8/29/2012 12:58:00 PM

Dining Etiquette Contest: Propose New Rules, Win $250!

Should you Tweet at the dinner table? Does the check get split evenly between the table, or should your friend who had that extra glass of wine pay more? Last year, our very own Tim Zagat proposed 10 new rules of dining etiquette, and now it's time to update this list. We've cataloged your complaints and pet peeves, and now we want to do something about it. We're going to make a list of the best suggestions for new points of etiquette diners should follow, and we'll award our three favorite rule makers with a $250 gift card so you can go out to dinner and put those rules into practice.

To enter, all you have to do is leave your new rule in the comments below (while signed into your gmail account). It has to be 75 words or less, and we'll be judging on content, originality and style. You have until 11:59 PM on September 6 to get your entries in, at which point we'll go through and award the winners with the gift cards (they'll be notified via email). You can take a look at the full rules and regulations here.

224 comments :

  1. Don't remove plates from diners that are finished while someone at the table hasn't finished. This was a long-time rule that's gone by the wayside. Note that I finish before most of the table, and usually tell the waitstaff to not remove my plate.

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    1. I totally agree! I was very upset when I was dining in FL and the waitress cleared everyone's plate and left me there at the table as the only one eating. It was awkward to say the least. I told her to just take my plate too because apparently she decided that we were all done.

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    2. I agree 100 % you make everyone else at table feel hurried to finish !!

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    3. Yes! And on a similar line of thinking, don't remove plates from a table when people are still chewing their last mouthful! I can't stand it when I put a final forkful of food into my mouth, then place my knife & fork on the plate, and IMMEDIATELY the plate is removed from under me!
      What a way to make people feel rushed.

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    4. As a former waitress, the intention is so that you don't have a dirty plate in front of you. Gross! ;) What is a little more offensive to the waitstaff is if we are waiting to clear until everyone is finished and guests begin to stack plates or even put them on other tables!

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    5. @Anonymous
      I understand your rationale, but the flip side of that is that that last diner feels awkward finishing her meal. Assuming that the dirty plates haven't been sitting there for TOO long, then they should be left alone. If say 10 or 15 minutes passes, then that's a different story.

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    6. I too was a former waitress. It's amazing how rude people can get when they have dirty plates in front of them and the moving of dirty plates to clean tables is something that tends to happen a lot. Also, have you ever tried to carry 10 plates (half of them with food still on them) of varying shapes and sizes as well as all the accompanying silverware all at once? It's impossible...unless of course you'd rather your waitstaff bring by a loud, ugly, nasty, smelly buss tub to your table.

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    7. That *has* to be my biggest pet peeve. I'll put my silverware in the "feel free to clear" position when I'm done with my plate, thanks. Don't interrupt my experience with repeated questions about my plate. Don't assume its ok to take my plate away unless I made it clear that I'm done. Don't make lingering eaters feel like they're delaying others and need to start shoveling. Back off and I'll let you know when I'm done. Till then, there's no need to make diners uncomfortable and feeling rushed/unwelcome. This stuff takes away my pleasure and any interest in returning.

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    8. You make the excellent point that no waiter should ever remove any plate unless the flatware has been placed in the "finished" or "free to clear" position: fork, tines down diagonally across the plate from ~5 o'clock, knife blade facing in to the right of the fork.

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  2. People should always go outside to talk on the phone.

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    1. Thats why texting is so good you do not bother others

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    2. I think it depends on the envirnoment and who you are dining with. If it's a loud, boisterous restaurant then it may be ok. If the crowd is young and good friends and used to talking on the phone at these meals, then it might be ok. However, it is never ok in quiet restaurants or at meals with people you don't know well. In those situations, the polite thing is to walk away from the table (to the bathroom area or the bar or simply outside and make or receive your call there.

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    3. I have a friend I used to meet for lunch. He played with his blackberry non-stop. We dont meet for lunch anymore!

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  3. Parents who don't mind their children. They allow them to be rude and loud or pitch a fit and do nothing about it.

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  4. Don't interrupt other diners by pointing to their food and asking "what did you order?" Simply ask your server what the dish is.

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    1. I'm not sure I totally agree with this one. While I don't want somone starting a conversation about it, it's a bit of a compliment to you choice of dishes and takes less than a minute of your time. And with the proximity of tables in NYC, it helps "break the ice" with a total stranger sitting 12 inches away. But I can also understand this point of view if you just want to be totally left alone with your companion.

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    2. I agree & encourage all icebreakers at appropriate times for meeting new people. I was intending for the key phrase here to be "don't interrupt" when doing so. I don't want a table of six 24 year-olds asking about the food my date and I were just served (it happened not too long ago).

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  5. If you're sitting at the bar offer to slide down to help other guests obtain consecutive seats.

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    1. This should always be done even a drunk should offer to move over But to take it a step farther in small cafe when there is a line people whom dont mind sharing their table should speak up and offer to share the seats and who know's could lead to great conversation !!

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    2. Completely agree! THANK YOU! If there is an empty seat on either side of you, and two people walk up who clearly wish to enjoy a bar seat... PLEASE be aware and just slide ONE seat down! That's just called common courtesy!

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    3. Agreed. And those who don't slide down should be admonished by others! Same at a movie theater!

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    4. When drinking, I agree. For dining at the bar, I don't agree at all, having been in a situation where I kept having to move down every few minutes, interrupting my dining experience each time. Obviously, one shouldn't choose a middle seat but, if I'm there first and have started my dinner, I should be able to finish it in peace, without getting moved, regardless of when those beside me leave. My visit is as important as the next party.

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  6. If anyone from the service staff touches the silverware it better be because it's being cleared. Do not collect a plate and relocate silverware back to the table.

