another customer’s meal doesn’t have the same mistakes as mine did.

  36. Connie says:

    Hate when you are sitting in a booth and the seats were not properly cleaned or the table remains sticky.

  37. Roy says:

    Turn the music down; regardless of what type just lower the volume. Bad enough that old age is taking our hearing but to complete against the music is too much.
    Waiters who can not speak English; recently visited very upscale eatery in Palm Springs; waiter gave us long and detailed verbal description of specials and left. No one at the table had understood one item that he had described. I will add that the service was very good.

  38. Peggy B. says:

    I hate it when a waitress/waiter greets the table with gum in their mouth or has perfume/ cologne on. I do not want to see anything that the are or have been gnawing on and I certainly don’t want their scent to overpower the wonderful smells that you experience in a restaurant.

    GROOMING!!! Huge issue for me. Do not come anywhere near me or my food if you have dirty fingernails, nailpolish on, a dirty uniform or apron on or just plain are unkempt. There is not one excuse for this. Management should be on top of this and send home offenders. I realize that accidents happen and there can be spills and such, but c’mon people…How hard is it to keep a change of uniform with you?

  39. Nancy says:

    Overly chatty waiter/server, who lingers at the table and makes personal chit-chat like an old friend you haven’t seen in years. I do not want to be caught up on your activities. I’m here to enjoy the company of my dinner companions not the server.

    When the waiter checks back and says is everything alright, can I get you anything else to the male at the table, completely ignoring the female diner. So rude.

    Having to to ask for the tab. Pls pay attention, when dinner is clearly over, I don’t want to hunt down the waiter and ask for the check. I don’t advocate it, but my sister gets up and heads for the door…that gets their attention, but it’s very embarrassing.

    And…pay attention to my credit card, I’d like the same one back that I gave you please!

  40. Mitch says:

    My gripe is similar to Karen’s complaint about loud music. My gripe is when the restaurant is too loud, from music or otherwise. Most new “trendy” restaurants have hard floors, walls and ceilings that echo and amplify the sound inside. My hearing is not as good as it used to be, and I often cannot hear my companions. I won’t go back to places like that, and have often walked out even before sitting down if they have such poor acoustics.

  41. Pam says:

    I wonder why no one has mentioned this: I really dislike people nearby talking on their cell phones. I don’t want to know their intimacies.

    I also dislike it when you arrive at your table first but someone who came in after you gets waited on first. It may be that a different server is in charge of your table but the other waitstaff should mention that to you.

  42. JaneR says:

    And I wholeheartedly agree: please don’t call me honey or sweetie. Both make me cringe.

  43. Ann N says:

    3) Of my stories. I was out with my family and had ordered dinner. First problem, they were training waiters, so we had 5 or 6 waiters all in a row at our table reciting the menu and ‘supposedly’ memorizing our orders. Everything went well and everyone was served with what they had ordered. The only problem was for our daughter-in-law. She had ordered a bowl of spaghetti. When she started to eat it, there was something underneath the spaghetti in the bowl. Someone had put her bowl on a plate and placed the napkin that went under the bowl inside the bowl. Then her spaghetti was served on top of the napkin. I wonder if they were training new chefs as well as waiters?

  44. Jack Sage says:

    Seating those of us without children next to people with squalling kids with horrible table manners, or seating the family next to us when there are plenty of other places in the restaurant away from us.

  45. Robert says:

    1. We had lunch at an upscale restaurant in a local golf club. We could see into the kitchen and witnessed one of the cooks taking off his baseball cap, running his hands through his long, unwashed hair and then going right back to putting sandwiches together.

    2. Loud waitstaff who sneak up and ambush the table, yelling “HOW ARE WE DOIN’ HERE!?” They always seem to ask just as all our mouths are full.

    3. Being ignored while waiting to be seated because the hostess is missing. Especially when a dozen other staffers just walk by. One time we waited for about 10 minutes, even asking the bartenders where the hostess was. She eventually sauntered out of the kitchen and took our name, telling us it would be another 15 minutes (half of the tables vacant).
    Apparently, she was also the busboy that night. She walked to one of the tables filled with dishes. She picked up a single plate an glass and wandered back tot he kitchen. We just walked out ofter that…

  46. Lil says:

    Children that do not know how to behave and the parents do not do anything

    My other complaint, cell phones and the biggest complaint is when men will not remove there hats, it is done by young men and I find older men are the worse.

