Manners & Misdemeanors

How To Be Polite While Dining Out

Authors of the book 'This Girl Minds her P's & Q's : An Etiquette Handbook for Dinner Parties, Restaurants, and Bars' share nine tips that we should remember the next time we dine out.

1. Settle Up With the Bartender

If you're at the bar having a drink while waiting to be seated for dinner, pay your bill before you leave. If transferring your bill to the table will make life easier, be sure to leave a cash tip for the bartender before you go. When you transfer the drinks to your dinner tab, the bartender loses out most, if not all of the tip money. In many restaurants, servers tip-out ten percent of their tips to the bartender at the end of the night. So even though the bartender made and served the drink, she won't see a fifteen percent tip from the drink she made for you.

2. Don't Be High Maintenance

When you're demanding and rude to a bartender or waitress, it's stressful to everyone, especially to the people with you. The server is not your servant. If the server makes a mistake, be gracious and forgiving. There are other people around who need service as well. Waiting on customers is not an easy job. 


3. No Cellphones in the Restaurant or Bar

Unless you're a doctor on call, or your wife is going into labor, do not answer your phone or send texts at any point during the evening when you are with others. The work emails, social media, and games can also wait. If for some reason you MUST make a call or answer your phone, excuse yourself from the room where others are drinking and dining, and conduct your conversation in solitude as you would have done in the days of pay phones.

4. Teach Your Children How to Dine Out

You can't expect young children to sit still through an entire meal, eat with their knives and forks, or engage in meaningful conversation. What can be expected by the wait staff and your fellow patrons at the restaurant is that children at your table will be able to remain in their seats for the entire meal and not run around the restaurant. Bring paper and crayons, a book, or a mini chess game, and let your kids get to work. Allowing them to explore the restaurant while others are dining is inappropriate and potentially dangerous.


When you're demanding and rude to a bartender or waitress, it's stressful to everyone, especially to the people with you.

5. Respect the Chain of Command

If something goes wrong while dining out, seek the help of the expert before the executive. Don't like where you've been seated? See the hostess. Unhappy with a wobbly table? Ask the busboy for help. Fish overcooked? Alert the server. If these knowledgeable individuals are not able to help, then it's appropriate to contact the manager, owner, or, in an extreme case, the corporate office.

6. Be Mindful of Your Friends' Incomes

For many people, dining out is a luxury. If you're not planning on picking up the check, don't start ordering dishes or appetizers for the table unless you make it clear that those items should be put on your bill. For a couple on a tight budget, dining out with a couple who has a large or unlimited income can make the evening stressful and unpleasant, especially when your affluent friends order expensive wines and multiple appetizers for the table but expect the bill for them to be split evenly. The couple watching their pennies will most likely not speak up in an effort to avoid looking cheap and being embarrassed. When you're ordering, you can say to the server, "And we'd like the gourmet appetizer plate for the table but please put that on our check." That also eliminates the need to ask for separate bills. You just made it clear that that's what you want.


The old expression, "If you need to ask, you can't afford it" still holds true in most fine restaurants and bars.

7. Be Ready to Order on the Third Pass

Every time you send the server or bartender away with a request for more time to make a decision about what to eat or drink, you risk losing his/her for what may seem like an eternity. Catch up with your friends but get the ordering out of the way first. Then your server can do her job to make you happy and you can dive into conversation without continuous interruptions.

8. Prepare for Sticker Shock

The old expression, "If you need to ask, you can't afford it" still holds true in most fine restaurants and bars. It is not the responsibility of the server or bar staff to broadcast the cost of the specials; it is the customer's responsibility to ask. If that feels embarrassing, choose an item on the menu with a listed price. If you choose to order without asking for the price, prepare for sticker shock.


9. Out-tip with Class

When the check is split, you are entitled to leave more than the standard fifteen percent tip; however, there is no need to announce your generosity. No one likes a show-off. Without drawing attention to yourself, leave that fat tip quietly.

Buy Jordan & Jocelyn's book here.

This story originally appeared on
* Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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