In recent years, restaurant etiquette seems to have declined. The reasons are unclear; it could be a decrease in patience or a rise in self-importance. Alternatively, it could be due to people’s lack of social interaction during the pandemic. Regardless, the impact of such behavior is significant. Poor etiquette not only affects the server’s mood but can also tarnish the experience for everyone else and even harm the restaurant’s reputation.
30 Rules for Restaurant Etiquette
Dining out is a beloved pastime for many, offering a break from the monotony of home-cooked meals. While high inflation may have led some to save money on groceries by cooking at home, going to a restaurant remains a special treat.
To ensure a pleasant dining experience for all, there are general etiquette rules that everyone should follow when eating out. It doesn’t matter whether you’re dining at an upscale restaurant or a casual BBQ joint. Here are 30 restaurant etiquette rules to keep in mind:
When dining at a table
With a chair on one side and a long communal bench on the other, it is not polite to sit side-by-side with your companion as it encroaches on the space of other diners and makes it difficult for others to move around.
It is only appropriate to call a restaurant to request a deposit refund if
There is a family emergency, a serious illness, or a death, especially if a restaurant charges a fee for no-shows. Otherwise, it is not acceptable to dispute a no-show charge if a date or friend bails on the reservation.
If you make a group reservation for a specific time
It is important for everyone to arrive at that time. If the restaurant has a policy of seating only complete parties, no one in the group should assume they can hold the table for others who arrive later. That is just good restaurant etiquette.
Paying the bill can be a sensitive topic
So, it’s best not to fight over it in public. The first person to grab the bill should pay, and any disagreements can be resolved later via text or Venmo. Fighting over the bill at the table is uncomfortable for everyone involved.
Read: How to Treat Everyone with Politeness.
If you are running late for a date
There is a five-minute grace period. For friends, it is ten minutes. Lying about the reason for being late is not advisable. With the advances in technology, planning ahead and using your smartphone to manage your time is key. If you are running late, call the restaurant and let them know, even if it is only a few minutes. This is better than allowing the restaurant to assume you are a no-show and it may help you to keep your reservation.
It is always the right thing to do to call and inform the restaurant that you cannot make a reservation you have made
This goes without saying. Don’t just not pitch up or ignore the restaurant’s calls when they try to contact you, even if there is no charge for no-shows. It shows respect for the restaurant, and they may be able to fill your spot with someone else.
The person picking the restaurant for the group should inform others about the prices
Allowing those who may have budget constraints to veto the decision without feeling disrespected. It can be quite scary to arrive and not be able to order what you want because you can’t afford it – be mindful, always!
If you request a different table than the one you are initially offered
It is important to be polite if the request cannot be accommodated. Not every table you see is actually open, and the restaurant staff may be working to manage a complex seating puzzle. You cannot always have exactly what you want when it comes to seating, but most places will try their best!
If you are dining at the bar
It is advisable to choose seats that leave pairs open next to you, even if this means you sit close to strangers. This will ensure that you don’t occupy a larger space than necessary and may also provide an opportunity to make new acquaintances.
Close out your bar tab
It’s good etiquette to close out your bar tab before heading to your table, even if the restaurant says you can carry it over. Spend as much time as you want at the bar, but don’t forget to tip the bartender who made your drinks. You can start a new bill with your server.
Don’t help yourself to the bartender’s fruit tray
It is good restaurant etiquette to just ask for what you need, and your bartender will be happy to help you. This includes slices of lemon, lime, orange, other garnishes, and even ice. It is important to remember that there are health and safety standards in place.
If you have food allergies
Give your server a copy of them in written format. This will make it easy for the kitchen and safer for yourself. You can type up a business card-sized list of your allergies and give it to your server. This might seem odd, but it can save a lot of trouble and possible allergic reactions from happening!
If you have any dietary restrictions
Pick a restaurant that can accommodate your requests easily or with few special requests. For example, you can easily use apps and websites to find gluten-free-friendly restaurants or look at restaurant menus online ahead of time.
It’s important to be present while dining out
This means not taking phone calls or having your phone on speaker. Doing so is not only rude but also unaware of those around you. This includes the people seated at your table or at others. Rather take calls outside if absolutely needed.
