Things Your Waiter Doesn't Want You To Know

You may have heard that the restaurant business has all sorts of things going on behind-the-curtain you aren’t aware of. But how much of that is affecting your dining experience? With help from Insider and Reader’s Digest, we take a look at 15 things your waiter doesn’t want you to know. (The tip on page 10 may haunt us for a while.)

1. If you feel like you’re overspending …

… you actually are. Especially when it comes to wine. “The house pour Cab Sauv has a wholesale cost of $3/bottle, and you’re going to pay $8/glass,” user and restaurant consultant David Williamson tells Insider. And if you’re in an upscale urban setting, that glass may be even more expensive.

2. Servers usually recommend dishes based on price

“Servers are more likely to sell you more expensive items than best-tasting items, unless you dig for their personal favorites,” one Quora user tells Insider. Sure, your waiter wants you to have a good dining experience. But they ultimately want to be making money off that experience too.

3. The daily special is usually not fresh

More than likely, the special is something the restaurant is trying to get rid of. “Especially watch out for the soup of the day,” one waiter tells Reader’s Digest. “If it contains fish or if it’s some kind of ‘gumbo,’ it’s probably the stuff they’re trying to get rid of. “

4. Beware when you order fish

“Don’t order fish on Sunday or Monday,” one waiter warns Reader’s Digest. “The fish deliveries are usually twice a week, so Tuesday through Friday are great days.” If you really want fish and are feeling bold, you can also ask the restaurant when their seafood gets delivered.

5. You’re waiter can’t tell you certain things

“If you ask me how many calories are in a particular dish, I’m not allowed to tell you even if I know,” a waiter tells Reader’s Digest. “I’m supposed to say, ‘All that information is available online.’” This can apply to other behind the scenes things your waiter has been instructed not to divulge to patrons.

6. Your waiter may not know the truth

It’s possible your waiter doesn’t know the menu forward and backward, so be cautious if he or she tries to snow you. “If you want to know how well your server knows the menu, or whether to trust their opinion on the dishes, ask them about any particular dish,” one Quora user tells Insider. “If all they can say is a few ingredients of the dish, you know not to trust them.”

7. Requests to alter dishes are the worst

What you think is just a minor change is more time-consuming than you think, longtime restaurant worker Emily Carver tells Insider. “The restaurant preps as much as they can ahead of time and some things come pre-made, so there is no way of taking the jalapenos out of the queso.”

8. Ordering hot tea is a real pain

This seems like such a simple order. But as one waiter tells Reader’s Digest, this is way more of a tedious ordeal than restaurant patrons realize. “You’ve got to get a pot, boil the water, get the lemons, get the honey, bring a cup and spoon. It’s a lot of work for little reward.”

9. Your coffee may be decaf …

… depending on when you order it. “In most restaurants, after 8 p.m. or so, all the coffee is decaf because no one wants to clean two different coffeepots,” a server tells Reader’s Digest. Makes you rethink that after-dinner caffeine kick, doesn’t it?

10. Don’t ask for lemons in your water …

… because they’re filthy. Servers told both Insider and Reader’s Digest the lemons used to garnish drinks or perk up your tea get touched by everyone — and sometimes they don’t even get a quick rinse before they’re cut and put into your drink.

11. The salad dressing probably isn’t homemade

Even if the menu says their salad dressing is “homemade” it likely isn’t made completely from scratch. “Some places buy salad dressings in one-gallon jars, then add a few ingredients, like a blue cheese crumble or fresh herbs, and call it homemade on the menu,” one waiter tells Reader’s Digest.

12. Some restaurants only carry one kind of milk

Be careful if when it comes to ordering milk in a restaurant — they may not have the same variety your favorite coffee shop does. “Very few restaurants outside Starbucks carry whole milk, 2-percent milk, skim milk, and half-and-half; it’s just not practical,” one server explains to Reader’s Digest.

13. Long waits aren’t always your waiter’s fault

Waiters across the board plead for patrons to understand that a long wait for food is almost always on the kitchen, not on the server themselves. This goes double for food that needs to cook longer — which is, also, out of your server’s control.

14. If you’re nice to you waiter …

… he or she is more likely to find a way to add perks to your dining experience, like adding drinks or desert on the house. “If you are nice to us, we will go out of our way to do nice things for you,”  one Quora user tells Insider.

15. Beware the brunch buffet

Because according to Reader’s Digest, “99 times out of 100, the big pan of scrambled eggs is made from a powder.” And this supposedly holds true for even some of the fanciest brunch joints out there. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

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