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  7. It's 2012. Don't act like it's difficult to take my money. Yes it may be cumbersome to run multiple credit cards at the end of a meal but every other operation that takes credit cards can figure out how to make this work. Fast food chains take them for every individual diner and the checks are small. Every retailer can take a different credit card for a different shopper. Individual bar patrons get their own check. Just because I brought more people to your establishment doesn't mean that I should get worse treatment when I'm handing over money. Don't throw up your hands when you get multiple cards as if you've never seen a calculator.

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    1. This should be with in reason. It's not hard to separate checks, it's ANNOYING. You came to dinner with a friend. You can't buy them a coke? Waitstaff usually is more than happy to split checks, as long as the tip is done from the original amount. Like you said, have you never seen a calculator?

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    2. I completely agree with your response! Waiters are more than happy to split checks but it is taken advantage of by guests. As a group, or group leader, be respectful to the staff's time and to the other guests in the restaurant. Let your server know ahead of time how many checks will be needed so they are aware and proactive. Instead of getting the bill and giving them 2-12 credit cards and asking them to split. This will take them time to stand at the computer and split. This is disrespectful to other diners!

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    3. Waitstaff and restaurant managers have no business chiming in on who among their clients should pay how much of the bill, as long as it gets paid. Giving their clients grief over using credit cards is indefensible, outdated, and an unnecessary blight on clients' dining experience/ interest in returning. Every other retailer makes it work. Time to figure it out!

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  8. If someone lingers or holds onto a salad or appetizer, do not make the entire table wait for the entre. Happened to us in CA and finally I had to tell the waiter to bring the food. Some people needed to take meds with food and this delay made them ill. The salad guy was an angry control freak.

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    1. They only do that so they can check you off their reservation list, it's not because they don't have a table.

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  9. Make sure that men take off their hats, sports caps or similar when eating in a restaurant.

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    1. YES and don't wear your sneakers on my date. Really? This isn't a kegger.

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  10. If a restaurant considers itself sophisticated enough to offer a tasting menu, it better have perfected the art of timing! On average, I would say 1 out of 10 restaurants who offer tasting menus ever get this right. Ask any experienced diner and surely they will agree: there is a happy medium between rushing us through 12 courses vs. making us endure painfully long pauses in between. When a diner is willing to invest in a top tier tasting menu, missteps in service timing should not be tolerated.

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    1. I completely agree! I like to savor my food, and although it's generally a small plate of food when you order the tasting menu, I don't want to have to scarf it before it's taken from me! Alternately, too much time and I get antsy. I had the tasting menu at Marc Forgione, and it was between 20-30 minutes between courses. I was so ready to be out of there at the end! --the food was really good though :)

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  11. Do not go off to the restroom when the bill comes. Go before or after it's been divided up.

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    1. IDK.. with a small party, that works. With larger groups, I find it often takes a long time for a shared bill to make it around to everyone. Might as well make use of the time. Those with the bill are busy calculating their tab.

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  12. Divide the bill evenly among diners UNLESS someone didn't drink/someone drank far more then everyone else. There is nothing worse then fighting over a few dollars here and there- it all works out in the end!

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    1. Disagree. People shouldn't be afraid to only pay only for what they purchased give or take a few dollars.

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    2. People who order wine, especially expensive wine, should be treating the table and pay for that separately from the split up check. The wine and drinks part of a bill is almost always the problem with splitting the bill evenly. A truely polite wine lover would announce that xxx dollars should be taken off the bill before it is split.

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    3. Disagree. A lot of people try to budget. Everyone should be able to determine what they want to invest in that meal. Otherwise, Person A might feel held back from splurging, to keep costs in line with others. Person C might get stuck paying more than they'd budgeted because someone else indulged. Your idea of close enough may not match someone else's. Bigger spenders need to speak up about the owning their full share. Better to be accountable for our own costs.

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  13. 1. When a diner asks the waiter's opinion on the food, give it. Don't just say everything is great.


    2. When a woman and maybe even a man is dining alone, it would be great if the waiter spends a bit more time in conversation at that table. It helps the lone diner feel less isolated and have a better feeling about the restaurant.

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    1. This goes back to my comment about people speaking up tell the person whom seat's you that you are willing to share your table so many places have such long lines This should be common

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    2. #1: Many restaurants train their staff to be unbiased. If you order something and I show favoritism, how does that make your friend feel when I don't react the same way? What if I recommend a few things and you don't get them. More casual restaurants the waitstaff will tell you how they really feel. Higher end restaurants you will probably get a fair warning it is "saltier than people expect" but that is about it.

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    3. One shouldn't assume that the solo diner needs or wants to be engaged in conversation.

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  14. Ask questions! Dining out is a chance to learn, and most quality restaurants are excited about the work that goes into their food. Develop a connection with your server by taking an interest in the unfamiliar and new. But also: don't ask “what's good.” In theory, everything should be! If you want a recommendation, tell them what you like and make it a conversation; they'll let you know if they have favorites.

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    1. YES YES YES. YES.


      Also, "what do you have to drink?" is too vague. The only answer to that question is: We have a full bar, what do you drink?

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  15. How can we access the rules and regulations to this? When I try to click on the link in the second intro paragraph above while signed into my Gmail account, I am told I "don't have permission to access this published document."

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    1. I think you have to confirm a blogger ID with GOOGLE. After i did i could read the rules.

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  16. The phone game! Our age of technology prompts diners to be checked in remotely too often. To discourage people from checking their phones during dinner, leave all phones on the table, and whoever succumbs to the temptation of checking their phones first hast to treat dinner.

