Etiquette: Bar & Restaurant

Mind your manners

We asked a few hospitality industry insiders for some advice on how to be the best guest this summer.

Written by Laura du Toit


Whether you need an etiquette reset or you just want to know how to be on your best behaviour on nights out this season, we’ve got the inside scoop…


Wisdom from waitrons

Not sure what to order? “Listen to the waiter, because they know best. Don’t be scared to ask questions – they know which items they sell more of and which are the most popular,” says Lupa in Florida Road, Durban. To make the most of summer dining, ask your waitron for advice on food and wine pairings too. “Summer is generally the season for white wine, which goes very well with white meat and fish,” says Lupa.


Speedy service

There’s nothing worse than waiting hours for a simple order on a busy night. Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room in Cape Town suggests: “Place your whole order in one go. Don’t send the waitron back and forth, because it will take forever.” By ordering drinks and food at once, you’ll cut your service time in half and ensure that even though the establishment may be busy, you’re sorted.



Book smart

Booking a table in summer can be competitive; always include an accurate time and the amount of people, as well as what may seem obvious – your name! “People don’t realise how important the name is,” says Caraffa in Pretoria. Also, if your group is running late, be sure to make the restaurant aware. When you arrive, be friendly and patient – and wait to be seated. According to Caraffa, “it’s very rude to just walk in.”


Attitude is everything

Clarke’s Bar & Dining Room says, “Many people come in expecting grand service, and they don’t give a grand impression.” The team says that a positive attitude will guarantee good service. Address your waitron by name, be friendly and courteous and remember that a smile goes a long way.


Start here

For bigger groups, Caraffa suggests ordering a few set starters ahead of time. “When the party gets to the restaurant, they start drinking and you can immediately serve starters.” By eliminating the fuss of choosing a starter, no one will have to wait until 9pm (or later!) to eat dinner.


Dress up (or down)

Take note of the dress code, especially if you are visiting a bar or restaurant that you have never been to before. While the famous Oscar Wilde quote claims that “You can never be overdressed or overeducated”, it’s best to know what you’re working with. Arriving at a beach bar in a suit may be a tad over the top, while rocking your sandals at a fine-dining establishment is a no-no.


South Africa’s bars and restaurants love summer just as much as we do – and, after a few tumultuous years thanks to lockdowns and restrictions, they really do deserve our support.

Waitrons and restaurant owners want you to have a great experience, but it’s important  to remember that positive interactions go both ways.

Let’s make it a silly season full of smiles!