9/11/2012 10:37:00 AM

10 (More) New Rules of Dining Etiquette

Want to ruin a perfectly good dinner experience? Well, go ahead and whip out your phone and start taking pictures in the middle of the meal. Or start haggling when the check comes, breaking it down to every penny. There's nothing like a discussion of restaurant etiquette to get people riled up - and that's just what happened when we asked you to come up with some new rules that people should follow when they're eating out. Click through the below slideshow to see 10 suggestions for those wanting to mind their manners (including the three winners from our contest), and keep those rule suggestions coming in the comments!

To see the piece that inspired it all, check out an op-ed from our very own Tim Zagat here. Contest winners will be notified via e-mail.

49 comments :

  1. Not only bring cash, but always tip in cash. It is more valuable to servers and will be appreciated and remembered.

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    1. All servers are tipped out in cash no matter how you pay. It is an industry standard.

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    2. I must disagree with this. In many restaurants, servers are NOT tipped out in cash; rather, any and all tips that are placed on a credit card are paid on a paycheck. Reasoning for this is two-fold--it reduces the overall liability of the restaurant. By keeping less cash on hand in the restaurant, it ultimately lowers the restaurant's monthly insurance premiums. Further, it reduces the overall tax liability for the server/bartender at the end of the fiscal year

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    3. Cash tips? What business person would do that and therefore eliminate tax deduction for a business meal? Using cash would eliminate otherwise legitimate expense for tax reporting. No receipt, no deduction.

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    4. Really, why would I want to tip in cash where they may not claim it as income. I pay taxes on all of my earnings and so should wait staff. I never tip in cash anymore!

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    5. Most waitstaff are not in the Romneyesque tax bracket you may be. Besides, they split the $ with bus boys and hostess.

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  2. I have found that there is on exception to the rule of minding your own business. This occurs when you are having dim sum in a restaurant where the servers don't know English. On more than one occasion, when I tried to ask the server something about an item on the cart, someone from another table would chime in and help. I appreciated the help very much. They were happy to be helpful and perhaps they were happy to demonstrate their knowledge. Whatever the motivation, I was grateful for the advice.

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  3. don't bring screaming toddlers to a restorant, and especially please do not breastfeed your baby in the middle of the dining area even if you use a blanket to cover it up

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    1. I agree on the screaming toddlers front... no one is enjoying the meal --- parents, kids or fellow diners.
      But no breastfeeding? Wow. What part of pure humanity offends you?

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    2. get used to it! breastfeeding is a normal part of life. as long as it is done discreetly.

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    3. I LOVE KIDS TOO BUT PARENT THAT CAN'T CONTROL THEIR KIDS IN A RESTAURANT SHOULD STAY HOME UNTIL THEY LEARN TO CONTROL THEIR KIDS.

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    4. please leave the breast feeding at home. It's just not something I want to have to look at when I'm in a restaurant.

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    5. Infants shouldn't be in a fine restaurant so the idea of breastfeeding should be moot. In any other dining establishment it should be tolerated as long as done discreetly.

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  4. I don't buy the normal part of life argument...sorry. Urinating, making love, etc. are all a "normal part of life" but you don't do it in the middle of the restaurant. "Excuse me folks, mind if I breastfeed." "No, go right ahead, mind if I pee?"

    Bottom line: there are some standards and restaurant norms...get used to it!

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    1. Its a restaurant. EVeryone is there to eat. The baby is eating too. What's the problem?

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    2. I can tell you were not breastfed ... you were fed vinegar.

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    3. Natural part of life is also sexual arousal, crying, anger, coughing, blowing your nose, burping or belching - however there is a place and time to perform all these "natural parts of life".

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  5. I'm shocked and offended that you have compared breast feeding a baby to urinating in public. It's the natural way to feed a child, it's beautiful, healthy and free.

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    1. I don't think it's beautiful. And not everyone wants to see it. Please be respectful of those who actually might want to enjoy a meal rather than be repulsed by what you're doing.

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  6. I'm sorry but I agree with the "no breastfeeding in public" rule. I think it is a lack of respect for the baby to have something so intimiate be done in public and, frankly, I do not enjoy looking at a stranger's breast while I am eating !!!

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    1. Is the mother forcing you to look at her breast? Sounds like it may be your issue, not theirs.

      And how is it disrespectful to feed a hungry baby?

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    2. The only lack of respect is on your part. If it bothers you to look, there is a simple solution: Don't.

      But why on earth begrudge a child their nourishment because some uptight person has issues.

      Sheesh!

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    3. I had breastfeed all my two kids. If they are hungry... they will just not stop crying so whether other's like it or not, a hungry baby screaming in a restaurant is much more annoying than a subdued baby breastfeeding and getting feed as well. Babies need to be feed at the moment the are hungry.