  47. Nancy says:

    During this economy, we aren’t able to eat out very often. Our favorite meal is breakfast.
    We love to seek out little hole in the wall diners that often have fabulous meals at great prices! We also have to endure some of the chains while driving up and down the interstate!
    I don’t mind the sweeties and hons, as long as they come from those Flo type waitresses tat belong in those mid state places! That’s what they grew up with, and that’s what they know! BUT, don’t like the 19YOs that are “trained” to do that! LOL Seems really fake!
    Back to breakfast (which usually is also lunch), I get frustrated with the chain places zipping the toast through a machine to warm it, and hash BROWNS being mildly TAN looking. For this reason, DH and I order our toast TOASTED and our hash browns BROWN/CRISPY or chuckle chuckle Elvis style!
    Usually we get a chuckle and wait a few extra minutes for our Elvis style meal (we expect a couple of extra minutes), but we’ve been getting VERY rude side remarks about “other people have to eat too” Yes, but the place wasn’t all that crouded! Grrrr
    Extra charges for larger parties.
    I work with spec ed students and we go out to eat once a week.I f we happen to make a reservation, they treat us as a “party” and charge us an extra 15%!!!!
    We no longer make reservations, but we DO let them know we are coming!
    We have the students come in in small groups of 4-5, staggered, with staff nearby. They order by themselves, get help from us to pay (all $ is figured out ahead of time), and the wait staff gets a good 20% or more tip! They LOVE to see us coming NOW!!!!!!! LOL
    Happy eating! I actually have more, but, too wordy! LOL Nancy

  48. Jessy says:

    I saw a comment above about waitstaff clearing plates before the customers are done with them. My pet peeve is just the opposite.
    I have had several dining experiences at establishments with small tables (at least proportionate to the number of people they seat at them) where the servers never “manicure” the table. We’re literally struggling throughout the whole meal to eat around the dirty dishes.
    I can finish my salad, finish the appetizer, and have two empty drinking glasses per person on the table, and the server just scoots the empty dishes out of the way and sets down the main course. I could never be this bold, but my husband always says he’s going to put the dirty dishes on the floor where the server can’t help but step on them.

    And I have to agree with Joy. The way people talk to seniors is atrocious sometimes. People don’t lose IQ points just because they’re retired/have white hair/have hearing issues. I’m 28, and I just don’t understand it, but I see it all the time.

    And to Yoshi: this is a respectable blog and we’re all grownups here. Please stop trolling.

  49. Loretta says:

    Ohhhh … the list goes on and ON! Too loud music; holes in the tablecloth; mold on the butter; having noisy young children and their parents seated at the next table when the restaurant is practically empty; overly friendly wait-staff, inattentive wait-staff (at least you don’t have to endure both at the same time!); lighting so dim one can’t read the menu unless you brought along a flashlight; dirty plates/glasses/utensils/wait-staff et al; restaurant not having items on the menu, especially specials; order is incorrect.

    But my biggest gripe of all is burnt food. And that includes grill marks. I understand it is fashionable today to scorch those grill marks into the food, but c’mon people, black =charcoal= burnt! I have to order ‘grilled’ items to be grilled on the flat-top — and explain that I WILL send black back.

  50. JaneR says:

    The previously stated point about perfumes and aftershaves is a pet peeve of mine. I don’t want to smell the person of the waiter (and hopefully not of the other diners); rather the food, please! Definitely a management issue.

  51. kären says:

    Don’t address us/me as ‘sweetie’, etc. or ‘you guys’ – I am not a ‘guy’, and please keep your fingers/hands only on the bottoms of glasses and silverware , not where my mouth will be touching them.

  52. carla says:

    My biggest pet peeve is when the waiter tries to shake the hands of everybody in the party as they are being seated. I do not know where those hands have been and do not want to shake your hand. I do have a comeback now and everytime it happens, I explain that I have a cold that I do not want to share with the waiter….Also, people on cell phones talking loudly so all can hear their personal life stories, big money deals, and their self importance stories.

