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Restaurant Etiquette: Beyond Please and Thank You

Dining out at a restaurant is not just about savoring delicious food; it's also an opportunity to display impeccable restaurant etiquette. Beyond the basics of "please" and "thank you," there's a world of courteous behavior that can enhance your dining experience and leave a positive impression. In this article, we'll dive into restaurant etiquette, covering topics like tipping, handling split bills, and how to interact politely with servers.

1. Tipping Etiquette:

Tipping is a standard practice in many countries, and it's a crucial aspect of restaurant etiquette. Here are some tipping guidelines to consider:

Calculate the Tip: Generally, a tip of 15% to 20% of the total bill is customary. Calculate it based on the pre-tax amount.

Check for Automatic Gratuity: Some restaurants automatically include a gratuity (tip) for larger groups. Be sure to check your bill before adding an additional tip.

Tip in Cash: If possible, leave the tip in cash rather than adding it to your card payment. This ensures that your server receives it directly. As a former server, leaving with cash tips is very much appreciated!

2. Handling Split Bills:

When dining with a group and splitting the bill, follow these etiquette tips:

Discuss Splitting in Advance: If you plan to split the bill, inform your server when ordering. It makes the process smoother.

Consider Apps or Payment Services: Many restaurants offer apps or payment services that facilitate splitting the bill. Another option is to have one friend pick up the bill, and then the others use a cash pay app to pay them back. Explore these options if available.

Be Courteous: Be patient and understanding when coordinating split bills, especially if it takes a bit longer to settle.

3. Interacting with Servers:

How you interact with your server can significantly impact your dining experience. Here's how to do it right:

Use Polite Language: Address your server with "please" and "thank you." Say "Excuse me" or "Pardon me" when you need their attention.

Avoid Snapping or Whistling: Never snap your fingers or whistle to get your server's attention. A simple hand raise or eye contact is sufficient.

Be Clear and Concise: When placing your order, be clear about your preferences and any dietary restrictions. Avoid being overly demanding or making excessive changes to the menu items.

4. Be Mindful of Your Surroundings:

Restaurant etiquette also extends to how you conduct yourself in the dining area:

Keep Conversations at a Moderate Volume: Avoid speaking too loudly, as it can disturb other diners. Conversations should be kept at a moderate volume. The table next to you does not want to hear about your drama.

Silence Your Devices: Turn off or silence your phone during the meal. Using it at the table is generally considered impolite.

Mind Your Table Manners: Use utensils and napkins appropriately, and refrain from placing elbows on the table. If you need a refresher on table manners, check out last October's blog: The Art of Dining Etiquette: A Comprehensive Guide to Table Manners.

5. Handling Dissatisfaction:

If you encounter issues with your meal or service, here's how to address them with grace:

Speak Calmly and Respectfully: If you have concerns, calmly and respectfully discuss them with your server or a manager. Avoid making a scene or being confrontational.

Consider Feedback Channels: Some restaurants offer feedback cards or online surveys. If you prefer to share your feedback anonymously, use these channels.

In conclusion, restaurant etiquette goes beyond "please" and "thank you." By tipping appropriately, handling split bills courteously, and interacting respectfully with servers, you contribute to a more enjoyable dining experience for everyone. Remember that your behavior in a restaurant not only reflects on you but also impacts the atmosphere for fellow diners. So, the next time you dine out, keep these etiquette tips in mind to make the most of your culinary adventure.


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