dining etiquette explained with carbonara app

Modern Dining Etiquette Explained for 2024

The world of dining out is a marvellous assortment of styles, practices, and ways of eating. So how do you get it right?

As the hospitality universe continues to shift and change, some things remain the same. Here’s our guide to all the essentials you need to know.

For restaurant owners, dining etiquette is important. Your customers need to feel comfortable and welcome in your venue. Sign up to let us help you and your business make massive improvements to your customer services mechanisms. 

What is Dining Etiquette? 

In the restaurant world, dining etiquette is a deceivingly simple term. Yet with the right research, anyone can soon learn how to dine out with ease.

Overall, dining etiquette refers to the set of rules that determine acceptable behaviour in a restaurant or any other type of food business.

In English-speaking cultures, the way you eat your food is commonly referred to as table manners — that is, the socially acceptable way to eat food when in company. 

However, table manners only refer to a distinct part of dining etiquette. 

Behaving, interacting, and general behaviour in a restaurant encompasses many actions, from how to greet servers to the correct and best ways to make payments.

For instance, when travelling, many people may find a particular country’s tipping culture confusing. This is what correct dining etiquette is all about — and as a result it varies depending on the time and place you find yourself in. 

Many people forget how to correctly act in hospitality settings, leading to potential confusion among restaurant teams and customers.  It is this question that we at Carbonara App cannot help relating at present in the next section.

Different countries, different customs. It’s a golden rule we all need to keep firmly in mind when wining and dining, wherever we go. Find out how this southern French restaurant is mixing two national hospitality traditions together. 

“Restaurant” by Open Grid Scheduler via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

Does It Depend on the Country?

The short and simple answer? Yes. Without question, dining etiquette matters wherever you are in the world. Yet depending largely on a country’s historic traditions and customs in common, what one population may consider good manners may quickly become bad manners among another.

Famous stories from history demonstrate these differences. In Russia, for instance, the table manners of Rasputin, a famous figure, shocked and repulsed aristocrats — namely because when dining, he refused to use cutlery and tore his food apart with his fingers. However, in many Asian countries like Malaysia, eating with your fingers is the norm. 

Fast forward to now and we are still very concerned with correct ways of eating. Here are some of the key things to consider.

1. Tipping

Famously, tipping is ingrained in the dining-out cultures of both North America and Canada. In the USA, for example, tipping is essential and must meet a base amount. “Leaving between 15 and 25 per cent,” says one newspaper on the art of tipping, “will generally leave employees satisfied”.

In Europe, tipping culture varies, but is generally non essential. This is because a service charge — a VAT fee — is usually included in a bill.

However, this still causes customers some confusion. 

In both Spain and Italy, for instance, tipping is very much appreciated, coming to around 10 per cent of a total bill. Whereas in Great Britain, tipping is rare. A national minimum wage protects employee salaries, but restaurants that accept tips will usually take them collectively and divide the shares among a team.

On the other hand, quite amazingly, some countries consider tipping with money rude. In Tokyo, Japan, customers show their appreciation by buying more food. “Tipping is almost never done,” says the BBC’s cultural etiquette guide for Tokyo. “Thanking the server as you leave and returning as a repeat customer are ways of showing appreciation.”

2. Cutlery

In the West, to eat barbecued chicken legs or wings with your hands may be a no brainer; but the high-styles of laying out cutlery in fine dining remains in most European cultures.

Yet this is not entirely the case throughout the rest of the world.

In Asia, chopstick etiquette varies, but a number of golden rules remain. Passing food between plates, for instance, requires the blunt end of chopsticks — not the sharp end. 

Also, in some cultures, cutlery is somewhat alien to local ways of life. For instance, in Ghana — indeed, in many African cultures — people typically eat well-prepared meals with their hands. 

3. Ways to Pay

This is arguably the most sensitive topic on worldwide dining etiquette.

Generally, hosts may pay for a meal in a restaurant. In business meals for example, Kent State University advising on dining etiquette says that the “person who initiates the meal generally pays and tips appropriately”. 

However, in Europe, the phrase “going Dutch” refers to splitting a restaurant bill between two or more people. The tradition has roots in the Netherlands, where paying separately as a group is common dining etiquette, and each person pays for the specifics of their order.

Since 2000, Europeans have made over 69 billion debit card payments, making card payments one of the most preferred ways to pay for services. Now with digital payment technology, things like “going Dutch” are easier than ever. 

“Cutlery” by Per John via Flickr (creative commons 2.0)

Getting it Right With Technology

Good, clean dining etiquette also relies on the behaviour of the host. Most dining etiquette relies on common sense, any restaurant can make immediate improvements to their customer service mechanisms — all for free.

To conquer long customer waiting times, for instance, Carbonara App users can implement standby seating

This is a super simple technique that speeds up a restaurant’s overall service. Customers can return to restaurants at the exact time their table is ready. Since dining etiquette is also a question of time (that is, how to use time well), restaurants can better respect their customer’s patience, ensuring that not a minute is wasted.

What about ways to pay? Carbonara App also provides a drinks pre-ordering platform, enabling customers to pay for beverages before they enter a venue’s doors. Using online banking technology, customers within a group/party no longer have to worry about correct dining etiquette when searching and searching for the best ways to pay — it’s all online!

Avoid the consequences and mistakes associated with poor dining etiquette this year, and take the quick and efficient route: Download Carbonara App for free at Google Play or Apple Store.

Use correct dining etiquette methods wherever you find yourself in the world! Check out what one of our users is doing right now in Spain and read our article “Carbonara App Enhances Reservations Control in North Spain”.