It’s 2016. We all know that calling Sunday brunch “just a meal” would be a major understatement. It’s an experience that’s spawned countless hate pieces on Vice, Buzzfeed, and even in The New York Times.
“Brunch is [a problem],” David Shaftel wrote in a 2014 Times op-ed. “Seasoned with the self-satisfaction of knowing the latest and hippest brunch boîte and the pleasure of ordering eggs Benedict made with jamón Ibérico and duck eggs, something so fundamentally conformist can seem like the height of urban sophistication. Worse than adolescent, it is an adolescent’s idea of how adults spend their time.”
Love it or hate it, brunch has become entwined in our cultural fabric. But maybe there wouldn’t be such a huge contingent of brunch haters if people would just, like, brunch properly. We talked to some servers and some brunch aficionados about what everyone can do to give brunch its good name back.
First things first: Don’t be late, man.
I know, I know. Brunch is supposed to be this chill, laid-back meal that makes your hangover magically disappear. But let’s get real: any brunch spot worth its artisanal bloody-mary salt is going to be nearly as nuts as a Target on Black Friday. And you know they’re not going to seat you until your whole party has arrived. So you know what’ll help make the experience be as chill as possible? If everyone shows up on time.
And don’t make it a reunion.
“Brunch is not the time for a giant group,” one Facebook commenter opined. “[It] backs up the kitchen. … If you can’t make a reservation, you shouldn’t have more than four [people].”
Bringing kids? Gauge their moods first.
No one is saying kids aren’t as welcome to enjoy the otherworldly fluffiness of brioche french toast as their parents are. Just make sure they’re in a good mood. As my brunch-enthusiast friend put it: “If you have some cute 4-year-old who wants to come over to [the] table and share some tater tots, by all means, bring her along. If your kid is going to stand up in the booth behind [me] and throw crayons at everyone, eff that.”
Be patient with your servers.
As tiresome as it is for you to brave those wily brunch crowds, it’s 10 times more so for the people whose job it is to seat and feed them. “Brunch is a rough shift to work because customers are often hungover and out of it. Their inability to communicate and the shift’s inherent business make for a bad combination,” said Emily, a veteran server who’s worked in LA, Phoenix, and Hawaii. “And hungover people are really thirsty, so keeping up with the water is difficult.” We’ve all been there.
Liz, a server in Brooklyn, agreed on the patience thing, particularly in regards to waiting for a table. “Hungover people are literally children about being hungry. Get a snack on the way. There is ALWAYS A WAIT.”
And don’t give them reasons to be impatient with you.
John, a server from Cleveland, gets frustrated when guests “keep running you back and forth for more water, juice, coffee, extra napkins. … In actuality, we could take care of all of those in one trip.” Another Facebook commenter and former server expanded on that, pointing to the customer who demands a fresh pot of coffee to be brewed just for them—a fair request if the place is slow and the pot has potentially been sitting around. But if the restaurant is busy, you can pretty much guarantee the java is fresh.
Not every brunch is an Instagram-worthy revelation.
We’ve chatted with chefs about this before, but brunch seems like a particularly pressing reason to revisit the issue of Instagramming your food. Sure, (some) peeps love brunch, but that doesn’t mean you should spend 20 minutes getting just the right angle on your eggs benedict and 20 more choosing just the right filter just to share it with all your peeps. Especially when there are hordes of hungry people waiting for a table to open up.
On that note, don’t be a lingerer.
There are few things on this planet as special and as beautiful as bottomless mimosas. So yes, you should ab-so-lute-ly take advantage of them. But not too much advantage. Cap off your meal with one more as you wait for the check, and then move your #sundayfunday along to some of the other great bars in the neighborhood.
But if you’re set on staying put, then keep that in mind when it comes to the tip. Not only are you getting a deal on your drinks, but as Jaymee, a former server from Chicago, noted, the staff “could have turned your table over four times.”
OK. We all good now? Then get out there with a reasonably sized group and make brunch great again. Just close out of Instagram first.
Check out related reads on the Groupon Guide:
A Server’s Uncensored Thoughts on Tips, Tip Jars, and Split Checks
Advice on how much to tip to make your server, bartender, and barista happy.
The Right Way to Split a Group Check
Mister Manners on how to split the check, plus how to deal with a poor-tipping friend.