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Fast Food Restaurant Etiquette

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The people who work in fast food outlets don't have what one might call glamorous jobs. They usually receive little pay for hard work and, on top of that, are taken for granted and often looked down upon by the literally thousands of patrons that can grace their establishments each day.

The following is a list of guidelines for anyone who frequently eats at a fast food restaurant. You may like to read them and think about the next time you are asked if you 'Would like fries with that?'. They were distilled from interviews with workers at several fast food restaurants in America, and while different restaurants in different countries may have different policies, these can be considered general 'rules of thumb'.

13 Points To Ponder

  1. Please let staff know if you're allergic to any kind of common food item such as peanuts, onions or milk products. Sometimes these can be found in places where one wouldn't expect them, such as in sauces and breads.

  2. If you would like something special on your order, be sure to tell staff what you want changed as you order that item, not at the end of the order. For example:

  3. I'd like a cheeseburger, a chicken sandwich, no tomato, and a medium order of fries.


    I'd like a cheeseburger, a chicken sandwich and a medium order of fries... and, oh yeah, no tomato on that chicken sandwich.

    This way, the person taking your order will not have to go back and delete an item, and you'll get your food faster.

  4. If you want extra of a particular ingredient, the restaurant has to charge for it. If you want an ingredient removed from an item, they cannot charge you less. That's just how it is. No amount of being argumentative with restaurant staff will change it.

  5. On the subject of charging, the employee taking your order does not decide the prices of the menu items. Neither does the manager. Neither of them own the company. If you have an issue with pricing, feel free to discuss your ideas with said manager, but keep in mind that they will have to then consult their boss and so on up the corporate ladder.

  6. Please don't pay for small orders with large notes. Employees are often required to clear them with the manager-in-charge, which will cause your order and the orders behind it to be delayed.

  7. When paying for your order, place the money in the cashier's hands, not on the counter. Employees in the food service industry are not permitted to have long finger nails and it is therefore difficult to pick up coins from a flat surface, not to mention frustrating when a hand is already usefully extended. And never leave money on the drive-thru window. It is liable to blow away.

  8. Please don't leave your receipt on the counter after you pick up your order.

  9. Don't feel obliged to make the place spotless after you leave, but try not to leave too much mess. Also, try to manage your small children as much as possible.

  10. If you spill a drink in the dining room, let an employee know. He or she won't be angry; it is his/her job to clean it up, after all. However, if you let them know right away, it will be easier to clean and it won't turn off customers who will walk in and see a mess.

  11. Don't waste condiments or napkins; they are expensive1. If you actually need a lot of sauce, by all means, take it. That is what it's there for. But if you are throwing a lot of it away, it's simply wasteful2. Also, a restaurant can temporarily run out of an item if great piles of it are lying around the dining area, unused.

  12. Please use the litter bins in the dining room. Don't leave your trays and food wrappers out on the tables. If the bins are full, let an employee know so that they can empty them. They will throw your rubbish away in the kitchen and will be grateful for the tip-off.

  13. Please refrain from swearing at the employees. It's just bad manners.

  14. Also, don't flirt with the workers. Invitations to a hotel room or requests for a phone number are awkward to deal with. Don't put an employee through it, however whimsical the idea may appear.

When in the Drive-thru

  1. Pull up close to the drive-thru speaker. They are essentially walkie-talkies, so the clarity will not be crystal clear.

  2. Listen to the drive-thru personnel as they read your order back to you. Correct them in a polite manner if it's not correct.

  3. Orders of £10 or more should really be made inside. The drive-thru is for people in a hurry, and large orders slow everyone down. Put yourself in the shoes of the person behind you. If all you wanted was one small drink and you were delayed ten minutes because the person in front of you ordered 20 burgers and 15 orders of fries, how pleased would you be?

  4. Please have your change ready when you get to the window... especially in bad weather.

  5. Please don't chat on your mobile while taking an order or when paying for it. That way, the employee will not have to interrupt you to do their job. And, again, it's bad manners.

In Conclusion

Finally, if an employee is rude to you, then please do report them to their superior. That individual wasn't doing their job and is creating a bad reputation for their co-workers. People on both sides of the counter deserve respect. And when in doubt, both should just use common sense, and remember that if we simply treat each other like human beings, the fast food experience will be a great deal nicer for all concerned.

1For example, a case of mild sauce at Taco Bell costs more than a case of meat.2This Researcher has seen people throwing away upwards of 50 packets of sauce when they've only ordered one item.

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