Here’s Why Your Waiters Are So Entitled & How to Reduce This

Waiters are the face of a restaurant. They’re always on the front lines dealing with all sorts of guests, with many also needing to deal with second jobs and their lives outside of the establishment. It’s a stressful position no matter how its sliced, which often leads to some poor behavior.

When poor, tired behavior turns into entitlement, it’s time to do something before this sort of behavior spreads. Entitled, negative employees are a fast track to high turnover rates and negative experiences for everyone around. Keep reading to learn more about waiter entitlement and how to go about reducing this.

What Does Waiter Entitlement Look Like?

Waiter entitlement looks pretty much like any other form of entitlement, though it is on a sliding scale. Just because someone asks for a raise when they probably don’t deserve it doesn’t mean that they’re entitled.

Oftentimes, entitled behavior looks like so:

  • A lot of complaining about every little thing
  • Constant requests for raises or resources without additional effort
  • Blaming external factors
  • Insisting others treat them poorly when there is no evidence to support this
  • Constantly hosting pity parties for themselves

A common form of entitlement seen in restaurants is assuming that someone doesn’t have it as hard as they do for whatever reason. So-and-so doesn’t have kids at home, doesn’t have extra jobs, is young, etc. It might seem harmless at first, but it can get grating and damaging to the team as a whole.

Reasons Why Waiters are So Entitled

Every person is unique. They have their own thoughts, lives, and reasons for being a waiter in the first place. There’s no one-size-fits-all for why a waiter might be entitled, but there are some common threads that might be present.

Here are some reasons why your waiters might be acting so entitled:

  • They feel they deserve more for the same amount of work based on experience, education, etc.
  • Managers give out raises if threatened with an employee leaving
  • Employees are treated differently by upper management
  • There are obvious favorites in the team dynamic
  • Pay is used to entice even poor workers to stay
  • Something is happening between staff that management hasn’t noticed yet
  • Resent changes in reward programs
  • There is the belief that they should be allowed exceptions for whatever reason
  • They have a personal connection to upper management

Many times, entitlement comes from some sort of misguided belief either in themselves or others. They also often appear when staff are treated differently. This starts breeding a sense of superiority over each other, resentment, and a whole slew of other negative emotions and behaviors.

Ways to Reduce Entitled Behavior

Just like how people are unique, their behavior will stem from unique places. It’s important to catch, prevent, or work on reducing any negative behavior as soon as it appears, but it’s also important to remember that these are still human beings and need to be treated with a level of respect.

Here are some ways to reduce entitlement behavior of a waiter or even prevent it entirely:

  • Call them out on their behavior. However, do this professionally and in the office rather than on the floor.
  • State specific expectations. Don’t be vague or try to sugarcoat in order to spare feelings. 
  • Keep emotions in check. Do not go about when angry. Take a moment to cool off before confronting the employee with a level head.
  • Be positive and constructive. While it is important to be clear without sugar coating, it’s also important to be sure to be positive and constructive. Help the waiter shape up rather than making them feel attacked.
  • Promote ownership. Often times the issue lies in the waiter not being entirely aware of their entitled behavior and needs it to be put in a different framework to realize and adjust their actions. It might even be an opportunity to encourage them to work on improving situations that would have otherwise gone under the radar.
  • Document poor behavior. Always document poor behavior and any disciplinary actions taken.
  • Assign tasks that highlight the individual’s strengths. Not everyone is good at everything. Assigning tasks that are suited to an individual’s strengths or even interests will help.
  • Encourage the same treatment for all staff. Don’t let favorites show, don’t let the veteran waiter get away with more just because they have been there longer, etc. 
  • Stick to all policies. They are there for a reason. Don’t go lenient on something when it’s not necessary. If it keeps being necessary, it might be time to reassess these policies unless they’re in regard to the law or health and safety.

It’s shocking how much genuine care, compassion, and discussion can help turn around negative behavior. Communication is key in any relationship, and not just romantic ones. Try to fix the problems first before getting fire-happy and things will continue to grow positively down the line.

Is All Complaining Entitlement?

Just because a waiter is complaining doesn’t mean that they are exhibiting signs of entitlement. There might be legitimate issues that need to be addressed. The occasional complaint is normal and healthy, but if it keeps happening it is probably about time to sit them down and try to get to the root of the issue. Wait staff see and hear a lot of the happenings, they might have even picked up on something before management. 

They could also be simply having a hard time at home or be facing some serious issues that are slipping into their work life. Take the time to show legitimate concern for them and it will help empower rather than destroy. This in turn will lead to less entitlement overall as they feel their needs are being genuinely met.


Entitlement can be a big issue among waiters. They have stressful jobs constantly on the front lines and interacting with both coworkers and the restaurant guests. However, that’s no reason to let entitlement run rampant and destroy the morale of the establishment. Take some time to express genuine concern and compassion, find the root cause of the issue, and work together positively to turn around this behavior.


3 Ways To Manage Entitled Employees

5 Ways Entitlement Can Take Down a Team

Worker has case of ‘entitlement mentality’? How to cure it

Employee Entitlement: Why You Need to Beware of Self-Inflicted Wounds

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