Tim Zagat of the Zagat restaurant guides appeared live on this morning's "The Today Show" to discuss how dining etiquette has changed over the years.
For instance, it used to be that men were expected to do the inviting, held doors, chairs and coats for women, tasted the wine, paid the bills and gave the tips. Women were supposed to be pleasant companions. Clearly things have changed since then.
Zagat's new guidelines are based on the company's national surveys conducted on ZAGAT.com, where you can find reviews of hundreds of restaurants around the country.
Women and men should be treated as equals.Still, a plurality of diners says that men are treated better than women. The explanation given is that men are more likely to pay the bill and tip. How dated can you be? She probably earns more than you.
2. PAYING FOR IT
Whoever initiates a dinner date pays. Long ago, women were handed menus with no prices on them. Nowadays, whoever did the inviting should be expected to pay for the meal, unless you’ve worked out another arrangement in advance.
3. ORDERING FOOD
Forget gender – people should order when ready. Sorry, Emily Post, but gone are the days when women were expected to go first. Since menus can be long and complex, regardless of your sex it’s a courtesy to order first and buy your tablemates a bit more time to decide.
4. HANDHELD VICES
Do not talk, text, tweet, e-mail or surf the web at table. It’s rude, say 63% of diners. A whopping 73% advise turning off ringers. If you have urgent business to deal with, step away from the table briefly to handle matters.
5. KIDS, KIDS, KIDS
It’s fine to bring children to dinner in most restaurants. But don’t do it at places where they’d elevate the decibel level or that are meant to be romantic. Zagat surveyors split over the age at which children should be allowed: 38% say from birth while the same percent argues five years or older. Tellingly, 61% believe restaurants should be able to ban children.
6. DRESSING DOWN OR UP
Dress casually. This is known as the “Los Angelization of dining.” Hardly any restaurants require ties and jackets anymore. Even the tiny minority that do won’t object if you put your jacket over the back of the chair. About the only rule left is “don’t be a slob.” Alternatively, you may want to “dress up” to impress your companion.
7. SERIOUS RESERVATIONS
Honor your restaurant reservations or cancel them on time. People should treat dining reservations as the important commitments they are. Holding an empty table for a no-show does real damage to a restaurant. If you make reservations and fail to cancel in advance, you’ll deservedly become persona non grata at the restaurant.
8. OK, NOW GET OUT
Don’t overstay your welcome at a busy restaurant. To clarify: Take your time and enjoy your food, wine, conversation and after-dinner treats. Nobody should ever feel rushed. But interestingly, 60% of Zagat surveyors nationally support restaurants setting time limits on tables during peak hours. Remember, next time you may be the one waiting in line.
9. LONG LIVE CHIVALRY
Men go through doors first, and then hold them open for women. We know, we know. This is the one rule of chivalry that will never die, even if it’s been updated (men used to allow women to go first). Bottom line: two people can’t go through a door at the same time. So to the women out there who find this notion antiquated, please, humor these poor men. Let them get the door – they’ll let you get the bill or walk on the outside once out on the street.
10. REMEMBER YOU’RE THE CUSTOMER.
And the customer is always right. Too often customers feel they are being judged by the wait staff. That’s exactly wrong. Short of berating the waiter, you should expect to receive hospitable, efficient service and good food at any restaurant. If that doesn’t happen, take your money elsewhere and tell the next 10 people that you meet.