12/13/2012 12:21:00 PM

Service Week: 10 Dos and Don'ts of Hitting on Your Server

Well, hello....
Yesterday we unveiled the results of our tipping survey, revealing that the national tipping average is 19.7%, the top reason diners give a smaller tip is if the server isn’t friendly enough and approximately 98.98% of surveyors admit to having hit on a server at least once.

OK, we totally made that last one up. But that doesn’t mean 98.98% of diners haven’t at least THOUGHT about it. And in the spirit of the holidays we chatted with some of our service-industry friends and want to give you, our loyal readers, a big gift: 10 dos and don’ts of making that restaurant love connection happen. Just call us Santa. And invite us to the wedding.

Tip #1: DO ask questions

We subscribe to the belief that all humans (and especially human males*) love nothing more than talking about themselves. So tip #1 is to get ‘em doing just that. Ask your server, “How’s your night been so far?” Follow that up with a “What’s good tonight?” to show you’re interested in their opinion. Sound ridiculously simple? Guess what? It is!

Bonus points for actually ordering what they suggest and then telling them how much you enjoyed it. And if you hated the dish, just lie! You need to stay goal-oriented. If that means pretending the tequila turkey fettuccine at Guy’s American Kitchen was just divine, SO BE IT.

Tip #2: DO NOT ask dumb questions

Know your audience. You are not going to get anywhere inquiring about the cheese blend in the tequila alfredo sauce or asking whether the Donkey sauce is organic.

Tip #3: DO keep your order simple

This is the easiest tip of them all: pick an item off the menu and order it. “I’ll have the Guy-talian Nachos, please.” See how easy that is? Yes, the Vegas Fries might just taste better without the bleu-sabi dipping sauce, but you are on a mission. And the mission does not include substitutions. The easier a customer you are, the better your server will like you.

Tip #4: DO not order ridiculous things

This tip is especially important if attempting to hit on your bartender. The Reindeer Martini might be on the menu, but no one’s going to take you seriously if you order and then drink it. Also to be avoided: Long Island Iced Tea, Sex on the Beach, Buttery Nipple and anything with Goldschlager. Basically, avoid ordering anything you would have in college and you’ll be fine.

Pro tip: Bartenders generally hate making mojitos too because they’re labor intensive. If you must, order when the bar is fairly empty and not when the bartender is slammed.

Tip #5: DO flirt

A coy smile here, some prolonged eye contact there - both will show your interest, but not in an overt way that seems desperate or cheesy. You want to be so subtle that your server is left questioning whether you’re truly being flirty or just plain friendly.

Tip #6: DO NOT be creepy

No touching, no leering, no mentioning the fruits of your insta-internet stalking, even if you’re convinced that your shared love of An American Tail means you’re meant to be.

Tip #7: DO eat, drink and be merry

Sure, you’re trying to score a date, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also have fun with those you’re with. Go ahead and order that second bottle of wine (the bigger the bill, the bigger the tip, the happier the server) laugh and enjoy yourself. After all, people who smile and seem happy and positive are more attractive and appealing.

Tip #8: DO NOT get hammered 

Slurring and drunk eating looks good on no one (remember The Hoff?) Look, we’ve all been there, but save the sloppiness for when you’re not trying to charm someone’s pants off.

Tip #9: DO try to be bold

You’ve just spent the entire evening on your best behavior. Do not eff it all up by chickening out at the last minute. So tip well and write a short, cheeky note along with your phone number. Something like “Thanks for taking such good care of us. P.S. that tequila turkey fettuccine really was a trip to flavor town.” Maybe include your number. Good luck.

Tip 10: DO NOT make things uncomfortable

Under no circumstances should you ever ask your server out while he/she is still working. They’re on the job, can’t bolt and must remain cordial, so if you do ask you’re putting them in a tough spot. Keep it classy with a short note and then get the heck out of there. If you do start chatting and they say no, don't push it. They are on the job, and you'll just look pathetic.

Anything we missed? Let us know in the comments.