Being a waiter or waitress at a restaurant is a hard enough job itself every day. There are so many customers to deal with, cooks to handle, all with trying to make sure everyone ends up happy. So what do you do when you get requests that just don't make any sense? You either put on a grin and bear it or refuse the customers' nonsense. Either way, it leads to some pretty funny stories.
Ranch For Lunch
“A mom and young son, around eight-years-old, came into the restaurant I waited tables at for lunch. The mom asked her son what he wanted to eat, and he replied with ‘Ranch.’
I politely asked if he meant, like, a salad with ranch? Or french fries with a side of ranch?
The mom looked at me, rolled her eyes in embarrassment, and clarified–he wanted a soup bowl full of ranch dressing.
I walked into the kitchen and discussed with my manager because I had no idea how to enter that into our point of sale system. My manager and I came to the conclusion that we should charge her for an entire bottle of ranch (industrial sized), so she paid $10.99 for a soup bowl full of ranch dressing – and let him eat it.”
No Juices, Please
“I haven’t waited tables in about 10 years now but I’ll never forget the guy who asked for his steak ‘dry.’ When I pressed him for what he wanted explicitly, he explained that he wanted ‘no juice’ to come out when he was eating it. I wanted to be sure I heard this right, as I know dry beef is a thing but we didn’t age our steaks, so I asked him specifically what he wanted and confirmed it multiple times. When he said yes, I told him it would take about 30 minutes to cook his steak that done, he said that was fine and off I went.
Our steaks were pretty miserable portions in the first place, and the cut he ordered was the smallest one on the menu, so when I returned with his tiny little 6 oz flat iron that had been absolutely desiccated on the grill, he looked understandably disappointed. He took a few bites of it and decided, ‘it wasn’t very good,’ which was underselling how bad it looked and almost certainly how bad it tasted.”
Oysters, Oysters, Oysters!
“As soon as this man arrived in the restaurant, he shouted, ‘Oysters!’
I explained we are a burger joint, no oysters. He takes off his coat, talks to his date, then stares at me for a second.
I explain again, no oysters.
He reiterated, ‘Two dozen! Oysters!’
After a third and fourth time where he barks an order at me, then acts all busy so he ‘can’t hear’ my response, I stop and stare at him. He asks again, I just stare, he asks again, I just stare. He finally makes eye contact with me. ‘Sir, we are a burger joint, no oysters.’ He is finally forced to acknowledge me.
He screamed, ‘So go get some!’
We were in a casino, we were the only restaurant open at 2:00 am; he knew this but expected me to run around to some closed restaurant and grab raw shellfish them just happen to be hosting during closed hours.”
“I’d Like A Drink With My Free Lime”
“This happened in the early 2000s.
I was working in an Italian restaurant and this one cat insists he needs lime juice for his meal. As we’re an Italian restaurant, we don’t have any on hand for our menu items, but the bar should have some. Thinking out loud, I mention that the kitchen doesn’t have any, but the bar throws those into bottles of Corona, so I might be able to get some there.
Customer: ‘Are you going to charge me for that?’
Me: ‘No, I think I can get a garnish for you.’
So I come back with the lime and he looks confused.
Customer: ‘Where’s the Corona?’
Me: ‘I’m sorry – you said you wanted the lime? Did you want to order a Corona as well?’
Customer: ‘Yeah I want one, you said you wouldn’t charge me.’
This led into a back-and-forth wherein he’s upset I didn’t bring him a free Corona with his free lime because he misunderstood me.”
Crimson Tide All The Time
“I had a regular at my bar who spoke with a thick Southern accent, who always wore an Alabama Crimson Tide shirt or some variant, would only drink brews from the South (Naked Pig Pale being his go to), which I kept in stock just for him. He would sit at the bar, bet on the horse races, regale us with tales from his youth, get a little too wasted, and leave to take care of his mother. He was there every single day except Thursdays. He demanded we keep his favorite brews in stock and always wanted replays of old Crimson Tide games on TV. It got to the point I started downloading them into a drive and playing them for him since ESPN U is only good for so much. We all thought he was crazy but he was nice enough.
