American dining has undergone incredible changes in the past three years, but unfortunately, many restaurants are struggling to survive in a world heavily influenced by the pandemic.
Since 2019, approximately 11 per cent of restaurants in the United States have closed - and even those that remain open face challenges such as exorbitant food and equipment costs - staffing shortages, and rising rents.
However, the most troubling obstacle for restaurants and their staff seems to be the customers, who have become more difficult than ever before.
It's difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons behind the decline in restaurant etiquette in recent years.
It could be a result of decreasing patience in society or a growing sense of self-importance in a convenience-driven world.
Alternatively, it may be that people still need to relearn the art of human interaction after experiencing reduced socialisation over the past three years.
Regardless of the cause, the consequences of this shift in behaviour are significant.
How patrons behave while dining out not only affects the mood of their servers but also has the potential to impact the experiences of those around them, ultimately causing harm to the restaurant industry beyond mere dining faux pas.
To address the increasing trend of unruly customer behaviour, BuzzFeed staff members from diverse backgrounds, varying ages, and different familial situations have offered their take.
They shared their most passionate dos and don'ts when it comes to dining out.
While some suggestions are contemporary takes on the restaurant experience, others are timeless rules that bear repeating.
Nevertheless, one piece of advice is deemed essential for being a considerate customer in the present day.
We’ve all been there - rushing around to make a dinner reservation.
Perhaps your babysitter is late and meant you couldn’t leave in time, or maybe you’ve got lost while trying to find the chosen eatery.
But, apparently, there are some do’s and dont’s when it comes to being late for a reservation.
They say it is crucial to understand that when you have a group reservation for 7:30 p.m., it implies that every individual in the group should be present by 7:30 p.m.
It is not acceptable for some members to arrive early and save the table while others arrive later.
It can be incredibly frustrating when organising group birthdays and not everyone shows up on time.
Nowadays, many restaurants have a policy of only seating a group once all members are present. Therefore, it is imperative that everyone shows up on time.
Similarly, when meeting a date, it is acceptable to have a five-minute grace period if you happen to run behind schedule.
However, if you're meeting friends, a ten-minute grace period is appropriate. It’s important to note that dishonesty about being stuck in traffic is not advisable.
There are few things more uncomfortable than sitting alone at a restaurant table, waiting for someone who is absent - a date, a significant other, or a friend.
It becomes even more awkward when you find yourself lingering near the entrance because the restaurant won't seat an incomplete party.
In this day and age, with the advancements in technology and the availability of smartphones, it is possible to plan ahead and account for potential traffic or travel interruptions.
Buzzfeed staffers encourage people to embrace this norm in 2023 and utilise our smartphones to avoid unnecessary delays.
There are some exceptions to the rule, though.
Regardless of whether you're running just five minutes late or a significant delay of 45 minutes, it's important to take a moment and give the restaurant a call to inform them about the situation.
By doing so, you avoid the restaurant assuming you're a no-show.
Moreover, you might be surprised by the host's ability to work miracles and find a way to accommodate you if they have prior notice.
It's always better to communicate with the restaurant and provide them with advance notice of any delays you may encounter.
Even if a reservation you have made does not impose a charge for no-shows, it is always considerate to call the restaurant and inform them if you are unable to make it.
It is the right thing to do in such situations.
Ideally, you should call as soon as you realise you won't be able to make your reservation.
However, even if you call within five minutes after your scheduled reservation time, it is still helpful.
Notifying the restaurant allows them to accommodate other guests and fill the empty table, which can make a significant difference for the restaurant in the long run.
So, heed this advice and you will not go far wrong. You might avoid some pretty awkward encounters, too!
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