At the end of a meal at a restaurant, some people like to help servers out by preparing their plates to be cleared off the table. While this may seem like a simple task, there are many ways that a customer can mess up that make cleaning up the table harder for the server, not easier.
Recently, TikTok user Courtney Mae (@bubblesonthemoon) spotted a comment from another user asking servers to show how to properly stack dishes at the end of a meal. In a video with over 680,000 views, she obliged.
@bubblesonthemoon Replying to @readlitandweep My preference of stacking for easy clean up. Had training going on so perfect timing! Of course, this is all my opinion and preference. Cups you do not stack together to avoid suction and getting stuck. Some people prefer stacking, some don’t. All depends on the person. Hope this helps! #stackingdishes #restaurant #serverlife ♬ This Is How We Do It – Montell Jordan
In the video, a person can be seen scraping all of the excess food onto a single plate and stacking the remaining plates under it. Silverware is then placed on the top plate. Bowls and any remaining small plates are similarly stacked.
“My preference of stacking for easy clean up. Had training going on so perfect timing! Of course, this is all my opinion and preference. Cups you do not stack together to avoid suction and getting stuck,” Mae wrote in the caption. “Some people prefer stacking, some don’t. All depends on the person.”
In the comment section, many users stressed that this was not a requirement for eating out—it’s just something that one can do if they want to help servers.
“I already do that and people think I’m crazy,” wrote one user. “Why not make someone’s job easier if you can?”
“I was a server and I didn’t care if anybody did this,” added another. “If you did, okay. If you didn’t, okay too.”
“Doesn’t always have to be this well done; but an effort is always appreciated,” shared a third.
Still, some users seemed vehemently opposed to the idea.
“I believe part of the enjoyment of eating out is not having to do anything, especially scraping plates,” stated a commenter. “I have been a server and still believe this!”
“Up next: taking the plates into the kitchen and rinsing them off before you leave,” joked a second.
“So first it was Walmart with the self-checkout,” observed a further TikToker. “Now we are cleaning our own tables and we eat out.”
Regardless, many users believed that picking up after themselves at a restaurant was common courtesy and a widely-understood practice.
“I’ve never been a server. I thought this was common knowledge,” said one commenter.
“Never been a [server]. But I was taught this as it was respectful to the one serving you,” claimed an additional TikToker.
The Daily Dot reached out to Courtney Mae via Instagram direct message.
Update 3:08pm CT January 19: In an Instagram DM exchange with the Daily Dot, Courtney discussed the many conversations from the comment section of her video.
“My initial thought was how broad a spectrum of people were when it came to the stacking mindset,” she wrote of the comments. “I think it’s sweet that many wish to aid their server with stacking plates. I hadn’t realized how as to the number of people (outside of the industry) that were for it. People have said that they’re willing to stack, but not scrape, and that’s okay! Many servers don’t require it, or even expect it, but it’s a kind gesture to see from guests.”
“For those against it, I’m not upset over their preference. They’re dining out for leisure and relaxation, and that’s what servers are to provide. However, what took me back was how bad they took it,” she continued. “The caption and comment bubble state that it’s a preference, not a requirement, yet some seemed to have taken it as a ‘you have to do this’ manner. Many have stated that there wasn’t a point to tipping if they were to stack, which boggled my mind considering that bussing (especially end of meal bussing) is just one part of a whole that is serving.”
“Whether or not they wish to stack is all their preference and doesn’t make them a better or worse person as some comments may read,” she added. “It’s my job as a server to make sure all needs are met and that responsibility is taken off the guests’ shoulders.”
She closed by reiterating that plate stacking is completely optional. “I’d like for viewers and readers to know that stacking is *not* a requirement and should feel no pressure in doing so when coming across videos similar to my own. Some establishments, particularly more upscale, frown upon it seeing it as going against etiquette,” she noted. “If a guest wants to stack but is unsure about regulations and the server’s preference, they can always ask! Aside from that, have a good time and enjoy your meal!”