Tips From The inside, How To Enhance Your Dining Experience, Joe Ricchio, Suggestions, Restaurant Behavior, How to work with your waiter, Tips, Wine, Ordering, Phones, Reservations, Do’s and Don’ts, How to act in a restaurant


Manage Your Reservation

If the number of people in your party is different from your reservation, make sure you call in advance.

Properly organizing a reservation book and a seating chart of a busy restaurant actually takes a fair amount of skill and showing up with a different number of people can really throw things off. If your party grows in numbers, chances are that there may not be room for you at all. Never assume because you see empty tables that they are available.

We all understand that unexpected things happen, and even calling twenty minutes before your scheduled reservation shows a considerate nature that will result in only a mildly annoyed look, instead of a murderous stare, from frustrated Maitre’ds.

Sit At The Bar

When restaurant employees go out to eat, we often sit at the bar.

At a table there’s an unspoken expectation that you’re going to have a full meal because you’re occupying real estate in someone’s section. At the bar you can order just drinks and a few appetizers, without being pressured or feeling uncomfortable. The full menu is always available as well, and bar service is generally much more relaxed, so you don’t have to stress about being sold things you may not want. Most bars don’t take reservations either, so you don’t have to book in advance and there is no pressure to finish up to accommodate someone else, within reason of course.

Go Late

If you want to dine at a more leisurely pace and time is not of the essence, make reservations for the later seating.

Most restaurants book at least two turns every night, so if you’re going to dine early than you’ll need to be considerate of customers who have reservations on the second turn. The second turn is much more relaxed, though please note that if you’re the last ones left in the dining room and half of the staff has gone home, it’s time to leave.

Ask Questions

When faced with the wine list that you may not be comfortable or familiar with, don’t worry about asking questions.

Restaurants put a fair amount of thought into their wine selections based on the food they serve. Even if your server may not know about wines, chances are there’s someone on the floor who does. Ordering the most expensive bottle on the list, could mean you’re missing out on wines that may be more suitable for what you’re going to eat.

Be Wary Of “By The Glass”

If a restaurant has a large selection of wines by the glass, more often than not that means some have been open for a long time.

Order a full or half bottle when possible, just to insure that what you’re getting is fresh. Also be careful of “wine pairing flights” as these are a good way to clean out unwanted product.

Pour Your Own Wine

There’s nothing more frustrating than servers who over-fill wine stems, as many have no concept of “swirling without wearing the entire glass.”

Politely inform your server that you’d like to handle the wine yourself, and then go at your own pace without worries. This is also a good way to avoid the server “up-sell,” especially if you’re in a large group. Over-pouring allows the server to sneak in extra bottles by over filling the glasses of the heavy drinkers.

Be Specific

When ordering cocktails, always call your liquor.

The $1 to $2 difference between what’s in the well and a standard brand, such as Tanqueray, can make or break the flavor of your cocktail and the potency of your hangover.

Be A Regular

If you enjoy sitting at a certain table, feel free to ask what number it is on the restaurant’s seating chart.

This will make you sound like you know what you’re doing when you call and make reservations, and most places will do their best to hold it for you, provided you’re polite when requesting it.

Respect The Server

When the server approaches the table to describe the specials, put your conversation on hold.

Relax, this is only going to take a minute. After hearing what we have to say you can talk as long as you’d like. Another thing that makes me insane with anger is when customers roll their eyes or make faces when they don’t like the sound of something I’m telling them about. Just don’t order it and try to be a little considerate of my blood pressure, and don’t forget to make eye contact with me, so I feel like we can trust each other.

Enjoy Yourself

If you’re not happy to be there, we’re not happy to wait on you.

It’s kind of like when you realize, mutually, on the first five minutes of a date that it just isn’t going to work out, and save yourself the agonizing dinner experience to come. If you look at the menu and see that there aren’t many things you like, there’s no shame in informing the server and moving on. No need to modify every menu item into something that you’re in the mood for, with the possibility of disliking the food. People open restaurants because they have a particular vision or style of dining experience they would like to offer. The menu is a list of what food the restaurant serves, not a group of “suggestions.”

Do Your Math

When splitting checks, be mindful of the grand total.

Many times a table will pay a certain amount of the bill in cash, and instruct you to put the remainder on a credit card. More often than not, the person who used the card proceeds to tip only on the amount charged, with no regard for the total bill. Make sure you factor in the tip when you divide up the cost. Otherwise you may witness the server yelling incredibly bad things and throwing pens and whatever else isn’t nailed down.