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The restaurant industry has changed

The restaurant industry has changed
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The COVID-19 pandemic has altered the way we live in every area of our lives, and going out to eat is no exception. Before, we had no problem squeezing past crowded tables or selecting from the salad bar; now, we wear masks to protect ourselves and others and sit at widely-spaced tables. Some of the biggest changes, however, have occurred within the role of your restaurant wait staff.  They’re most likely serving fewer people, as many restaurants are only open at reduced capacity; they spend their entire shift in a mask, and social distancing guidelines mean less interaction with customers. That said, there are still several things about you that your restaurant wait staff takes note of before you’ve even ordered.

Check out these things wait staff won’t eat at their own restaurants.

How you’re wearing your mask

How you’re wearing your mask
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By now, we all know that wearing a mask is the number one thing we can do to protect ourselves and others, but some people are still reluctant to do it properly – or at all. “When you’re in the service industry you’re always going to have to sway with people’s moods and personalities, but this is amplified when a situation like COVID presents itself,” says barista, Jamie Hickey. “The people that refuse to wear a mask, or put it halfway on just to be allowed in the restaurant are the most difficult to deal with. They always get an attitude with us if we ask them to put it on or to adjust it.”

It’s important that your mask covers both your nose and mouth. Wearing it improperly gives a bad impression to the wait staff, many of whom are struggling financially due to reduced hours, and some customers are adding to the problem. “I hate to say it, but the people that feel like they shouldn’t wear a mask definitely don’t tip as well as the people who have no problem wearing one,” Hickey says. “But a lot of people are understanding and actually give larger tips, which is greatly appreciated.” These are tough times for everyone, and if you’re able to support your local businesses you definitely should. Just remember to wear your mask in the areas where you are asked to.

If you’re following social distancing guidelines

If you’re following social distancing guidelines
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It’s important to socially distance as much as possible – during the pandemic, it’s a sign of respect, like wearing your mask. Many restaurants have tables spaced out in accordance with government guidelines. To reduce contact, some restaurants have also switched from in-person to online ordering, where you scan a QR code with your phone and select and pay from a digital menu. Your waiter still wants to make you feel comfortable, though, and of course, they’ll still serve your drinks and meals.

“The QR codes do make things move along faster, but it takes away the human side of it which has its pros and cons. They do make the process more streamlined, and we are a little safer with the social distancing aspect,” says Hickey. But there are times when you need to talk to your waiter, whether to discuss an allergy or ask for a substitution, and your waiter may be missing that interaction as well. “The cons are you can’t be personable, which is a shame because I like to talk to different people and hear about their lives,” Hickey adds. You can talk to your waiter through your mask, but here are the things you shouldn’t do at re-opened restaurants.

Here’s how to handle social distancing rule breakers.

Are you on your phone, or will you actually talk to us?

Are you on your phone, or will you actually talk to us?
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Of course, we’re all talking to strangers less during the pandemic, or at least we’re more muffled through our masks! But it turns out, your waiter notices whether you’re on your phone or actually paying attention. “When you first approach a table, you notice hands in phone…unless they’re not! That’s when you get excited – real people with a real, intimate connection, whether they are friends or romantic,” waiter Morgan Taylor tells Reader’s Digest. “These people are the kind you can actually connect with! Whether that results in a big tip or not, it’s certainly going to be a more interesting table than when 100 per cent are plugged into their social media feed.”

These are the polite habits that restaurant staffers secretly dislike.

How you interact with each other

How you interact with each other
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Waiters pick up on how parents treat their children and, from that, how to act around those children. “Throughout the years, I have encountered many different types of people and my favourite has always been families with kids. Being a kid at heart, I love to play games and interact with the kid while taking care of the family,” says Jacob Cohen, a waiter with almost a decade of experience. “More often than not, the kids get ignored…but when I take care of my customers, I don’t ignore them and in return, I get a nice tip out of it for listening to the child.”

Check out these surprising reasons French children are so well-behaved.

How they can relate to you

How they can relate to you
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It’s one thing when you’re out with a group of friends and have a ton to talk about. It’s another matter when you’re a waiter approaching a table full of strangers and trying to find common ground. “When walking up to a table, I always see if a kid is there but I also scope out who it is and what kind of conversation I need to be thinking about when conversing with them,” says Cohen. “The conversation is key in this industry. If you can’t relate with your customer on something, whether it’s current events, a recent show, a sports team, the restaurant industry isn’t for you. If you can’t sell yourself, how can you sell the restaurant?”

Don’t miss these tips on post-lockdown socialising.

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Certain types of people tend to go out on certain holidays

Certain types of people tend to go out on certain holidays
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There are times you want to go out and celebrate in a restaurant, and times when you should maybe reconsider. Kristen McLeod, a veteran service industry representative who worked in coffee shops and popular restaurant chains, recommends avoiding certain holidays, like New Year’s and Valentine’s Day, at all costs. “These holidays were populated by the people who only went out on special occasions and would sit for hours (instead of allowing me to ‘flip’ the table and earn more income),” she says, “were terrible tippers, and if they got drunk enough, fight.”

What kind of waiter you want

What kind of waiter you want
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“If it is a loud group of informally dressed people for a dinner service, I am more likely to take an informal attitude with them and be a bit more playful. When I was looking at a table, I think it was important to try and assess why they were there and guess what kind of waiter they wanted,” says Ben Myhre, author of the Ramshackle Pantry blog with a decade of experience as a waiter and bartender. “This involved looking at who the people were as a group, how they were dressed, and knowing the situation you are in.”

Whether or not you notice your wait staff

Whether or not you notice your wait staff
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While waiters pick up on what’s happening at their tables, tables can also pick up on their waiter. McLeod remembers a specific experience she had. “As I approached that table the folks sitting there were also assessing me – deciding if I was a dud or one of the good ones,” says McLeod. “I developed a chameleon-like ability to perform what I figured they wanted – instantly – meaning I was lightning flash fast at figuring them out.”

Find out what polite people don’t do in restaurants.

Your body language

Your body language
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As well as taking note of clothing, Taylor adds that body language is huge. “Instead of clothes, go by body language,” says Taylor. “It’s the old ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover.’ Someone’s personality is a far greater indicator of how they treat others, even strangers only serving them for 45 minutes during a one-off meal.”

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