Home Eating Out Here are the secret hand codes waiters use when you arrive.

Here are the secret hand codes waiters use when you arrive.

secret hand codes waiters use
Special guests get the sideways V sign signaling VIP guest.

It’s no secret that waiters at top tier restaurants resort to secret hand codes amongst themselves as guests make their way in. Figuring out what those slight way of hand way gestures actually meant used to be an inconvenience that many of us just accepted. Until now…

In a feature courtesy of the Washington Post, the journal sought to find out what and how and why certain particular gestures were used.

Speaking to Adam Sanders of BLT Steak in Washington, the restaurant manager went on to reveal that the ever constant flux of high profile clientele has led to the outlet coming up with some nifty hand codes.

A noted guest who Sanders wants to make sure gets that extra little more attention will get a sideway peace sign to indicate that a VIP has arrived.

Other hand gestures include a flat hand swipe for still water or wiggling fingers like a ‘jellyfish’ for sparkling water – as well as requesting the wine list or that a table be cleared.

secret hand codes waiters use
This is your waiter signaling that they need assistance.

Adam Sanders goes on to tell the hand codes shaves seconds, or sometimes even minutes off the time it takes to serve people, making the dining experience more pleasurable. And one imagines makes BLT Steak come off more polished in the eyes of the customer.

Sanders goes on to reiterate that so often the gestures play an important part of customer service and ought to be effortless and that patrons ought to be unaware that staff are using gestures.

Reiterates Sanders: ‘Computers can only do so much as they’re stationary, service is happening at the table.’

But some hand gestures it seems are not always the most pleasant and perhaps better not understood.

At high brow restaurant, Eleven Madison here in NYC, if a waiter starts to brush their shoulder as a guest leaves, that signals they were a messy eater and the table needs to be cleared quickly.

And then there are the cherished hand codes of yesteryear, especially marked for rude guests.

One such gesture, created in the 1940’s courtesy of the Stork Club’s Sherman Billingsley included clasping his hands together and putting one thumb up if a customer needed to be removed and banned for life.

Not that you, the ever humble well behaving diner would ever necessitate management’s secret hand code gestures to have you gently nudged out on to the street for less than stellar behavior. Unless of course you already have….

secret hand codes waiters use
The chef needs to be asked a question from the customer.
secret hand codes waiters use
Ordering drinks for the table, in this case, tap water.


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