By Laura J. Schaefer
Need some advice from the front lines of the dating world? Talk to your server. Day in and day out, they’re the ones who overhear the awkward conversations and see the hopeful come-hither looks from behind the appetizer menu. Think your waitress doesn’t know you’re on a date? Think again. The wait staff absolutely does
know, and they have a lot
to say about it. Check out this excellent pick-up and dating advice from waiters and waitresses:
Choose your target wisely.
“Know your level,” says Charles Drengberg, co-founder of
. “If you’re a newly divorced 50-year-old man who’s kind of out of shape and drives a Toyota, don’t bother hitting on the 23-year-old bombshell wearing the Louboutins. Hit on the 35-year-old divorcee with a bit of spilled margarita on her blouse buying the shots for her friend’s bachelorette party instead.”
Treat your server well.
“I see a lot of dates come into my restaurant, and one thing I would suggest to men is to treat their servers well,” advises Darron Cardosa, a waiter in New York City and the voice behind The Bitchy Waiter
website. “I am not saying that because I want a better tip; I’m saying it because I feel that women pay close attention to how their date treats other people,” Cardosa explains. “I work in a small neighborhood restaurant. One woman who is a regular often uses our restaurant as a first-date spot for men she has met on dating websites. When he goes to the bathroom, she will call me over and ask me what I think.”
Look into the object of your affection’s eyes.
“Wait for meaningful eye contact and a smile,” advises Drengberg. “If a woman is avoiding eye contact with you, it’s because she’s not into you. It’s not because she’s being coy. Don’t creep up on girls like a Black Ops paratrooper. Wait for a woman to give you a reason to talk to her.”
Head to the bar, not the bistro.
“Meeting a partner in a restaurant is a much more difficult proposition than it is in a bar,” says Gregg Rottler, founder of Dinnersfromhell.com
. “In restaurants, diners are isolated [while seated at] their tables, making introductions challenging. Slowly sauntering by someone’s table looking for the telltale ring on a finger can easily prove unsuccessful, since hands are often concealed underneath the table.”
“I would tell men not to talk too much about themselves,” says Cardosa. “It’s so clear when a woman’s turned off by her date because he’s talking about his interests non-stop. Ask her questions about what she likes! Everyone likes to talk about themselves, but we only want to do it if we think the other person is interested.”
Don’t drink too much.
“Let me help you out,” offers Tonya Foster
, the San Francisco-based co-author of Waiting on Humanity
. “You’re not hot when you’re drunk. If you do get someone’s number when you’re in this state, never
call. Anyone who is attracted to you when you’re hammered might be a borderline personality.”
Eat like you normally would.
“I think [women] should eat what they want when they are on a date,” counsels Cardosa. “If [a woman] orders only a side salad, the guy feels awkward if he wants to order a steak and mac ‘n cheese. I think guys want to see women enjoy themselves at a meal rather than pick at lettuce leaves and pretend they aren’t hungry.”
Remember your sense of humor, no matter how bad the date might be.
“I worked in the evenings at a bar and grill,” remembers Kelly Ryan
, now the communications and tourism coordinator at the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau. “The only person I went out with while working there, I met while he was on a date. His outgoing personality and her standoffish one was pretty entertaining to watch. While he was pleasant to her the entire time, by the end of the date, both of them looked defeated. When he left, he dropped off his business card that said: ‘My date was lame. Call me.’ I think what made me want to call him was how hard he was trying to make sure his date had a good time, and how bad he was failing at it. Perseverance and a sense of humor go a long way.”
Dress nicely and leave the sneakers at home, please.
“When I first moved to New York, I waited tables at Remi, a fine dining restaurant in Midtown East,” explains Hilary Rushford, founder of Dean Street Society
. “One day as I was standing near the front, a plump man hustled his way in to check on a reservation. As he turned, I glanced at the hostess’s book to see the mark next to it indicating the dinner had been arranged by a dating service for busy professionals. I looked up, horrified at the sight of the man trotting away with a sweat-soaked dress shirt, bunchy khakis and white tennis shoes. When he returned a few hours later in the same clothes, the date did not go well. The lesson is: never dress so horribly that the waiters are embarrassed for you!”
Resist the urge to flash your cash.
“Don’t try to prove how much money you have by ordering the most expensive thing on the menu and flashing your American Express Gold card. The women I know are going to be turned off by that,” says Cardosa. Drengberg agrees that this is a bad idea: “I saw one guy spend over $300 on this gorgeous woman and her friends, thinking he was going to get lucky. Right after he paid the tab, she threw up all over herself and her friends carried her out — and left him
standing there all alone. It was probably only funny to me because he didn’t tip very well.”
Laura Schaefer is the author of Why We Fall Out of Love: Experts and Real People Talk about the Reasons Relationships Fail
. After bartending for 11 years, she’s happily retired from the restaurant business.