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    4. Well... I subscribe to the same philosophy that my 6th grade math teacher had about gum/candy in class. If there's not enough for everyone to share then don't bring it to class.

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    5. I understand some people find it beautiful to see women breast feed in public. I don't see it that way. I think women make s public spectacle out of themselves when they do it. It's a natural act best done at home and not in public. Women -- please don't subject us this latest feminist dogma -- I mean really. If you want to bring your kids to the restaurant and you want them to have your breast milk, why not pump the stuff into a bottle? Is that such an infringement?

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  7. I've never seen a cow pardon their manners to a group of farmers while feeding their own. Breast feeding is how the baby eats. It's not intimate, the socially challenging part is explaining to YOU that seeing a breast can seem intimate but when it's used for feeding it's a bridge for bonding and nourishment!

    Sweet Mary mother of the Lamb, people need to go back and talk to a seasoned elder because folks are so lost in PUBLIC!

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    1. Babies can eat breast milk from a bottle can't they? Why not do that IF you have to eat in public?

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  8. I wasnt going to comment just enjoy reading the debate;
    until cows where compared to humans well.

    I actually do not mind breast feeding if its done discreetly
    I do not like mothers who seem to think that the minute they are in a restaurant they let go and think the staff are employed to baby sit;

    wrong on so many levels stay home. For the kids sake they dont belong in a restaurant environment untill they can quietly sit down and have a meal and conversation with the memebers of the table.

    for all of you who think its ok to force your opinions on the restaurant seen put your money where your mouth is and buy one.

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    1. People travel, and for all kinds of reason people could be somewhere far away from home travelling or relocating or what have you. And when you need to eat in a restaurant, are you suggesting its ok for you to leave the kids and baby in the hotel while you go out and enjoy your meal in the restaurant??

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    2. Simple answer to all of this -- you stay home too. Try the time tested practice of making a meal for your family rather than subjecting us to your 'i'm here, get over it' attitude. We were here first.

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  9. I really have a problem with people who use volume on their electronic devices without headphones of any kind during a meal. I have been in nice restaurants where people are playing videos over their phones or tablets with the volume on speaker! Or parents playing movies to keep their children occupied without headphones. Even at a low volume this is incredibly disrespectful of other diners.

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  10. On breastfeeding, it's THE LAW in most states that breastfeeding, even disrobed, is ok. This goes for any public place. Also, newborns breastfeed very frequently,so it's not at all practical to expect moms not to nurse around you. Do you really expect a baby to miss a meal because you're squeamish? If someone harassed me for breastfeeding in public, I'd call the police. Any woman told by an establishment that she can't nurse has legal recourse. Remember, when you see a nursing mom, that breast is best for baby.

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    1. You should expect to hear comments from people as they walk by. If I see you breast feed in a restaurant, I'm going to comment on the size, shape, and sagginess of your breasts -- and also comment on why your desire to call attention to yourself also invites negative attention. You're forewarned.

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  11. Could restaurants PLEASE make a point of teaching their waitstaff some basic rules?

    1. When some diners are finished and others are still eating, leave the plates until EVERYONE is done. As a slower eater, there is nothing more uncomfortable than sitting there eating while everyone else has nothing in front of them (it is the flip side to waiting for everyone to be served before you start eating)

    2. When a patron asks for tea, please pour the water OVER the tea bag rather than putting it on the side. Unless I know that a restaurant teaches their staff the right way to serve tea, I avoid it entirely.

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    1. I disagree completely with point 1. I strongly prefer the removal of dirty plates as soon as I am finished. It reduces clutter and the potential for mess. To expect an entire table to sit amongst dirty plates is a bit much, no?

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    2. I agree completely with point 1. Go to any restaurant in France with a professional wait staff and you will not be hurried out the door by bus persons snatching away a plate while anyone is still dining. In fact, you wont get your bill until you signal that you are ready for it and ready to depart.

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    3. Even though I am a very fast eater, I agree completely with point 1. Plates should be served and removed at virtually the same time. Good manners dictate that no one should begin eating until everyone at the table has been served their meal unless they are told to begin by the person who is missing their meal. So why would we change this basic courtesy to our fellow diners after we finish our individual meal? Manners and diplomacy are not about fulfilling our own individual preferences. Manners were developed to make everyone feel welcome and respected. Sadly, we are becoming more selfish and boorish all the time. The attitude of many people has become, "To heck with everyone else, I deserve to get what I want."

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  12. On the topic of moving to make room at the bar for others, I would offer one important caveat. Often, there are one or two seats at the bar that, quite frankly, are highly undesirable. For example, sitting directly across from a raised obstacle like beer taps, etc., means being cramped, blocked from the bartender/server's view, being unable to easily receive plates and drinks, having difficulty communicating with the folks behind the bar, etc. I am always happy to move so long as my new seat does not place me at such a disadvantage. If it does, I don't think it is fair to expect me to relocate to accommodate later arrivals.