  53. Karen says:

    Peggie B., nail polish? Come on, we’re girls, excuse me, women.

  54. Kitty says:

    Noisy children! If I am paying a lot of moeny for food, I don’t want children there.

    Loud music – turn it off, especially if it is fast.

    People using cell phones – turn them off! I would never dream of taking my cell phone into a really nice restaurant!

    No reservations – I really don’t like it when a restaurant doesn’t take reservations.

    And being a Southerner I don’t mind being called “honey”. Just the way we are down here in the South.

  55. Johnnyde says:

    After being seated, I can’t stand to have to wait what seems forever to get a drink order placed. I NEED that first drink to settle in and relax. I can’t take it when the wait steff clears the table BEFORE everyone has finished their meal. It seems like the restaurant wants the table back. I reward those restaurants that serve me well with frequent visits and those that don’t I hardly ever return.

  56. Emil Rodriguez says:

    I am currently in the DIY/retail industry, so I don’t do too many upscale establishments. But one thing that puts all A-players to the top of the list is this: customers are lookign to have an experience-a positive one that they can feel good about for a long time.
    They want a clean fresh atmosphere.
    They want genuine customer service.
    They want a great deal.
    They want to know that when they leave, you’ve given them as much as you can, without making them feel as if they’ve taken something away from you. If you’ve had a bad day, it’s not the customer’s fault. If you’re short-handed, be courteous! Some customers have ratty attitudes, but most of them have come in with money.

  57. Liz says:

    I see that many of us have the same issues. There is one that has not been mentioned yet.
    I do not like the method some places use when clearing dishes between courses. Sometimes the staff picks up your plate and silverware, but instead of walking away, they take the dirty silverware they just removed and place it back on the table to be used again. A few of you have already mentioned cleanliness of the furniture and of the staff. I would appreciate that if the restaurant wants the customer to re-use silverware, that the staff should ask me to remove it myself.

  58. RG says:

    Great comments! Keep them coming.

    While reading them, I thought of another pet peeve and that is when the server doesn’t know who ordered what. They stand there with two or three plates and have to ask who was having what.

  59. Earlene says:

    I agree with all others, but my big pet pev- don’t remove my glass from the table, take away to refill! Bring me a fresh glass. A big one for me as mentioned previous- wait until everyone has finished to remove plates. Oh, when they spray the table next to you to clean and it sends a fragrance and mist your way. I can’t stand it when they sweep the floor around where I am eating. Times have really changed!

  60. Jack says:

    We enjoy eating at our local Olive Garden, but they invariably bring the appetizer and salad out at the same time. Then the meal arrives before we are finished either. I call it “continuous eating”
    The “do you need change” question is very annoying, just allow me to tell you whether you can keep the change or not.
    Wait staff can be attentive to their tables without constantly interrupting them. Just walk by slowly and look at the table, if they need anything they will tell you.
    My biggest pet peeve is not the fault of the restaurant but rather poor parenting. Control your children. Also, they are not little adults, you can’t expect them to sit quietly and make conversation. You are the parent, plan ahead and bring something to keep them quietly busy.

  61. Kathleen O'Connor says:

    I am peeved when we go into a restaurant that is not particularely busy and they seat us right next to the only other diners in the place! Why can’t we be seated a polite distance away, so that each table can have their own conversations. I hate to ask to be seated elsewhere because it makes it look like there is something wrong with the diners that were there first. We are not snobs, and we do not like to give that impression, so most of the time we just stay where they put us, and silently fume through our meal.

  62. Kelly says:

    I HATE when waitstaff ask “have you dined with us before?” Does that ever really matter? No matter what the hook or concept of the restaurant – things are usually the same: I order, waitstaff brings the food and busboys clear the plates.

  63. Mary Linda Smith says:

    Thanks for this opportunity!!! I hate being seated at a table next to the bathroom, or the noise of, or view of the kitchen, or near a service area. I want to enjoy the surroundings if possible. We are always dressed appropriately, so what’s the deal about seating us in the worst locations? Are they trying to space diners so that each of the wait staff have a go at getting a tip? This happens often even at almost empty restaurants. I’ve finally started to ask pre-emtively to seat us away from these areas or we will prefer to wait until another table or booth becomes available.