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  17. Everyone who works in a restaurant from the front-of-the-house to the chef to the kitchen staff need to remember that a customer may be there for the first time. They might not be well dressed. They may be there for a special occasion. They may have saved for months to come there. They might be initimidated but want the experience. Every person who comes in the door has a story. Remember that and act accordingly.

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  18. Mind your own business. Servers and diners should limit conversation to polite small talk and not ask each other personal questions in an effort to become each other's new BFF. No "where are you from?" or "is this your first date?" Tips increase when service is attentive and professional, not when the server compliments the diner's hairstyle or jewelry. Likewise, even when diners overhear neighbors' conversations, don't join in.

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    1. This depends on personal preference and the type of restaurant it is. The mark of a good server is reading customers enough to know what sort experience and interaction they are looking to have.

      I have gotten jobs in my industry (journalism) from my customers probing at me. Likewise, telling me I need to do more with my life when knowing absolutely nothing about me is not only offensive and degrading, but we don't know each other. Therefore, we do not know who each other are in other professional realms. Wouldn't want it to get awkward. You picking up what I am throwing down?

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  19. The server should never touch the rim of the glass.

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  20. Keep your voice down...
    There is no need for the entire room to follow your conversation. It will be so much enjoyable in a quieter environment.

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  21. Owners please take some time to train your staff! No matter how good the food is e dining experience can be enhanced or compromised easily by service experience. I have recently been to several restaurants where the servers seem to have no concept of the basics of service. Find the time to give staff the tools they need. Showing up is not sufficient.

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  22. If someone looks at your wife too long during the meal you should be able to stab them in the upper extremities (shrimp fork only).

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  23. Be aware of your surroundings--if the restaurant is not a Michelin starred, white tablecloth restaurant, don't expect your servers to swap out your silverware and sharing plate after every course!

    Also do not EVER use the knife in between the tines of the fork!!! Go ahead and do that at home when you're eating your microwave dinner.

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  24. Etiquette for restaurant owners: tell your maitre d' or host staff not to ask if a person has a reservation if you can plainly see that there are 900,000 open tables in your establishment.

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    1. But if the customer has made an Open Table res - they want to be credited for it and the best way is for the restaurant to ask. If they do not, you have to be very assertive to tell them you do have a reservation or you may be noted as a no-show. I would rather be asked. My husband and I dined early one night and the restaurant was empty, but it filled up in the next half hour. So even an 'empty' looking restaurant may be 'full'.

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  26. Today, servers ask about food allergies and preferences. As part of the new etiquette, diners should bring printed cards stating "no gluten, no seafood, no dairy" or whatever. This will make it easier on the kitchen staff and avoid potential mistakes.

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  27. When dining your cell phone or other device should always be completely TURNED OFF unless you have announced that you are expecting a very important call (from a family member, boss, client, etc.) There is nothing more impolite than having a phone ring or vibrate while enjoying the company of others who deserve your undivided attention.

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    1. I agree, with the one additional exception of calls from people who will be joining your lunch/brunch/dinner party and are calling or texting you because they are having trouble finding the restaurant, want to know they are running a few minutes late, etc...

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  28. Always be ready to order when out for dinner. It's impolite and frustrating to others at the table when the waiter or waitess asks for your order and you have studied the menu and still can't decide.

    Etiquette while dining is not about the food. It's about the company that you are with.

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  29. I think Tim's rule for "Paying" needs to be updated. For a date, I agree. But on most other occasions, whether you are with close friends, relatives, or acquaintances, you should ALWAYS offer to pay, or at least leave the tip. Even when you expect someone to be treating, it is better for them to turn down your offer than to not have an offer to turn down!

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  30. Notes on etiquette from a former server:
    1. Never throw a burger at your waitress in front of your children. No, scratch that, ever.

    2. Don't look at your bill, realize you have just enough money to get another drink, and then not tip.

    3. No really, I am sober. You DID have 8 tequila shots. You need to pay for them.

    4. Please don't accuse your server of being a racist because you waited five minutes for her in a packed restaurant, because your water got warm, or any other ridiculous claims.

    5. Please don't give me the silent treatment because you are fighting with your spouse. What did I do?

    6. It is 2012. Know the standard tipping of the country/area where you are, ask someone or Google it on your iphone.

    Notes on etiquette as a Guest:

    7. Bad attitudes make for bad experiences. Service with atleast a smile. K, thanks.

    8. I know that group of Bros looks like a promising tip, but please don't neglect my table!

    9. Write. down. my. order. if you can't remember it correctly.

    10. I shouldn't hear servers complain about tips or about customers. Ever. Take it outside or learn the Irish way of bottling it up and moving on

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    1. If I were a judge, you would win this little contest anonymous. You pinned the tail on the donkey

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  31. Last note from a server: Most of these comments seem like complaint or personal opinions. What most guests need to keep in mind is that servers on a regular basis are treated horribly because of exactly these things; personal preferences or weird compulsions.

    I think the most prominent lesson I have learned as a guest and working in the hospitality industry is that the first, if not only, rule should be to respect cultural differences and adapt your standards to the environment you are in. Every business wants to give you a good experience unique to their establishment, I promise most times if you allow them to and go in with an open, positive outlook, you won't be disappointed.

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  33. To tip or not to tip on alcohol? That is the question. If you are having an expensive bottle of wine, you shouldn't have to tip the customary 20%. However, on a few glasses, mixed drinks, etc, your tip should reflect the alcohol as someone poured or created the drinks for you. At a bar you’re expected to tip on your drinks, why should dinner be any different?

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    1. This is, I suggest, way too elementary. If a somm has helped you decide on a wine because s/he knows the ingredients of a dish, and then the somm has poured it, made sure it remains the right temp, provided the correct glasses, etc., 20% is correct. Of course, if you chose the bottle and poured it, a much smaller tip is called for.

