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Sep 15, 2007 11:06 AM

Does the type of restaurant influence your etiquette?

Of course there is the obvious answer of comparing (let's say) Applebee's to The French Laundry, but I think I am asking something a bit differently.

Here's the scenario:

Two restaurants that are very similiar in price ($5 salads to $30 entrees) and atmosphere. I would say that the ambiance is casual bistro style, linen tablecloths, soft lighting and candles. Yet, the customers act differently in these similiar restaurants. Additionally, both of these establishments share the same clientele (who expect different types of service when dining). Here's an example: diner in restaurant #1 will keep silverware for next course but in restaurant #2 will request a new fork or knife. Is it because in rest#1 we dress casually (in rest#2 we dress in all black, with tie and bistro apron)?? I am not quite sure in the dynamics of it all. I usually bring fresh silverware anyhow, regardless if asked or not, but it has been quite interesting seeing how customers act when placed in different settings.

So overall, my question(s) are: Does your table etiquette change in accordance to atmosphere and restaurant type? Or does it stay constant no matter what? Do you see yourself expecting more (or less) from restaurants that are similiar but have different protocols?

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  1. I think it changes depending on what your etiquette knowledge and upbringing are, and also where you're dining. The less expensive and/or formal a place, for example, the less I can expect new silver for new courses. At chains, for example, they sometimes physically take your dirty fork or knife and replace it on the table and say "You'll need that." Which I am always surprised about. But if I let the silver go I am always asking for more.

    When I go to a nicer place, I do expect new silver with each course if it's not already provided. I rarely go anywhere expensive enough that they actually have everything you'd need already on the table, though that's what I prefer instead of guessing whether or not I'll have to ask or automatically be brought new utensils.

    2 Replies
    1. re: rockandroller1

      almost invariably clearing of the silverware is a good indicator of the "class" of the restaurant. also, whether the waiter hands you the check before you've asked for it, and whether the waitstaff clears everyone at once.

      1. re: rockandroller1

        I completely agree with that philosophy. The "you'll need that" is something that really bothers me.

      2. To answer your question, the etiquette of the custo should not change in different restos. You treat the servers the same, you have the same manners whether it's a local diner or a 5-star resto. why would anyone think that you can have less etiquette in different eating environments?

        4 Replies
        1. re: jfood

          I think that "etiquette" is confused with manners. Manners should never change no matter what situation. No elbows on the table and a "please" or "thank you" should be applied to every situation. What I am asking is that customers may become chameleons when dining at different establishments. I have witnessed many situations, and am just wondering if this is something that others experience or practice.

          1. re: cocktailqueen77


            Jfood agrees this has been a confusing thread, and he responded to "your" etiquette in your OP.

            So what etiquette are you exactly asking about from the custo other than manners?


            1. re: jfood

              Adapting to atmosphere is one way to put it, I suppose. Keeping used silverware, asking/not asking for another plate if sharing, requesting steak sauce (even if the steak comes already "dressed"). Just a few things that I have noticed that a customer may request in one establishment as opposed to another.

              1. re: jfood

                Oh, this isn't actually "my" etiquette or manners. Just observations from restaurants that I have worked at that share some of the same regulars. They are the chameleons, and it made me wonder if other diners take on those qualities as well (sometimes).

          2. howdy cocktailqueen77,
            deb and i are restaurant chameleons. we try to fit in whether we're dining in manhattan, chicago, singapore, rome, wherever.
            bottom line? we change our expectations based on the individual restaurant. way too many variables to stick to a rigid set of rules.

            1. To some extent, the establishment sets the tone by which many people will gauge their behavior. If I am greeted in a respectful manner, by someone who looks at me and speaks clearly, understands and responds to my request (dinner for three) and places menus politely at each place - well, no elbows on the table here. I will expect clean flatware and prompt refills on the water.
              But greet me with a wad of gum in your mouth, see only two of us and not hear that the third was parking the car, plunk two menus on the table and walk away - yep, I'm clutching tight to the only fork I expect to see this evening.

              And don't let me get started on young couples with underage children who have NOT been taught table manners!

              1. My expectations are always high. Like jfood I believe that manners/etiquette ought to remain constant no matter where you eat and who serves you. If I require something on the table that is not there, I ask for it.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Gio

                  It's true that you should treat a waiter at the lowest dive with as much respect as you'd treat anyone else, but if you went into a barbecue shack in rural Oklahoma and ordered food with the same diction and cadence as you'd use in the most elegant restaurant in New York, everyone would fall over laughing. I usually ask for a knife and fork with the barbecue (just as you'd use with a braised rib entree in NYC), and while no one falls over laughing, that's because they are trying very hard not to.

                  1. re: Brian S

                    On vacation, we ate at a family-style Southern restaurant where the schitck was for the server to throw the dinner rolls to (or at) the dinners. Food and the rolls were really good, but the servers and the other patrons were a little too casual for us. We just wanted a good meal and conversation with our family. Hard to do with rolls whizzing by your head.