    Also, please no sticky seats, tables, menus, ketchup, salt and pepper shakers, etc!!!

    And, unless I enjoin you to a conversation, please don’t assume that I want to listen to your life’s story. However, there are times when, out of compassion, I will listen and talk w/ you as it is clear that you need ministry. Otherwise, kind waitperson, I am here to enjoy my husband. And we are here to get away from it all for a few brief moments.

  64. Hennie @ Batonage says:

    Someone emailed me this article and I laughed so hard I almost wee’d – I wrote an almost identical pet peeve piece (in 3 parts) a couple of weeks ago. I agree and concur with you on all the points. It seems that this is universal, as we’re based in Cape Town South Africa, and have the same kinds of issues.

    Have a look if you have time

    There’s 3 posts about it – you will find the link to the first 2 in this part

    http://batonage.com/2011/07/25/the-service-conundrum-part-3/

  65. Linda says:

    I agree with all of the comments. I’ll add to the list that I absolutely cringe when chairs are dragged around (usually very nosily) when tables are being bused. And yes, please wait until everyone is finished to remove plates. If you can’t do this, then buy more plates!

  66. Nuria says:

    Not checking if my beverage needs refilled. 2. when the appetizer comes out with the meal. 3. making you feel guilty for NOT ordering dessert 4. Small table and don’t remove plates from our way!

    Personal pet peeves: Parents who don’t remove crying babies. 2. People who answer cell phone calls and talk loudly. I’ve seen one or two restaurants that have a cell talking area which I thought was creative. Can’t you live without your cell phone for an hour? How important are you?

  67. Shelly says:

    Great blog on cooking schools!

    Hi Shelly, thanks for sharing. – RG

  68. RG says:

    I’m not sure if no smoking in restaurants is a federal law or state by state, but I’m happily surprised no one has made smoking a pet peeve. I guess for smokers it’s a pet peeve you are not allowed to smoke but I remember when restaurants had smoking sections and if you were seated next to it, you might as well been in it.

  69. The Bald Vivant says:

    An overly friendly waiter at an overpriced Upper West Side diner asked me “Isn’t that delicious”? after serving me a mediocre chicken salad sandwich

  70. Crista says:

    Having been a server for many years I still feel there needs to be a class or at the very least a manual for wait staff. Some small changes would greatly enhance their tips!
    1. Management: NO ONE wants to sit next to the restrooms or the kitchen door.
    2. Wait staff: Don’t interrupt our conversation. Either cruise your tables, quietly, or stand to the side of the room and scan your tables. When the diner wants something, they will make eye contact with you.
    3. Mark your order so that you know or whoever serves the food knows where it goes. It is very annoying to have a server call out…..”who had the ___?”.
    4. This one may raise some eyebrows, but I like it when the server asks how we want our checks. separate or together.
    Whether small mom and pop places. chains, or high end places, this article would benefit all involved. Infact, I think I will print it and send it to all my local eateries.

    thank you for the opportunity to express our opinions

    You are very welcome and great points. – RG

  71. David says:

    Poor lighting.

    Cold Bread/Cold Butter

    Wait staff handling my glass by the rim.

    Wait staff should always check back at your table within minutes to check if everything is OK with your meals. 10 minutes later is TOO late.

    Unattended children at my tableside.

    Crying babies and cell phones should be outside.

  72. Eileen says:

    I can handle most anything but the following:
    Washing a nearby table while I am still dining. When I am enjoying my meal, I certainly don’t want the scent of ammonia, bleach, vinegar or commercial cleaners anywhere around. And the same goes for vacuuming or sweeping the floor.
    Dirty salt and pepper shakers or condiment bottles are disgusting.

  73. Barbara says:

    Great food that is supposed to be kept warm served on a cold plate. By the time you get half way done your food is cold.
    And then there’s hot plates right out of the dishwasher placed for use at the salad bar.

  74. Sammy salsa says:

    You need to ask the owners and waiters what their pet peeves are about the public and their idiotic questions.

  75. Nancy Birkett says:

    I just thought of another one: restaurants that are so cold you would think you are in a meat locker! I always bring a sweater but am often still very, very cold. The servers tell me that they are so hot they have to keep it cold. I didn’t realize they were the paying customer. Love your blog.

