questionsservers and bussers: do you like when patrons…


Good question. I've wondered the same. I always think I'm helping by making it easier to carry, but they may not like it if I get sauce on the underside of the plate that I stacked. They might also not like that I put the trash (napkins and whatnot) into dirty bowls. Do I leave the stuff spread out as I left it or consolidate the mess into a pile?


How strange, my wife and I were at Smashburger not even 30 minutes ago and we had this exact discussion. I never have worked in a restaurant but I always ergonomically stack everyone's dishes together so it can be easily cleaned up. I even take napkins and clean the table of any mess. I'm not this helpful around the house, so I'm not sure why I do it. I also always pay a tip in cash, even if I'm going to put the bill on my card. Seems it would be easier for taxes, splitting and getting the money quicker.

I have a soft spot for waiters and waitresses who do a good job and my wife gets upset when I overtip. Sorry, but good service is rare these days.


Honestly, I feel that this is a bit of server/busser preference. I was a server for a couple of years, and if done properly, patrons who stacked dishes made my job easier. Unfortunately, patrons who correctly did this were few and far between. I had a system with each table that I would repeat over and over again for each table allowing myself to clear tables faster. This also made bringing dishes to the dishroom and organizing them much easier. Sometimes people would stack dishes terribly, with tons of food and garbage still on them which made moving them difficult, and made things even more awkward when I would try to remove them from the table. Shoving things in cups also made me upset, even more so when the cup was still half full of liquid. A few of my guidelines..

Clear plates off onto one individual plate, stack plates, leaving the food covered plate on the top
Dump excess liquids into one cup and stack cups
Put silverware in a pile on table, not filth covered plates


Do not separate clean and dirty plates,cup, silverware into different piles...we don't care it all gets washed.
Don't make jokes with tips. One time someone put a 10 in a glass of water and flipped it upside-down on the table. Huge mess and we never forget.
If you think you are inconveniencing your server/busser by moving things around, just leave them there, you will more than likely just make things more difficult.

That's pretty much it for me.


I travel internationally a great deal for work and I can tell you that America is backwards in everything we do. So if you're going to travel: Make sure you know the denominations for tips. I once gave a guy a tip of around $20 US when it should have been 2 or 3 because the denominations were in thousands and it just didn't compute. There have been times where I would have significantly under cut the server as well if I didn't double check

Also, a server will let you sit there all night long, they will never bring the check unless you ask for it. So don't get mad like they are ignoring you, only in America do they want you in and out as quickly as possible.

Also ice, ice is an American only thing. I get really upset at American tourists who get butthurt over ice. They will generally bring you a single cube or like a bowl, but you have to ask. Just know that it isn't a staple. Also, don't get upset if you get carbonated water, many countries like it that way, I don't mind it


When I was a waitress, it helped but it was not necessary. Like, I wouldn't put you on a list in the back if you didn't do it, and doing it "wrong" wasn't a huge inconvenience either and I very much just appreciated the gesture. I accepted that it was part of my job to clean the stuff up, some waiters I don't think ever come to that realization- but then those guys probably aren't the ones you would worry about being clean for.


Yes, definitely. As long as they dont make it silly. If I can carry all of it in one trip without it spilling on the way to the kitchen it saves me a lot of time. And a nice tip is always appreciated. No, 15% is NOT an awesome tip.


I was a server MANY MANY years ago (great way to pay for college). If I did my job right, there should be very little left to stack. As you finish, I would remove the plate that you had finished to make the table more clean and convenient for after-dinner conversation, coffee, dessert, etc.


@studerc - I only upvoted your second comment so they will have the same amount of votes. That's how much I like your comment.


Thanks to those who do/did this, and for letting us know how to help you help us.


When I was a busser in high school and college, I didn't care too much. I generally put everything in a bus pan. When I had to pick up plates while people were still at the table, I appreciated it when people on the inside of a booth (or table against a wall) would hand me their plate so I didn't have to reach. I never liked reaching in front of people.

Oh.. I wasn't crazy when people would put heir napkins, coffee creamers, straw wrappers, etc... on a plate, then put another plate on top of it. They could stick, which would sometimes make a gross job of scraping the plates more of a PITA. On a side note, I didn't like it when people asked me to get them things. My job was to clean things, not serve things.

And, through my years doing it I never heard anyone (waitress or busser) say they liked or disliked it.


I apparently had a senior earlier response should have been "help us help you". Mea culpa.


Personal experience - very, very expensive restaurants usually have many servers/bussers who literally seem to know when to remove your plate. They almost seem intuitive. Of course, it helps if you know where to place the flatware, too. ;-) Have almost always had excellent service. Delicious food, too!

Medium restaurants (will say those along the line of Outback, Applebee's, etc.) are usually good about removing plates between courses. If not done, I will 'hint' by placing the plate near the edge of the table. IMO, if you have to stack, etc., you may not be receiving the best service in these places. NOTE: This is NOT always true. I do watch the server & the number of tables they are caring for. It matters. Their tip will not suffer because of that.

I need to add that I've had excellent service at restaurants such as Denny's, too. So much depends on the server. And, I've been known to tip the busser, & leave a pittance for the server. Bad vs good service.