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  34. If you have a specific allergy or dietary restriction, make sure the menu contains food you can eat before you reserve a spot at a restaurant. There are few situations less fun than dining with a vegan who's glumly poking at the plain lettuce on their plate while you dive into one of the millions of meat dishes available.

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  35. Try to order from the menu! If you don't like one ingredient or have a food allergy that's one thing, but don't re-write the menu. It shouldn't take 5 minutes to order a steak. There's nothing worse than a dinner companion who asks for ingredients to be removed - other ingredients added - sub the vegetable that goes with this dish with one from that dish - put the sauce on the side, etc. Dishes and their components are conceived and put together for a reason and when you rip it apart the dish can lose it's balance. If you don't like three ingredients in a particular dish, order something else.

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    1. Not so true. Not so wrong. A restuarant is taking your money and should provide you with the food you desire, prepared as you want it - WITHIN REASON.

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  36. It doesn't matter where you are dining out, a swanky restaurant, a taqueria, a bar, or grabbing a cup of coffee, if you can't afford an adequate tip for the service you received, than you CANNOT AFFORD TO EAT THERE. And please don't broadcast to your server half heartedly "oh, sorry, I don't have enough to tip today, next time" because we know that you most likely will not and you would have done yourself a better service if you had just kept quite because now every time you come in it'll be easier to keep track of all of your "next times". It's just rude. Point. Have the proper amount for a tip, or stay home. If you truly forget make it up to them next time. A little goes a long way in making a service workers day.

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  37. Be present at the table! There is nothing more frustrating than everyone jumping on their phones at every turn. I understand if someone want's to snap a picture of the food, look up a movie time for post-meal, or needs to check an e-mail at a work lunch but do so within reason!

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  38. From the time you walk into a restaurant, until the time you exist, DO NOT discuss health problems, medical procedures, or potty training: people are trying to eat.

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  39. If there is any wrong with the restaurant, e.g. food, service, etc. do not be afraid to complain to the management. You are actually doing them a favor by doing so; that provides them an opportunity to correct the problem or at least be aware of it.

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  41. Patience.

    Diners are growing more impatient than ever letting the littlest things ruin their dining experience. Slow down. Don't rush your wait staff, your fellow diners, and especially yourself.

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  42. I believe the waiter or waistress should not come back every few minutes to see if we decided what to order (especially at a fine restaurant), I feel I'm being rushed.

    I feel if I ask for a dish without sauce or broiled instead of fried at a fine restaurant, that they should try to accomadate the patron.

    I like my meat or fish and vegetables served hot, not luke warm
    where it has been sitting waiting for the waiter to pick up.....
    so I always request for my food to be hot.

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  43. When you get up to use the restroom, fold up your napkin (even if loosely) and place it on the table. Don't just toss a big sloppy pile of cloth on your chair or table.

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    1. Common etiquette rules dictate that you should place the napkin on the chair when you get up, not the table. Placing your napkin on the table signifies that you are done with the meal. And folded, really? Sounds awfully fussy to me.

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  44. Be on time. It is no fun sitting in a restaurant waiting for others to show up especially if you can't all be seated until everyone arrives. And this goes for reservations - if you are going to be late by more than 15 minutes, call the restaurant to let them know and politely ask them to hold your table.

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  45. Do not blow your nose at the dinner table. There is nothing more gross than eating across from someone who blows their nose in your, and your plate of food's, direction. Do it outside after dinner or in the bathroom.

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  46. Some people like a late lunch. When open for business, you serve the customer. The wait staff does NOT argue behind the kitchen door LOUDLY who will serve the table because it is 1:30 and your feet hurt. Truth, fine Italian eatery and we were seated 6 tables away from kitchen door. Embarrassing for all the restaurant patrons.

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  47. Use a normal speaking voice, or if the restaurant is noisy then you can speak as loudly as necessary for your dinner companions to hear you, but no louder than that. Please be conscious of the people at the next table who can't hear themselves think because you're shouting at the top of your lungs.

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  48. When dining at home, tip your delivery person as well as you would tip the server if you were dining at the restaurant. Do you honestly think it's less work for someone to haul your food 10 blocks to you in the rain than it is to serve you tableside? Or do you think that just because your food deliverer likely doesn't have a green card that it's ok to pay him poorly?

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    1. @Anonymous
      I disagree here. It has nothing to do with green cards either (the suggestion is insulting). It has to do with the job at hand. Waiting is a higher level job than delivering. It involved much more detailed interaction with the customer, a higher expectation of service, and that's barely crackign the surface.

      Historically, delivery people were tipped a more or less whole dollar amount that would increase or decrease depending on the distance travelled, the weather or road conditions and whether or not the delivery required an unweildy number of bags. For example, on a sunny day, one might tip 3 dollars for a restuarant down the street vs 5 dollars for one that's 5-10 blocks away.

      The point is that the size of the bill doesn't matter. The delivery distance is the same. Tipping 20% on a 1-bag, $50 delivery is ludicrous.

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  49. If you're going to memorize my order rather than writing it down, you'd damn well better get it right.

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  50. Just as restaurants expect guests to honor their reservations and arrive on time, restaurants should do the same. The common farce of consistently making guests wait 30 minutes before you seat them so you can get them to buy drinks at the bar (yes I'm talking about you, Sparks Steakhouse) is unacceptable.

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    1. You can add Prime One Twelve in Miami to that list.

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  51. If the bathroom door is locked, it's because someone is in there. Repeatedly jiggling the handle to rush the person inside is rude.

