17 Annoying Things You May Not Realize You’re Guilty of in Restaurants

Annoying Things You're Doing in a Restaurant

Oh, dining out. Whether celebrating a special occasion or simply giving in to a pasta craving, going out for a meal is one of life’s great pleasures.

However, some common behaviors have the potential to really ruin the dining experience – both for the hard-working restaurant staff and fellow patrons who want to enjoy their evening out.

You may not even realize you’re being that customer.

Let’s take a look at the 17 most annoying things you’ll want to avoid on your next restaurant visit.

Getting Snippy with Staff

waitress taking order

First, impatience or rudeness towards waitstaff and servers just makes the whole room uncomfortable.

Sure that steak may be a tad overdone, but there’s no need to get snippy or start sighing loudly like an irritable cartoon character.

Just politely bring any issues to the server’s attention and give them a chance to make it right. Remember, they’re juggling multiple tables and doing their best to give you a good experience.

Aggressively Waving Down Servers Like You’re Hailing a Cab in NYC

Which brings us to our next point – aggressively trying to wave down your server like you’re hailing a cab? Not a great look.

They see you, and will come over as soon as they can. Making wild hand gestures or snapping fingers (which is highly rude FYI) will stress them out.

Make eye contact, smile, and give a friendly wave if you need something urgently. But overall, chill and be patient.

Letting Your Kids Go Full Banshee

kid mom dinner

While we’re on the subject of patience, let’s talk about unruly kids.

Look, children get antsy and bored – we’ve all been there. But letting them scream, throw tantrums, or roughhouse like they’re starring in WWE Smackdown is not the move.

Keep kids seated at the table as much as possible, and take them outside if they need to release some pent-up energy before the food arrives. We all want to avoid a disaster involving a toddler collision and scalding hot soup. Not ideal.

Not Watching Your Children in the Restroom

Accompany little ones to the restroom; don’t just send them off alone.

Kids have been known to make epic messes with water, soap, and paper towels when unsupervised. Monitor children in bathrooms to avoid coming back to a soaking wet floor covered in paper towels.

Letting Your Child Watch Videos Without Headphones

While it may keep kids occupied, letting your little ones watch videos or play games loudly on phones/tablets ruins the dining ambiance.

Provide headphones or gently ask them to turn it down. Other guests shouldn’t have to hear cartoons or game sounds while enjoying an evening out.

Using Your Outside Voice Inside

We know you’re excited to catch up with your crew over some tasty eats. But when your raucous laughter and booming voice carry across the whole dining room, other patrons can’t help but wince.

Bring the volume down a notch or two, even at casual spots. A restaurant’s ambiance comes from a gentle buzz of chatter, not one ear-splitting table.

Letting Your Phone Blast Taylor Swift

Does anything disturb a nice dinner out faster than the jarring clatter of someone’s phone ringing?

Silence thy device before being seated. Simple, right?

Talking Loudly on Phone

talking on phone restaurant

And speaking of disruptions, having a loud phone conversation definitely grinds everyone’s gears.

Just ignore non-urgent messages or step outside if you absolutely must take that urgent call from your BFF. No one wants to hear half of your riveting debate about fantasy football trade options while enjoying their risotto.

Ignoring Table Companions to Use Phones

Phones lead us to another no-no – ignoring your dining companions!

Don’t just stare down at your phone scrolling Instagram under the table all night. Put the device away and focus on the people you came to spend time with. If being fully present sounds unbearable, you may need to rethink your choice of dining companions.

Not Tipping Appropriately

Not properly tipping servers is another faux pas that ruin the dining experience.

Remember that waitstaff depends on tips to make up for low hourly wages. A 15-20% tip is standard for good service. Stiffing on the tip or leaving change is rude – and doing so means your server actually lost money serving you.

If you can’t afford to tip appropriately, opt for takeout instead. Servers work hard and deserve reasonable compensation. Leaving paltry tips or no tip at all casts a pall on the entire meal.