    Thanks Nancy and great point. – RG

  76. Rob says:

    All these comments are great! Maybe if we all developed a bit of “Larry David” and started voicing our conerns to the wait staff and rest. managers, we’d make some progress.

    Anyway, here are a few of mine:

    Servers who constantly ask you if you want another drink (even when the one you are working on is not finished), but somehow forget to fill your water glass.

    btw…a simple way to assure that your drinks arrive before the food is to to tell the waiter you will order your food after the drinks arrive. Likewise, if you are not rushed, and you are ordering appetizers, order them and wait until they come before ordering the main dish.

    If the waiter/bushelp is filling your water glass too frequently, just rest a spoon on top of it. They’ll get the idea.

    Another peeve is glasses that were not properly rinsed and allowed to dry and you smell the disnifectant.

    Nine out of ten servers do not know how to pour beer properly.

    To the writer who doesn’t want to ask the host(ess) to sit further away from folks already seated because she is afraid that it will look like an insult to those customers….please…get that out of your head! If I’m already seated and there are lots of empty tables, I would much rather they put newcomers further from me. I don’t care if you just signed a multi-year contract with the Ford agency….we all like our space and I’d rather admire you from afar.

    Finally, one peeve not mentioned, I think: Restaurants who have good service but when it comes to bringing you the check, take forrever. This seems to happen when the restaurant is nearly empty, early in the evening….I think they want to keep you seated so it looks better for potential new customers.

    Great points Rob. My wife was just mentioning your last peeve to me last night. You can have a perfect night with great food and great service but if you have to wait and wait and then beg the waiter to bring you your check, then the night isn’t so perfect. If we are with the kids and it’s getting late, one of us will usually start leaving with them and that seems to get their attention. – RG

  77. Jenni says:

    In regard to the nail polish issue–I completely agree. Especially around food. Nail polish can chip and flake off. I’m not saying that it *would,* mind you, but just the fact that it *can* is enough. When I worked as a pastry chef, fingernail polish was completely forbidden in the kitchen for sanitary reasons. Now, if I see a picture on a food blog and the person handling the food is wearing nail polish, or worse: chipped nail polish, I kind of shudder.

    Yes, we’re girls, but when you work around food, you’re a cook/chef first and a gender second.

  78. Kerryo says:

    Waiters should take orders plotted on a “clock” of the table. Then they will know, when delivering, who gets what. I don’t want to hear ” who ordered the cannelloni?” etc. Especially if there are only two or three diners, come on!

  79. Kelly says:

    Hot food should always be served on a hot plate, and cold food should always be served on a cold plate.

    I get annoyed when my husband and I order water to drink and then the waiter/waitress tries to tell us everything else they have to drink. I can read the drink menu, and if I want something else, I will ask for it. I don’t need you to “sell” me a drink.

  80. Joni says:

    Great blog and great list! I was a server for many years and a restaurant manager for a few more and I always notice all of these things now it seems.

    My absolute biggest pet peeve is being seated and not being acknowledged by a server right away. Time goes by so much slower as a customer than it does as a server and for some reason servers don’t realize that 60 seconds to a customer is an entirely different amount of time than 60 seconds to a server. Please just let me know that you are aware that I am there even if you are busy – with a friendly “I’ll be right with you” or something like that so I don’t worry that I wasn’t seen or could be over looked.

    Also – “Is there just one of you?” like a guest eating alone is something to be ashamed of. I enjoy taking myself out to eat from time to time, that way I don’t have to worry about anyone else not liking the place I really want to eat at – don’t make me feel bad about it! Also don’t assume that because I am alone that I won’t tip well and not give me your best service – sometimes the biggest tips come from the most unexpected tables.

    Let me know if you do a list about servers/managers complaints about guests too – I have tons of those as well!

