How to get better service in a restaurant, according to an ex-waiter

Customers who wander in a few minutes before closing may be confronted by not only unhappy servers, but also an unhappy kitchen staff, eager to go home, Dublanica said.

“You will never see food cooked faster than the food that’s cooked for the last customer of the night,” said Dublanica, noting that it’s not uncommon for a kitchen staff to rush through the preparation of the last meal of the night, and might be more inclined to cut corners.

Customers who are the last diners of the night also run the risk of having unwelcome ingredients around their food, including cleaning sprays and solutions, Dublanica said.

“The staff is typically starting to clean up the kitchen and the restaurant near closing time,” Dublanica said. “And that stuff can and does get in and around the last meals of the night.”

If you arrive late to a restaurant and know that the kitchen is about to close, Dublanica advises it’s best to order an entrée only, and to ask for the check right away, which sends a message to the kitchen that you’re not trying to be a difficult customer.

“The staff will be nicer to the customer who they know is just hungry and not trying to add three more hours to their night.”

Keep Your Reservation — and Tip Well

Ever wonder if restaurants keep track of customers they like — and customers they don’t? Dublanica says they do. And that means being a good customer can pay off — and being a bad customer can come back to haunt you.

“Nowadays people can change their plans on the fly, and that can hurt your relationship with a restaurant,” Dublanica says. He notes that in an age in which reservations can be easily made online, using OpenTable and other apps, people sometimes double book and fail to inform a restaurant when they decide to go elsewhere. “People often don’t show up or they cancel at the last minute. Restaurants definitely keep a record of that.”

If you have to cancel, Dublanica says, call the restaurant directly and apologize. The worst offenders, he said, are those who fail to show up at all — leaving the restaurant to hold their table needlessly and potentially turn customers away.

Repeat offenders score a black mark in the restaurant’s book. And yes, Dublanica said, the restaurant keeps written track of customers.