Common Restaurant Complaint Number 5: “I want this, this, and this on the side!”

The Top 10 Complaints Heard in Restaurants and the Reason They Aren't as Bad as You Think

Everyone has their own little quirks. Some people are lazy. Some people are perfectionists. Some people work every moment of every day. Others can’t wait for their next vacation. Some people think Star Wars is better than Lord of the Rings. We are all entitled to our own little idiosyncrasies. As with personality traits, everyone has their own culinary tastes and preferences. Personally, I hate blue cheese and mayonnaise. I detest both and will not order anything off any restaurant menu that contains either of these products. I don’t begrudge people their taste preferences. I must admit, however, that customers with numerous special requests drive me up a wall.

If you, occasionally, ask for your salad dressing on the side or an extra ramekin of barbeque sauce, this article is not necessarily directed at you. Common restaurant complaint 5 is directed to those of you who feel the need to create your own menu when you go out to eat. As with everything in life, this issue is not a simple black and white issue. There seems to be an escalating scale of customer requests.

The first level involves asking for one or two things of your order on the side or removed completely. Generally speaking this is not a big deal and the server is happy to accommodate. A happy customer tips better.

The second level is slightly more involved. This usually involves putting several items on the side or bringing an extreme amount of extra salad dressing, blue cheese, etc to the table. At the Steak House we had a family that regularly visited us eat half a gallon of ranch with every meal. Seriously. These types of requests boarder on annoying but are more interesting than anything else. I always found it fascinating to see how much blue cheese, for example, one person can eat.

The third level is simply annoying. There is no polite way to say it. This usually involves creating some special request side dish for the customer. For example, asking for “carrots only” out of a vegetable medley or asking for cocktail sauce when the restaurant doesn’t offer seafood on the menu. Another level three request involves heating water for a baby’s bottle. This always drove me nuts. I’ve actually had mothers ask me to heat a bottle of formula for their babies. First of all, as a father of twin girls, I would never let a complete stranger touch, let alone prepare, a bottle. Secondly, my wife and I never go out to eat when we know the babies will need a bottle of formula. The last thing we want are hungry and fussy babies in a restaurant full of people trying to enjoy a meal. When you have kids, you need to stay home sometimes and do what’s right for the baby. At any rate, level three requests involve significant work for the server and tends to really put them behind with the rest of their tables.

Level four customers are simply inhuman. These are the types of people who clearly have huge insecurities in their own lives and bossing servers around makes them feel superior. Let me give you an example of this practice. At the Steak House one of our regular customers had the following order for every meal:

Drink: Diet Coke, no ice, three (no more or less) lemons

Appetizer: Three (minimum) loafs of break with four ounces of butter.

Meal: This particular guest always ordered a grilled chicken salad. Rather than have the normal, fresh cut, iceberg lettuce mix, this particular customer demanded a head of lettuce chopped into fours. This meant that whomever served this guest had to cut the salad fresh. The lettuce mix was less than an hour old when she ordered it during the lunch shift. As restaurants go, this is extremely fresh. Why she had to have the head of lettuce, I’ll never know. The chicken for the salad had to be grilled on a “flat top” range rather than on a chargrill (as was corporate policy). There is a reason that chicken at the Steak House was cooked on the chargrill. The “flat top” range was extremely hot and burned chicken very quickly. The cooks had to watch this customers chicken like a hawk or face her wrath if it didn’t exactly meet her “char expectations”. The chicken breast could not be chopped into strips, as the menu specified. The salad/chicken combination could not have any tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, croutons, cabbage, cheese, or eggs. Again, all things the salad was supposed to come with. The customer ordered four extra ounces of bacon and salad dressing.

I could go on but I’m sure you get my point. Taking this order, as a server, is a colossal pain in the ass. This customer would also say absolutely miserable things to the server like “What’s wrong with you!” or “I don’t like you, send me someone else to take my order!” This particular customer was extreme, but not uncommon. Level fours’ eat in busy restaurants every day.

To people, like the customer I just detailed, I say this: If you don’t like the menu, don’t eat there. Go someplace else where the menu is more to your liking. Better yet, don’t go out to eat at all. Stay at home and make your own food. That way, you can never get pissed at the server for forgetting one of your countless special requests. We will all be better off that way. Being one of these people is, without a doubt, one of the easiest ways to get your food spit in.

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