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    1. @Anonymous

      The person jiggling the handle may be legitimately trying to enter the bathroom -- they may not know it's locked before said jiggling. So I have no problem with this -- I see a different motive on the part of the knob 'jiggler'.

      When I see the bathroom door closed, it may be because someone is inside or maybe it's empty. A nice restaurant should keep the bathroom door closed regardless of whether or not it's occupied. After all, who wants to look into a bathroom while your eating!

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  52. If you prefer to treat your fellow diners and not split the cost with them (colleagues, family, whomever), avoid bringing attention to your largess by make arrangements long before the check arrives. Call in advance, or use your visit to the restroom as a discreet way to get your credit card information on-file. Better yet, instruct the manager to add the tip. EXCEPTIONS: Government officials and people working in organizations with strict financial conflict-of-interest rules.

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  53. No matter how much of a "local find" the restaurant you've chosen might be, don't assume the guests you've invited have not been there before (even if they're from out of town). It can be awkward for the invited guests when the exhuberant host assumes they've never visited the establishment, and that they're being let-in on a special secret which, in reality, they already know.

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  54. In this "Groupon" age discount dining options are common even in some finer restaurants. Enjoy the deals but please tip on the original cost of the meal. Even if you are dining 2 for 1 the restaurant staff still must put out the effort equal to the actual amount of food and drink served.

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    1. When you get any discount for your meal (including having a server remove an item from the bill out of courtesy), still tip on the total as if that removed item was still there or discount not applied.

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  55. For groups, please remember to add tax when calculating your total of the bill. There's even an app for that or simply take out your fancy phone and crunch the numbers! It's annoying to go out with friends and when the bill comes, folks get amnesia or pay only the subtotal of their order (without sales tax).

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  56. Mind tour manners: Don't forget to say 'please' and 'thank you.'

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  57. Please do not floss or pick at your teeth at the dinenr table. Go to the restroom to handle that please!

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  58. If you have to blow your nose, please wash your hands or sanitize them before passing me the salt, pepper, or bread.

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  59. If you're at a buffet, please wash your hands with hot water and soap before preparing your plate.

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  60. Please don't offer me a sip of your beverage. It's not communion time. If you want me to try a beverage, offer to buy me a drink or the server could offer me a sample.

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  61. Do Not Insult the Chef - If, for example, an entrée price includes first and dessert courses, do not inform the waiter/waitress that you do not want a first course just because you are not satisfied with the options. This leaves the other guests feeling awkward when someone at the table expresses that they only want the main entrée after everyone else ordered accordingly. Additionally, I would find this quite insulting if I were the chef. Plus, you're paying for it, so you might as well order it anyway.

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  62. Question about contest: Is the 75-or-fewer essay we are supposed to submit supposed to describe a new etiquette rule or the best meal we've ever eaten (see #6 in rules and regulations document)? Thank you.

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    1. I noticed that too. I'm hoping that that was a mistake. Perhaps left over rules from a previous contest?

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    2. Thanks, and I think you're right. In any event, I confirmed with Zagat via email that they were looking for an etiquette rule, not a description of a past meal.

      Delete
  63. Wait staff should NEVER touch my glass with the coffee pot/water carafe, etc. If it's touched the rim of my glass it has more than likely touched several others as well. Hold the container above the rim when pouring!

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  65. If you are sick enough that it is noticeable to me, please STAY HOME! ...or at least have the decency to go to the back of house and unleash Lucifer's Wrath on the drink lemons like everyone else (yes, even customers know ALL about those lemons).
    I've already dished out enough money for this meal, I don't want to pay for a SARS test too.

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  66. Taking away a dirty plate but leaving the dirty silverware on the table for the diner to use again. Especially when they place that dirty silverware directly on the surface of the table -- gross!

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  67. Don't flirt with the server. As often as this results in utter and complete failure and embarrassment, there is usually a very slight chance that this succeeds.
    Unless you want to get your ego drop kicked and stomped on with a side of yellowfin tuna tartar-spare yourself!!!

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  68. Modern Society is a Little Too Relaxed.
    When dining out remember you are not at home. There’s nothing wrong with being comfortable and having a good time, however, there is something wrong with taking your shoes off in the bar/lounge or dining area. (Yes, I have witnessed this and in a 4-star restaurant.) It is inconsiderate to those around you.

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  69. Sure, that sidewalk table at your local café makes you feel European, but please don’t copy their practice of bringing man’s best friend along unless he has impeccable table manners. Not only can unruly canines be a tripping hazard for busy wait staff but puppy eyes staring at the guests at the next table can make them uncomfortable. If Fido has a drooling problem even the most ardent dog lover may lose their appetite.

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  70. If you are a restaurant employee, do not touch me. Do not sit/lean/squat at my table either.

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely! Thank you. I do not want to be petted by the staff, I do not want to hang out with you, and I do not want you squatting next to me like I'm five years old. Turn down the crapola on the sound system if you can't hear me.

      Delete
  71. If i have a baby, or am pregnant don't touch my baby OR my belly.

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  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  73. Please, if you are in a fine restaurant do not ask for a ketchup, mustard or a salt dispenser... it is just an insult for the chef. If there is something wrong with the food, send it back and let the chef fix it.

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    Replies
    1. Respectfully disagree. Many chefs these days are judisious with the salt and there is nothing wrong with requesting it. Some people like ketchup on their food. Others prefer more pepper. The main thing is to have your food as you prefer it and there is often no reason to bother the chef.

      Delete
  74. When sharing food from a single plate remember that SHARE means Stop Hogging Another's Rightful Eats

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  75. Be sure to push your chair in when you get up to go to the bathroom or step outside for a phone call.

