For the better part of my twenties, I have had the privilege of working in restaurants waiting tables. I have spent most of my Saturday and Sunday mornings pouring copious amounts of coffee, serving endless mimosas and more Bloody Marys than I could shake a celery stick at, each garnish more elaborate than the last.
When the miracle that is a Sunday morning off happens where I’m not slinging scones or donuts, I very much enjoy the slight role reversal of being a brunch patron (and I like my eggs runny, in case you were wondering). Sometimes it can be hard to enjoy myself though, since I can’t help but sympathize with the situation that my server is in. If other people at my table complain about anything, whether it’s the lack of cream for their coffee or their bacon not being crispy enough, I have a tendency to step in and explain away the reasons why they should go easy on the waitstaff. Brunch can be a battlefield, but it doesn’t have to be.
No one wants to be a jerk at the brunch table (there are too many pancakes to eat). So take it from me: here are nine ways to make sure you’re never labeled “that girl” at the place that cooks the best scramble in town.
1. Don’t Crowd the Host: There are two universal truths: What goes up must come down and brunch will be crowded. After you roll up to a packed brunch spot and put your name down, as much as you want to hog the hostess with your list of requests — checking in (and checking in again!) on wait time, asking for a special seat or seeing if you can order a cup of Joe to pass the time, just *don’t.* Why? Every minute the host spends explaining that your table isn’t ready yet is a minute that they’re not spending sitting the table ahead of you. And hey, don’t you want to be on their good side? Wait it out like a pro and hit up a coffee shop once you’re on the list to defuse the caffeine headache and increase patience at the same time!
2. Order Less Complicated Drinks: Here’s some interesting industry insight: There aren’t as many bartenders at brunch as there are on a Saturday night shift, so if you’re table is ordering a variety of complex drinks, it *will* take more time. As much as the skewer pickled veggies in the house Bloody sound great, ordering a less involved drink like drip coffee or mimosas (two ingredients, yo!) will get your round of drinks to your table quicker — especially if you can convince your buds to go in on a pitcher. Think of it like this: In the time it takes to make one fancy cocktail, your whole table could be cheersing the weekend with champagne and OJ.
3. Use Your Tech to Read the Menu Before You Arrive: No one wants to wait in front of a hostess stand for a half hour only to find out there’s nothing they can eat at the restaurant once you’re finally seated or that the dish you have your heart set on eating is out of season. Alter your just-rolled-out-of-bed-probably-hungover MO of schlepping to the nearest brunch spot blindly by checking what’s up on your destination’s menu — something you can do on the comfort of your own smartphone before you ever leave the mattress. Apps like Yelp are usually up to date, so use your tech to ensure you the joint has something for everyone on the menu, including whoever is the vegan, paleo or gluten-free pal in your squad.
4. Don’t Use a Card to Pay the Bill: To say that credit cards are convenient is an understatement, especially since so many establishments are using card readers like Square to make it even easier for people to pay for whatever with plastic. But truth be told, brunch is no place to try and earn more airline miles. For servers + patrons alike, splitting a check on cards is tedious and almost always ends up with someone getting ripped off. Pro tip: That time spent waiting to be seated is the perfect opportunity for you + everyone else in your party to hit up the local ATM. If you pay in cash, there are no complicated instructions for you and your server to follow, which means you get the check quicker and can get on with your Sunday. If you *do* need to pay with a card, be sure to ask your server about the restaurants splitting policy as soon as you sit down.
5. Don’t Ask “What’s Good Here?”: Everything looks good on the menu. Like really, everything. And you see your waitress approaching out of the corner of your eye so you’re starting to panic and you’ve already asked her to come back once. So what do you do? Defer to her. Take it from me, we’re glad to make a suggestion, just not when we’re prompted with “What’s good here?” Don’t put your waitress on the spot like that, because the possibilities of her suggesting a dish that matches exactly what you’re craving are slim to none. Instead, narrow it down to at least three dishes for her to choose from. That’s a decision she *can* help you with.
6. BYOBB aka Bring Your Own Booze (to) Brunch: The shortest drink order is the one that came with you. When picking a brunch location, consider choosing a place that’s a BYO. The only thing easier than ordering a cold beer on a Sunday morning is pulling one out of your bag.
7. Make Group Tipping Easy (Yes, It’s Possible): When you’ve dined in a big group, there might not be anything more stressful at brunch than figuring out the tip. Even when you split it evenly however many ways, shoving a pile of cards toward your server. Well, it just plain sucks. Whenever possible, tip with cash (remember your trip to the ATM earlier?) or if you need to swipe a cc, have one friend front the bill and get the rest of the group to Venmo him or her cash on the spot.
8. Remember: It’s Just Brunch! Brunch is supposed to be a simple, fun meal you enjoy with friends or family. Keep it that way! Before you know it, Monday morning stresses will be waking you up and bogging you down. Keep brunch a stress free zone, even if it takes a little longer than usual to get your pancakes. Use these tips this weekend and make brunch fun and easy again!
Do you have any tips on how to brunch the right way? Leave a comment and share your brunch etiquette tips with us!