The Etiquette Mistake To Avoid With Breakfast Buffet Waffle Irons

The magic of those cook-it-yourself waffle stations at hotel breakfast buffets is obvious: You get crisp, freshly cooked waffles that haven't been sitting out, getting soggy or stale. The downside? The wait for the waffles to actually cook.

This waiting period might be why some guests decide to add extra waffle batter to the iron after cooking their own, aiming to make the next person's breakfast more enjoyable. They'll get a piping hot, fresh waffle without the wait. Sounds thoughtful and considerate — the epitome of "do unto others" — right?

Wrong! You might actually be depriving the person behind you of the option to make their preferred waffle, and you could even subject the dining room to the smell of burnt batter. This behavior falls into the same category as the "pay it forward" drive-thru gesture, even though the mechanics differ. While it may seem like a super nice gesture on the surface, it comes with some notable pitfalls.

Don't assume you know what the other diners want

The main issue is that you don't know if the person behind you even wants waffles, let alone the people further back in line. It's a guessing game, and if you guess wrong, that waffle batter could end up overcooking and burning. If that happens, you're hindering, not helping, other guests. If the next few guests skip the waffle station, someone will eventually have to remove the burnt waffle from the iron.

Even if someone directly behind you wants to use the iron, they may have their own favorite waffle recipe. Maybe they want a smaller waffle or would like to add berries — or some other ingredient from the buffet — to the batter. By adding fresh batter yourself, you're denying them that choice and forcing them to wait for your batter to cook before they can use the iron as they wish. (Whether you should be putting other items from the breakfast buffet into the waffle iron is debatable, but that's a separate issue.)

You might also be annoying the staff

If you end up putting unwanted batter in a communal waffle iron and it burns, the restaurant staff may have to clean it. This is not ideal for three reasons: First, workers will likely be annoyed by the extra cleaning that could have been avoided. Second, it diverts their time away from other tasks, such as refilling the buffet or assisting guests. Finally, if the waffle iron is older or has a weak nonstick surface, they might even need to take it out of action, depriving other guests of tasty waffles.

So, it's better to resist the temptation to make communal waffles. If you really want to be a waffle hero, ask the person behind you if they'd like you to add batter for them; otherwise, leave the choice up to them. They won't be upset that someone didn't make a waffle for them in advance.