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  13. Wow. A column in a restaurant blog gets coopted by the PC police because a few people expressed their view that they would rather not have breast feeding in full view. If done discreetly, it probably would not impact anyone in the area. However, it seems like there is an army of breast feeding crusaders out there who feel they have to make a display of it either to prove what a wonderful mother they are or to further the crusade. It's those two that are objectionable and most likely bringing on the backlash.

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    1. The original comment was that it is unacceptable to breastfeed at a restaurant EVEN IF done discreetly. I think that is what triggered the comments.

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  14. Something that I find to be highly irritating is when sitting outside on the patio and someone has a dog. The wind changed and since the dog was being petted frequently dog hair flew everywhere. It was gross. Luckily, I had finished eating but my drink didn't fair well. We told the owner of the dog that hair was everywhere and they actually got pissed off. I guess they were friends of the servers working. It was ackward. I love dogs bu they don't really mesh with dining establishments. However, service dogs are trained to ignore distractions and they are always a pleasure to see because they do not disrupt.

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    1. I find that if I don't want anything blowing into my food,hair, dust, pollen, etc., I sit inside. Al fresco dining has its good points and its bad ones.

      BTW: You are aware that even service dogs shed, right? And so do people, unless they are bald.

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  15. As far as paying, I am finding more restaurants willing to take multiple cards with the amount of each card written down. Its only really feasible for 3-4 cards but I had one waiter tell me he did each person in a party of 8 once. They tipped well. Often I will pick up the difference when there is a dead beat in the group who doesn't pick up there share; even if I get scowled at by my wife. Then again its usually someone from her side of the family.

    For tipping, if its a business expense I will tip up to my company's policy (12%)on the check then give any bonus tip as cash. for personal I will pay cash.

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    1. For big parties they should be able to have separate checks and each dinner responsible for their portion. This is very common in Europe and no one ever thinks twice about separate checks.

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  16. What do I find annoying ? People seizing a perfectly reasonable restaurant discussion to rant and rave about their strident views. Give it a rest PLEASE, people, and get back to what the column was really about.

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  17. I find it discourteous to have someone speaking loudly on their cell phone while sitting at a table within the restaurant. If you need to take a call, please excuse yourself and step outside where others don't have to hear your conversation, we really don't care how important you think you are.

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  18. Don't engage the wait staff in overly long chats or especially flirtations! Be pleasant and friendly to them, of course, but don't go overboard particularly if you are dining with others. Your attention should be focused on the people in your party, not the great looking waiter.

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  19. Lack of people taking responsibility; whether it be the staffers - a server should look at a plate before serving it - if it contains charred, wilted or bad looking food - don't serve it - bring it to the attention of the chef/kitchen.

    Guests standing at or near tables blocking other guests and wait staff from serving - do NOT be oblivious be aware of your surroundings.

    Basically, if you can't be proud of something don't do it or service it.

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  20. I'll chime in on the 1st rule: being on time. On the surface this is obvious to everyone I think, common courtesy to others in every situation, not just dining. What I disagree with in the article though are several things. One, "ringing up a tab at the bar on drinks they didn't really want..."

    What kind of lush can't control themselves enough to curtail their drinking??? This sounds like "victim mentality" to me, and a total lack of personal responsibility. Seriously, is it the late person's fault that you can't control your drinking until they arrive, no matter how late they are??? If you can't refrain from drinking for a few minutes you have a much bigger problem than some silly Zagat rules list can solve.

    As a frequent business traveler and solo diner, I'm not so insecure that I can't handle "sitting at a table alone for 20 minutes while they wait for their pals to show up." In fact, that's my solution to this whole problem. I have one relative in particular who finds it impossible to be on time for anything, and while I can't change his behavior I also won't let him hold me back from enjoying myself. I'll wait about 10, maybe 15 minutes for him, and if he doesn't show up by then I'll have myself seated. Not a problem for most restaurants--putting a solo diner at a 2-top is the same to them as seating two diners.

    Then I start ordering, eating and drinking on my own until he gets there. HE is the one who's going to feel uncomfortable when he arrives and I'm already chowing down on my entree, not me. Plus, he knows he's paying half the bill. And if I need to be somewhere after we eat, he knows he's only cutting into our time together. If I have to leave and he's still eating because he ordered late, tough you-know-what: that's his fault and his problem and he knows it.

    Then again, I'm not insecure like most Americans seem to be so dining solo is no big deal to me. This may not apply to everyone. Also, this strategy is completely unacceptable when on a date.

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