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Restaurant etiquette is important as it helps one enjoy the outing
Tuesday, 12 January, 2021, 16 : 00 PM [IST]
Niraalee Shah
Going out to eat is a popular activity for many people but it can present a number of etiquette issues. Restaurant etiquette is important as it helps you enjoy the outing without embarrassing yourself or committing any faux pas.

How should you behave when dining out?

Restaurant dining presents an interesting human dynamic; similar to flying in an airplane, you’re in a public space and you have to behave in a way that you and those around you are comfortable. Dining in a restaurant requires a lot of a person’s etiquette and social skills and because of that, it’s very popular with employers to take potential employees or key leadership people out to a restaurant to see how they behave.

Be prepared
Before you even step inside the restaurant, there are a few things to consider beforehand.

Make sure you can afford it so you don’t stretch yourself too thin financially. Eating out isn’t cheap, especially in a group situation; it can sometimes be awkward to split bills, and just going to a restaurant with the mind-set of ordering water and the cheapest appetisers won’t always work. Ideally, your budget should cover a small appetiser, a main course and a beverage.

Make sure you have enough for a tip according to local conventions. In the US, that’s anywhere from 15 to 25 per cent. If you realise a restaurant is not within your budget, either decline the invitation or try to find another restaurant if that’s in your power.

Most importantly, make a reservation. It’s the easiest way to skip a line. If the restaurant doesn’t accept reservations, it’s maybe not the best place to go out for business dinner or a date. Once you’ve made a reservation, it’s important to show up on time. Restaurants typically can just give your table away after 15 minutes or so. If you’re running late, it pays to call because most restaurants will hold your table. At it’s core, showing up on time means you respect other people’s time , and don’t just look at yourself as the most important person in the room.

Dress accordingly
Obviously, at the Gentleman’s Gazette, we’re big sticklers on this point but in this day and age, it’s not that hard to look appropriately dressed for a venue. So what does that means? At nicer establishments, you should skip the jeans and sneakers .other than that, you’re probably going to be fine, even without a jacket. These days , most establishments that require a jacket or have an even more formal dress code will have loaner jackets but honestly , you don’t want to wear a jacket that’s a size too big and has been worn by sweaty people before you.

Enter politely
In today’s day and age, it doesn’t really matter if the man or the woman enters the restaurant first. Though some women may like it if you hold open the door for them. If there is a host, they will lead when entering the restaurant, followed by the lady, then followed by the gentleman. Traditionally, if there is no host, the gentleman takes the lead, walks in first, and pulls away the chair for the lady so they can sit. In more traditional places like Germany or Austria, you’re more likely to see this kind of etiquette today. In the US, not necessarily so.

Removing coats and hats
If you live in a colder place, in the winter, people holding onto their coats and hats at the table can create an environment that’s crowded and it’s uncomfortable. Traditionally the gentleman takes the lead, helps the lady to take off her overcoat, takes off his own, and then goes to the waiter and hands them over to be put it up in a wardrobe. If someone at the restaurant asks if they can take your coat and hat, just hand it to them; they may hand you a little ticket so you can get it back afterward.

If no one asks to take your coat, simply ask where you can hang it. Most restaurants will have a place for that. Ideally, outerwear is away from the table so it doesn’t get in the way. If you’re leaving, in good restaurants, they’ll hand you the coats at the table. If that’s not the case, as a gentleman, you quickly walk to the wardrobe, you put on your overcoat first and then you help the lady into hers.

Meeting your fellow diners
Let’s say you’re already waiting at a restaurant. When the other party arrives, get up from your seat, stand up and shake their hand. If you arrives in advance of your dining mates, maybe because they’re late or simply because you made it there earlier. You always stand up to greet them and come over. In most western cultures, that means you give them a handshake –sometimes it means a hug but it all depends on the culture you’re in. be aware of the local habits. In any case, never stay seated to give a handshake, because that’s not the proper way to do it. Of course , a nice smile also goes along with it , and it’s much better than someone just socially looking at you and giving you a handshake without any kindness whatsoever.

How and what to order
Ideally, the entire table should have the same number of courses. If you aren’t super hungry, talk to server to figure out what appetizers or entrees are on the smaller side. A good server will always be able to tell you if something is big and heavy or light and small. If you you’ve been invited as a guest to a restaurant, don’t take advantages of that and order the most expensive item on the menu. Instead, mirror what your host orders. If he orders three courses in the mid-price segment, do the same. If they insist on you ordering first, I would always ask the host if they can recommend anything, if they’ve been there before. If not, ask the server what’s a popular item that’s in a medium price range and go from there. Once you’ve made your selection, close the menu and put it down.

On phones and watches
Keep your phone off of the table, and don’t look at your watch all the time. If you do so, you send a clear message that you have other things on your mind, and that the time with other person is not important to you. Don’t pull out your cell phone too quickly to check on something, send a text, or check on that email, because when you do, it takes a while before you’re fully present again.

The British School of Etiquette India is an affiliate of The British School of Etiquette United Kingdom. It is a market leader in providing professional quality training and learning globally. It help professionals, corporates, and organisations to embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance by mastering these skills.

(The author is CEO of The British School of Etiquette India)
 
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