Always Tip Your Server, and Other Restaurant Etiquette

In the latest episode of the Essential Cooking podcast, Ann Delisi and co-host Chef James Rigato talk about the do’s and don’ts of dining out.

The restaurant industry has been hit hard as a result of COVID-19, and though it is still unclear when it will be safe to dine out again, there are some things that will always make you a better customer at your favorite restaurant.

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Gratitude and Appreciation

Restaurant staff work hard to give you an enjoyable dining experience. As a customer, small acts of kindness towards your server and kitchen staff can go a long way.

If you want to wow the staff before they’ve even received your order, bring a 12-pack of beer with you and ask your server to give it to the kitchen staff. They’ll appreciate the gesture and remember your kindness when they finish their shift and crack open your ‘thank you brew.’

Don’t Snap Your Fingers, Ever 

According to Chef James Rigato, one of the worst things a customer can do is snap their fingers or shake an empty glass at a server. It’s just plain rude. If your service is slow or your order was wrong, your server is most likely overwhelmed. Give them the benefit of the doubt and be patient.


When you get your bill and are calculating the tip, be generous, regardless of the speed of your service or the quality of your food. Tips are a crucial part of a server’s income and should be treated as such.

Negative Reviews 

Think twice before leaving a negative review on sites like Yelp. Your review will be visible to the public for years to come, even if your experience was an isolated incident. The damage to a restaurant’s reputation can be irreparable, especially for new restaurants that might still be working out the kinks of their operation.

On the other hand, leaving a positive review of your new favorite restaurant can help balance out negative reviews left by disgruntled customers.

Be Kind

While there are no rules to being a restaurant customer, being kind and appreciative of staff will ensure that your dining experiences are enjoyable for everyone involved.

In this episode

  • Give an easy gift of appreciation to kitchen staff
  • Tipping your servers
  • When it is OK to send food back
  • What happens when you leave a negative review
  • Why you should order a dealer’s choice cocktail when trying out a new restaurant

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  • Ann Delisi
    Ann Delisi hosts Essential Music, the Essential Conversations podcast series and the Essential Cooking broadcast and podcast. Born and raised in the Motor City, Ann is a broadcaster, interviewer, producer, music host, storyteller and proud Detroiter.