A cheat sheet for helping restaurants help you.
—Illustration by Edwin Fotheringham
In February 2014, I wrote a piece for 5280.com about service shortcomings in Denver restaurants. The story produced a firestorm of comments, including one from a reader who asked what he could do to be a better diner. Although hospitality professionals agree that diners can—and should—expect a lot from those we entrust with our hard-earned dollars, aren’t diners also part of the equation? What can we do to set restaurants up for success? We asked professionals from across Denver’s restaurant industry that very question.
…speak up when making a reservation—and again when seated—about food allergies, dietary restrictions, or special occasions.
…include infants and children in the head count for your group.
…call the restaurant as soon as your party size changes or you need to cancel.
…transfer your bar tab. It helps your server know how your evening began. Just be sure to leave the bartender a dollar or two.
...ask thoughtful questions about the menu and find out what your server recommends.
…pause your conversation when food and drinks arrive so runners can describe the items.
…trust restaurant teams and allow them to take care of you.
…treat others the way you’d want to be treated—from the hostess to your busser to the group of people waiting for your table while you linger.
…gram, tweet, or post pictures of your meal—just don’t use a flash or let your food get cold.
…call restaurants to make reservations during peak dining hours.
…be late for your reservation without phoning.
…get impatient when a restaurant is pacing tables and you aren’t seated instantly. Grab an apéritif at the bar and consider it part of the experience.
…be shy about asking for the sommelier or someone who knows the wine and beer lists.
…entertain your children with an iPad. Instead, teach young ones how to dine out, even if that means you have to take turns walking around the block.
…store your phone on the table or take calls in the dining room.
…expect separate checks when dining with a large group. Split the bill evenly across cards or, better yet, bring cash.
…take to Yelp. Instead, tell your server the salad is overdressed, you don’t care for your cocktail, or your date needs a pillow. Give restaurants the chance to correct errors and make them right.