CONFESSIONS OF A                                                                  
A San Francisco Girl's Down and Dirty Adventures in the Culinary Playground

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Restaurant Behavior 202

This is the follow up course to Restaurant Behavior 101. It seems to be sorely needed these days. I've said it before and I'll say it again: No one needs to cook and/or serve you dinner unless you are a child or an invalid (and in some very sad situations even that is not always the case) so you better show some respect. Now I know that none of my lovely readers would ever behave poorly in a dining establishment, so I encourage you to pass this on to your less aware friends/lovers/fuck buddies.

1. When you make a reservation, show up. Or call to cancel. If you show up 45 minutes late without calling, and then proceed to yell at the GM for not holding your table, then you are a delusional entitled jackass. We actually witnessed someone doing this at a very busy, very popular restaurant. On a Friday night. the restaurant is supposed to hold the table for you regardless? I don't think so. A phone call is not that difficult, unless your fingers are broken and your tongue has been cut out (in which case you probably won't be dining out that evening anyway).

2. This one is for the servers (especially the ones here). Don't argue with one another when the patrons can see and/or hear you. It's a serious buzzkill.

3. A friend's dilemma brought this next one to my attention. Look at the menu before you sit down. If there is not one in the window, ask the host/hostess if you can peruse one prior to sitting down. If you sit down, look at the menu and THEN leave? Well then I propose a rule that says that the restaurateur can slap you silly.

4. Say "thank you." Often. Someone fills up your water glass? Thank you. Clears your plates? Thank you. Shows you where the bathroom is? Thank you. You will reap what you sow, I guarantee you (I will be happy to elaborate on this in a later post).

Let's hope that it's a long time before I need to put up Restaurant Behavior 303.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
-- La Rochefoucauld


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Some years ago the much missed Bill Citara ran a piece in the Chronicle about how to behave in restaurants that I thought should be required reading for every potential diner.

Part of the problem is that dining out used to be primarily for special occasions (unless you were someone like Diamond Jim Brady). People would dress up and be on their best behavior.

These days, that's not the case, at least for most restaraurants and it seems increasingly people are at a loss as to how to behave among their fellows. I grew up a hippie boy, but also in the South and I know a sir, ma'am, please and thank you go a hell of a long way in any situation.

And for us restaurant people, when good customers come our way, say thank you to them, and treasure them. They make serving people worthwhile.

6/04/2006 11:29 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

You would seriously think people would already know this stuff. Just be kind and gracious at a restaurant. I will help ensure you great service and a more enjoyable time.

I think a good one to add is "If it's not right, send it back."

You are a paying customer, and if you order something a certain way and it arrives incorrect, do not be afraid to send it back. However, don't send a dish back just because you don't like it. Then it's your fault you made a bad choice. But who knows? Maybe the restaurant will grant you a new dish (it happened to me a few times, and always garuntees a return visit!)

6/04/2006 3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joy --
This was a good and thoughtful post. I am saddened by the fact that it's even necessary, but a visit to almost any restaurant (upscale or downhome) will show how manners have declined.

It's not only in restaurants (though this is our bailiwick): what's with people scratching their heads in public/on the telly? In one week I observed Rachel Ray, Jennifer Anniston and Ann Curry reach up for a bent finger head scratch during interviews. (My grandmother would have sent me to my room!)

The bad stuff you describe is more outre, of course. Add to it the obvious lack of training in using utensils -- and by this I don't mean European vs. American style. I have never seen so many people holding knives in their fists while cutting meat, or using the wrong fork for salad, etc. Is this because they were raised eating in front of the television?

Ah, me. As my daughter used to say to her little boys at the start of any dining experience: "Time for restaurant manners!"

6/09/2006 9:12 AM  
Blogger Carolie said...

It's all about consideration and looking at something other than your own navel. My ex-husband (we're still good friends) was raised in blue collar Dublin. Until we met, he'd never been to the theatre, the symphony, or to a restaurant with cloth napkins. He wasn't raised to stand when a lady entered the room. BUT the guy was smart as hell, and observant, too. The day he met my grandmother, she entered the room, my dad and brothers popped to their feet, and the ex was about half a second behind.

So you don't know what fork to use? Keep your eyes open. So you weren't raised to say "thank you" every time someone refills your water glass? If someone else says it, you should, too. (And of course, it takes a little deductive reasoning to figure out which people to emulate...the kind ones, not the obnoxious ones!)

There's no such thing as too polite. When I visited Paris, I was told "the French are very rude, be prepared." Funny thing--EVERYONE was super polite to me. Never met anyone rude the entire time I was in Paris. Could be that had something to do with the fact that I said "merci" and "sil vous plait" every five seconds, and tried really hard to speak the language in my mangled way rather than shout at a server in English.

Now I live in Japan. People go out of their way to help me and to give me special things. Perhaps because the first three Japanese phrases I learned were basically "excuse me," "I'm sorry" and "thank you very much" and I use these phrases a LOT. And I bow. A LOT.

I got a full scholarship to college. How, you may ask? The director of the school of performing arts was impressed with my manners on the telephone when I called to ask for a tour of the school.

Yes, courtesy pays off.

6/10/2006 11:28 PM  

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