The quick and dirty guide to eating out

Eating at restaurants can be a hassle for everyone involved. What’s meant to be a glorious nom session is often shrouded by social faux pas and impossible to remember codes of conduct. Thanks, Obama. But have no fear, The Phoenix has the ultimate dining-etiquette lifehack for you right here! After gathering extremely well-researched and reliable evidence from food service professionals, we’ve compiled a list of tips guaranteed to get you quality service, delicious food, and the respect you deserve.

1) Mind your p’s and queues

“When I worked at a popular fast food restaurant in college, I quickly found out what pissed me off the most. People. Who. Don’t. Form. Lines. Properly. And. Efficiently. As a food service worker, I want you to stand up to customers who don’t know how to stand in line quietly, facing forward, with their hands in their pockets like a passive yet well-mannered British person. I can’t yell at customers because I’ll get fired if I stop smiling for any reason whatsoever, so it’s your civic responsibility to police the line. Point people to the right direction, and call them out if they’re staring at the menu because they clearly don’t know what they’re ordering yet, which’ll slow everything down. Stand up for yourself; use your voice to establish basic rules. If someone is behaving out of line [smug recognition of pun redacted] be sure to assert your authority and yell ‘NO CUTS, NO BUTS, NO COCONUTS’ like a man. The cute girlie behind the counter will really appreciate not having to deal with a line of incompetent people who don’t know what they’re going to order.” —Cynthia Pickles, 39, Daytona Beach

2)  Tippecanoe and tip me, too!

“I’m a barista at a local coffee shop, and I put a lot of effort into crafting artisanal beverages for my customers. People don’t usually think they’re supposed to tip baristas, so I really like it when someone goes the extra mile. Not only do the best customers tip me for my services, they look into my tip jar to gauge how much others have given and tip accordingly. I also love it when they tell me exactly how much they’re giving me, because to be honest, they’re doing me a big favour.” —Daniel Crowfoot, 20, Hudson

3) Put your best helping-hand forward

“As a server at an upscale bistro, it’s really awkward to serve large parties deconstructed meals or tapas because there’s always limited space on the tabletop and way too many plates to place. It’s like a that circus act where the clown spins all the plates, you know? When customers are done with their meals, it’s really helpful when they stack all of their dishes and hand them to me at once. My manager totally doesn’t mind when you do that. And, because I’ve been serving for so long, I have the dexterity to carry all of your plates at once, so it’s really convenient not to have to make too many trips.” —Pearl Smoothe, 47, Honolulu

4) Show genuine interest to put the ‘smile’ in ‘service with a smile.’

“Working in food service is physically exhausting, so I love it when customers treat me like an individual. My favourite customers are the ones who ask me about my life, comment on what I’m wearing, or take interest in workplace politics, because, trust me, there’s a lot of drama in the back kitchen. I especially love when older people who worked in the industry when they were kids recall the differences between service standards today and twenty years ago. It’s a neat historical lesson! If you notice that I’m not wearing any makeup, I want to hear about it. If you want to know about my ethnic background, I want to hear about it. I’m in this industry because I’m a people person, gosh darn it!” —Nour Kalagaris, 23, Bethesda

5) Add a ten digit number to your total

“I was a waitress at a fun small-town diner in high school, and I’d often work the midnight shift. One of my best memories from that job was when this cute guy would request to be seated in my section every time I worked. He told me I was his favourite server, and I think I just about died from infatuation the night he wrote his phone number on the tip line! It was adorable. We’re married now. We have eleven children.” —Dott Efferman, 64, Long Island

The next time you dine out, try these nifty tips* and tell us how they go!

*The Phoenix is not liable for any restraining orders that may be issued to readers who follow the Ultimate Dining-Etiquette Lifehack. All restrictions apply.

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