If there was an issue with service, speak to a manager – don’t take it out on the server via a reduced tip.

With understanding and improved tipping etiquette, we can show staff our appreciation for helping provide an exceptional dining experience.

Letting Your Belongings Take Over the Place

Okay, next up on annoying behaviors: allowing your belongings to take over the restaurant by littering aisles, floors, empty chairs, etc.

Keep bags, shopping sacks, coats and other items out of walkways where they can trip up busy servers. Tuck it neatly under your table or chair instead.

No one wants to faceplant into the salad bar because you left your gigantic purse in the middle of the floor.

Overstaying Your Welcome

eating group dining

Now, once you’ve polished off the last morsel of creme brûlée, don’t overstay your welcome – especially if there’s a crowd of diners anxiously hovering by the host stand.

During peak times, ask for the check promptly and continue the conversation elsewhere so a new group can be seated. Lingering for ages deprives the restaurant of valuable table turnover.

Demanding Special Accommodations at the Last Minute

Here’s another tip – don’t wait until the last possible second to inform your server of any special dietary needs or substitutions.

Give the kitchen a heads up beforehand so they can accommodate. Ambushing the staff with complicated modifications right before closing time is not ideal.

The kitchen wants to make you happy, but they work magic, not miracles.

Changing Diapers at the Table

And while we’re at it, changing dirty diapers right on the dinner table? Absolutely not. No explanation is needed here. Just no.

Doing Business Calls at the Table

What else grinds diners’ gears? Boisterous conference calls. Don’t subject everyone to your loud work chat – it’s distracting and frankly a bit obnoxious.

Take it outside or save the call for back at the office. We’re all here enjoying guac and margaritas, not crunching quarterly sales numbers.

There’s a Time and Place For Loud Opinions – This Isn’t It

We get it – you’re excited to eat at the hot new brunch spot in town. But let’s tone down the non-stop comparisons to every other trendy restaurant you’ve been to, okay?

The couple at the next table who just want to enjoy their avocado toast in peace don’t need the play-by-play about how this place doesn’t stack up to your beloved Westside haunt.

Nor does your poor server, who is clearly busting their behind to make this meal perfect for you.

Every restaurant has its own unique flair – savor what’s delicious here rather than nitpicking why it’s not like that other Instagrammable cafe (where you also probably overshared your strong opinions).

This lovely little spot deserves your open mind, generous spirit and loud chewing – not the loud critic act. So be present, keep it positive, and pass the syrup.

Snapping Fingers to Get the Staff’s Attention

Waiter serving customer

Last but not least, snapping fingers at restaurant staff like you’re royalty summoning the court jester is hugely demeaning.

You can politely make eye contact or give a friendly wave to get their attention when you need it.

Finger snapping should be reserved for poetry slams and beatnik cafés, not asking your waiter for another side of ranch.

Let’s All Be Less Annoying Diners

Whew, that was quite the laundry list of dining faux pas!

The bottom line is simple – just be patient, courteous and respectful to the staff and your fellow patrons. Follow the golden rule.

With improved etiquette, we can make meals out more pleasant for everyone involved.

Here’s to happier, hassle-free dining experiences in the future!


Frequently Asked Questions About Restaurant Etiquette

Why is it rude to snap fingers at restaurant staff?

Snapping fingers comes across as demeaning, like you are summoning a servant. Making eye contact or politely saying “excuse me” when you need assistance is better.

What’s a polite way to get your server’s attention?

Make eye contact and give a friendly wave. Your server will come over as soon as they are able. Patience is key, as they are juggling multiple tables.

Where should you take unruly, noisy, or restless children?

Take them outside until they have calmed down. This avoids disrupting other diners who are trying to enjoy a peaceful meal.

When is it acceptable to take work calls in a restaurant?

Ideally, never. Take all calls outside to avoid disturbing guests. If urgent, keep them very brief and quiet.

How soon after finishing your meal is it polite to leave the table?

Once everyone has completed the meal and the check is paid, you should depart in a timely manner. This allows new diners to be seated.

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