Minding Your Manners: Restaurant Behavior & First Impressions

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Ben Webber, Staff Writer

Nothing is worse than a blank stare filled with nothing but silence. 

The trend that restaurant conduct allows someone to figure out a lot about another from one simple sitting has been becoming more and more noticeable. It is even more noticeable now than previously because with covid, employees and customers expect more respectful mannerisms when serving or being served. 

Although there are currently many restrictions due to covid, restaurants are continuing their businesses. Both the employees and the customers in this situation are forced to adapt to the new conditions, which is not the easiest job. As the restrictions and difficulties continue, restaurant manners like “Please” and “Thank you” are becoming much more evident when interacting with an employee or customer. In fact, 96.7% of people who regularly attend restaurants claim to use these manners every interaction or most of the time. With that high percentage of people agreeing they use respectful mannerisms, it’s not very difficult to notice when someone is in the other 3.3%. As it is only one aspect of the restaurant experience, it is surprising how quickly that type of behavior is observed and judged. When asked about what examples of disrespectful behavior stick out at restaurants, anonymous said, “If they were to yell about food or hostesses, not say thank you, have a bad attitude.”

Yes, these behaviors are easy to pick up on, but why should it matter? It matters because of the societal value of first impressions. 93.6% of people, when surveyed, agreed that first impressions are an important aspect in relationships. The time spent actually getting to know an employee or a customer at a restaurant is drastically less than the time spent discussing the actual orders, payments, requests, etc. This tends to make people’s first impressions at restaurants be based off of things like manners, eye contact, and enthusiasm. Also, having a good first impression makes the restaurant experience much more pleasing for both the employees and customers. Thomas Foley, a busboy who works Arrowhead, said,“I work at a restaurant so when customers say please and thank you I would be more willing to help them rather than somebody who doesn’t say anything.” In terms of servers, using respectful mannerisms to create a good first impression also improves their pay, as they are more likely to be tipped a higher amount.

During this time, respect and kindness is expected and valued more than usual. When asked how important manners are to them personally on a scale of 1-10, 90.4% selected 8 or higher. On this topic, anonymous said,“They seem to be more motivated to do a good job of waiting on your table because you as the customer are being respectful and making them feel important. It does a lot for a person when you show appreciation.” Especially now, as there are many more things to be appreciative of due to the added restrictions and new hardships of the world. Change is difficult, and showing appreciation to employees and customers greatly benefits them mentally as they continue to adapt. 

The importance of first impressions and manners is now clear, but how difficult is it to make a good first impression at a restaurant? The answer: Most of the time it’s fairly simple. Using words like “Please”, “Thank you”, and “You’re welcome” will be a great way to begin. Nobody is specifically looking for certain words to be said; as long as appreciation is shown, there is usually a sense of mutual respect. Anonymous said,“Yes they tend to give back the same behavior you give them. Like if you say thank you, they tend to say you are welcome.” A simple formula to show respect, that is surprisingly still not used by many. Having bad restaurant conduct is easily noticed and it makes the entire experience worse. Simply being respectful towards the employees/customers will earn a solid first impression and a much more pleasant experience.