Digital Age Dining Etiquette For A Fancy Night Out

Dining Etiquette in a Digital Age 

For many of us, the manners and etiquette that went into dining out was fairly simple growing up. As with most evolving situations in life, the advent of handheld technology like smartphones has thrown a curveball in all of that and continues to change every aspect of our lives, including how we eat at restaurants.

To navigate this digital age, we first need to resist the urge to condemn technology, since in many ways our iPhones and tablets have offered ways to enhance the dining experience. For example, tons of employees are now able to work more efficiently by getting together after (or during) office hours over a meal and some drinks, which is also one of many great ways to show employee appreciation.

Unfortunately, evolving tech has also created several notable issues that are forcing customers, as well as restaurant owners and employees alike, to rethink what they know about being polite in the 2020s. Customers definitely can help ensure a positive experience for themselves, their fellow diners, and restaurant staff though by following the right rules of digital age dining etiquette.

Here are some dos and don'ts for eating at a restaurant in the modern world and always taking contemporary considerations into account.

Follow the Restaurant's Rules for Flash Photography

Just ten years ago, comedians like Jim Gaffigan would poke fun at people who photographed their plates before diving in, but today, you're almost weird if you don't take a picture of your appetizer, entrée, or dessert. What's great about this is restaurants like B.B. Italia have been forward-thinking and continually elevate their plating to the next level so it's 100% "instaworthy."

One major setback though is when restaurant guests are inconsiderate with remembering to turn off their flash. Upscale restaurants invest considerable time, effort, and money into crafting a warm, intimate ambiance. Flash photography from phones can really disrupt other people's meals and compromise their restaurant experience as a whole.

Be Considerate When Playing Games or Watching Videos on Your Phone  

There was a time not long ago when a diner would be considered rude to be watching videos on their phone when out in public, but the omnipresent digital age has budged on this old rule. Restaurant guests often use their phones to keep themselves entertained while seated at a table or the bar, including playing games or sharing videos with other people in their group.

However, keep in mind the importance of being considerate to other guests. Always use an appropriate volume setting when sharing media in a restaurant – and that volume level can vary depending on the exact setting. For example, slicing into a filet in the subtly lit dining room at B&B Butchers while on a date and overlooking the skyline of Houston is more romantic than grabbing a beer and burger at the bar inside the rowdier and more casual B.B. Lemon, so use the appropriate discretion.

Keep Your Screen's Brightness at an Appropriate Level

Countless people in the digital age tend to check their phones or tablets while eating. Keep in mind, quite a few restaurant guests on any given evening are out on a date and need to know if there is an emergency with their babysitter back home. In other cases, the dinner conversation might prompt a quick Google search to settle a fun factual debate.

Whatever the case, be sure to lower the level of brightness on your screen. Similar to being in a dark movie theater, an overly high brightness setting can disturb the atmosphere in restaurants, particularly those with dimmer lighting.

Set Notifications to Vibrate or Silent

This tip is something everyone should already be practicing, but unfortunately an abundance of men and women are still oblivious and could use a little practice. Loud ringtones and repetitive message notifications can be disruptive in certain restaurant vibes.

A good rule of thumb is to keep your device setting to vibrate or silent mode. This will allow everyone to stay connected without disturbing other patrons who are paying good money for their dining experience.

Excuse Yourself To Take Calls

Another obnoxious cliche is answering your phone at the dinner table and speaking loudly as if the setting was private. Consider the fact this is always what the villains do in movies, and nobody wants to overhear your conversation. People taking personal calls in a quiet restaurant can disrupt other diners, especially when in a fun group setting like Trattoria Sofia.

Always be considerate and excuse yourself from the table when taking a phone call that will require a full-volume conversation. This allows you to stay connected, resolve any issues from the potential contact, and earn the respect of other restaurant guests.

Be Respectful Toward Your Server 

As much as we've discussed common dining rules and etiquette for how to be kind and considerate toward your fellow companions who are enjoying a night out inside a great restaurant, it's also important to remember that waiters and bartenders are people just like us. Do the right thing and treat every restaurant worker as a knowledgeable professional rather than just the hired help.

For example, staring at your phone while verbally addressing a server is enormously disrespectful. When placing an order or making a request, put the device down and make eye contact with the server. If nothing else, they will appreciate you addressing them like a human being.

Decide How You'll Pay Ahead of Time 

Another advantage of digital-age technologies is how they have given all of us more ways to pay at restaurants, such as mobile payment apps. Many restaurants have a QR code on the check, allowing you to pay right there on your phone without waiting for the server.

Additionally, the hassle of split checks can finally be a thing of the past. Popular platforms like Venmo, Zelle, Cash App, PayPal, and Apple Pay allow one person to pay while everyone else can quickly send money simultaneously to whoever covered the main check.

Here's another big tip to get your server to love you: leave a cash tip, even if paying the bill via credit card. Due to the structure of tip-outs at restaurants, many servers appreciate having the cash in hand upfront.

Lastly, Berg Hospitality restaurants are always ahead of the curve and equip their wait staff with mobile payments that allow you to cover the bill on the spot and leave a digital tip. If you ever want an exquisite, next-level experience, just visit any establishment of the Berg Hospitality Group to see this firsthand.