Going to a cafe for the first time may be a rather stressful experience if you are a shy, introverted person like me.
Until 19 I had no idea on how it is – going to a cafe. Of course, I’ve been to places of public catering before, like McDonald’s, etc. But I’ve never been to “an adult” cafe. To be clear, I don’t mean a cafe with “additional” adult services here, but the ordinary one, where people come to spend their free time, to have a cup of coffee, to relax, to have a date. So when I came to a decision to visit a cafe for the first time, I had already had a collection of fears (rational and irrational) and stereotypes about cafes, firmly fixed in my head, and none of my own practical experience.
In this article I’m going to present a list of issues I worried about when going to cafes for the first few times. It’s my hope, that it may help someone who’s in the same situation right now.
What to do after you’ve opened the door
– What should I do right after I’ve entered the cafe? Should I come to a waitress/host to ask if there are any vacant tables? Or should I move right to the table, which looks like vacant?
Actually, you can choose any of these options. For example, if I enter the cafe and most of the tables is vacant, then I choose a table and move straightforward to it. From the other hand, if it’s evening time and there a lot of people at a cafe (thus, I can’t identify if there are any vacant tables from the first glance), I usually address the passing by waitress with a question if I can take a seat somewhere.
How to order
– The other issue, I was anxious about, is whether I should sit down and wait for a menu to be brought to me by a waitress or should I grab one by myself?
A waiter brings a menu to you almost everywhere, so there’s no need to worry about it. However, if you see that there are a lot of people at a cafe and waitresses are rather busy, it’s better to come to a host and ask for a menu by yourself, so you don’t have to wait for a menu for a long time.
– But what if the waitress is already here ready to take my order, and I still haven’t make up my mind what I’d like?
Well, no problem. Just ask the waitress to give you a couple of minutes. If you wish to read all the menu and you think, it may take some time, ask the waiter for a drink and say you’ll keep the menu for a while.
What to order
If you got stuck in the choosing what dish you’d like to taste, and the description of a dish and its ingredients tell you nothing, ask the waitress to give you an advice. To ask what soup, salad, etc. is the most popular at that cafe – is a good idea either.
– Is it OK to order only a cup of tea? Or should I eat complex meal?
It’s totally up to you. You can order a cup of tea and drink it for half an hour. If someone of the personnel of the cafe has problem with it – it’s a bad cafe. Don’t leave any tips there.
– How much tips should I leave? 5%? 10%? 20%?
I usually leave 10%. If you really liked the meal and the service – you can leave more. If the meal was not tasty and the personnel was rude, so you’re not going to return here anymore – leave 0%.
Paying for meal
– If I pay with one cash note, should I await the change?
Of course, you should! The cafe must give you all the change. If the waiter took the money and didn’t bring change back, ask for it!
– What if the prices in a menu are very high and I can’t afford it?
Close the menu and leave. You don’t have to make any excuses.
– What time should I go to a cafe?
Well, from my point of view, the best time to visit a cafe, you’ve never been to before, – is 14-17 p.m. There are less people at a cafe at this time than it would be at the evening time, so you won’t feel very stressed.
– Everybody seems to be older than me. I feel uncomfortable…
If you have money to pay and your behavior doesn’t harm others, you’re a good client. Stay calm.
– Is it OK to go to a cafe alone?
Yes, totally. You don’t have to interact with anybody, and noone awaits it from you. Enjoy your meal.
I’m afraid that I will become nervous at a cafe. The cafe’s personnel will notice that and will think “What a ridiculous newbie!” I don’t want to look ridiculous.
I’ve never encountered this behavior. You are the client first, so the personnel is interested in making you feel comfortable.
As you see, most of worries I had were no more but the result of my fantasies. Going to cafes is no big deal. Though it may be a little uncomfortable in the beginning due to the lack of experience. Whenever you go to a cafe, simply remember, that you are the client, you choose what you want to eat and whether you want to eat at that cafe at all.
January 1st, 2012