Restaurant Problems That Need to Disappear

Jamaican Food Los Angeles

Considering that I dine at restaurants 2-3 times per day, certain patterns emerge. Not every impression relates to the food or drink before me. I also gain insights into how restaurants and cafés function. I propose remedying five problems that I’ve observed in restaurants. Hopefully this story helps to build stronger bonds between restaurants and customers.

Don’t Limit Digital Tipping

Not many people carry cash on a regular basis anymore. Restaurants generally understand modern economics and have updated Point Of Sale accordingly. Unfortunately, many fast casual restaurants and coffeehouses I encounter that accept credit/debit cards don’t allow a tipping option. Their printers just spit out receipts that account for the cost and tax. That limitation is a major disservice to staffers who get stiffed, even if cash-strapped customers want to reward their service. Some chains, like The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, added a field for gratuity several months after launching their new P.O.S., but the majority of laggards still need to step up their digital tipping game.


I’ve read online estimates that claim it takes anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years for Styrofoam to decompose. Sadly, at some bargain basement restaurants in the international enclaves like Koreatown and the San Gabriel Valley, I’ve left carrying leftovers in a tower of Styrofoam containers…in a plastic bag. Especially egregious restaurants actually serve food in Styrofoam containers, even if you eat food in-house. Plastic containers aren’t much better. Anybody who has even minimal eco-friendly beliefs should find these results deplorable. I know restaurants operate on razor-thin margins, but it wouldn’t take much for them to upgrade to cardboard products. Sadly, options made with more eco-friendly materials like sugar cane fibers and potato starches still cost a premium.

Outdated Hours and Menus on Restaurant Websites

Restaurants that don’t update hours and menu items on their website lead to disappointed customers who waste time. Customers shouldn’t have to call restaurants to fact check. I typically try and review the menu before deciding where to eat, and am often surprised when seeing servers present menus that don’t sync. I’m tired of this type of disconnect, which boils down to miscommunication and customer disservice.

Clearing Plates Prematurely

Put down your fork or chopsticks for a second and a server is liable to snatch your plate or bowl, even if you’re still eating. That practice is intrusive and rude, and often strikes me as a passive aggressive ploy to flip the table sooner. I’ve visited a restaurant restroom before and returned to find my last slice of ribeye MIA. Sometimes, servers are even more blatant, trying to grab the plate if I take a breather. Nothing stops the flow of a good dinner like the brazen abduction of a noodle dish in broad daylight. I’ve also seen plates cleared at my table while other people are still eating. Awkward. Servers, either work to become more intuitive with plate clearing, or just ask people if they’re done eating before you make your move.

Boss Bro Chief

Servers and baristas address me as “Boss” on a regular basis. I don’t directly pay their checks or benefits, and they don’t report to me, so the word choice typically comes across as condescending. Chief is an increasingly outdated term that gets the same point across. “Make your order fast, and move along.” You’re less likely to hear Bro, a frat-friendly expression of solidarity, unless you’re ordering a protein powder smoothie at a gym kiosk.


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

Blog Comments

Couldn’t agree more when it comes to these, especially digital tipping and styrofoam! Love seeing more and more places converting to eco-friendly options but there are still way to many places that use styrofoam. Hopefully the digital tipping will pick up pretty quickly as so many places are converting to a more digital landscape — tips need to be a part of this progression. Great share.

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