10 Things Restaurant Hosts Wish You’d Stop Doing

Updated: Dec. 15, 2023

Here's how you might be making your host's job harder.

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A trip to your favorite restaurant is supposed to be a fun, relaxing experience. The tables are set, glasses are polished (learn the trick restaurants use to make ’em sparkle!) and the kitchen is humming—all at your request. However, some customers neglect to treat the staff with courtesy and respect. And the host or hostess is often the first person to take the heat. Follow along to learn which bad habits irk hosts the most.

Not eating out tonight? Try our restaurant copycat recipes.

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Acting impatient

If you forget to make a reservation during the restaurant’s busy hours, it’s often the host’s duty to ask you to wait. No amount of foot tapping will change the fact that sometimes you’ll have to wait 30-45 minutes for a table. (And remember, hosts are only able to estimate when the diners seated before you will leave.) When you’re feeling frustrated, remember that honey catches more flies than vinegar. If you can take a chill pill during the times when the joint is clearly slammed, the host/hostess may reward you with the table with the view, instead of one right next to a kid’s birthday party.

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Throwing money at the problem

When a host/hostess tells you there are no tables, slipping them an Andrew Jackson isn’t going to help. A few extra bucks won’t create more seating space in the restaurant. Moreover, many establishments forbid hosts/hostesses from accepting bribes, err, tips!

Psst! Here are 13 things that definitely annoy your server.

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Not offering a greeting

When your host or hostess greets you, it would be nice if you would respond in kind, suggests restaurant hostess, Corey, who blogs at A Not So Simple Life. If they say “hello,” say “hello” back. Even a smile goes a long way toward making for a smooth interaction. What you don’t want to do is ignore them or let your first words be “Two. Corner booth.” That’s rude in any setting.

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Being on your phone while addressing the host

“Stand aside until you’ve finished your call and then you can come and ask me for a table,” advises Corey, who notes that you would probably find it rude if she tried to seat you while she was talking on her cell phone. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

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outdoor patio
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Attempting to seat yourself

“I am here for a reason,” Corey reminds us. If you see a host stand, don’t walk past it. “If for some reason I am not at the front door when you arrive, do not assume that means you can seat yourself.” When you attempt to seat yourself, you’re not only disregarding the host as a person, but you’re also making their job that much harder.

If you want to seat yourself, you can always go to McDonald’s (and their fries are the best—it’s been scientifically verified)!

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Not knowing how many are in your party

Seems simple enough, right? But it happens all too often that when Corey asks “how many are in your party?” the person just stands there. Make your journey from door to table a smooth one by knowing how many people you’re dining with!

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Bringing extra bodies

Don’t make a reservation for six and then show up with eight. Hosts/hostesses plan table configurations ahead with the evening’s reservations in mind, and it’s no easy task to turn a six-top into an eight, or an eight into a ten. And when an alternate table isn’t available, squeezing extra chairs and place settings into an already cramped space is challenging enough for the host, but let’s not forget the server.

Can’t make reservations for the whole crew? Turn your night into a potluck party with these easy recipes.

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Showing up with only half your party

Likewise, it’s also annoying for your host to have to turn a four-top into a two, or even a 12-top into a 10. Many restaurants have a policy that your table won’t be seated without at least half your party being present, and having six people standing around waiting for the other six to arrive causes crowding at the restaurant’s entrance. That’s not just annoying to the host. It’s annoying to the other guests who are arriving, which is not good for the host either.

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Complaining about the restaurant

When the menu changes, or the dining room gets redecorated, who’s to blame? It’s not always clear, but one thing that is clear is that the host has virtually no say in any of it. So complaining to the host is not only a waste of your time, but a burden on your host, who is busy trying to get you and everyone else seated.

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Being picky about your table

Restaurant hostess-blogger Kimberly Deanna knows there are many valid reasons customers ask for a different table, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause a problem when the restaurant is busy. Hosts generally seat guests in some orderly fashion intended to spread out the work amongst the servers. When you disrupt that order, you’re probably going to be making the servers’ jobs harder. And who else’s job does that make more difficult? If you guessed the “host,” you’re catching on!