The Do's of Restaurant Etiquette | The Spice Girl Blog

Arzak

Do you find yourself having consecutive terrible restaurant experiences? Even after going to restaurants highly recommended by friends? Is the maitre d' rude, the server stupid, and the drink not strong enough?

Perhaps you are the problem.

Now, don't get me wrong: restaurants are there for you, the paying customer. They should be accommodating and should ensure that your dining experience is the best it possibly can be. Constructive criticism and feedback from customers should help the restaurant to continue improving.

But, they don't say "you catch more flies, bees, bears, and restaurant staffs with honey than vinegar" for nothing.

Here are 5 tips to be the best restaurant-goer out there by substituting honey for your vinegar.  Follow these, and you might just find your dining experiences becoming a little more enjoyable.

 Note the table set for 10 people above. If only 4 people are coming to your 10 person reservation, call ahead and let the restaurant know!

Note the table set for 10 people above. If only 4 people are coming to your 10 person reservation, call ahead and let the restaurant know!

1. Make a reservation for the correct number of people at the correct time
If the restaurant offers reservations, make a reservation and show up on time. We understand that traffic, wardrobe crises, and late babysitters happen, but just make a quick call to the restaurant to let them know of your tardiness.

If there is a change in your party size, call the restaurant. If your reservation of 15 swells to 20 as more people want to join your party, please call. Pulling up extra chairs last minute is not acceptable -- for you or for the restaurant. Call ahead, and most restaurants should have no problem accommodating you. On the other hand, if you expected 15 people and the party size has dwindled to 8, make that call as well.

Not calling can make it inconvenient for the restaurant and for yourself -- perhaps contributing to one of those "terrible restaurant experiences". Imagine: you and your closest 19 friends sitting cramped and uncomfortable at a too-small table. Do everyone a favor. Call ahead.

Server

2. Eye contact (and treating humans like humans) goes a long way.
I feel silly explaining this one.

I find it incredibly difficult to accommodate, and sometimes to even hear, people who cannot look up from their electric god -- the iThing and its Candy Crush -- while ordering. Believe it or not, servers are people too (shocking, I know!). Treating them as such will take you far. I could dedicate a full post to this point, but on to the next.

Menu

3.  Don't waste anyone's time
Have you ever read a menu, but found yourself wanting an item not contained therein? No problem, ask your server. Sometimes kitchens can accommodate and make something extra. BUT, if the kitchen is unable to make what you want, do not complain, make passive aggressive jabs, or whine. It is a waste of time, and there is really nothing the server can do about it. "Could you please just go double check" is something the server does not need to do if they already know the answer. Stop wasting time. We do not have your mozzarella sticks in this restaurant and never have, sorry.

Speaking of wastes of time... I will not serve you, your child, your boyfriend, your girlfriend, or your friend if they look 16 and cannot present a valid ID that confirms they are above 21. If you are fond of exercises in futility, try telling your server "I forgot my ID in the car" or "In Texas it's legal! I'm their parent, they can have a glass of wine." However, do no be surprised when that very same server chooses employment over the "generous tip" (and jail time) promised by serving your underage person alcohol.

Rioja

4. Avoid being the drunkest girl (boy) at the party.
Do you remember the before-dinner martinis, the bottle of Sancerre, a subsequent bottle of Brunello di Montalcino, finished with a glass of port? Perhaps not. Contrary to Florida laws, I believe restaurants should not be responsible for cutting you off from your alcohol supply. Be responsible and know your limits. No throwing up table-side allowed. (True story, I've witnessed 3 too many dirty martinis turn into a woman throwing up at a table.) If you must drink but already feel tipsy, opt for a Campari and soda instead of that sly Negroni. Or maybe a beer instead of liquor.

Tips

5. Tip appropriately
There are a few articles cycling around on the Interwebs with titles like "Why You Should Not Tip Your Servers" or something with a related theme. Gleaning from a few of these articles, some common reasons to not tip are because "servers make too much money", "they are lazy", "selfish", and "it's the only way to stick it to the man". I still do not understand how not tipping a server is "sticking it to the man". But, there are probably greater issues in life to debate.

If your order was correct, food was hot and on time, you had proper utensils to eat, beverages of choice were full, and you got your check in a normal amount of time, tip 20% or more. Please remember that drinks being slow, food taking forever, or not having your steak prepared how you asked might not be the servers fault. If you are a table of 12, and for the worst reason ever are asking for all separate checks, give the server a break and understand it will take a little bit longer to get your checks paid out. Even longer if they have to rob the neighboring Office Depot to supply enough pens for you to sign your checks.

I'm just trying to say, 20% is the new 15%. It is likely only a difference of $5-$10 dollars for the customer, but this seemingly small amount adds up for servers. Many of them are working through school, raising a family, or supporting their dreams. Health care plans and fixed incomes are rare for servers, so why not reward a job well done! Again, stiffing your server is not "sticking it to the man". There are a few occasions when less than 20% is acceptable.

If you do encounter a server who is not getting the job done, you can grin and bear it, or you could ask to speak to a manager. Explain what the problem is, and how the manager can fix it. If the restaurant is not accommodating, leave and tell everyone you know about the experience. However, most restaurants and servers are more than happy to hear how they can be better.

Restaurant

If you do all of these things, but still find yourself having a serial bad dining experiences, I do not know what to tell you. Maybe you should just stew up a classic red sauce with meatballs and stay in for the evening. Or, you know, just do that anyway.