28 things restaurants do well – praise for great food service

Dan Gentile

There’s a lot of room for error in the restaurant industry, but when all goes well, it’s like a beautiful symphony of half-rare cheeseburgers and quickly-filled water glasses.

To thank you, we’ve compiled a list of all the amazing little things restaurants do to make you feel right at home, while also reminding you that you are definitely not at home. Read on, then close your eyes and imagine a wonderful place where bread is free and hand soaps smell great.

credit card
Dan Gentile

Divide the bill

No one carries cash anymore except bartenders, strippers, and grandparents, so paying with multiple cards shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Bonus points if the server takes out several pens to sign all these merchant copies.

Effortlessly transfer tabs from the bar to your table

The world of point-of-sale systems is a rabbit hole that no man should have to go too deep into, but it seems likely that if someone is drinking in a bar / restaurant, they might be waiting on their doorstep. table. When a bartender is able to magically transfer it to your server, you feel like they’re anticipating your every move.

Have unisex individual bathrooms

All the girls lining up for the bathroom aren’t just lyrics from an old Pharrell song. There is often a serious gender inequality in bathroom wait times, and having individual bathrooms that swing back and forth helps relieve everyone more effectively.

Direct you to these uninvited unisex bathrooms

Everyone’s been there: wiggling aimlessly around the restaurant and poking their heads around the kitchen and employee areas. It’s always wonderful when, instead of just letting you walk around like a headless chicken with a dangerously full bladder, a waiter just points you in the right direction.

Stock bathrooms with fancy soaps and beautiful dryers

Sure, a squirt of this pink slime will kill any bacteria that might linger, but it smells like a science lab and makes your hands feel rough like a stray cat’s paws. A small investment in a good soap lets the customer know the restaurant cares. Bonus points for hand dryers that work well or paper towels that aren’t in a big, soggy pile.

free food
Dan Gentile

Give away free food

Nothing tastes better than freedom. While obviously you don’t get free steak dinners, a little goes a long way in this department. A small appetizer for starters, or even an Andean mint with the check, greatly contributes to customer satisfaction.

Alert you to any registration bonus

Some places give you free dessert for Yelping, Like Facebook, or Check-in on Foursquare. While these can be a total pain, they are often easy and involve the aforementioned free food.

Sincerely tell you that you made a right choice when ordering

A restaurant meal is largely based on expectations and anticipation, and there’s no better way to raise them than to make the customer feel like they’re a menu-whispering genius. A simple claim that they’re ordering something delicious actually makes a difference … don’t pretend, or they’ll lose faith in your taste and honesty.

Have staff who know the menu

It doesn’t give a diner confidence if the waiter can’t talk about every dish with at least a hint of intelligence. When the waiter effortlessly lists the ingredients and can give an honest opinion, it shows that everyone in the chain of command cares about your order.

dog drinking water
Dan Gentile

Be kind to animals

Not all restaurants can accept dogs, but watch how happy this adorable Shih Tzu looks to be hanging out at his owner’s feet with a refreshing cup of water in a restaurant. Or maybe it’s an air of anger, since he has to drink water while his owner shoves a steak down his throat. Fortunately, some restaurants also appease Fido with dog beer.

Send gifts from the kitchen without hesitation

Every time a waiter drops the ball, a customer will happily forgive them for a handful of free shishito peppers. It also makes the somewhat important people really cool on dates, which translates to kisses on the tongue and generous tips.

Have a hostess who is happy to see you

Your first impression on entering a restaurant should be a good one. A hostess shredded with grace, charm and quick wit starts the evening off on the right foot.

Make sure the menu is concise

No one wants to read a novel in a restaurant, unless they are having dinner alone.

Dan Gentile

Controlling the temperature

While you shouldn’t expect someone to adjust the thermostat to your liking, restaurant staff should know enough about the space to be able to keep it suitable. Outdoors on a hot day, that usually means Big Ass (TM!) Fans.

Make sure the specials are special

People who have friends in the restaurant business – or who own one of Anthony Bourdain’s books – know that many promotions are just attempts to ditch the ingredients. Even if this is the reality, it’s important to make the specials feel special and not fall back on a casserole of wilted broccoli with a one-day ketchup dressing.

Playing decent music

Not all restaurants need a DJ, but it helps if there has been some consideration in the noise the customer is listening to for the next 90 minutes. Plus, loud music makes you drink more, so there you go.

Keep that glass of water full

To hell with drought: if the customer needs a gallon of water with these enchiladas, so be it. It becomes much easier if there is only one carafe of water left at the table.

Restaurant SMS
Dan Gentile

Alert you that your table is ready by SMS

It sucks to wait an hour in a restaurant, huddled on the only misplaced bench as people rub against your knees to reach the hostess, only to then be pushed back and look at you like they hate you because you are sitting on the only bench. SMS alert systems allow you to go and drink elsewhere and come back full of mirth and joy.

Get there faster than Batman

The fragile ecosystem of a dining room collapses when someone breaks a glass. When the waiter is there in the blink of an eye, everyone feels a lot less embarrassed.

Offer a consolation prize for using the ATM

There are cash-only restaurants. They’re zero, but so are ATM fees. If you obviously take a hit of $ 3 to withdraw the money, anything the restaurant can do to make you feel less of a fool really helps. Bonus points if it is a free beer.


Not everyone might know your name, but they’ve seen you a few times, and even a subtle nod of recognition makes you feel cooler than Ted Danson.

fancy burger
DB Bistro Modern

Have a good burger

There are only a few good excuses for not having an amazing burger on your menu, two of which are “we’re a sushi restaurant” and “we don’t want to be successful”. No matter how upscale the place is, having an amazing burger on the menu is a godsend for everyone involved.

Include some great vegetarian options as well

There are a lot of terrible things about being a vegetarian, but eating out shouldn’t be.

Remember the ingredients of what you ordered when it arrives without looking like a robot

Especially in high-end joints, the 15 minutes between ordering and receiving food can blur the memory of the type of foam that coats these dive scallops. A little reminder is nice, as long as it doesn’t look like it’s being recited by an android.

glass of beer
Dan Gentile

Use appropriate glassware

If you don’t have stemmed beer glasses, at least suggest pouring that can into a shaker pint glass.

Recharge non-alcoholic drinks for free

Iced tea and fountain drinks should always be bottomless.

Deliver drinks on time

Most people who order drinks in a restaurant take into account how much time they have left to eat. If they order another beer when their entree arrives and it takes 15 minutes for that beer to reach the table, the customer feels pressured to drink it too quickly.

Say goodbye

An Irish goodbye is great for college parties and networking events, but in a restaurant, closing the deal should be as friendly as the start. You shouldn’t feel like you’re having dinner and giving up. Unless you are. What you shouldn’t.

Dan Gentile is a writer on the national food and beverage team at Thrillist. He loves going to restaurants, especially when they have fancy soap. Follow it with the pleasant scent of coriander and peppermint at @ Dannosphere.

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