There is so much dining etiquette to be aware of when you’re eating out at a restaurant. It doesn’t really matter whether you’re at a fancy establishment or not. Practicing proper decorum should be common courtesy. Although we admit, it will definitely start to get confusing somewhere down the line.
The standards for dining conduct, however, have loosened over the years. You could probably get away with breaking a couple of rules here and there. Nonetheless, these practices are more than just table manners. It shows how much you respect a restaurant, from its food to the staff. Here are some essential tips for you to bear in mind:
Arriving At The Restaurant
Before leaving for the restaurant, or anywhere really, always be mindful of what you’re wearing. Dressing accordingly is important, especially if you’re going to dine at a sophisticated place. If you’re unaware of the appropriate attire, don’t hesitate to contact the restaurant ahead of time.
Once you get to the restaurant, always wait to be seated. Don’t just enter brazenly and look for a vacant table to occupy. It has become a common policy for restaurants to seat you themselves, be patient. Waiting for the rest of your party to arrive before being seated is also more polite than waiting alone at a table.
As soon as you sit down, do not put anything unnecessary on the table like phones or keys. For the table napkin, fold it in half before setting it on your lap. Make sure that the crease is towards you. This is done so that when you dab stains, they will stay on the inside of the napkin and not present any mess.
When you’re looking at the menu, at least one part of it should be touching the table. Don’t lift it completely off of the table. This is more important for formal dining. Never call out to your waiter when you’re ready to order or if you need anything else. Instead, try to catch their attention silently.
Behavior During Meals
Everyone in your party should order the same number of courses. Doing this allows your table to start and finish meals at the same time. It’s essential to wait for everyone to be served before eating as a sign of respect to your companions. If a meal is not cooked to your liking, you can always ask the waiter to send it back, but let your party know to continue eating without you.
Be mindful of the food you’re ordering as well. For instance, if you have wire braces or Invisalign clear aligners, getting something stuck in your teeth will be a common occurrence if you order something tough to chew. If this happens, politely excuse yourself and go to the restroom to remove the bit of food from your teeth.
Leaving The Restaurant
As soon as everyone is done with their meals, it’s ideal that your party leaves the table 15 minutes after paying. Avoid monopolizing a table, especially if other customers are waiting to be seated. Move to a different place instead if you want to keep enjoying yourself with friends.
Before asking your waiter for the check, tell them whether you’ll be paying for it yourself or splitting it with your party. This will give the restaurant ample time to process everyone’s bills and payments. Lastly, do not forget to tip your waiter if their service was satisfactory throughout your dining experience.
Within The Context of COVID-19
The restaurant industry was hit hard by the spread of coronavirus. Many establishments were forced to close down because of lockdowns and the new normal. Of course, while we are still experiencing the effects of an unprecedented global pandemic, it’s also important to be aware of the necessary changes when dining out.
The road to recovery will be slow, even with the development of a vaccine. Expect the wearing of face masks to be mandatory before being seated in any restaurant. Reserving has become more important now since restaurants cannot accommodate the same number of customers they did pre-pandemic. If you’ve made a reservation, do not skip out on it.
Finally, be kind and understanding of the staff of a particular dining establishment. Many of them are most likely still adjusting to the new protocols. The previous year hasn’t been easy for anybody. Being polite towards a restaurant and its staff through proper etiquette can actually go a long way in making them feel respected and appreciated.