Dining out is a common social activity that many of us have integrated into our daily lives. There are more foodies, bloggers, and Yelp power users today than ever before. But let’s be honest, there is no accountability in these public dining rooms like there was when your parents or grandparents hosted dinners for family and friends.
Having the means to dine out as often as we do is a great privilege. It wouldn’t hurt to be a little bit more aware of our surroundings and those who work in the industry. Below are a few things I think we could all be aware of to improve our experience of dining out.
Be on time to your restaurant reservation
As long as you show up on time, it’s up to the restaurant to ensure a table is ready. If a table isn’t ready, maybe the table before you showed up late to their reservation. Now, take this feeling of, “Why do I have to wait for my table!” and consider how someone else might be feeling this after you show up late to your reservation. We need to ALL strive to be on time because restaurant operations depend on existing reservations to make sure everything runs smoothly behind the scenes. Having a general respect for everyone else’s time makes us all much more relaxed and happy. I’m sure your mom wouldn’t hesitate to chew you out for being 30 mins late to dinner!
Don’t ask for one thing at a time, 5 times in 10 minutes
If you need to order another glass of wine, ask your party if there’s anything else they need. Usually someone will need another beer, extra napkins, or more food. Often times a server will take the order for this glass of wine and then immediately turn around to get it without checking with the rest of the group, especially when it gets busy. If no one else needs anything, it can be a bit abrupt to stop all conversation for the server to ask, “Do any of you need anything else right now?” Some don’t mind the interruption, but in the midst of fun conversations this can be unpleasant every 10 mins. At a family dinner, everyone helps out with something. This is just one small way to help the server provide the best service possible.
Clear some space on the table for the entrees to be placed
When your appetizers and small plates are spread across the table, servers will usually try to clear empty dishes when possible. But, when there’s a substantial amount of food leftover, the plates remain on the table even when the entrees are ready. Try to minimize the amount of clutter on the table by piling empty plates or making sure everyone’s phones are put away in pockets or purses (or my lap since I have a compulsion to document my meal). The person delivering food isn’t always your server, and 9 times out of 10, they did not prep your table for entrees. It just makes life easier and less awkward when people are trying to deliver your food. Would you make your mom hover with hot food in her hands with nowhere to put the food down? Didn’t think so.
Say thank you
Everyone wants to be appreciated. Just because you’re at the dining table, that doesn’t mean servers are now your servants. Even the person in charge of refilling water wants a simple acknowledgement of their contribution to the experience. They aren’t doing it because making sure you’re hydrated is their only purpose in life. The hands that contribute to the complete dining experience are hands from a member of a family. Breaking bread with one another is not limited to those sitting with you at the table. It’s just good manners to say thank you! Ask your mom.
Don’t overstay your welcome
After dinner and dessert, you’re stuffed. We’ve all been there. And sometimes we linger while sitting at a table with amazing company. But have you noticed that no one else is in the restaurant? The servers and restaurant staff have completed all of their closing duties… except cleaning up after your table. Wrap it up and either go home or have a few go-to late-night spots to move the party to. After a dinner party at someone’s home, the one who overstays his or her welcome is usually the one to get gossiped about the next day.