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  • Writer's pictureAbigail Taylor

Adventures in Restaurant Management: How to dine like a pro.

two restaurant diners digging in to some beautifully plated dishes

Aside from tipping well and in general being kind, here are some ways to help make dining out easier on everyone, servers and diners included!

Show up on time

Most places have about a 15 minute grace period, but it's especially hard on busy weekend nights when they need to turn tables multiple times back to back. This rule also applies for showing up early. If you find yourself running too early or late, give the restaurant a call. Odds are they can switch things around and put you at a table with a less tight turn time. But it's really disrespectful to show up late, not only to the restaurant but also to the diners coming after you.

Share your dietary restrictions in advance

If you have complex dietary restrictions (that go above a nut allergy or gluten free diet) maybe leave a note in your reservation or send a helpful email ahead of time so that they are prepared for you. Handling surprise severe dietary restrictions, particularly in small kitchens, is a real time consuming task that can cause a delay in the pacing of the entire dinner service. Letting them know in advance is the best way to make sure you are safe.

Order like a pro

Don't make your server keep having to check back. If you are in a large group, take a quick moment right away to study the menu and decide what you want so that you can move on to the socializing. Sometimes it's easiest to assign one guest to do all the ordering for the group. If you can, try to order your rounds of drinks together. It saves time to make drinks in batches. And if you see that you might be running low on time, ask to put in desserts before the entrees are cleared, or ask for the check when the last round of drinks hits the table.

Use Venmo

Dropping even more than 2 cards on a table makes things complicated enough to go very badly. If covering the bill for your buddies is something you can do, offer to put it on one card and have them Venmo you or give you cash. One of the most time consuming tasks I have as a manager is solving an issue with payment due to a server attempting to split a check 7 ways and it goes wrong. It's a waste of time and sometimes you end up with a hold on your account because of it. Servers are not bank tellers.

Know when it's time to go

If you're dining on a busy weekend night, ask your server when they need to turn the table. That way you can plan your experience and not feel rushed or surprised when time is up. Look up the restaurant policies and respect their time limits. They don't want to have to be the bad guy and kick you out. The average turn time is 90 minutes for a party of 2. Respect those limits and you'll never feel like you've worn out your welcome.

And honestly you could ignore all my other advice, but at the very least, just be kind and respectful. It's not that hard and it goes a long way. Happy dining!

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