Ten Commandments of Restaurant Behavior

Nancy Leson, food critic for the Seattle Times, has published her list of Ten Commandmants for when you visit restaurants.

Hmmm. Although I agree with many of Nancy’s point, these are more “points of ettiquette” than actual commandments. Commandments should be immutable, and many of the items listed have exceptions. But this is me simply arguing semantics.

For the record, her commandments are:

  1. Honor your reservation
  2. Don’t hog your table
  3. If you don’t like where you’re seated, speak up!
  4. Bring your kids, but keep them in line
  5. Put your cellphone on vibrate
  6. If the food isn’t to your liking, say so, politely and immediately
  7. Life’s too short to drink bad wine
  8. Communicate dietary restrictions carefully and early
  9. Don’t even think about leaving a penny tip to show your scorn for a disappointing experience
  10. Spread the good cheer

Numbers 1, 2 and 10 of these commandments are based in the idea that restaurants are businesses that need to make money to survive. 3,6,7,8 and 9 are service oriented. Commandments 4 and 5 revolve around creating a decent dining environment.

Like I previously stated, I agree with most with them, to a point. But if you’re going to dictate customer behavior, then there should be commandments for restaurants to follow.

  1. Honor the reservation – If a reservation time is stated for 8pm, then it should be as close to 8pm as logistics can allow. Waiting for a table 30 minutes beyond the reservation time defeats the purpose of reservations.
  2. Respect the Table – If the customers don’t wish to interact with the wait staff, they shouldn’t be forced to do so. Forced small talk can serve to make patrons uncomfortable.
  3. Make no presumptions about your customers. Some will know more about food and wine than you, others less. Use good people skills to determine who falls where.
  4. Thou shall not upsell. Recommendations are a good thing, but they should at least sound authentic. When they sound like your trying to force more money out of my pocketbook, you come across as desperate. Save this behavior to Applebee’s
  5. Play your piped music at a point where it doesn’t dominate a conversation.
  6. Don’t play off of your customer’s supposed ignorance of wine. When I see a bottle of wine that has a 100-150% markup on the menu, it makes you look greedy.
  7. Ensure that your staff keeps personal conversations in the back of the house, away from the customers. I assure you, very few customers care that Nina didn’t come in today or that table 7A only gave you a 5% tip.
  8. Thou shalt have clean restrooms.
  9. The patron has a right to respectfully question any aspect of service. Specifically, when someone asks “Where’s our food?”, it is not asked to intentionally inconvenience the server.
  10. Hot food should be served hot.

I could write these all day.

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