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  76. I would propose that people who wear baseball hats in fine dining establishments and 5 star hotel lobbies in the evenings should be asked to remove them. If you're spending more than $35 on an entree, you should be dressed and ready for the occasion. (Granted I see this more in the South than in New England.)

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  77. If you have a complaint, take it up with the waiter or manager promptly and don't ruin everyone elses time complaining about it the whole evening. I won't go to dinner with a picky friend of mine because she puts a drag on the evening complaining about food or service!

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  78. The only time you should solemnly bow your head at the dinner table is in praryer. Not cause you're texting under the table, thinking you're being considerate by doing it inconspicuously!

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  79. Waitstaff shall banish the phrase, "Are you still working on that?" I am enjoying a meal, not finishing up a crafts project. Close second: "How's that tasting to you?" Please stop talking about the inside of my mouth. Let's get back to the unobtrusive classics. "Is everything alright?" "May I get you anything else?"

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    Replies
    1. Yep, "how's everything tasting?" is awkward and ickily personal and I wish they'd cut that out. All they need to do is look over at the table and we'll make eye contact if we have something to say.

      Delete
  80. The quality of a restaurant's coffee should be on par with the quality of its food. Serving Foldger's alongside a $30 entree is not acceptable.

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  81. If you can't afford a restaurant (or just aren't willing to pay the price), suggest somewhere else. Don't go and order only an app or the cheapest thing on the menu, or make comments about the prices. It makes your fellow diners feel self conscious about their order, and makes figuring out the check awkward.

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  82. The placement of the utensils in a position to indicate to the waitress/waiter that your plate can be removed. So you won't be asked repeatedly Are you done?"

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  83. Remember that being a customer doesn't automatically give one the right to having the greatest dining experience imaginable -- too often people feel that paying for the luxury to socialize outside their homes makes it acceptable to behave in self-entitled ways (acting indignant when confronted with restaurant rules, making exclusive demands/exceptions or threatening retribution if otherwise). Before feeling like you're owed something, put yourself in the restaurant's shoes/ask whether you'd be so accomodating.

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  84. If you want to take a picture of your food (for reviewing or blogging), and the environment allows it, do it discretely. Avoid to consider your table a photo booth, set sounds off (no shutter sound!), avoid flash at all. If the shoot is to difficult just give up instead of hassling people around you. After put back your device away from the table. If the pic just goes on your favorite social network with caption "best whatever ever", big like if you just give it a miss.

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  85. If a customer asks if a substitution or slight alteration be made, the waiter should not claim it's not possible without checking with the chef first. Also, in the event it is not possible, the waiter should notify the customer in case the customer wants or needs to change his/her order; in such a situation the waiter should not fail to tell the customer and just serve the customer the order without the substitutes/alterations he/she requested. (For instance, the customer might be allergic to the ingredient he/she asked to be substituted out.)

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  86. If the waiter knows a particular dish will take especially long to prepare and a customer orders it, it would be considerate for the waiter to tell the customer that the dish will take 25 minutes (or whatever) to prepare, in case the customer is in a hurry and/or would prefer to order another dish with a shorter preparation time.

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  87. If (for some reason) you really want to take a picture of someone else's dish, ask that person first.

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  88. In an era of rising frugality, happy hours and couponing are the new must see and do, but be careful. While saving a few bucks on food is wonderful, shorting your server is not cool. Just because you’re only paying half price for the meal doesn’t mean your server is only doing half as much work. Always tip on the full amount before any discounts. The same rule applies if you’re using a gift card!

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  89. Thank you. It's as simple as those two little syllables (and eye contact, of course) One of the most basic feelings that all human beings have is the desire to be appreciated. That means a thank you to the hostess, server, bus boy, maitre'd, the chef if possible, and of course the person paying for the meal. Those two words go a long way. It's fast, painless, and free after all.

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  90. Waitstaff should not assume the older man pays the bill. As a woman, I like to take out-of-town guests, family, and friends out to dinner sometimes. Its none of your business if I pay or they pay. Just give us the bill.

    I'm already boycotting one "fine" restaurant for insisting otherwise, putting both me and my guest in a very awkward position as the waitstaff kept "correcting" my etiquette, despite clear requests for the alternative. My guest ended up paying just to end the awkwardness. Time to get with this century and mind your own business about who pays what, restaurant workers. Its out of line and makes folks like me keep retelling the story of the inappropriate, sexist "fine" restaurant not worthy of a visit.

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  91. Restaurants should not be allowed to refuse the American Express Card. It is one thing if it is a CASH ONLY establishment. But I have been at restaurants which refuse to take AE cards. Worst of all is AE offers $5, $10, etc. discount for using their cards at these establishments after I've checked in via FourSquares. Why pair up with AE and FourSquares if you refuse to take AE cards?

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  92. Diners should announce to the wait staff or the host any food allergies or intolerances before ordering, and as a return courtesy, the wait staff or host should be knowledgeable of the ingredients used in the preparation of each dish.

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  93. I use LevelUp to pay at some establishments. I have been to locations where their WIFI is either very weak or their phone doesn't work. That means I couldn't use LevelUp. What if I didn't bring another form of payment? Very annoying.

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  94. Daily specials should always be printed on a seperate card/paper with prices for each IF the menu isn't already printed for each day. There is nothing more annoying that being told (dictated) the daily specials WITHOUT being told the price for each entree. Then you have issues remembering the veggie, starch and sauce(s) for each entree. Print off the specials and tell me the price! If you want to highlight a specific entree when you greet me you can let me know where it is on the menu.

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  95. "Swish, swish, swish," is the sound of your thighs rubbing together against your polyester
    pants as you struggle to exit the restaurant doors.
    Why? Because you stupidly wrote, "xxx-xxxx, call me<3" on the back of your check.
    Now the servers are in the back trying to spot out our table number while cackling at you.
    Don't give server's your number-they don't want you.
    Don't expect an after dinner mint on the table either.

