30 Common Restaurant Server Mistakes

What do your servers say about your business? A great staff embodies the brand of a restaurant, but a bad egg can tarnish the establishment’s reputation in just one dinner service.

Following are 30 common restaurant server mistakes, in terms of hygiene, guest interaction, and professionalism.


  1. Wearing obnoxious scents (e.g. deodorant, aftershave, perfume, etc.)
  2. Keeping hair down or swinging a pony tail around
  3. Using thumbs to hold a plate or handling silverware/glass rims with bare hands
  4. Touching their face, rubbing their arms, or wiping their hands on their clothing

Taco Bell employee licks tacos

Guest Interaction

  1. Servers paying more attention to/flirting with guests of the opposite sex
  2. Trying to force conversation with a guest
  3. Hovering around a table or watching guests eat
  4. Hugging or kissing guests
  5. Addressing ladies as “You guys”
  6. Using the phrase “Are you still working on that?”
  7. Expressing an unsolicited opinion: “No one has complained about that,” “I see you dyed your hair,” “Are you two dating?”
  8. Checking up on the guest too often
  9. Becoming too familiar with guests

Male waiter flirts with female guests


  1. Cleaning, vacuuming, or sweeping while guests are eating
  2. Taking a glass away from the table to refill it
  3. Forgetting who ordered what
  4. Complaining to customers about the job
  5. Carrying on a conversation with coworkers and ignoring guests
  6. >Favoring some tables, while ignoring others
  7. Acting harried or stressed out
  8. Making excuses: “We have a new cook,” “We changed supliers,”etc.
  9. Being overly blunt to guests: “We’re out of that,” “Our cook doesn’t like to…”, etc.

Three waiters stand around talking

  1. Patronizing guests to get a better tip
  2. Wearing too much makeup, fake flowers in hair, false eyelashes
  3. Overfilling glasses with ice to allow for little beverage
  4. Making false or misleading comments: “Would you like butter?” (when it’s margarine); “Would you like cream?” (when it’s non-dairy), etc.
  5. Squatting, sitting, or leaning while taking a guest’s order

Impatient guests leave message for their server

  1. Using inappropriate language or slang
  2. Asking if the guest would like to take home their food while they’re still eating.
  3. Making guests wait too long after eating before delivering the check


What are your server pet peeves? Share your stories in the comments below.

Aaron Allen & Associates is an international restaurant consultancy, offering branding, marketing, and design strategy for restaurateurs. Contact us today to start improving your business.