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5 Restaurant Rumors Debunked by a Server

A writer/filmmaker based in Los Angeles who likes to read books of all kinds, watch and make character-driven films and study philosophy.

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A Restaurant Server Dishes Some Truths From Their Insider’s Point of View

Restaurants are a part of life around the globe, from mom and pop shops in unknown places to Gordon Ramsey's empire of eateries. They can be found nearly everywhere in the world. Perhaps because of their popularity, rumors have circulated about restaurants, widely embellished from the seed of truth that started them.

Below are five restaurant rumors that my over twenty years in the business will try to debunk for you, but please keep in mind there are always exceptions!

Rumor #1 - Servers spit in your food if you're mean.

This rumor has become so popular one would think it's a standard habit of servers. While I can't say it never happens, I can attest to the fact that I have never seen a server do it in the twenty plus years I've served. BUT, I have seen servers do gross things, like use dirty hands to touch things you will consume or pick something they dropped off the floor and give it to customer, so I will admit it's a good rule of thumb not to mess with people who handle the food/drink you're about to consume.

Rumor #2 - Restaurants make a lot of money.

They do not. Plain and simple, even the best of them. The amount of labor and resources that go into a restaurant can be astounding, from fast food to fine dining. Think about everything that goes into a restaurant and think about what the customer pays for... Making a profit is very difficult. Most guests see prices and think of the food they are consuming, but few take into account everything else that goes with the experience, such as the ambiance, staff, dining utensils and decor.

Rumor #3 - Servers are greedy.

Not sure how this rumor started, but allow me to dispel it as much as I can. Yes, there are some servers who are greedy and try not to tip out to the staff who support them, BUT those bad eggs are typically far and few in between, not to mention tipping out (giving a portion of one's tips to support staff) is mandatory, not optional. A typical tip out is when a server gives to the support staff around 45% of what they brought in from tips, keeping 55% for themselves. FYI - a server has to have complete knowledge of the entire menu (food and beverage,) deal directly with the people (who are mostly hangry,) handle allergies/food restrictions/health concerns, celebrate occasions and do it all with a smile for multiple tables at the exact same time. There is a reason they keep a larger % of the tips and rightfully so, no? They can make or break a dining experience, no matter how great the food is.

Rumor #4 - The customer is always right.

Could this be more wrong than in a restaurant environment? While some guests will insist they had something the restaurant never served or that there's no gluten in soy sauce, it falls on the server's job to politely tell them otherwise. A Chinese restaurant will likely not whip up sushi even if a guest "really wants it" and though a guest says there are no calories in sorbet, sadly there are and we have to make sure they know it. Customers can be wrong and when it comes to something a person will consume, it's best to deal with errors head on while trying to get them exactly what they need (yet another reason a server deserves their tips!)

Rumor #5 - Black AMEX holders are the best tippers.

Here's the thing, if you're in possession of a Black American Express credit card in your name, it means you spent and paid off over $250k a year on the card, was exclusively invited by AMEX and paid a hefty fee for it, so it's to be expected these big spenders would be the best tippers, right? Uh... NO, that is not the case. The best tippers are actually those who either come from the Front of House at restaurants or it's those who value good service and understand it's not included in the price of their $10 hamburger. Don't assume anything when you see a black AMEX card.

Any other restaurant rumors you've heard of? Please share!