Resource: U.S. Business Dining Etiquette

While restaurant etiquette can vary with your location, the same can be said with the situation. The business lunch/dinner with a client or employer can be especially delicate because of business-related matters (e.g. job, deal). For this reason, many sites (especially college career centers) and articles are available to provide some guidance.

Articles:
"Doing Lunch Right" by Ann Brown (Black Enterprise, Apr.12,2006)

"How to succeed at a business lunch" by Marc Ramirez (Seattle Times, Mar.14,2006)

"CEOs say how you treat a waiter can predict a lot about character" by Del Jones (USA Today, Apr.17,2006)

"Know your essential business dining etiquette" by Denise Burton (Los Angeles Business Journal, Nov. 1, 2004)

"Avoid Business Lunch Blunders" by Edward Klink (Horsemouth, May 13,2002)

Sites:
Diner Digest's "American Table Manners"
Virginia Tech's "Dining Etiquette Q&A"
Ball State University's "Basic Table Manners"

If you have other links or resources to add to this, please let us know here or at our forums.

note: future postings will cover general and business dining etiquette in other regions (e.g. East Asia)

Happy Eating.

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Article: “Dining fine at nursing home” (Apr.2006)

excerpt:
"They're expecting to see a cafeteria-type setting, with trays on the tables and that kind of thing as opposed to china and wait service," Damore said. "They start out being impressed by the cuisine and then they see the setting it's in."

According to Ed Graham, senior director of administration for the New York State Health Facilities Association, serving fresh food and using a waitstaff is becoming more prevalent in nursing homes.

Morris, who encourages his staff to try new recipes, said one of the ways this type of work is different than working in a restaurant is they are serving the same people every day.

"Here, if you make a mistake, you'll hear about it right away," he said.

…Graham said the dining experience is one of the top five considerations when choosing a nursing home."

source: "Dining fine at nursing home" by Rebecca Imperati (Poughkeepsie Journal, Apr.29,2006)

WaiterBell Angle: An interesting point made in this article is that the staff is serving the same people every day and that if there is a mistake "you'll hear about it right away". Restaurant managers do not get that luxury, because often customers dissatisfied with service will simply go to a competitor that will provide better service. The WaiterBell system empowers customers and enhance  to provide a service experience that they will remember and return for next time. 

Article: “Excuses don’t fix problem” (Apr.2006)

excerpt:
"…It wasn't our fault. It's not like we have bugs back there,'' he said, referring to the kitchen.

Did this manager get any customer service training at all?

What happened to resolving a problem rather than causing one?

After all, good customer service is vital to a business' success, especially in highly competitive industries such as restaurants.

But this manager must have forgotten that.

"I felt worse after he came over,'' my colleague told me. "All I wanted was an `I'm sorry. This is horrible, it shouldn't have happened.' I didn't want excuses.

"I wasn't mad before he came over. I know those things can happen. But after he came over, his attitude just totally turned me off. Quite frankly, I probably won't go there again"

…"At the very least, he should have acknowledged `Mea culpa, it was our fault.' You don't blame the vendors. You don't blame anybody. You say, `We made a mistake. We want to make it right because we respect you as a customer.' It's as simple as that.''

The manager not only messed up by shifting blame and making excuses, but he also lost out on future sales because now we all had that bad experience, Spector said. People are more likely to share with others a negative experience than a positive one, the Seattle-based author said.

Instead, managers can take a bad situation and use the opportunity to make it right, he said."

source: "Excuses don't fix problem" by Betty Lin-Fisher (The Beacon Journal, Apr.30,2006) 

WaiterBell Angle: This is a good restaurant case study of how a bad situation is an opportunity to leave a positive impression. Often customers will not give a restaurant this opportunity, or even a reason, and walk out the door. WaiterBell helps prevent a service gap from turning a meal into a negative experience by sitting unobtrusively on the table, always ready. When a customer uses WaiterBell, your waitstaff can turn a customer need into an opportunity to enhance their dining experience. 

