Restaurants Use Hand Signals to Communicate with Fellow Servers

Dec 27, 2013 04:31 PM EST | By Dina Exil


Are you worried about what your waiter is saying behind your back?

According to the Washington Post, restaurants are teaching their servers to use hand signals to communicate with their colleagues.

"You can't yell across the dining room, 'Hey, I need help delivering food!'" Alex Susskind, an associate professor of food and beverage at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. told the Post

For guest at the BLT Steak in downtown Washington, D.C., manager Adam Sanders flashes a "V" to signal staff that VIP has arrived. At Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan, a waiter bushes their shoulder as guest leave, as a way to signal that the individual is a messy eater and the table needs to be quickly cleared of crumbs.

At Le Diplomate in Logan Circle, general manager William Washington, said a forward palm indicates a server must refresh an empty bread basket.

"Most communication is nonverbal," Washington told The Post. "I don't want people to be aware we're doing it."

The Post reported that the idea is nothing new. Life Magazine, included a photo spread from 1944, which reviled hand motions used at the Stork Club in New York.

Sherman Billingsley, club owner, would quietly clap his hands together then place one thumb up to indicate that a customer needed to be removed. The same signal went for customers that needed to be banned.

Think you can crack the code, check out the video below:

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