We go to a restaurant to enjoy good food in good company. However, we should not forget that a restaurant is also a work establishment. Its staff works hard to provide us with a great experience. Other guests are in attendance. Restaurant etiquette makes sure that we respect the establishment, the staff, and the other guests. Avoid these mistakes. 

1) Not respecting the restaurant staff

Any behavior that disrupts the organization of a restaurant is against restaurant etiquette. 

Arriving late

Restaurants organize their reservations to accommodate as many guests as possible. Arriving late, more than 15 minutes after your reservation, disrupts the restaurant’s daily schedule. If you are going to be late by over 15 minutes, call the restaurant to notify them. 

If you arrive just a few minutes before the kitchen closes, you should not expect to be served.  

Restaurant staff usually work long hours. Even after the kitchen closes there is a lot of cleanup work to be done. Make sure that you respect the staff and do not force them to work overtime.

Restaurant etiquette: if you have a reservation but you are running late, notify the restaurant

Switching tables

The restaurant staff accommodates guests to optimize space allocation and service. If you are uncomfortable with your seat assignment, politely ask the waiters if it is possible to change tables. If possible, ask to switch tables before you sit. Do not move on your own. 

Switching tables without asking your server is against restaurant etiquette

Rushing the staff

Kitchen staff work in their own structured and organized way. Do not insist on them rushing your order. If you wait longer than expected for a course, at least over 15 minutes, you can politely ask the waiter if something is holding your order back.

Asking many custom changes

Requesting multiple custom changes to a course is against restaurant etiquette. It is acceptable to ask for one change. If you need more than one custom change to your meal, order something else. You should also avoid ordering something that is not on the menu. 

If you have an allergy, it is perfectly acceptable to ask the restaurant staff to prepare your meal excluding the ingredient you are allergic to. If you have several allergies and food intolerance, you should choose a restaurant with an appropriate menu beforehand.

Sending back a course after eating it

If something is wrong with your food, you should send it back immediately after the first bite. If you eat beyond that, you should pay for it.

Occupying the table after paying

Do not stay at your table for over 15-20 minutes after paying your bill. The restaurant will likely need to clean up the table and accommodate new guests. If you stay longer, you cost them money or force them to work overtime.

It is against restaurant etiquette to sit at your table only to use your electronic device, or to read a book. Move to a waiting room instead. 

2) Being rude to the waiter

A waiter is a person that works hard, for long hours, only to help us have a pleasant dining experience. Treat them with respect and avoid bad manners. 

Not saying “please” and “thank you”

This rule is simple but we often forget it. Be polite. Smile if possible. If we are gentle, people will treat us well in return.

Sitting down when the table is not cleared

If you sit at the table before it is cleared, you are making the waiter’s job harder. Be patient and sit when the waiter invites you to do so. 

Not paying attention to the waiter

When your waiter attends you, listen to them. Do not make them repeat the same thing. The appropriate moment to ask questions is right before ordering.

Asking them to take your order when you are not ready

Respect your waiter’s time. Do not expect a waiter to stand by your table while you read through the menu. If you are undecided on a course and need to ask questions, prepare a fallback option. If you realize that you need more time, just say so and ask the waiter to be back in a few minutes.

Asking a waiter to take your order when you are not ready is bad restaurant etiquette

Trying to get attention in a rude way

Avoid calling the waiter in a disrespectful way. Do not whistle, shout, make ample gestures, snap your fingers, clap your hands, or other rude signs. Do not grab or touch the waiter. Instead, try to make eye contact and a discrete gesture with your hand.


If something is wrong with your food, tableware, or anything else, keep your cool. Politely notify your waiter. If you do not get the response you were hoping for, do not argue. Be patient. If a restaurant offers a bad service, simply do not return there.  

Be polite with the restaurant staff. Avoid arguing. You will be treated well in return.

Not tipping

In several countries, tips make up a significant part of a waiter’s salary. Unless the service was very bad, tip according to the local standard. 

3) Annoying the other guests

At any time, we are not the only guests in a restaurant. Respect the other guests and avoid actions that will embarrass you and annoy others.  

Not respecting table manners

Good table manners are a crucial part of restaurant etiquette. Make sure that you follow the key rules and avoid the most annoying mistakes.

Not respecting other guests’ space

Do not invade the space assigned to another table. Avoid touching other guests with your coat or your bags. Do not place your personal belongings on someone else’s table or nearby it.  

Allowing your kids to misbehave

Children must behave at the table. They should sit at the table during the meal, and do not roam the room. You should avoid giving them an electronic device such as a phone or tablet. If you do, make sure it is in silent mode. Nobody wants to eat while listening to a video game. 

If your baby is crying, consider leaving the table and going to another room. 

Taking photos of your food

You can take a quick, discreet shot. Posing and doing a full photoshoot of your meal is not elegant and might annoy other guests.

Taking photos of your food is against restaurant etiquette, and it may annoy other guests. Avoid it or be very discreet.