Resource: “Complete NRA’s Operations Survey — And Get Free $100 Operations Report” (Apr.2006)

nra.jpg

excerpt:
"The National Restaurant Association, with the accounting firm Deloitte & Touche, conducts an annual survey of restaurant operators to compile the single most widely recognized source of industry operating data available – the Restaurant Industry Operations Report. Fill out the survey and receive:

• A free copy of the NRA's Restaurant Industry Operations Report, the NRA's top-selling financial tool to help restaurateurs analyze and benchmark their operations

• A six-month free subscription to Restaurant TrendMapper, the NRA's 24/7 data-and-analysis source on restaurants and the economy."

link: "Complete NRA's Operations Survey — And Get Free $100 Operations Report" (NRA, 2006)
online survey: NRA's Operation Survey (Deadline is May 31, 2006) 

This is a great opportunity for restaurant owners to get the report for free. You can also check with your local restaurant association about the availability of their latest survey report. For those who own a restaurant in San Francisco, you can download a comprehensive 170 page study prepared in 2005 by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

excerpt:
"In March and April 2005 Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA) conducted a survey of GGRA members and a 25% random sample of other San Francisco restaurants. The 25% sample was drawn from the San Francisco Tax Collector’s database of food and beverage service licensees.

…The principal focus of the survey is full service restaurants (also referred to as table service restaurants) which were 80% of the San Francisco survey panel and 77% of all San Francisco restaurants and bars at the time of the survey."

source: "Economics of the San Francisco Restaurant Industry 2005" by Kent Sims (Golden Gate Restaurant Association, 2005)

Research: Hospitality Technology’s 8th Annual Restaurant Technology Study – “Delivering Resturant Efficiency”

excerpt:
"There is little change from years past in regard to firms’ incorporation of IT into their mission statements or their business plans, although many respondents anticipate increased integration within the next three years. Thus, it seems as though these firms are still not recognizing the potential that IT can offer them in terms of establishing and maintaining a competitive position in the marketplace.

…Also noteworthy is the change in the importance being placed on enhanced guest service. This year 48% indicated that this driver was very important, compared to only 14.1% in 2004 and 15% in 2003. This change in important perception may indicate that these firms are increasingly recognizing that it is far easier and better to retain a customer that you already have, rather than recruit new customers. One way to retain customers is to improve the service provided."

source: "Delivering Resturant Efficiency" (Hospitality Technology, 2006) 

WaiterBell Angle: This 16 page study covers the current restaurant technology trends in POS, training, and more. As reported in the study, restaurants are realizing that technology can enhance guest services and more importantly, retain customers. WaiterBell technology does exactly that, enhance guest services to help retain customers. Investing in restaurant technology can be tricky, that is why WaiterBell offers a free no-risk trial.

note: Hospitality Magazine offers free subscriptions to their magazine and newsletter, as well as, free access to their magazine archive, research, and special reports.

Resource: International Tipping Etiquette

Empowered dining includes knowing the tipping etiquette for restaurants in other parts of the world. Below are articles and web sites to provide some guidance:

BBC's International Tipping Etiquette
Magellan's Worldwide Tipping Guide
A few tips on handling gratuities worldwide (SFGate.com)
Quinwell's International Rules of Tipping
The Original Tipping Page
Tipper! (Denton Software Group) – Free Palm program with tipping tools and guidelines.

Happy Eating.

Resource: Specialty Restaurant Review Sites

Many web sites specialize on reviewing restaurants for a specific cuisine (e.g. burrito), feature (e.g. pet-friendly), or region (e.g. JatBar). These sites can sometimes be more helpful than general review sites because of their focus and experience. You might find tips and advice on these sites not found elsewhere. 

Here are some examples:

Burritos:
Burrito Eater
Burritophile

Sushi:
The Sushi World Guide

Vegatarian:
Vegetarian-Restaurants.net

Kosher:
KosherDine

Halal:
Zabihah

Pet-Friendly:
Dog-Friendly Outdoor Restaurant Guide

Local Eateries Along Highways:
Road Food

Local Restaurants:
JatBar (SF/Bay Area)

You have a specialty restaurant review site that you would like to recommend? Let us know here or in our forums.

p.s.: check out the restaurant review search engines made with Rollyo.com on the right side under "Tools". You can use Rollyo.com to make your own restaurant review search engine for your city using local papers, weeklies, blogs, and web sites.

Happy Eating.