Food & Nutrition

20 Rude Restaurant Habits You Need to Stop ASAP

Stacking your dishes, passing the salt, using the wrong bread plate, and more: Avoid making rude mistakes while dining out.

Tipping 15 percent

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The old rule was to tip your server 10 percent for poor service, 15 percent for good service, and 20 percent or more for work that goes above and beyond. The times have changed, however. “The appropriate tip these days is 20 percent, minimum,” says Maryanne Parker, professional etiquette coach and author of Manor of Manners. If you have a problem with paying the tip amount or with tipping customs in general, that’s not something you should take out on your server, who counts on tips to make the majority of their pay. “Remember, frugal and cheap are two different things,” she says. Still unsure? Check out our restaurant tipping guide.

Stacking plates and cups when you’re finished eating

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You may be trying to be helpful to your overworked server by stacking your dirty dishes when you’re finished dining, but this is actually a breach of etiquette, says Leslie Kalk, a restaurant and hospitality coach for more than 30 years. “Stacking plates when done sends a signal to other diners that the waitstaff is not tending to the table properly and the act of doing so exposes the stackers as inexperienced diners,” she explains. “In addition, the waitstaff usually have a well-practiced system for clearing the plates, utensils, and glassware and stacking interferes with that system.” Instead, after enjoying your meal, sit back and allow the waitstaff to handle the details. After all, that’s one of the pleasures of dining out!

Asking for major changes to a menu item when ordering

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It’s one thing to ask the kitchen to hold the tomatoes, substitute cauliflower for bread, or put your salad dressing on the side. It’s an entirely different story to ask for the barbecue spare ribs with potatoes to be made vegetarian and glazed in a garlic sauce over rice. It’s rude to ask the kitchen to cater to an endless list of demands, Parker says. There isn’t a hard rule for how many changes you can ask for in one dish but aim to keep it under three. If you need more changes than that, consider ordering a different dish. Make sure you’re abiding by these 13 little etiquette rules everyone should follow at a restaurant.

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