1. Believe it or not, the battle to win over your server starts before you even leave the house. First impressions make a huge difference, which is why you need to perfect your “restaurant outfit.” A snappy shirt tucked into blue jeans is just the ticket. Look there—a man who does well for himself, but isn’t afraid to have a good time. We didn’t realize a member of the Rat Pack would be dining at Cracker Barrel tonight!
2. The first concrete step in a friendship is learning each other’s names. A lot of customers never pay attention to servers’ name tags, but not you. You’ll use his first name at the beginning and end of every sentence! Meanwhile, you’ll introduce yourself using your complete legal name. That way, he can eventually list you as an emergency contact.
3. Now, the main responsibility of any dad in a restaurant is to spout off a consistent stream of comedy gold. Lob a few zingers at your wife, and later say you didn’t like the food after devouring everything on the plate. Your closer should always be to take the bill at the end of the meal and hand it to your 9-year-old child. Any initial confusion on the server's part—“Wait a moment, how’s she gonna pay for all this!?”—will soon be replaced by gut-busting laughter. So many antics! What is this, The Big Bang Theory?
4. If you happen to be in an ethnic eatery (Thai, Indian, Italian), make sure the staff knows you’re with it. Demand that the chef makes you their country’s most traditional dish, whether it’s on the menu or not. Then they’ll know you’re one of the good ones!
5. Of course, it’s not just about you. Get to know your server by asking questions about his life. WARNING: You may not always like what you hear, especially if he’s a student majoring in something useless like modern dance. Should you stumble into one of these conversational roadblocks, just smile, nod your head, and ask him to read off the specials again.
6. By the time you leave behind a hefty tip, you’ll have made a friend for life. Seal the deal by leaving a rave review on Yelp along the lines of “Derek took great care of us! Definitely will come back.” He’ll treasure that moment forever, even though his name is Lance.