All over social media, restaurants and workers alike have started to share their stories (and kitchen nightmares!) about hostile customers.
Most of the reasons for hostility have nothing to do with the workers, or even the restaurant itself. However, we’re living in a different world, and it’s not uncommon for people to take out everything from fear to frustration on service workers.
So, what can you do to make sure you don’t fall into those habits? How can you be a more conscientious restaurant customer and show appreciation to those waiting on you and making your food?
Understand Why Things Have Changed
We might be living in a post-pandemic society. However, the effects of COVID-19 are still lingering. The food service industry was hit incredibly hard by the pandemic. Thousands of restaurants had to close permanently. Others had to make extreme adjustments to stay afloat.
While most restaurants across the country have gone back to a “normal” way of doing things, there are still some aspects of delivery and service that aren’t what they used to be.
That includes supply chain issues.
Many restaurants are still struggling to consistently get the supplies they need. That includes everything from ingredients to equipment. On top of having to worry about their orders, many modern restaurant owners have to worry about cybersecurity and supply chain attacks online. There’s also the concern that congested highways are causing things to slow down, too. Demand is high across the country for supplies, causing truckers to work longer hours to keep up with demand. Not only is that dangerous for those drivers, but it’s causing constraints and delays on the roadways.
There has also been a notable staffing shortage across the country. While unemployment rates are starting to level out, many restaurants are struggling to find people to work. A limited staff typically means longer wait times, or not as much individual attention as you might be used to when dining somewhere.
Obviously, these issues aren’t anyone’s fault. Unfortunately, it’s easy for customers to get frustrated, especially when so many people are still dealing with the lasting stress caused by the pandemic. Add that on top of rising food costs, inflation, and the deep desire for things to go “back to normal,” and it’s no wonder so many people are struggling to make decisions and stay calm.
However, there are things you can do to be more conscientious when dining out.
Most restaurants are willing to go the extra mile for their customers because they understand the stress and struggles people are facing right now. So many businesses in the food service industry have had to adapt over the last few years, implementing measures like:
Be appreciative of the things your favorite restaurants have done to accommodate you. Things might not be exactly the same as they once were, but they are trying. Plus, because so many restaurant employees are being criticized right now, your gratitude will go a long way with them. Offer a smile. Tell them you appreciate what they’re doing. Get their name and use it during service.
It can be easy to forget that person behind the register or the one serving you drinks is a human being with feelings. Make a point to keep it in mind, and treat them the way they deserve.
Be An Active Advertiser
Unfortunately, the complaints and verbal attacks aren’t just happening in restaurants.
They’re happening online, too.
Nowadays, it’s easy for customers to hop on social media or review sites and leave scathing remarks about an establishment. While some negative reviews can be valid, it’s not uncommon for people to stretch the truth or make things up about an experience just because they’re frustrated.
That can spell disaster for a small business, especially in the food service industry. You can combat that by being an ambassador and advertiser for your favorite places, or even a restaurant that might be struggling through no fault of its own.
Take the time to leave positive reviews. Share businesses on your personal social media pages. Give helpful feedback and encourage others to do the same. If you’re not used to reviewing businesses, keep the following tips in mind as you prepare to write:
People want honesty from restaurant reviews so they can decide if a place is “right” for them. Scathing reviews can trigger negativity immediately, setting a stereotype in the mind of a potential customer that could keep them from trying a restaurant for themselves.
At the end of the day, we all went through this pandemic together, and we need to continue to stick together now as we navigate the “new normal.” If restaurants continue to struggle and patrons continue to belittle staff members, the worker shortage will continue to get worse, and these businesses will be forced to shut down.
Treat restaurant employees the way you would like to be treated if you were in their position. They’re doing you a service, and everyone is trying their best to return to a sense of normalcy, even when some things are still far from it. Hopefully, the industry will continue to bounce back. However, that will require a change of attitude from many patrons who are letting their stress and frustration get the best of them.
Jori Hamilton is a freelance writer from the Pacific Northwest. Like any freelancer worth her salt, she's spent many years working
in restaurants and loves the industry with a passion. When she isn't writing, you can find her at home with her cats and houseplants.
Click here to read more of her work or find her on Twitter @hamiltonjori