- Food and Cooking
Feeling Like Home at Restaurants: is it possible?
Restaurants: nice places where you can enjoy a special moment with your family, your partner or your friends, while eating something different and cooked by others, without caring about diet (only for that occasion). When you are going to the restaurant you are choosing to relax yourself and enjoy something different. It is not all about eating: the overall experience is relevant. That's why one of the most important goals every restaurateur should achieve is making the guest feel comfortable and welcome. But is it really possible to feel like home when you are eating at a restaurant? It is evident restaurants and hotels are not your home and so you cannot behave exactly like if you were in your private residence... however cooperation between restaurateur and the customer may very easily result in a more friendly feel. Some "inhospitable" behaviours of restaurants' owners are the reply to some guests who don't follow rules or respect restaurateurs. Let's examine some bad guest habits and how avoiding those would result in a more openness of the restaurateurs towards their customers.
You are a Guest, not the Householder
As said in the introduction, a restaurant is not customer's house: just like in hotels and other public places, there are rules to follow. Restaurateurs should make the guest feel as most comfortable as possible (that's why those imposing very strict rules or highlighting the fact their restaurant is their property tend to be disliked by customers), but at the same time guests should cooperate with restaurateurs, making their life easier. Only in this case a more friendly feel can be achieved. In particular there are some practices guests should definitely avoid:
Eating at the restaurant without paying is not only immoral and unfair: it is also a crime, exactly like stealing objects at a shop.
Eating & Running Without Paying
When you eat at a restaurant you are enjoying a meal prepared by another person, with ingredients purchased by other ones. You are also sitting at a table (which is not yours) and you are employing many resources: waiters are serving you, other ones will wash dishes you use... you are completely served and revered from the moment you enter the restaurant to the dessert. So paying the bill is not only required by law and needed in order to sustain the restaurant: it is also a moral fact. Just stealing a packet of gums at the local shop is not fair: just imagine how unfair can be eating everything and being also served at any moment. You are not only stealing, but you are also lacking of respect towards restaurant staff. In some places (cafes & restaurants) staff require you to pay before eating (it is especially common in roadside restaurants or railway station cafes, while in other places it is less common): if there were no people ready to take unfair advantage over restaurateurs' ospitality, maybe some inhospitable remedies like making the customer paying before eating would never existed (if you are going to eat out, maybe you want to enjoy the moment instead of opening your wallet just after entering the place).
Forgetting Booked Tables
Booking is an optional service restaurants can offer. If you reserve a table it is obvious you have to confirm your meal. Booking a table without coming results in a damage for the restaurant (because if you reserve a table and you are not going to eat, the restaurateur is not having customers) and in a clear lack of respect towards customers who loved to eat at the restaurant but maybe found all tables reserved. In this case, because of the incivility of someone, there are restaurants not accepting reservations (so that you have to go at the moment and see if there are free tables) and other ones asking for preliminary deposits or credit card details: all useful strategies, even if not so much hospitable... but if there are people disposed to take unfair advantage over hospitality of others, there is no alternative.
Do you agree with restaurateurs who ban children from their places?
Children should be educated, not banned. Restaurateurs should accept everyone and not make preferences. Every part (guest and restaurateur) should cooperate with each other.
Why are there restaurateurs who even ban children from their restaurants (even if we are talking about extreme situations)? Because they know some customers may be annoyed by shouts and parents who are completely careless about their children's behaviours. Restaurateurs who decide to ban certain categories of people (like children) at their discretion are completely wrong (it is discrimination, also against those children who are quiet and do not disturb other customers, and it is not so much different from banning people basing on their race or sexual orientation: it is still discrimination). At the same time, guests should remember they are in a public place, so children should be educated... or left at home! Restaurateurs who ban people with the reason "this is my place" don't attract customers... but also guests should not exasperate restaurants' owners.
Do you believe the customer is always right?
Being a customer and paying the bill does not mean doing everything you want! You are paying for the meal and the service... you are definitely not paying the restaurant for pepper mills or cutlery you are going to take out... at the same time you are not authorized to criticize menu or portions: if you are unsatisfied, you can leave the place (after having paid the bill if you have eaten something) and decide not to come again... there are no other solutions.
Feeling like home at restaurant is definitely possible, but only if you are a fair guest and if also the restaurateur is fair and not biased, for example because of negative experiences with other customers in the past. Incivility of some guests may result in less hospitality... and that is a pity for everyone... because paying the bill is not something difficult (unless you voluntarily decide to scrounge everything), while at the same time educating children and paying attention to your reservations is not impossible. It all depends on how much consideration do you have towards other people.