PR Machine: Dealing with Annoying Diners

Annoying customers are unavoidable, but dealing with them can be bearable.

Go on—let it out. Visualize everything you really want to say or do to the most annoying diners. Because in the real world of hospitality, you’ll just have to grin and bear it. Of course, these unpleasant realities require some major survival skills. Consider the following ways to cope with crazy customers and turn the tables in your favor.


The squater cartoonThe Squatter 

These diners are tabletop time sucks, which can cost you revenue. When all the hints have been exhausted (clearing the table, presenting the check), it’s time to politely ask the party to leave. Offer them a drink at the bar or even a complimentary dessert for their next visit to take the sting out of the request.




The menu artist cartoonThe Menu Artist

“Swap this. Substitute that.” When handed a long list of menu requests, just get it done. Customers who want meat well done or ask to swap out an ingredient deserve what they get, especially after you warn them that their substituted item might be a big mistake. 




The monster child cartoonThe Monster Child

One of the most disruptive customers, these beasts are best tamed with a box of fun—a computer tablet, an Etch A Sketch, card games or other toys.




The curmudgeon cartoonThe Curmudgeon

They’re angry, rude and always seem to have a chip on their shoulder, so treat these diners delicately. Decide where to draw the line before asking them to leave, but be wary of online complaints. Don’t engage in the hate, but say you did your best to satisfy the guest.




The tech addit cartoonThe Tech Addict

Those glaring screens can be obnoxious, but hello, free PR! Be happy that diners think well enough of your food to share it online. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask where the images might appear just in case your response is necessary.




The Invisible Diner

No-shows are the worst, but never call them out on social media. Diner shaming just makes you look like the jerk. Send email reminders and take credit card deposits if it’s an event or big night. Secure reservations with a credit card for repeat offenders.




The hypochondriac cartoonThe Hypochondriac

Much like The Menu Artist, this diner requires extra-special attention. While it may be hard to believe that so many people suddenly have food allergies, it never hurts to carry gluten-free pasta or omit cream from a recipe. 




The mathematician cartoonThe Mathematician

Tired of doing the math behind split checks? Charging for dividing food is so last decade. To make up for the check average, sweeten your pitch about not-to-be-missed appetizers or best-selling desserts. Or ask ahead of time if the table would prefer individual checks.