If you've never worked as a restaurant host, you might think the job sounds easy. You just greet people, walk them to their tables, and pass out menus...right?!
WRONG. In actuality, restaurant hosts are some of the hardest-working people in the business. Their job includes managing reservations, answering the phones, prepping tables, taking to-go orders, maintaining a waitlist, and making sure servers aren't completely slammed. When things go wrong, a host won't just hear about it from angry diners — the staff is likely to get mad at them too.
So if you want to make your host's shift just a little bit easier, here are 17 things you should absolutely NOT do the next time you dine out:
1. Seating yourself when the sign clearly says "Please wait to be seated."
If it's the restaurant's policy to have a host seat the guests, there's a reason for it. Maybe some tables are already reserved. Maybe there's a section where no server is currently working. Maybe that table you just plopped yourself down at hasn't been cleaned yet. You have no idea which tables are actually available. You know who does? The host.
2. Complaining about having to wait for a table, especially when you don't have a reservation.
It's not the host's fault you decided to roll up in the middle of a Friday night dinner rush without a reservation. If that 30-minute wait is too long for you, you have every right to pick another restaurant! But you do not have a right to be a jerk to the host, who is simply doing their job.
3. Assuming that empty tables in the restaurant mean there shouldn't be any wait.
Many customers, when told there's a wait, will point to an empty table and say, "Well, can't I just have THAT one?" Please don't be that guy. Hosts can see the empty tables too. If they're not seating you at one of them, it's either reserved, or dirty, or in a section that's not currently being covered by a server.
4. Not calling to cancel your reservation if your plans change.
Shit happens, and it's not a big deal if you need to cancel your reservation. But please be sure to actually CANCEL, either by phone or online, so the restaurant doesn't hold your table all night and lose out on some actual paying customers.
5. Saying "I know the owner" to get seated faster, or to get a better table.
Yes, people really do try this, and no, it does not work. Also, 9 times out of 10, they can't even tell you the owner's name.
6. Making a reservation for a huge party, and then showing up with a much smaller group.
Here's the thing: You may have invited 12 people to your birthday dinner, but a few folks are bound to be busy! Try to get an actual headcount before making the reservation. It's not fair to the restaurant to reserve a bunch of seats you don't actually need.
7. Demanding to be seated before the rest of your party arrives.
See above. There's a reason you won't be seated at that gigantic table until all 12 of you actually show up. If it turns out there's only five of you dining that evening, the host might need to switch you to a five-top table so they can accommodate more customers.
8. Trying to order from the host as you're being seated, instead of just waiting for the server.
No matter how hungry you are, the host is not the person to order your food with. They have their own job to be doing, and there's a good chance they're not even trained to put food orders into the system. Just wait! The server will be there soon.
9. Rearranging the tables without asking first.
It's up to the host to manage the floor plan of the restaurant, and there are all sorts of factors they need to consider — reservations, server sections, having enough small tables for parties of two and three... It's fine to ask if you can push some tables together. But, y'know, ask.
10. Asking the host to kick out a group from your favorite table so you can sit there.
Believe it or not, people really do ask hosts to do this sometimes. It's nuts. I'm sorry you love that table by the window, but no, the host cannot tell the family sitting there to GTFO so you can have it.
11. Switching tables without asking first.
So you've spotted a table across the room that you'd rather sit at. That's fine, but ask first, because 1) that empty table might be reserved, and 2) the host needs to know where you're sitting, so they can make sure a server finds you. If you move without giving a heads-up, don't be surprised if a server never arrives.
12. Trying to cut ahead of others waiting for a table.
Whether it's through sweet talk, bribery, aggression, or even threatening to leave a nasty review on Yelp, people will try all sorts of tactics to cut ahead in line. Do not be that customer. Show some respect for the people around you, and wait your turn. You're not better than anyone.
13. Ignoring "RESERVED" signs on tables.
That little sign is on the table for a reason. Can ya guess why? Don't sit there.
14. Leaving the restaurant while you're still waiting for a table.
Unless the restaurant takes down your phone number to call or text you when a table is ready, stay put while you wait. If a host calls out your name, but you've left the lobby to go explore some nearby shops, they're gonna need to move on to the next party on their list.
15. Showing up with a huge group without a reservation first.
Most hosts would be more than happy to accommodate that big family reunion you're planning — but give them a little notice. They might need to rearrange some tables, call in extra staff, or give the kitchen a heads-up to make sure your meal goes off without a hitch.
16. Showing up right before the restaurant closes.
If a restaurant closes at 9, it's a dick move to show up at 8:55 and expect a table. Sure, the host might be required to seat you per their restaurant's corporate policy. But all the servers are gonna hate that poor host for seating you. And the host, in turn, will hate you.
17. And finally, expecting preferential treatment because you're a regular.
Regulars are loved and appreciated...but only when they're respectful. If you come in every night expecting the best table in the house, asking to cut ahead of others in line, or are just generally rude to the staff, most hosts would probably prefer you were a little bit less regular.