Restaurant Etiquette – Part 2

This is a continuation of the restaurant etiquette series. In Restaurant Etiquette part 1, I wrote about the proper etiquette for getting a table, if your running late, or returning the food. This edition will discuss the etiquette behind automatic gratuity, table seating, menu specials and options.

Automatic gratuity

You are part of a party of six and you were charged a standard 15% gratuity for large parties. You received terrible service. What can you do?

Automatic gratuities are placed to ensure the waiter will receive a fair share of tips for providing a level of service. However, Brette Gabel, a waiter from Fresh restaurant in Toronto views service charges as rude and says “My service, hopefully, has been satisfying enough that they would want to tip me maybe even 20 percent.” Is there anything you can do if you have received poor service?


If a tip policy has been well advertised on the menu, then in most circumstances there is not much you can do. If you were completely unsatisfied with the service, you should discreetly speak to a manager or the maitre d’. No restaurant manager wants to hear negative word of mouth.

Make sure you clearly offer specific examples of the service such as, it took 20 minutes for our drink orders to be taken or it took 45 minutes into dinner service for our appetizers to arrive. This still won’t guarantee you from not paying the service charge, but you may be offered a discount or a complimentary meal at a later date.

Table seating

You are not happy that you have been seated next to the washroom. Should you wait and tell the waiter?

Unless you have made a request to be seated in a specific area of the restaurant, then normally you will have to accept the assigned seating from the host/hostess.


Never wait until you are seated and speak to the waiter about your table. If you are not happy, speak up right away and let the host/hostess know. Again be specific; too noisy, too tight, too close to the washroom.

Most times, the restaurant can accommodate your request unless the restaurant has reserved specific tables. If you want to avoid all the trouble, the best option is to make a reservation and specify where you prefer to sit.

Menu Specials

Your waiter has informed you of the restaurant specials for the evening but did not mention about the price. You don’t want to look cheap, but how can you find out the price?

Some restaurants will have specials written on a blackboard which will include the prices while other fine dining restaurants rely on their waitstaff to inform the customer. If you have guests with you then enquiring about the price specials may be embarrassing. How do you avoid this?


Generally, a restaurant special will be priced within the price range of the restaurant’s menu. Without sounding too direct or rude, a more polite way of asking is, “What price point are the specials?” instead of asking, “How much is that?”

Menu Options

There are too many menu choices to choose, but you are unsure which one you would like to order. Where should you start?

Ordering can be stressful for some people. A menu may be so appealing that you may feel overwhelmed with the variety of choices and you just don’t want to make the mistake of ordering something you may regret.


Keep in mind of what you enjoy and what you feel like having. Ask the waiter for recommendations, but avoid asking questions like, “Is the pork chop good?” We each have different likes and dislikes. A better approach is asking your waiter, which items are the most popular or what is his/her favorite dish?

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One Response to “Restaurant Etiquette – Part 2”

  1. Khaizee Says:

    Good info! Tq

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