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  96. There's nothing I can't stand more than when I'm in a restaurant having an enjoyable conversation with who ever I am with and the server just rudely interrupts with the 'is everything alright'line or something like it. Step to the table, wait for us to acknowledge you and speak.

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  97. If diners have to wait more than 15 minutes past a scheduled reservation time, the restaurant should offer something as an apology. It need not be a large gesture, but a cocktail on the house, a visit from the chef during the meal, a kitchen tour, etc. would be appreciated.

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    Replies
    1. Agreed. When a restaurant agrees to the reservation (and a restaurant has a choice in this matter), it is essentially giving the customer its word that a table will be available at the requested time, and just as the customer is expected to be there at that time (or within a specified window, e.g. 15 minutes) or forfeit the reservation, the restaurant should be expected to honor that reservation or in some way compensate the customer (not necessarily monetarily)--or, at the very least, offer an apology.

      Delete
  98. Similarly, diners should not be more than 15 minutes late to a reservation. If diners are more than 15 minutes late, the restaurant may give them some penalty for future reservations. For example, if the restaurant takes reservations 28 days in advance, the people who were late should not be able to make a reservation until, say, a week in advance. If they are on time for this next reservation, this penalty will disappear.

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  99. The waiter should give the check to whoever made the reservation. As a woman, if I am taking my boyfriend out to dinner, I always feel a bit disappointed when the waiter brings him the check. Nowadays a woman can take out a man!

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  100. Despite the raves of a fellow diner or the appearance of the unique dish ordered by this fellow diner, NEVER move to taste someone else's appetizer, entree, or desert! Exclamations and smacking noises accompanying chewing are not encouragements to taste someone else's food.

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  101. Diners should not take photos with flash. A subtle, quick photo of a dish without flash is fine (as I know there are many food photographers out there, myself included!) but flashes can be seen by, and interrupt the dining experience of, fellow diners.

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  102. I hate dirty empty glassware on my table. When my drink is finished remove the glass, I hate when they start to build up like a fortress. One in one out!

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    Replies
    1. I hate dirty empty glassware on my table. When my drink is finished remove the glass, I hate when they start to build up like a fortress. One in one out!

      Delete
  103. If someone at your table accidentally uses the wrong bread dish or takes the wrong glass, instead of pointing it out and embarrassing him/her in front of the table, everyone else should follow along and also take a different bread dish/glass. If you're good friends with the person, you can explain afterwards that bread dishes are on the left and glasses on the right.

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  104. In an age where wine knowledge is becoming more important (and even impressive), good etiquette requires the host to determine what his or her guests will be having for dinner before ordering a wine that can best accompany the dish or dishes.

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  105. If you absolutely must keep your hat on, stay in the barnyard.

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  106. Treat everyone on the staff at the restaurant with dignity.

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  107. I don't want to see your children while I'm out paying $300 or more for a meal. Leave them at home & hire a sitter. Also, I don't care about your conversation. Keep your voice to an indoor level.

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    Replies
    1. If the children are well-behaved I don't see why the ages of other diners matter. If the children are loud or disruptive, that's another story.

      Delete
  108. If you're going out to eat with a large group of people, bring cash if possible. This allows you to get in and out faster and saves the waiter the hassle of not having to divide the check 10+ ways. Even if, in theory, restaurants should be able to process credit card payments, some don't take credit cards, or their machines break, and other diners might not have the cash (or want) to cover you.

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    Replies
    1. Great idea! This not only would be easier for servers, but also would decrease other diners' wait time for your table.

      Delete
  109. Place the check in the center of the table. Do not place the check on the other end where nobody can reach it or in front of one person. The waiter should never assume who is paying the bill.

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  110. One should not bother fellow diners seeking repetitive flash photography in order to capture their special occasion. The light show and disruption created might make others' "special" meals, not so special.

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  111. Servers, when you are asked what the popular dishes are on the menu, DON'T ALWAYS NAME THE MOST EXPENSIVE ONES. It's obvious what you are trying to do. Please, just be honest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's a quick tip to avoid this situation:
      The most popular items at the restaurant are usually going to be the first ones listed in the given section (appetizers, beef, chicken, dessert, etc) on the menu.

      Delete
  112. If a customer orders a drink without ice, the waiter should not bring him or her a half-full (half-empty?) glass.

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    Replies
    1. What do you propose the bartender fill the rest of the glass with? If anything it won't be more alcohol..it'll be more of the mixer...if that's what you want just say so otherwise you'll get what you asked for...a drink minus the ice.

      Delete
    2. Fill the glass up or use a smaller glass. Otherwise the restaurant just looks stingy.

      Delete
    3. As a follow-up, I had in mind soda more so than alcoholic drinks, though perhaps I should have specified.

      Delete
  113. New rule to be posted at all restaurants:

    'This premises equipped with cell phone jamming equipment. No cell phone coverage anywhere inside the restaurant.'

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  114. If a diner has a deal coupon, such as a google offer, the diner should tip on what would have been the full price of the meal. The server does not have any less work if a customer is using a deal, so the server should be tipped according to what the full price of the meal would have been.

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  115. Restaurants should not ask to see deal coupons before the meal. Often servers do not provide as high quality service if deals are used, as these patrons are assumed to be less likely to come back and pay full price, or servers may be afraid the diners will not tip on the full meal. Instead, coupons should be presented after the meal, so that servers do not have any biases that may affect their service.