It’s best not to argue with your server about extra fees that may appear on your bill
Such as kitchen appreciation fees or added gratuity for larger groups. Instead, it’s important to be considerate and understanding. Everyone in the restaurant works very hard, and this includes the staff you never see.
Do your research ahead of time if you want to figure out what to order
This should be common sense in today’s world! Check out the restaurant’s Instagram or the photos in Google reviews. You can even view the entire menu for most establishments online. There is no point in disappointing yourself because you don’t want anything on the menu.
Read: 24 Things People With Good Table Manners Don’t Forget to Do
If you arrive at a restaurant that is closing in the next 30 minutes
It is best to find another option. If that is not possible, order and eat as quickly as possible and try not to be the last people in the restaurant. The restaurant staff are people too, and they likely have transport arrangements to stick to.
If you intend to ask for separate checks
Tell your waiter before you order. If the restaurant doesn’t accommodate separate checks, don’t blame your waiter. When it’s time to pay, appoint someone to front the bill and use Venmo to figure out the rest. Remember, some restaurants are not willing to split bills.
If your server brings you an incorrect item by accident
Don’t take a sip or bite, as you will pay for it. This is pretty obvious restaurant etiquette! Rather, let your waiter know there was a mistake, and they’ll take care of it. Don’t assume that you’re entitled to free stuff.
Flagging down other servers that aren’t your own
If you really can not wait to be served or to make a request, this should only be done if your server is completely missing in action. Should your waiter take an unacceptably long time to tend to your table, do not make a scene.
When you’re in a rush, let your waiter know ASAP
Don’t be afraid to ask for the bill when you order or when they ask how everything is. It makes things much easier on the staff when they know you are in a hurry, rather than having to deal with irate customers who they were serving as per normal.
The most respectful way to get your server’s attention
Is by making eye contact with them. If that’s challenging, a subtle and polite hand gesture while you make eye contact with them is acceptable. But it’s never okay to wave, shout, or get up and talk to the staff unnecessarily.
When booking a reservation through an app
It is advisable to call the restaurant ahead of time to double-check that the reservation went through, even if the app may be convenient. This will save you from a potential headache and prevent restaurant staff from having to deal with issues that could have been avoided.
If you’re waiting for a table at a busy restaurant
Feel free to order drinks and appetizers at the bar, but remember to close out your tab before heading over to your table. Tip the bartender who made your drinks, and start a new bill with your server. This makes it easier on the staff and also ensures the bar receives tips.
Being considerate of your server’s time is important
So, minimizing the number of trips they make can help and is good restaurant etiquette. Take stock of the things you might need before your food arrives, such as sauces or utensils, and ask for them all at once instead of sending your server back and forth multiple times.
A group of eight or more should call a restaurant before arriving to dine out
This will make a significant difference and prevent any inconvenience for both the restaurant and the diners. You stand a pretty high chance of not being accommodated if you don’t call ahead! And who wants to be disappointed?
Sending food back to the kitchen is acceptable
If it’s not cooked to your liking or is missing special requests, this is understandable. However, remember to include “please” and “thank you” in your request, and try to be empathetic towards your server, who is just doing their job. Sending food back simply because you don’t like it is childish.
When dining in a restaurant where you seat yourself
It is good restaurant etiquette to choose the smallest available table for your party size. If a smaller table opens up nearby before your food arrives, move there, and offer to share larger tables with other parties if the restaurant is busy. The more tables a restaurant can comfortably seat, the better for the restaurant.
Waiting longer for your food
This is inevitable in a post-pandemic world. So, it’s important to be patient. If you feel the need to check on the status of your meal, use polite language and avoid displaying any attitude. Nobody likes a Karen! Be kind, always.
When dining out with your child
If there is no kids’ menu and your child refuses to order from the regular menu, it’s best to inquire with your server about off-menu options that the kitchen could easily prepare for your child, rather than immediately asking for common kids’ dishes
Keep Reading: A New Restaurant Has A Strict ‘No Cellphones Allowed’ Policy. Let’s Hope It Starts A Trend.