This went on for an entire year. Our entire staff knew him and he was pretty well-liked. We had to ask him to leave once or twice because he decided to impress someone or would win a couple races and start drinking Southern Comfort and get a little out of hand, but he was generally really polite and respectful.
One day, he just stopped coming in. One of the older ladies who worked at the track had his phone number since she had the habit of saving him race books for the tracks he liked, so she called him a few times. Nothing.
About a month later, the police showed up to ask some people at the bar about him, if they might know where he is. We all told them what we knew but apparently, not a word of it was true. His name wasn’t Scott, he wasn’t from the South, and his mother had been dead for quite a while. It turns out he had seduced an older, Southern lady with his charms and wiles, created an entire life with her for her money (supposedly), then disappeared with the money and the lady turned up dead. Police said it was from natural causes but the timing was so odd they still needed to find him to question him.
He came back in for a single drink about four months later and he left an envelope for our three bartenders he liked and the lady who held racing books for him. $1500 in each. I served him and asked my manager at the time what she thought I should do. She asked if I felt uncomfortable; I said no and since cops aren’t great for business at a horse track we just decided to leave it be. I walked back out and he had left, leaving a simply written, ‘Thanks for being a friend’ on a napkin with $704.50 in cash under it. The $4.50 was for the drink; and my rent, as he had asked about many months before in a random conversation, was $700 at the time. I don’t know if he remembered or if it was just a coincidence.
He was gone and I never saw him again, and his phone number is now out of service. I think about him a couple times a week at least.”
“I waitressed a pizza place by myself during the day on the weekends. Usually, on Sunday, we would get busy and on this particular Sunday, I had a few large tables and a couple small tables by myself. It was to the point where I was running to place orders and every time I went back to the kitchen I had at least 4-5 things I had to do, including place orders for table A, table E, G, and B need refills, table H’s order just came out, etc.
So I’m literally running to place an order and grab things when this table pulls me aside. It was two elderly couples and they had already made things complicated when their friends came in and joined them so I had to place another order and they had a lot of requests. So they stop me on my way to the kitchen and one woman asked me to place an order for a salad. Her friend got one so now she wanted one. Except she didn’t want the ‘dark green stuff.’ She literally asked for salad but without half the salad because of its color. I told her the salads came pre-packaged as a mix. She said, ‘Well you can just pick it out for me then.’
Sorry, but picking the bits out of your salad that you don’t want isn’t my job. Especially when I’m waitressing five other tables.
We also had one lady come in who was VERY particular about her pizza. She had called in to order so that the pizza would be ready when they got there. This was very annoying because 9 times out of 10 the people showed up 45 minutes to an hour later and their pizza would be cold and they would complain, and this was the most ridiculous order I ever took.
She had A LOT of toppings and was very specific about them like green peppers needed to be finely chopped and just a little bit of mushrooms and extra cheese but not too cheesy and just sprinkle on a few banana peppers and when it’s cooked she wanted the crust to be just golden brown crispy but not TOO crispy. It was probably the longest ticket I ever had for one pizza. Like if you are THAT picky, then make your own pizza at home.”
The Neverending Meal
“I used to wait tables at a vegan-friendly restaurant for a couple years. The staff was all very accustomed to dealing with particular dietary needs and habits, not just vegans, but lactose-free, gluten-free, and all manner of allergies. This meant we’d get all kinds of substitutions or questions about ingredients. That was part of the charm of the place (and frankly, maybe just about the only charm of the place) and we had a small but loyal customer base. When it comes to particular food orders, there was one guy who was on another level, ‘Luke.’
Luke was probably in his late 60s, single, polite, patient, very quiet, and overall just a little bit strange. He’d order an absurd amount of food every time he came in. A normal bill for a single entree, fresh juice, and either a small appetizer or dessert would probably run $25-30. Luke would run up bills between $80-$110. He rarely tipped more than 4 or 5 dollars, but that’s not what made him a chore to deal with. It was his otherworldly appetite.
