7 Things You Should *Never* Do in a Restaurant If You Want to Avoid Pissing Off the Host

Please wait to be seated, and please try to be, like, a little bit considerate.

Restaurants hosts and hostesses are the front lines of any restaurant. They call the shots, they assign the tables, and they bring some semblance of order to otherwise chaotic dinner services. So if you want to get your table in a timely manner, and you don’t want to be stuck sitting next to the bathroom, here are a few things you should avoid doing to stay in your host’s good graces.

1.  Don't Just Ignore Them Entirely

“I’ve greeted people as they’ve walked in, only to have them completely disregard me, walk into the dining room, and seat themselves at an empty table,” says Nate of Pittsburgh. Although sometimes it’s fine to seat yourself, assuming you know for a fact that’s something the restaurant does, it seems like common courtesy to acknowledge the people who talk to you when you enter a building.

2.  Don't Ask Why You Need to Wait When There Are Empty Tables in the Restaurant

Mentioned by several hosts, this move makes it abundantly clear you have absolutely no understanding (or don’t care) how reservations, table numbers, or server sections work. Which is OK, by the way—you don’t need to be an expert on the inner workings of restaurants to eat at one. “Just please give the staff a little credit and assume they aren’t brain-dead or intentionally trying to slow down dinner service,” says Nate.

3.  Don't Tell Them They Should Smile More

It feels like it shouldn’t still be a thing in 2017, but “this one happens way more than you think,” confesses restaurant hostess Emily from Boston. “Whether it’s coming from tourists, first-time diners, or even some of our regulars, comments about our appearance, whether positive or negative, really aren’t as appreciated as you think.”

4.  Don't Ask to Sit at a Table While You Wait for Your Party

‘I’m sure everyone will be here soon, can I just sit until they show up?’ Emily says she gets this request often, and though it might seem reasonable her hands are really tied. “If it’s a slow night that’s one thing, but if we have a busy service and your friends end up being later than you thought it’s unfairly keeping us from turning over tables for other guests.” So do your best to all show up to the host stand as one unit.

5.  Don't Try to Double Your Reservation at the Last Minute

Need to add a chair to your party because something changed at the last minute? “We’ll do everything we can to help,” says Emily, “But if you show up with a reservation for four and ask to seat eight people, it’s not just as easy as grabbing a few extra chairs.” What you’re doing is messing up the seating of all the tables around you, and throwing off the entire section. Have a little courtesy and update the restaurant before you arrive—even calling a tiny bit ahead of time can make all the difference to the staff.

6.  Don't Complain Endlessly About Long Wait Times

“You don’t want to wait a long time for your table, and guess what? We don't want that either!” says Kim, a hostess in NYC. “We know you’re hungry, and we know waits can take a long time, but there’s nothing we can do to speed it up for you, just because you’re annoyed. Believe me, I will tell you the second your table is ready.”

And speaking of long waits…

7.  Don't Hang Out at Your Table Long After Paying Your Bill

“When a group has had dessert, finished their drinks, paid the bills, eaten after-dinner mints, and still continues to hang out at their table for another 30 minutes in full view of waiting customers? They’re just blatantly saying they don’t care about any one else in the restaurant,” explains Kim. “We know people like to relax and we want them to enjoy their night out, but there’s definitely a tipping point where they’re overdoing their stay.”

In short: you don't have to go home, but know when to get out of there.

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