A common thread I've noticed across successful blogs is a common theme to some posts. That being in mind, I hope to provide a list of do's and don'ts every week or so.
Starting today with some of the most basic:
Do: Ask for everything you could possibly want.
Don't: Wait for me to make each trip individually to ask for something new.
This is a fairly simple concept, but it's incredible how many tables make this mistake completely innocently. I want to give my tables everything they could possibly want, the more convenient and enjoyable I make their experience, the more money I make. What I can't handle is being sent on half a dozen errands in a row because a guest can't communicate their needs all at once. Cooperate at the table, and be ready to make requests when your server checks on you. If i'm spending 4 minutes running back and forth grabbing dressing, then napkins, then lemons, then refills all for one table, then others are getting neglected.
Do: Politely communicate seating requests
Don't: Bark orders at the hostess or server telling them exactly where you will or won't be sat.
Same principal as the last, meaning that I definitely want you to be happy with where you're sitting. Some people are more sensitive to light, sound, or just prefer tables or booths. I understand this, and want to accomodate you as well as I can. The only problems that arise are when people demand to sit in tables that would better accomodate other guests. I suppose a good way to look at things when you're eating out is from another table in the restaurant's perspective. If the entire eating process is a hose, and you're actively clamping that hose by tying up your server, or taking up tables that other guests could use, you're causing a problem.
Do: Sit as long as you'd like
Don't: Forget that you're taking up a table in a server's section
I understand that people use restaurant's for business meetings, first dates, and reunion's. For this reason people oftentimes want to stick around for a while. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this, so long as people understand that they are taking money away from their servers by keeping that table occupied. If you stick around for an extra 40 minutes after you're finished, you're removing an entire cycle of guests from your servers sales. As I said before, this is completely acceptable. Servers want their restaurants to be welcome environments, so long as they are still earning money. In my opinion, a good rule of thumb is to add an extra dollar or so (depending on the original bill/tip) for every ten minutes extra that you take up a table. If that sounds unreasonable, just remember that the tables you are forcing your server to pass on could be running up $75 plus tabs while you stay and chat for 45 minutes. It's not so much a rule, but it is a common courtesy that good servers deserve.