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The 10 Worst Restaurant Faux Pas


It’s important to be mindful of your etiquette when dining out because proper etiquette shows respect to other diners and the staff. Good etiquette can make the world a better place.

Here are my top 10 worst faux pas that I see other diners making in restaurants (and a few that I am guilty of myself!):

Don’t arrive late. Arriving late is a double disgrace because you keep the restaurant and your companions waiting. Your presence in a restaurant is less important to them than serving paying customers. Your companions are probably less than thrilled about the possibility of dining alone. If you are running late, at least call or SMS to advise someone of your ETA.

Don’t clutter your table. Your table belongs to the restaurant. It should only be used for food. Putting your keys, cell phone, wallet, bags, sunglasses, or elbows, is an offence to the restaurant and other diners. Serious businesspeople don’t do business until after dessert and it looks cheap if you are hogging a table for free WiFi.

Don’t dither over the menu. After exchanging pleasantries with your companions, decide what you want to eat before your waiter returns with your drinks. It saves time for conversation and the kitchen can prepare your meals sooner. Deciding what to order off a menu is not a performance and your companions probably don’t enjoy watching you second guess yourself.

Don’t reinvent the menu. Menus are created with the customer and the kitchen in mind. Any alteration creates unnecessary delays and frustration. Rather order what you can eat and be prepared to pay for any extras that you want. Unfortunately, your dietary considerations aren’t half as fascinating as you think they are.

Don’t talk on your cell phone. It is intolerably rude to everyone else in the restaurant, who are now judging the banality of your conversation, and it looks like you are not getting enough attention at home. Yes, we know it was an emergency (for you), but we can tell by your shoes that you’re not getting paid nearly enough to solve the world’s problems.

Don’t be rude to the staff. They know their place in the restaurant, and you should know yours. Don’t snap your fingers, don’t raise your voice, or even dare raise your eyebrows at anyone who is serving you. It’s a fact that the scruffiest people at home are often the rudest people in restaurants.

Don’t talk with your mouth full. Believe it or not, even the most delicious meal can be rendered unappetising when watching you maw your food. The same can be said for chewing with your mouth open- which also causes bloating BTW. Always remember: chew before you swallow and swallow before you talk.

Don’t talk about gas. In fact, don’t talk about sex, politics, money, religion, health, or body functions while dining alone or in public. Yes, those topics are indeed fascinating subjects, but not while we are eating. You might want to talk about the weather or enquire if everyone is enjoying their meal if you get stumped for conversation.

Don’t debate the tip. Don’t decide to tip because you think that the service is good or if you can afford it. Tipping is not negotiable. Bad service deserves 10% just as much as good service deserves 15% and great service deserves 20%. In fact, why not just round your gratuity up to the nearest denomination of R10, R50, or R100 because being a decent human is more important than being mathematically correct?

Don’t trash the restaurant. If a restaurant isn’t serving the kind of food that you would personally serve in your own home, perhaps you should tell them about your exacting standards to their face before denouncing them to all and sundry on social media. There isn’t a restaurant in the world that doesn’t appreciate unsolicited culinary advice from someone whose opinion can be changed with a free bowl of ice cream!

Please feel free to comment below with your restaurant etiquette tips – and share this article to make the world a better place!


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