General Question

Zissou's avatar

Servers, do you prefer chatty customers or "just business" customers?

Asked by Zissou (3294points) September 18th, 2021

To those who serve customers in restaurants or bars, do you like chatting with customers or would you prefer to skip the small talk and just take their orders?

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20 Answers

canidmajor's avatar

I spent a lot of years waiting tables and bartending, and I always liked chatty (to a degree) customers. I liked the human interaction, and frankly, the tips were generally better if I had established a rapport with the customers.
Obviously, if it was very busy, that wasn’t appropriate, but most of the time it was OK to have a bit of a give and take.

JLoon's avatar

When I do my bartender gig I’m obviously, serving alcohol. Drinking affects various people in different ways, good and bad.

So in that context it really depends on what someone wants to talk with me about, and how they behave in general. Basically I’m always curteous to everyone, and friendly to those who are good natured or interesting. And I’ve had a few fascinating or hilarious conversations that will stay with me for the rest of my life. But I also have regular contact with a few “chatty” customers who are frankly assholes and don’t show or deserve respect.

I guess the best answer to what you’re asking is that I want to put people at ease and make them feel welcome, but I also need to be alert for problems and stay in control. Tending bar may not be exactly like other serving jobs as far as how we engage with the public. Conversation is mostly a tool.

Brian1946's avatar


”...I also have regular contact with a few ‘chatty’ customers who are frankly assholes and don’t show or deserve respect.”

How do you deal or interact with the chatty assholes?

JLoon's avatar

@Brian1946 – Ha! I get very professional, and very direct. I use the “language of command” approach, and I let them know that what they’re saying or doing is unacceptable and will have consequences.

Usually that’s enough. I work in a nice place and we try to keep it nice by neutralizing bad behavior without causing upset to our other customers.

But we do have at least one security specialist on every shift, and if our cook Rodrigo (the giant) comes out of the kitchen things usually get quiet very soon.

Brian1946's avatar

If I knew that your cook was Shaq the Big Shef, I’d be really focused on finding good things to say about your food.

JLoon's avatar

@Brian1946 – And he’d appreciate that so much ;D

Brian1946's avatar

@JLoon – And I’d be so appreciative that he didn’t have to leave the kitchen to shake my hand. ;-)

Brian1946's avatar


“I use the “language of command” approach, and I let them know that what they’re saying or doing is unacceptable and will have consequences.”

Do have an example of one of these interactions you’d like to share?

JLoon's avatar

@Brian1946 – “Sir you’re not allowed to (touch me that way, insult our staff, argue with other customers, etc.) We want you to enjoy yourself, but if you continue to behave inappropriately we will refuse to serve you.” Or if it’s a repeat offender : “You’re no longer welcome here. Security will escort you out, and do not come back.”

But really, it’s rare that it goes that far.

Brian1946's avatar


“Do have….”

Does you have…. :P

Caravanfan's avatar

I’m not a server, but I am a doctor which involves serving people. I prefer chatty people as I love hearing people’s stories. Often I will start an encounter by saying, “So. Tell me your story.” Also, when I can establish rapport I’m more likely to be able to convince them to get vaccinated.

gorillapaws's avatar

@Caravanfan How do you exit conversations when you’ve made a genuine connection to stay on schedule?

Caravanfan's avatar

@gorillapaws Great question! That’s one thing I’m actually really good at. I have learned to steer the conversation in such a way to keep on schedule. I’ll say something like, “Cool. Well, let’s get to why you’re here.”

Jeruba's avatar

When my podiatrist asks, “What are you reading?” I don’t think he actually wants to know. I think he’s just trying to distract me from what he’s doing with those clippers or that syringe. It works, too. But I’m always a little disappointed when I remember that my answer doesn’t matter.

In another minute or two, he’ll say, “Let’s talk about this now.”

gorillapaws's avatar

@Jeruba “But I’m always a little disappointed when I remember that my answer doesn’t matter.”

I can’t speak for your podiatrist, but my father would always speak about his patients with great enthusiasm (in a HIPAA-compliant way obviously). His interest in their lives and stories was completely sincere. Not having that in his life is actually really hard for him, now that he’s retired. I wouldn’t assume that just because he’s distracting you, he’s disinterested in what you’re saying.

mazingerz88's avatar

In my brief experience in working as a waiter, yes, I preferred chatty customers. I love to chat and it’s one way of potentially getting repeat customers.

smudges's avatar

@gorillapaws Awww, that’s too bad. Maybe he’d enjoy volunteering at a hospital or nursing home in order to get back some of that interaction with people – just a thought. He sounds like a very nice, caring man.

Jeruba's avatar

@gorillapaws, well, I really can’t fault the podiatrist. The book I was reading the last time I was there is a little out of the mainstream. It’s an 1899 work called West African Studies, by Mary H. Kingsley, about the cutures, practices, traditions, and languages of West African tribespeople in the latter half of the 19th century. It wasn’t really the sort of thing that makes for good casual conversation. I actually had a livielier conversation about reading matter with the Roto Rooter man who was here last week. Not about that particular book, though.

Brian1946's avatar


”...the cutures, practices, traditions, and languages of West African tribespeople….”

What tribes and countries were included in her studies, and do you have insurance? ;-p

Zissou's avatar

Thanks for your answers. I was asking partly because I tend to be a “just business” type of customer, and I wonder if I am perceived as rude or cold.

I once went out to a restaurant with two couples. One of the women was outgoing and chatted up the server so much that some of the rest of us thought she was wasting the server’s time. She said that she was just treating the server “like a human being”, leading me to wonder if servers feel slighted by customers who keep the interaction to the minimum.

In 1977, I visited the UK and Ireland with my grandmother. At a restaurant in England, my grandmother chatted a bit with the server, and apparently this was frowned on there at that time.

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