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  116. If you're sitting at the bar don’t put your purse down on a seat next to you if others are waiting. Even if you’re trying to hold a spot for a friend, this is unfair to other patrons already present. Once your friend comes you can share a stool if none are available, or stand near the bar together. (Added bonus: not holding a seat may make your friend stop being late to meet you!)

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  117. When you're going out with groups and you're calculating your share of the bill, remember to include both tax and tip. You will almost certainly have a paper/napkin and writing utensil (or else ask a waiter) and/or cell phone calculator at your disposal, in case you need help calculating either.

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  118. Be considerate to your server. While they are there to serve you, they are often expected to serve about 20 other people at the same time. If you’re not ready to order, don’t make them stand there until you make up your mind. Of course busy is not an excuse for rude or incompetent service. If there is an actual problem don’t be ashamed to speak up and tell a manager.

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  119. Do not be afraid to speak to your waiter to better facilitate your dining experience. They are part of the service industry. As long as you explain to them your order and any concerns, they should be willing to fix any problems with your meal. Because if it is anything less, you may as well have eaten at home.

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  120. With so many food options--vegan to paleo and gluten-free to locavore--we have strong opinions about our food. When dining at your local pub or food cart, keep your preferences to yourself. If you let me enjoy my steak sandwich in NYC's Little India neighborhood, I won't ask why you held the meat (paying more for less) at the burrito truck. You eat your way, I'll eat mine, and we'll all dine happier!

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  121. If you cant make your reservation or are going to be late, call and let the restaurant know.

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  122. I don't mind well behaved children dining along side my table, but please if they are crying/screaming TAKE THEM OUTSIDE OR TO THE BATHROOM UNTIL IT STOPS! Do not let them run around or bother other guests. You may think it's "cute" but most others do not.

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  123. With the exception of dietary restrictions, if you’re out at a nice restaurant, have faith in your chef and order a dish the way it’s intended to be served. If you make too many substitutions, it probably won’t be as tasty, and besides, why are you spending your hard earned money if you don’t want what’s on the menu? Might as well save a few bucks and go “have it your way” at Burger King.

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  124. Use the coat check for any excess cargo that is otherwise going to be a safety hazard – a wet umbrella positioned to trip the server balancing a tray of martinis, a bulky winter coat sliding off the back of your chair or doubling as a bothersome seat cushion, or multiple shopping bags stuffed under your table (including that massive amplifier you just scored at Best Buy). Try not to lose your ticket and tip kindly.

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  125. By saying "Certainly", "Absolutely", and etc., I see you are trying to be polite and professional. Then, please stop calling us, "(you) guys". We are your customers, not you guys' friends.

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  126. A restaurant is a public space and dining in one does not make it an extension of your bedroom or bathroom. People-watching may be part of the dining out experience for some, but most other diners in the restaurant are probably not interested in enjoying their meal in the presence of your personal or intimate behavior, such as excessive PDA, flossing, nose-picking, sobbing and explosive domestic arguments (and definitely not all of the above simultaneously).

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  127. 1. "Inside voice", please even when laughing.
    2. Fellow diners - do not turn your nose up at your dining companions' dish(es) and state "What did YOU order?"
    3. Okay, I may just be sensitive, but when sitting at the bar, hovering behind me, leaning on my chair, clearly with the intent to grab my seat as soon as I leave, is just not nice.
    4. Just because you may be having lunch/dinner with an important client or first date, you are still capable of saying "Please and thank you" to your server.
    5. Another bar thing, when standing at the bar and leaning over someone who is sitting, it would be nice to get an "Excuse me" before yelling your drink order to the bartender.

    I'm sure more to come.

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  128. Please, please, please no more pictures of the food, especially with flash.

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  129. You can express all kinds of opinion about the food & the drink you ordered. Your freedom of speech is guaranteed in this country! However, if you want to act like a food critic, you might want to do it only when you really know what you are talking about. If you cannot tell the difference of taste between "chèvre" and "mascarpone", it might be better off not saying anything.

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  130. This isn't a new concept but obviously one that needs to be refreshed in the minds of many men and that’s to allow the woman to order first! Simple as that, nothing screams self-centered more than when a man puts himself before his date. I’ve witnessed this crime on far too many occasions, nothing makes me cringe and feel more uncomfortable then watching her get run over like restaurant road kill. P.S. I love when men stand, as ladies excuse themselves to “powder” their nose. Plus it gives you guys a chance to shake your balls out from being stuck in one place! Is that proper etiquette?

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  131. Depending on the environment control the alcohol intake, which will control reckless and poor public behavior. Nothing worse than slurring your words, as you ask your poor waiter, for another martini. You’re no longer in your twenties, you’ve reached your thirties or in some cases your cougar fifties, so act like it.

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  132. Eat hot food as soon as it arrives rather than wait for your dining companions to be served. It doesn't make sense to spoil your dinner by eating it cold just because the kitchen failed at time management. If you order a cold item, however, you ought to wait until others receive their dishes before digging in.

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  133. Waitstaff should be paying attention to his/her clients. It is frustrating to try to get the attention of your waitstaff because there is a problem with the dish or you need silverware or a refill on your drink and the waitstaff is oblivious. Waitstaff should always be looking out at his/her tables and make sure they dont need anything.



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  134. When eating family-style or sharing food, please cut/take the food using clean utensils. Not everyone wants to possibly catch a cold or exchange bodily fluids and food remnants with their dining companions. When people take food with their already used utensils, it puts others in an awkward position because they don't want to offend the person by asking them to use "clean" utensils. Waitstaff should provide clean utensils for this purpose.

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  135. Please don't stare at my table. It's so uncomfortable being watched while I eat. Do I have a third eye? Do you want my food? I just don't understand why this happens at restaurants. I understand that humans are curious about other humans, but this really has to stop. So, that's my new rule.

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