5 ways a waiter 'reads' your table



“Let’s get a pizza. You can pick which one,” I said to my boyfriend, who was poring over the restaurant’s lunch menu. And then we lapsed into silence as I went back to reading the newspaper in front of me.

The two of us didn’t really speak again after that, apart from the odd “want the sports section?” exchange. You know your relationship is solid when you can both shut up, read the paper together and not feel awkward about the complete lack of small talk.

Later, upon leaving the restaurant, I thought about how great the service had been. Quick, non-intrusive and polite. And then I realised that it was probably because the waiter had got the impression that the two of us were fighting.

You see, he probably took our silence and muttering for anger – and that’s why he seemed so cautious when juggling plates and pizzas around the table.

So – what does your waiter think about you? Take a look at the below list of how waiters read your table and see where you might fit in.

This from the Wall Street Journal:

1. If you’re chatty… A waiter is more likely to assume a friendly, chatty table is there to party. Get ready for more offers of drinks, dessert and a talkative waiter.

2. If you say ‘It’s OK’… To attentive waiters, saying food is ‘OK’ is a red flag that you aren’t happy with your meal. The waiter or manager might dig for more information to fix the problem.

3. If you ask about the menu… Food questions are a sign that you either like learning about everything you might eat or you feel lost and need guidance. One menu question could lead to a long, full menu description. If you seem overwhelmed, the waiter might try to steer you toward a particular order.

4. If you grab the wine list first… Expect the waiter to focus wine explanations and questions about refills to you.

5. If you’re wearing a suit at lunch… Diners who look like they just stepped away from their cubicle, whether in a suit or business casual, are bound to get speedier service. The exception: If the waiter realizes the boss or valued client wants to set a slower pace by asking for more time before ordering or pulling out papers for a sales pitch.


Did you wince at any of these, when you realised the impression you give? Which one are you? AND WHAT ABOUT GROUP DINNERS?