This post originally appeared on the Fooderati blog.
I've decided to go all Emily Post on your arses. Far too many times over the past few months have I been privy to crazy dining stories. Working in the restaurant industry gives you an insider's perspective to diner behaviour - the good, the bad and the really really stupid.
The following is a list of essential knowledge for anyone who likes food... and consuming it, er, not in your home. i.e. Everyone.
1. DO NOT book multiple restaurants for the one event and then decide later which one you want to go to
Restaurants are lean businesses. It may surprise some people to know that restaurants aren't cash cows with shedloads of money churning out like so much sweet, sweet dairy product.
Booking allows businesses to plan ahead when it comes to staffing, food ordering and general financial management. By booking and then cancelling multiple restaurants, you're really screwing the pooch, especially if it's a small restaurant that relies even more on each and every seat that's booked and filled.
It's been a hot topic of discussion within the restaurant industry for some time, but like any issue, rather than bitching about it, it can be dealt with successfully through communication. If you know someone who does it, tell them why it's not ok. Simple.
2. DO NOT book a restaurant and then not turn up
For the same reasons above, if a restaurant is expecting you, it isn't simply a case of calling someone else to replace you. Deciding you don't feel like eating out that night isn't an adequate excuse. In the same way you make a dentist appointment and stick to it, however much you wish you didn't have to - you're making an agreement with a business that you should honour.
If you are ill, have an accident or some other kind of last minute emergency - call the restaurant at the earliest opportunity and give them a heads up. Ignoring follow up phone calls or messages is a great way to get you black listed and restaurant folk have long memories. Not to mention the fact that it's bad manners and just plain rude.
Some restaurants have started to address this issue by taking a credit card deposit at the time of booking, with no-shows charged a cancellation fee. You'll see this become more prevalent if this type of behaviour continues to grow.
3. DO give plenty of notice if you have dietary requirements
While most restaurants these days do their best to ensure there are adequate menu options to cater for all manner of dietaries, don't assume this is always the case.
If there is something really specific you can't eat, call the restaurant and tell them. Even if it is a restaurant that doesn't take bookings, it always pays to ask whether they can cope with your request, rather than turning up on the night and getting pissy because they can't help you. You'll be surprised that given enough notice, how easily a polite request will be catered for.
4. Don't be a douche bag
Restaurants sell booze. You might get drunk and have fun. Weird, huh? But there's a line between enjoying the company of friends and pissing off the people around you. Whether it's loudly recounting last weekend's loose bender to anyone within earshot, pulling out a fuck-off DSLR in an inappropriate environment, or banging your cutlery on the table because you feel like pretending you're 5 (Bentley Bar, last Saturday night, no joke) - have some respect for those you're sharing a room with when you're out and about, it's really not that difficult.
There are plenty more gripes had by restaurants and I could go on, but at the end of the day it's about manners and respect. Restaurants are in the pleasure business, that much is true. That by no means, however, delegitimises their role in society or importance in the economy. As financial times get tough, we owe it to ourselves whether as diners or restaurants, to behave decently towards one another so we can see through to better days.