Don’t Stack Plates—and Other Habits Local Waiters Want Customers To Stop
Top image: Stephanie Lee / RICE file photo

“Stacking plates and glasses are always appreciated… if done properly. If you do it, please put all the bits of food on the topmost plate/glass. If you want to be a really good customer, wipe up anything on the table—spilt drinks and sauce especially. I know it’s our job to clean up, but it can get gross. I would take a customer who wipes up but does not stack plates any day.”

– Hidayah

“At the mid-end places I worked at, I personally appreciate it if customers try to help by stacking their plates. But if you do, it would be nice if you could stack them in ascending order from big plates to smaller ones. Or else, the wait staff would have to repeat the process, which would be a waste of both parties’ efforts.

If you were to visit a high-end restaurant, it would be uncalled for if you did this, so it is just a matter of where you are dining.”

– Justin

“We appreciate it when you stack your plates so it’s easier for us to clear your table, but please ensure all your leftovers and trash are on the top layer instead of squished in between. It just makes it harder for us (or the dishwasher of the day) to clean the plates when they have to manually scrape the soggy, pulpy remnants into the trash can. Sometimes it’s easier if you leave your plates alone and let us handle the cleaning if you don’t know what you’re doing.”

– Chris

“I would appreciate it if customers put their used tissues into cups. They can fly around sometimes, making it difficult for me to chase them on the floor.”

– Jamie

Image: Shiva Bharathi Gupta / RICE file photo

“Please show up with the same number of people reflected in your reservation. When the restaurant gets busy, it becomes a puzzle trying to seat you. We have to maximise our space while trying to fit all our other reservations. Appearing with a few extra customers would thwart our planning, and we might not be able to accommodate a big group suddenly. Maybe next time, drop a call before arriving to check if it’s okay.

– Sarah

“I am unsure why some customers snap their fingers to get attention for the bill, but I am fairly certain no one likes being called that way. A simple arm raise and asking for the bill is sufficient enough.”

– Vivek

“I don’t mind the whole signing in the air thing because it is efficient and allows customers to continue their conversation with their friends. And, don’t steal our pens!”

– Donald

“I’d prefer if you just signal from afar with your hands or mouth it to me that you want your bill. It can be a little annoying when customers can see that I’m busy handling something else, and they still call me over to their table just to say they want their bill. It’s just easier for us if you let us know from a distance—we can probably access the POS stations and print the bill quicker instead of doing the extra work of walking to your table first.”

– Ching

“Some customers like to split bills, and while I don’t mind doing it for two to three credit cards, splitting it into anything more is extremely time-consuming. Just PayNow each other!”

– Maria

Image: Shiva Bharathi Gupta / RICE file photo

“As someone who worked at a bar, I thought it would be fun when customers offer you a drink. But after it happened a bunch of times, I realised it was kind of annoying. I’d have no time to entertain them with all the work we have. And if they keep pushing drinks and I’m not careful, I’ll get too tipsy to do my job properly. Which actually did happen one time. But at the same time, it feels a little hard to say no— especially when customers are pushy.”

– Wei Ming

“I’ve heard that some gestures are seen as rude, like signing in the air. Honestly, for myself, I don’t mind any of the gestures as long as the customer does it with a smile. It can be the smallest smile, and that’s enough.”

– Natalie

“It’s a small thing, but it gets kinda annoying when customers act like they know our menu front-to-back and demand that we serve their ‘usual’ the way they like it. Like, who the fuck are you bro, I work here for like $6 an hour.”

– Arjun

“I worked at Fish & Co as both a server and a line cook, and on both sides, I always hate it when someone demands all the sauces just because they know we can actually serve dips other than mayo, ketchup or chilli sauce. Yeah, sure, let me stop whatever I’m doing to get you your garlic butter sauce and 100 other dips in ramekins and then toss it all in the bin when you can’t even finish them.

– Ilyas

Image: Stephanie Lee / RICE file photo

“Maybe they don’t know better, but FUCK, I hate it when customers enter the restaurant 10 minutes before the last order. If they know our operating hours and if they know the time that the restaurant closes, they should know that we hate having to serve them when we could instead start cleaning up and close shop early.

But this depends on managers on duty, though. If they’re cool, they would just tell us not to let them in because we’re about to close. If not, everyone—back of house and front of house—will be stuck serving this lone table until the very last minute of our opening hours before they finally bugger off.”

– Ryan

“Because we’re usually running around serving other tables, it’d be great if you knew what you want before calling us to make your order. It’s awkward and wastes our time during peak periods when we have to stand at your table while you hem and haw about what you want to order.”

– Hafiz

“I think you simply need to treat us as fellow humans. Some people get the idea that service staff are somehow of a lower class than customers and expect them to be at their bidding every moment.

Just know that we have other customers to attend to, and we’re people who sometimes make mistakes —like forgetting your special request or taking a bit longer than usual. Just be patient and give a polite reminder if we didn’t give what you requested. When something is wrong, just let us know instead of being all passive-aggressive.”

– Jasmine

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