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Servers Admit to Straight-Up Lying to You About These 20 Things

Food & Wine logo Food & Wine 10/16/2017 Maria Yagoda
© Steve Debenport / Getty Images

Working as a server in the hospitality industry can be one of the most physically- and emotionally-taxing professions. Not only does the job require constant standing, moving, lifting and dodging very hot things, but you must please hungry (and often angry) customers, quickly and accurately.

Of course, everyone makes mistakes—and everyone deals with those mistakes differently. We spoke with former and current servers around the country who admitted to telling the occasional, mostly harmless lie to keep things moving and make their lives a little bit easier.

1. "I lie to customers every shift. White-lie stuff, mostly; my positive opinions on wine I've never tried, or dishes I don't like."

2. "Sometimes I lied about pies and stuff being reserved so my co-workers could take them home."

3. "I'll lie about my past and who I am to make myself seem more interesting or appealing. Anything to make the customer more comfortable, or that might disperse tension."

4. "I'll blame my mistakes on the kitchen or acts of God."

5. "I've told vegans that the cheese they're eating is vegan because they've already eaten half of it, and the truth will help no one. Plus, if they don't know what cheese tastes like, they're idiots."

6. "When it comes to a Diet Coke/Coke mix-up and it’s just a soda, I will be honest, just in case if they’re diabetic. However, if it’s a cocktail and I'm super busy, I just go with the flow and don't say anything. I wouldn’t exactly call this a lie, maybe just a little fib."

7. "I'm a host, so usually the lies relate to food-running and seating. I'll lie for a server if a guest wonders where their drink is, responding with, 'Yep, its on it's way,' when it's clear the server forgot to make the drink. With seating, it's usually a lie about whether the table before a reservation was a walk-in or a reserved spot. Mostly innocuous stuff like that."

8. "Lies I really don't like to make (but but am forced to) are when people's spots get pre-empted for VIPs, and we lie to say they already had a reservation."

9. "In a very crappy restaurant I worked at, we'd say the cash machines shut down so we couldn't do any more deliveries after a certain time. It was easier to blame a machine; it was 'out of our hands.'"

10. "Whenever someone asked me my favorite dish on the menu, or a favorite of customers, I would just say the most expensive item. Duh."

11. "Sometimes I messed up an order and blamed it on the kitchen to the customer. 'Ah, they accidentally made a chicken sandwich!'"

12. "In a fancy restaurant I worked in often, I would just say 'yes' whenever someone asked me if something was organic or grass-fed or local, and sometimes I would lie about where the farm was ('upstate.') This certainly was when I was new and lied to even get hired there; I said I had years of experience being a waitress when I actually had zero years of experience."

13. "When I worked for a caterer, all the coffee was decaf, even though they were labeled 'caf' and 'decaf.'"

14. "As a hostess, I was told to always say the wait would be 15 to 20 minutes, even though I knew it would be much more."

15. "When I was a waiter, I was instructed as follows: When someone orders espresso, pour coffee into a demitasse cup, then stir in a teaspoon of ground espresso, then serve."

16. "We had a dish on the menu that was described as 'boned chicken," but had a bone in it. We were instructed to tell customers that's what 'boned' meant."

17. "The fibbing I do is only the extent of when I forget to ring something in, and I notice the table waiting for it. When it does come out, I'll say something like, 'Sorry, kitchen lost the ticket!' Or sometimes I'm just honest and let the customer know we, too, are human."

18. "I'm a big fan of the fake backstory. I lie in those instances all the time; it's just really based on my mood and the situation."

19. "Recently, I didn't know how to change beer kegs, so whenever one would run out and I knew we had another, I'd just lie and say, 'We're sold out.' Or, if we run out of something and I know there's more of it downstairs but I just don't feel like getting it, I'll say that we're out. Also, I've told people in the past that we don't have mustard because I'm horrified by mustard and don't want to have to touch it."

20. "I worked at a cafeteria-style place, so I would mostly lie about being out of stuff like milkshakes when we were really busy, so we wouldn't lose someone from the assembly line, or about being out of the stuff that was really involved for the cooks to make when we were close to closing and they were trying to get their stations cleaned up. Sometimes, there was a little bit of lying to spare feelings when people would get like a massive amount of food, but then try to diffuse it by acting ashamed out loud. ('That's what everybody gets!')."

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