Sometimes it can be difficult to care about everyone we meet on a daily basis, and generally I think this is why manners were invented — to help people get into the habit of being kind to strangers. As Emily Post, famed etiquette expert, says, “Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others.”
Recently I was trying to reserve a restaurant for my whole family and realized I actually did not know much etiquette about the topic. So without further ado, here are ten things to keep in mind when setting up a reservation or dining out.
- Call at least a week ahead of the date you are reserving for.
Especially if the event is happening on busy day such as graduation weekend or New Year’s. Some restaurants may require a reservation a month or two in advance.
- Call the day before to confirm your reservation time.
You can ask any questions you have, confirm the time and generally set your mind at ease.
- Show up at least 5 minutes before your reservation time.
This will make things easier on the restaurant staff, especially if they are already busy.
- Know the tipping policy and tip the waitstaff.
Leaving a 20 percent tip is not only expected, but also shows your appreciation.
- If you need to cancel, call as soon as possible.
Some restaurants keep a database of customers who cancel frequently.
- Don’t make your server split your check 15 different ways.
Rather than make your waiter figure out who ordered what, just use Venmo or cash to pay your other dinner guests back instead of splitting the check.
- The menu is not a blank canvas for creativity.
Change up a few sides if you must, but don’t ask the kitchen to substitute tempeh for the grilled chicken. This will just cause unnecessary trouble to the kitchen, and you could probably be just as satisfied with another item on the menu.
- Desserts are a group decision.
If everyone else in your dinner party agrees on forgoing dessert, don’t make everyone wait 10 extra minutes while you smugly enjoy your German chocolate cake and espresso.
- The restaurant is not your personal supermarket.
Now is not the time to stock up on “free” packets of ketchup for later. The restaurant may stop offering these in the future if too many people take more than one or two.
- Don’t linger in the restaurant.
Don’t stick around in the restaurant to chat 20 minutes after your check is returned — especially if there are hungry people waiting for an empty table in the entryway.
Here’s to being masters of dining etiquette.