    Thanks Joni, a list of servers/managers complaints may be in order. We should know what peeves they have although I’m not so sure it will go over as well. Next week, after this hurricane, I may do a post on what I like best about restaurants including food and service. – RG

  81. Joan Z says:

    1. Poorly timed service, so that a before dinner drink is followed (much too soon) with salad, which is again followed too soon with the entree.
    2. Cold food served on hot plates, and vice versa.
    3. Cleaning nearby table with disinfectant while I am eating – the smell is overwhelming and disgusting.
    4. My 78 yr old spouse and I being addressed as “guys”

    Great points Joan. I would include getting the appetizer right away and then waiting forever for the entree. – RG

  82. molly says:

    I for one will forgive a hostess with a bad attitude – you have any idea what a horrible job that is? waitstaff at least gets paid well, hostesses stand there for minimum wage dealing with angry customers who have to wait (sorry, but what do you expect her to do if all the tables are full?) or angry servers who don’t have enough tables because on that particular night, their section happened to be near the bathroom or the kitchen. things don’t just fall into place, the hostess organizes the entire night for very little compensation. Just sayin’

    Interesting point Molly, but if they hate the job, why not try something else. Besides, it’s not the customer’s fault that the restaurant is overbooked or the kitchen is having trouble getting the food out on time. Nor is it the fault of the restaurant if diners linger at their table longer than usual but a well run establishment should have that figured out after a short time. I personally don’t think there is any reason for anyone in the restaurant, front, back or customers, to have attitude. – RG

  83. molly says:

    Also, having worked in food service, the business of being required to fill your water glass, or ask you if you want another drink, is almost always required by the manager. I’m sorry if it seems pushy, but I’d rather you have a full glass of water than get a talking to about being inattentive. If you’re not thirsty, you don’t have to drink it.

  84. Greg says:

    I don’t like when you go to a restaurant where everything is perfect but when you order a soda instead of wine, it comes out in a warm bottle and the waiter pours it over a little ice. it looses all of its fizz and it melts the ice so you end up with this watery fizzless soda

  85. RG says:

    I just experienced a new one while dining out last week. The restaurant was freezing. My wife and kids brought sweatshirts and they were still cold. The couple next to us got up and left. I guess enough people complained so they turned down the AC and the rest of the meal was perfect.

  86. Mary says:

    People who eat out loud…for instance hearing people chomping on chips 3 tables away. Close your mouth please!!

    Nail polish is a nasty no-no in the food service industry.

    Facial piercings on servers induces loss of appetite for me.

    Being addressed as honey, sweetie, sugar etc – it is ill-mannered, condescending and rude no matter where you are from.

    Indifferent or indignant responses from managers and servers to objective criticism. I’m not trying to get a free meal here; it was you who asked if everything was ok. Btw – as a manager, is ‘ok’ an acceptable response to you? Raise the bar of service expectations and you’ll see repeat customers and higher tips!!

    Sweeping the floor/carpet around diners!!

    Hot food not hot and cold food not cold.

    Lipstick on glassware, dirty silverware and dishes.

    Sticky ketchup, mustard, S/P etc.

    The biggest one for me that I don’t think anyone else has mentioned, but I really do not like the servers to recite the specials. My mind won’t retain any of it especially when you recite them before I’ve had a chance to read the menu. I really wish more restaurants would take the time to print a small copy of the specials and tuck it into each menu.

  87. skyler says:

    I’ve noticed many of you have listed a wait staff waiting behind you while you go over the menu as a pet peeve.

    I’m sure in many cultures this would be considered rude, however I often deal with foreigners here in China making the same complaint.

    In most cultures in the world, the idea of waiting tables in a restaurant is different than in North America, for example tipping, as I’m sure most of you are aware isn’t common hardly anywhere else.

    Waiting for the customer to order is most cultures I’ve seen (North America and western Europe being the exception to the rule) is actually considered a sign of respect, as the wait staffs full attention and expertise is available throughout your entire decision making process. There is absolutely no implication on behalf of the wait staff to rush the diner, in fact they have the complete opposite intention. Leaving the customer is a sign of a cheap dining establishment that can’t afford a proper wait staff.

    I hope that this will give you some insight into your dining habits from a global perspective.

    Thank you Skyler for your insight. It’s great to learn more about other cultures and their dining habits. I welcome anyone else who might have some global views on this topic. – RG

  88. AK says:

    Nice Post !!Thank you for inviting to share. I am from India and I agree with the majority of the comments here.