We had a veggie juicer, and most people would order something like ‘carrot, ginger, orange,’ or ‘beet, cucumber, apple.’ Luke would order things like a ‘6 oz ginger,’ or ‘8 oz beet, garlic’ and order two or three juices per meal. You could order a side of mixed veggies cooked however you wanted. Luke once ordered a plate of sautéed garlic. He’d order a cup of every soup we had available that day. The variety of house salads were some of the main sellers, and Luke would pick and choose and mix and match ingredients into bizarre custom creations (which was maybe one of his least strange habits, though it was tedious).
He’d order an entire vegan, gluten-free cheesecake (though he had no dietary restrictions as far as I know). The cheesecake alone was maybe 14 or 16 inches in diameter and even with a discount cost him about $90. Luke would order the veggie pizza with no sauce. He’d order a side of peanut butter for his eggplant parmesan. He’d order the curry nachos with slices of toast instead of tortilla chips. The man was deranged.
He’d order in waves. Start off with a couple of soups and a juice or two. Later on he’d order maybe a salad and an entree (or just more soup). He’d get a fruit smoothie and an appetizer or a la carte side. Then he’d ask about what desserts were available, maybe get some more soup and one last juice. You’d never know how much longer he was planning on staying. It was impossible to predict what he would want next. Then, as soon as he decided he had enough, he’d wave you down (no matter what you were doing) and ask for his bill.”
Private Dining Was Weird
“I used to work at a private dining club and got the weirdest requests. One lady in particular that stands out for being so demanding: she wanted a drink with a twist with blue cheese stuffed olives. It’s not that weird, but we didn’t have blue cheese stuffed olives, so I had to personally stuff each olive with blue cheese for each drink she ordered. What makes it worse is that she knew we didn’t stock them and didn’t have any prepped. She also wanted her salad tossed tableside, which was not a thing we normally offered. I had to get a bowl from behind the line, tongs, etc. just for her salad. And she wanted ‘real’ butter for her bread and insisted that the salted butter we had prepped and piped into ramekins for bread baskets wasn’t real butter. It had to be sliced cold unsalted butter on a plate.
She never tipped unless it was a holiday.
I also had a regular that would insist you sat and ate with him. Management complied but I think mostly it was because he came in at odd hours, like lunch at 3 pm, when someone was usually wrapping up side work and about to be cut anyway. He’d order for you both. He was a nice older gay man who loved to talk about the history of the town. I loved him! I often wonder what happened to him. He’d been coming in for years and years. You did have to dump the iced tea and make a new batch for him though.”
A Short Stop On The Way
“I used to work in a sub shop that had delivery. A woman called asking if the driver could pick her up a pack of smokes and baby formula when he was bringing her the food. This woman kept claiming she knew the owner (who was not present at the restaurant) and that he told her beforehand that it could be done. It was busy and I didn’t have time to fight with her, so I asked the delivery driver if he could do that for her and he did. It’s not really a big deal I guess, just a little ridiculous to ask a delivery driver.
Also, when I asked the owner if he knew the woman, he said he does not know her personally but just knows her from being a crazy customer who orders frequently.”
A Mother Of A Problem…With Bread
“My mother makes the worst requests. Now, first of all, my mother is just the worst. You literally cannot go out to eat with her without her complaining about something. It never fails. It’s too salty. It’s too cold. It’s too hot. There aren’t enough onions. There’s no cheese on this burger even though I didn’t tell them to put cheese on it. You get the picture. Even though she occasionally has legitimate complaints, most of the time it’s just obnoxious nitpicking and most of the time the things she’s complaining about are actually fine.
One day we went to Denny’s with my uncle and a few friends. She orders sourdough toast with her meal. They bring it out and she immediately complains. ‘This isn’t sourdough,’ she says. The waiter says yes, it is definitely sourdough bread. She gets irate and demands that it be taken back and replaced with sourdough bread.
