By: Dan Gentile
A great restaurant is like a finely tuned machine: customers don't notice the gears until they break. Servers understand the internal workings better than anyone, and as such they know that even the most catastrophic failures will be forgotten after a free plate of Brussels sprouts.
That type of secret isn't a dirty one, and from interviews with an anonymous group of servers whose experiences range from casual brunch spots to find dining, pizza joints, sushi places and more, we learned that most of the insider intel isn't of a nefarious nature. A server's job is to ensure customers have a great experience, and in order to achieve that goal it takes a complex toolkit of sociological profiling and industry gamesmanship. And also lots of comped appetizers.
The up-sell is a myth
It doesn't make sense for a server to push something expensive that won't make the customer happy. That doesn't result in a good tip, or a return customer, so there's no incentive for a server to waste their energy. They have water glasses to refill anyway.
Bigger people are seated strategically
Heavier folks and the extra-tall just won't end up at a cramped two-top near a service lane if it can be avoided, and that's for everybody's benefit. Nobody wants to be crammed in an area where they feel like they're eating the best airline meal they've ever had, and servers don't want to be submitted to a floor plan that makes it feel like they're running through a Double Dare obstacle course full of bodies.
"Daddy or date?" is a real game
And pretty much server plays it when an older man and a substantially younger show up alone together. A hand on the leg usually gives away the fact that the older dude might be a different kind of daddy.
You'll get your food faster if you heed recommendations
On a busy night, a server won't recommend a dish with a long prep time, and we highly recommend you listen to them. Heeding their recommendations can mean you get your order in half the time it would take something more intensive to come out.
You should always say "yes" to a suggested snack between courses
"Anything else to snack on while you're waiting?" after you ordered basically means "you should order something else, because this is going to be a while."
Cosmos are still amazingly popular
Sex and the City still has a stronghold all these years later, apparently. Which is to say, you shouldn't have reservations about ordering them. Or, really, any drink that makes you happy.
Servers spot vegans when they walk in the door
If the unmistakable smell of patchouli doesn't give them away (that's not even a joke!), they'll likely announce their dietary lifestyle as soon as they sit down.
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