    My gripe is about the wait-staff bringing out the bill without asking whether we are done. I experienced this at a very busy restaurant where many people were waiting to be seated. Yet it irritated me to have the bill even before i finished the dessert

  89. Jody says:

    Did anyone mention screaming, yelling, loud kids? I raised three children and NEVER were they loud, etc,etc. Also Please don’t call me a “guy” since I am a female. How many times have I gone out with my hus band or a male and the waitress asked “Are you guys ready to order. I live in the South, and realize this is acceptable up North, however I want to be addressed appropriately!!!

  90. Jody says:

    Oh, yes. The VERY worst Pet Peeve is SMOKING or smelling it. Could put up with a lot if I don’t have to smell cigarette smoke!!!!!!!

  91. Jim T says:

    You’ve got a lot of cranky readers. I agree with a lot of them, but I must admit a lot of the peeves have occurred to me, but I’ve been mostly able to avoid them. I do ask for a different table if they try to seat us next to loud rugrats or if they are seated after our arrival. I live in Illinois, so most of my restaurant experiences are smoke-free. My pet peeve is the waitperson telling me his/her name. I expect them to eyeball me and my table at reasonably frequent intervals so that I won’t have to summon them or request that another summon them.

  92. Kanna-Chan says:

    Wait staff are abused much more often than the customers so the customers can just suck it up and deal with it.

  93. Crystal says:

    Oh, I have so much to say… Just a few responses:
    1. Why do you get sat close to the only other tables in the restaurant when the restaurant is slow? Because there are not very many servers working, and so all the tables coming in get put into a limited number of sections. Each section consists of five or so tables that are grouped together.
    2. Servers removing plates before everyone is finished… we are repeatedly told by management to do this. I used to go by the “Don’t take any plates away until everyone has finished” rule, but after four managers in a row telling me that I need to clear each plate as soon as it’s emptied, I gave up.
    3. Intrusive service- I wish there were more people like the people who have that complaint. It seems, however, that the majority of people do NOT ask for something if they need it. They want their server to magically know that they want it, and if they have to actually ask for it then they are dissatisfied with the service they received. Thus, servers develop a compulsion to keep checking on tables even if their seem like they’re doing alright.
    4. Explaining the menu/describing drinks/making recommendations: those are all things that we are encouraged or required to do. You think we enjoy reciting the same spiel thirty times a night while tables stare blankly at us? That one’s all management.
    5. The overly chatty server seems to be a common complaint on here, too… funny, because I actually agree with you. When I’m out to eat, I want to talk to my companion, not the server. However, a lot (A LOT) of people really like servers who chit chat with them.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that your pet peeve is probably someone else’s favorite thing. People always think that their expectations and desires are the norm, but the truth is that there is no norm. Everyone wants different things. Just tell the server what they can do to make you happy. We’re just normal people, most of us have souls and although we’re not mind readers we want you to enjoy your meal.

    Great points Crystal. Thanks – RG

  94. anne says:

    what Jack said is true, I hate sitting next to children, they can ruin a night out, parents, take them to McDonalds not a expensive restaurant where they have to wait, or the restaurant should have a different room where their kids can hang out, without bothering everyone around them.

  95. Sarah Pitcher says:

    Most people are upset because they have to wait for their food. I am more upset when it comes too quickly. If I am out for dinner, at my age, dinner is my entertainment for the evening. My husband and I like to share an appetizer, or maybe a salad, let that digest a little, and then go on to the main course. Having food rushed out to us has become such an issue that, as soon as we sit down, my husband tells the server that we are in no hurry. Sometimes, we don’t order our main course until we have been served our starter.

  96. Clare says:

    Ok , I know this is not the biggest sin,
    but, would it be too much to ask that
    When serving bread or breakfast breads
    And bagels, the butter could be soft
    And spreadable ?

  97. Jim B says:

    Tin foil left on, or worse, in the baked potato and sour cream in a plastic cup. It’s lazy and ruins an otherwise nice experience.

  98. RK says:

    Pet peeves-

    a-No napkin or coaster for your drinks. This is especially annoying when
    there are several people in the dinning party. I hate having the glasses sweating all over the table.

    b- When servers clear tables and drop dishes “silverware” loudly into the sinks or tubs where they drop dirty dishes. Its the most annoying sound.

    c- Crying babies. Management should ask parents to take kids outside.

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