The waiter shrugs and takes it back, and comes back a few minutes later. ‘I asked the chef and he is 100% certain that this is sourdough bread, ma’am.’ But no, that isn’t good enough for her. She demands to see the manager. The rest of us at the table are simultaneously enjoying our meals and pleading with her to shut up and eat the stupid bread.
The manager comes out and she rants that this isn’t sourdough bread because it doesn’t look like any sourdough bread she’s ever seen. She wants the REAL sourdough bread and she wants the idiot who gave her the incorrect bread fired. The manager calmly apologizes (while I’m sure he is fantasizing in his mind about strangling her) and goes into the back to ensure that she gets the sourdough bread she asked for.
The manager himself comes out a few minutes later with freshly made toast and serves it to her. She seems satisfied but still irritated that it took them this long to actually bring her the sourdough bread she asked for.
It was literally the same kind of bread. The only difference was that it wasn’t toasted as much as the previous slice. She still continued to complain about the ‘awful service’ for the entire meal and insisted that we didn’t tip the waiter (we still did).”
I’ll Take All The Fruit!
“I bartended all through college at this bayside bar in Ocean City, MD. Every Tuesday, we had ‘Senior Deck Party,’ where we’d set up a free buffet with all the mushy foods you can think of. The seniors would come through, grab a couple happy hour drinks, gorge on potato salad, and head out.
There was this one lady named Rose that would come, take up 2 seats at the bar (one for her and one for her purse) and sit there all day, demanding the following:
A ginger soda in a highball glass with 2 orange slices, one lime slice, a lemon slice, 3 cherries, and 2 straws. She never touched the fruit, it was only a status thing, and I was supposed to fill up her soda every time it got to half a glass to restore carbonation.
Any bartender will tell you, fruit is a precious commodity. This routine caused me extreme mental anguish. Part of prepping the bar in the morning includes cutting the fruit. If you work at a high-volume bar, this means cutting an enormous amount of fruit to sustain the happy hour rush and late night rush. When people take more than their share of fruit, it depletes the supply and you’ll get caught having to replenish it during your busy times. The fruit cutting actually gets very political. If you’re opening the bar and you don’t cut enough, everyone that comes on later in the day suffers.
I should also add, SHE NEVER TIPPED.”
It’s Just Not Vegan Enough
“I used to work for a vegetarian/gluten-free/vegan buffet in the heart of London, brand new and quite trendy. I’ll straight off say that 99% of the customers we’ve had were absolutely lovely, and even the people with very restricted diets could appreciate the effort we were making in offering varied foods, not just the usual ‘salad and bulgur’ approach of some places. But that 1% once conglomerated in one full person who decided everyone’s day deserved to be a bit more miserable.
This woman walked in and announced that she only ate vegan. No problem. ‘Actually, only raw vegan,’ meaning no cooking could actually take place. And honestly? Still not a problem: I point to her our buffet of various vegetables mixes and salads, showing that we had cold options as well. That’s when she added with sniper-like precision: ‘Well that’s all good but I’m a bit tired of salads, y’know?’
I would love to say that I was quick-witted enough to grab a handful of cashews and stuff her stupid face with it on the spot all while chanting, ‘Here you go you horrid blight, please do choke on deez nuts,’ but the truth is that a comment like that will just cut your proverbial legs off. I just muttered ‘I’m… sorry? Most of our cold, vegan dishes are salads in some form.’ She just huffed and puffed away, made herself a plate and continued.
I thought this was the end of it, but there was still a bit of hope wavering in the air and that just wouldn’t do. She grabbed me later and pointed at our dessert bar (that’s right, we had like twelve vegan desserts that were honestly delicious, and every vegan walking in there was honestly so happy with them) and asked me, once again, if she could have anything that was raw vegan. Specifically, ‘if that carrot cake is raw vegan.’
I said it. I had no choice.
‘It’s cake.’ [Blink] ‘It’s been baked, because it’s cake, and that’s how cake works.’ [Blink] ‘It’s vegan and really nice, but yes, it’s baked.’
She walked away, never to seen or heard from ever again. The townsfolk say she still roams the street, complaining about salads being cold and vegetarian.”