To a person who has never worked in the restaurant industry these do’s and dont’s may appear as common sense; but for those who have worked/work in the restaurant industry, it is not as common as you may think. That being said, today we are going to discuss the 5 do’s and dont’s of proper restaurant etiquette that can benefit both your dining experience, as well as the servers.
1. DO: Be kind to your server
Being kind to anyone is a given, but always remember to have respect for your server. Contrary to popular belief, your server is not your servant. Yes, a server must take care of your table and provide you all that you desire from food to drinks, to dessert — and sometimes even capturing photos of you and your guests for your next Instagram post.
If you have questions, concerns, or just want your drink to be topped off, ask kindly and be patient. Pro tip: if a server finds your table pleasant, depending on where you are dining, they typically will get something on the house for you.
DON’T: wave, snap, or whistle for the attention of your server, especially if they are taking care of another table.
2. DO: Order when the entire table is ready
It is perfectly acceptable to need some time to review the menu and not know exactly what you want. It is also acceptable to let the server know that your table is not ready to order yet. Any good server does not want their table to feel rushed. We understand that the menu has a plethora of options and want you to be satisfied with your dish of choice.
DON’T: be selfish and tell the server you are ready to order when the rest of your table has yet to look at the menu. What is even worse than that is when one person orders and asks for the server to stay as the rest of the table takes several minutes to make their decision between the filet mignon and the salmon.
3. DO: Politely send back an entree if you are dissatisfied
If you are dissatisfied with your meal, politely approach the server and explain your reasoning in returning your entree. Whether you felt it was heavily salted, overcooked, undercooked, or simply not what you were expecting, the server will bring it back into the kitchen and ensure that something new will be made for you.
DON’T: consume the entirety of your dish of choice and insist to be refunded for your unsatisfactory meal. Not only is it frustrating for the server to know that he or she could have solved this problem if you were upfront in the beginning, but the restaurant staff will be made aware that you were scheming for a free meal (sorry not sorry).
4. DO: Let the server know ahead of time that you are splitting checks
Tables splitting checks is not uncommon. It is important to give your server a heads up before placing your order so that they can evenly distribute both the food and drinks onto each person’s separate check. This is helpful for both the server and their table so that when the bill is dropped, we all avoid the awkward commentary of “I didn’t drink three gin and tonics, Joe did, so he has to pay more.”
DON’T: tell the server after he or she drops the bill or ask for them to split the bill 10 ways in the middle of a dinner rush. Save both yourself and the server’s time by making note of how you and your table plan to pay before ordering.
5. DO: Keep modifications to a minimum
It is understandable to ask for slight modifications to the menu such as no onion, sauce on the side, no added salt, and any dietary/allergy restrictions. However, it is important to keep in mind that each dish is thoughtfully prepared by the chef.
DON’T: change the entire menu or make up a new meal. The kitchen is not your personal chef, and from experience, it often disappoints the chef when customers redo and replace key ingredients in their original dishes.
So the next time you and your friends go out for a nice dinner, remember to be mindful of these suggestions and implement them to improve your overall dining experience. Also, continue to show support to your local restaurants via takeout in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nicole Grappone is currently in her senior year at Molloy College with a major in B.A. Professional Communications with a minor in Television/Film Production. Nicole's dream job is to be a journalist at E! News. She is passionate about celebrity news and creative writing. When Nicole has downtime she often meditates to clear her mind, collects healing crystals at a local metaphysical shop, and reflects on her day in a gratitude journal.