Restaurant Etiquette: Did you know?
Updated: Jun 23
As the country is slowly and cautiously going back to a normal life, we are able to return to our favorite wine bars and eateries. Terrific news!
Why not brush up on our etiquette, get rid of the old habits, and get a new, fresh start?!
As the owner of a French bistro-style establishment, I have witnessed some scenes and come across a lot of situations that could be considered either weird, sometimes coarse if not rude.
As some of you may know, I coach clients in etiquette and personal best. Before the Covid-19, I was doing so locally only. In this post or “semi-post” virus era, I find myself coaching via the wonderful new technology that the same virus has pushed on us, and I have extended my services way beyond my own community. Even though most requests are for etiquette in general, there are always some clients who ask specific questions about restaurant etiquette. So, for those who think that restaurant etiquette does not exist, yes, it does.
When you decide to go to a restaurant, you have some expectations – you expect the food to be as good as you remember it or as good as some friends have told you it is; you expect to receive good service from a good waiter who will care about your comfort and your general culinary experience. Fair enough.
Some guests, however, become overzealous in a restaurant and, by being overzealous, they unknowingly display their ignorance and their lack of etiquette. Restaurant etiquette is nothing new, yet often ignored or disregarded.
The server’s job is to try to educate the guests while being smooth, pleasant, diplomatic… without himself being too straightforward or, worse, offensive.
My guidance and expertise in this blurry area of “restaurant etiquette” may surprise you, but the goal is to give you knowledge and confidence. You will better understand the image that you currently project of yourself, and you will be able to decide if that is a good, likeable picture, or if changes must be made. Also, it will help you build a good rapport with your server next time you eat out.
Are you ready for a few tips?
What if I told you that, even though allergies should be a concern for your waiter as much as it is a concern for you, your diet, on the other hand, is none of your waiter’s business? If you choose a restaurant in particular, it is because you like the food there. It is not to lecture the waiter and the chef on what the menu should be and how it should accommodate your specific diet needs.
Do you go to Louis Vuitton to buy a Vera Bradley purse? Do you go to Ferragamo to buy loggers’ boots? Then you do not go to a French restaurant and order the cheese tray if you are watching your cholesterol level or if you are on a tight schedule and in a giant hurry.
What if I told you that, before posting a nasty review on Yelp or other platforms, you should really speak with the restaurant manager first? Not only would it be a gesture of courtesy on your part, but you would actually benefit from it!
What if I told you that your phone and keys should not be on the table?
What if I told you that there are some things that you may bring to a restaurant and some that… you may not bring?
Have you ever complained that the service was slow while waiting impatiently for your server to come to your table and take your order while your menu was still open in front of you? Most likely, your server was waiting for you…
Have you ever complained that your server was not clearing your table as long as your silverware was in the 8:20 position rather than the 3:15 position?
See, there is a lot to know and a lot to teach about table manners and restaurant etiquette, probably more than most of us think. And when you know the manners and you apply them, they become natural, and they give you confidence. And the more confidence you have, the better you feel about yourself. That is true with all manners in all circumstances at all ages in all countries.
So… restaurant etiquette starts now as the restaurant industry gets a brand-new start after the Covid-19. Let’s give it a try and make a difference. We can all do it!