Top 5 restaurant gripes

Ask restaurant-goers what irritates them most about dining out, and you might expect howls about slow service, improperly cooked food and mixed-up orders. But those big-picture issues weren’t the most common complaints of the 100-plus diners who responded when I asked readers recently to share their pet peeves about restaurants. It turns out it’s the little things that drive people up the wall.

Things that you might not suspect. Things that servers and managers could easily change or avoid, if only they knew how their guests felt. Several readers noted how much they enjoy dining out and appreciate the difficult jobs servers have — but it would be so much nicer, they said, if those little annoyances disappeared. Here, compiled from multiple gripes contained in dozens of e-mails are the Five Things That Bug Us Most in Restaurants:

No. 1: Readers’ No. 1 complaint, by far, was a surprise: Significant numbers of diners of both sexes detest being addressed as “you guys” — as in “How are you guys?” or “Are you guys ready to order?”

“I am a customer, not a casual buddy,” declared Fred Steiner of Beverly Hills. “I am not a guy!” wrote Bert Schwab of Canton. Kay Wood of Grayling said she and her friends consider “you guys” to be “disrespectful and un-businesslike … it makes me nuts!” she added.

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