What Restaurants Do Wrong to Ruin a Good Social Experience

Two guests sitting in a restaurant talking to a waiter.

In today’s time, we humans love to go to restaurants. Restaurants have become an integral part of our life. We can’t avoid them.

We go out to eat delicious food, enjoy savory drinks, and experience different ambiances.

Most importantly, restaurants are also about having a great time with our family or friends. We share stories, crack jokes, and enjoy the warmth of companionship.

So, restaurants should be the perfect backdrop for these social experiences.

But a restaurant has the power to turn that special time into either a lovely experience or a cringe-worthy disaster.

Let’s discuss how a restaurant can turn your good social experience into a bad one.

When a Restaurant’s Reservation Line is Busy

I have faced it myself a couple of times with different restaurants. You select a restaurant and call their reservation number.

You find their number showing busy. After some time, you call back, but it keeps ringing. They don’t pick up.

I or my family members call their number multiple times, but no response. They don’t even call back if they can’t take the call for any reason.

When you drop by that restaurant, they tell you that tables are full and you must have reserved beforehand.

When you tell them that you were calling, they may say they didn’t notice your number. And they are not apologetic about it.

How would you feel when you take the time to drive there and have to leave the place?

Note for Restaurants: If a reservation is required to visit your restaurant, then make sure the call is received. If you can’t receive a call right away, dial back.

Train your staff to do so. Their slackness can cost you some returning customers.

When a Restaurant has a Sophisticated Menu

A menu should not only be about the nice design, format, and paper quality. It is also about how easily customers can glance through the menu and find it easy to choose what they are looking for.

Here are a few pointers where a menu in a restaurant can irritate your experience:

Problem #1: Mixing everything together

Now is the right time to have two separate menus for “Vegan or Vegetarian” and “Non-Vegetarian”.

Because vegans are rising day by day. By putting dishes in both categories together, you are increasing the time it takes for a customer to decide what they want to eat.

For example, if there are several items on a menu, vegan customers may take more time to scan vegetarian items as they put more effort into finding where all the vegetarian items are.

Note for Restaurants: If your budget allows, create two separate menus for “Vegan or Veg” and “Non-Vegetarian”. Similarly, you can do it for “Mocktails” or “Cocktails”.

If not, include it in one menu but use tags or other kinds of indicators to segregate them and make it easy for your customers.

Problem #2: Not Defining the Spiciness of a Dish

When there are no clear indicators or information about how spicy a particular food dish is on the menu, customers take the time to choose what they want.

In this case, the only option that remains is to ask the waiter or server which dish is spicy or not.

Note for Restaurants: Use indicators or icons below each food item that can tell the customers the level of spiciness of a dish — Low, Medium, or Hot. It will save customers’ decision-making time and the time of a restaurant’s staff.

Problem #3: Not Giving the Description of a Dish

Whether you know a dish or not, it is always helpful to know what a particular dish is all about. Many restaurants come up with some fancy dish names. But if there is no description given below those items, how would a customer know about them?

Note for Restaurants: Give a short description of a dish so that your customers can understand what that dish is all about.

When Restaurants Play Loud Music

Picture a situation where you have planned to meet your best friend. You pick a vibrant, new restaurant that you have seen on Google.

Reviews seem nice, the ambiance looks great in photos, and the food items are what you are looking for.

You arrive and find that the atmosphere is buzzing, and it seems like you have done the right thing in selecting this spot.

But when you are sitting comfortably and start a conversation, music starts and it hits you like a sonic boom.

It is loud, pounding, and relentless.

You and your friend try to talk to each other, but your attempts quickly turn into a shouting match.

You feel bad about it because you are not able to have a pleasant conversation with your friend anymore.

By the time you are about to leave, your ears are ringing, and your voice is shot. Instead of experiencing those warm, connected vibes, you leave with a splitting headache.

Note for Restaurants: If your ambiance is right and the food is right, then focus on making your music more pleasant. Play it at such a volume that people at the table can enjoy it, and at the same time, they can have comfortable conversations.

Make it a comfortable social experience for your guests so that they can remember you and visit you again.

When The Reservation Becomes a Waiting Game

Imagine that you reserved a restaurant in advance. When you arrive at the restaurant, you find out that you have to wait.

You are hungry, and hunger is a powerful force. You played by the rule, but they keep you waiting.

As the minutes tick by, your hunger pangs intensify. The anticipation and the cheerful mood with which you arrived slowly vanish.

By the time you are seated, you feel no longer excited, you are just irritated.

Note for Restaurants: A restaurant must be respectful towards reservations and should keep the wait times within reason.

