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May 25, 2014 04:46 PM

A day in the life of a cloth restaurant napkin.

Two spaces open up at the bar. The barmaid quickly clears the dishes and used napkins from the last patrons, does a quick wipe down with a towel she will use most of the night.

You sit down, and she asks if you'd like a cocktail. She makes you a dry martini and proceeds to peel you a fresh twist. She squeezes a lime into your sparkling water. And hands you a menu, place setting and napkin.

You place the napkin on your lap. You use it to wipe your mouth. You use it to cough into. You use it to wipe your hands after you politely sneezed into your hands. You wipe your mouth.

And you set the napkin next to your plate.

She clears your plate. She clears your napkin.

She wipes down the counter, and begins preparing another customer a martini, with a twist, and a sparkling water with a squeeze of lime.

And the evening continues.

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  1. This is a revelation? Think about waiters and waitresses who take your cash and then immediately head into the kitchen and touch food. Even if that bartender never touched a soiled napkin, she touches herself hundreds of times during the course of the evening without even thinking about it. Her eyes, her face, her hair, maybe pulls her underwear out of her crack through her pants (I know, graphic, but people do these things without even realizing it), etc. It's part of life. Always has been for all my 53 years and I'm still alive.

    3 Replies
    1. re: ttoommyy

      There's no reason that a waiter or waitress should be going into the kitchen and touching the patron's food. The waiter or waitress should be merely picking up plates with food on them.
      Even when I waited tables more than 40 years ago, we didn't touch the food. if we had to fill salad bowls or ladle sides into monkey dishes we used tongs or spoons, etc. Even rolls from the bun warmers were placed in baskets using tongs.

      In many states and/or municipalities food handlers (not waiters/waitresses) must use gloves if touching food.

      1. re: bagelman01

        In many chain restaurants, and even "mom & pop restaurants" servers fix salads, dish up soups, plate desserts, etc. Yes, they use utensils to do this work, but absolute safe food handling practices go out the window when it gets crazy busy. My point is that you just can't escape these things and it's no big deal.

        1. re: ttoommyy

          And sometimes some of these servers aren't taught proper kitchen hygiene/sanitation.

          But, in many places they are and tables wiped down with wet cloths are from cloths reserved in a bucket of sanitizer. In NYC you see the proper forms observed, but in the 'burbs, much less so.

          This is due to stringent NYC health inspectors keeping restaurants and bars inline through frequent visits.

    2. I keep the napkin on my lap. Prefer another napkin to dab my lips.

      You forgot about people who put the napkin on the chair seat when they leave the table..

      1 Reply
      1. re: miss_belle

        "I keep the napkin on my lap. Prefer another napkin to dab my lips. "

        Not sure I understand what this is about. What's the purpose of the napkin on your lap if not to use on your lips? And does it mean you always request two napkins when you dine out?

        1. re: carolinadawg

          often she is washing glasses in between many of these steps and, in the process, her hands get soaked many times a night in soapy, antibacterial, hot, water.

          1. And the point is? The napkin goes into the laundry after you've used it and the next person gets a fresh one...

            2 Replies
            1. re: Kajikit

              The OP's point is the bartender touches the dirty napkin and then continues to fix drinks, etc. with hands that touched the dirty napkin. Seems to bother the OP.

              1. re: ttoommyy

                The alcohol will kill any germs!