Respect your customers’ time and demonstrate that you are truly interested in enhancing their social experience by providing great services.

When a Restaurant’s Waitstaff Lacks Etiquettes

Let’s imagine a scenario where you enter a restaurant. The waiter notices you and you smile at him or her. They don’t greet you and smile half-heartedly back at you.

They hand over the menu to you and go back. They don’t even bother to ask their customers for water.

How do you feel?

Do you feel welcome at that place? No, right?

I, along with my friends and family, have visited many restaurants. In many places, I don’t find waitstaff who know the basics of greetings or put effort into making their customers feel welcome.

It’s like they want you to eat as soon as you can, pay the money, and leave the place as soon as possible.

I am not talking about overworked waitstaff who are running here and there with many things on their minds. I am talking about waitstaff in not fully occupied restaurants or cafes.

Now imagine that you enter a different restaurant or cafe. The waitstaff there greets you with a lovely smile.

They help you find a good table and ask you for water. You feel nice in such an environment.

Note for Restaurants: Make sure you train your staff well to greet your customers well and show etiquette. A nice smile and a greeting won’t take much effort and are free.

Only a restaurant or cafe that provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere gets repeat customers.

When a Restaurant Doesn’t Take Cleanliness Seriously

I have witnessed it multiple times where if the guests leave a table, the waitstaff takes time to clean the table.

Would you feel good when you see your neighboring tables dirty and food or tissues lying on the floor below the table?

It’s not a pleasant view.

If a waiter cleans the table from the top, they forget to clean the floor.

I am not talking about budget restaurants. I have seen the issue of cleanliness in even mid to high-cost restaurants or cafes too.

It happens because of the slackness of some waitstaff. They are not accountable or responsible enough to make sure that the place remains clean. Always.

Note for Restaurants: Train your staff well and let them know the importance of cleanliness in a restaurant. Don’t let your guests witness unpleasant views.

When a Restaurant’s Waiter is not Attentive

You get the table. You get the food. Now, you are about to enjoy your food.

But the waiter forgets to bring you the knife that you have asked for. You ask for tissues and it takes them a lot of time to bring them. Sometimes, you have to remind them again of what you have asked for.

Instead of focusing on your company or the ongoing conversation, you eagerly wait for the waiter to look at you so that you can request the things that you want.

Then, you again look for the waiter as they take a lot of time to bring those things.

Suddenly, you feel more like an inconvenience than a valued guest.

Note for Restaurants: Such incidents happen when waiters are not well-trained in delivering proper services. Waitstaff should be attentive and proactive enough to know what their guests may need or what they may ask next.

Many waiters out there are doing a great job in similar situations so your staff can do the same.

When a Restaurant Becomes Greedy

Problem #1: They Cram the Tables

To fit more guests, some restaurants place tables very near to each other. In such a situation, you can hear your neighboring tables’ guests’ conversation and what is on their plates.

You find it awkward to move your chair because you may disturb the chair of a person sitting behind you.

Note for Restaurants: There is no point in having more customers if they can’t sit comfortably or they are forced to whisper. You may initially get more customers but gradually it may wane.

So, focus on providing a place comfortable enough to sit. Focus on quality, not quantity.

Problem #2: They Cheat

I have heard and read many stories where restaurants cheat their guests with food quantity or with an inflated bill.

I have faced it myself also where if you are not focused enough, you may get fewer rotis or naans than you ask.

Some reputed cafes or restaurants even inflate your bills by charging things that you may think are included with the food items or the items you have not ordered.

Note for Restaurants: Make sure that the people at sale kiosks are not cheating your guests to increase sales or meet their sales targets.

Make sure that you give your customers the same that they are asking for, in the right quantity and quality.

In the short term, you may earn some bucks by cheating your customers. But if someone catches you, you risk losing your restaurant’s reputation.


Dear restaurants, you have the unique power to make our social experience memorable or cringeworthy.

You can be the backdrop for those memorable first dates, laughter-filled reunions, or lovely nights where friends and families are bonding together.

But at the same time, you can be the reason behind awkward silences, strained smiles, or mood upsets.

Focus on making your guests’ eating-out experience a joyful social experience.

Make sure you are providing great services and your staff is well-trained, responsible, and attentive.

When guests witness a warm environment, a lovely ambiance, delicious food, and amazing service, they would love to visit your restaurants again and again.

By Rajesh Sharma

Rajesh Sharma is a freelance IT Consultant who has found his new passion in digital writing. On this blog, he writes about Social Experience (SX) and shares tips on improving them.

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