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Mall Food Court Etiquette 101

Updated on September 14, 2011
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Jeannie has been writing online for over 10 years. She covers a wide variety of topics - hobbies, opinions, dating advice, and more!

A Day at the Mall

We've all been there. You've been shopping for 2 hours looking for the perfect light pink flat dress shoes to go with a pink blouse. Well, OK, maybe not everyone has been there before, but you know what I mean. You've been shopping for hours and you are starving. Now there is no choice. You are forced to eat at the mall food court.

You must stay calm in this situation. I know there are so many choices, so many people, so few tables - it is easy to feel overwhelmed. There are lots of restaurants, so calmly make your decision. If you want to get one item from each restaurant, you can do it! Maybe you want Chinese food, with pasta, and some fries. You can get it all at the mall food court. What a wonderful place!

You may not know the best way to handle all of this, but please remember, there is mall food court etiquette. There are plenty of people taking this journey with you. Don't forget your manners!



One of life's great mysteries are the lines at Chick-fil-A. Where are they? Why is there a crowd of people and no sign of order anywhere? Why is there so little space in front of the Chick-fil-A when everyone knows it gets the most traffic?  One may never know the answers to these questions.

Acceptance is really the key to standing in line (or in a crowd) at Chick-fil-A. Look around and try to determine who has ordered and who is next. After you've been able to determine this information, you can better judge where to stand and if you have a good chance of being served soon. Chick-fil-A is generally pretty fast and efficient despite the crazy crowds, so your chances are pretty good that you will have that chicken sandwich in no time despite the frustration.

Don't Be a Picky Little Wimp

Food courts are not the cleanest places on the planet. Once again, acceptance is really your best solution to this problem. If you are lucky enough to find a table at all, don't get too whiny about some crumbs on the table. Did you take some extra napkins from wherever you got your food? Good. Use them to clean the table. It is time to eat some food and you should pitch in if you would like to see a cleaner food court.

There could be critters at the food court. Don't be a wimp about it. EVERY mall has rodents. Since rodents like food, they will be at the food court. If you happen to see a mouse scurry by, do not go crazy. Trust me, mice are at every restaurant, food court, and grocery store. It is a dirty little secret. You just don't always see the mice, but they are there. Don't wimp out. You have probably eaten at a ton of places with rodents. Food service workers really make every effort to keep everything is clean and safe as possible. If the health department hasn't closed them down yet, it is not that bad.

Besides the mice, you might see some birds flying about or maybe even some bugs running under the table. Once again, do not panic. Just step on the bug and go on your way. If a bird flies over to you, give him a french fry and you will have a new friend.

Now let's talk about the mall food court bathroom. It will always be disgusting. The food court bathroom is never for the faint of heart. This is why I recommend always keeping some antibacterial lotion or spray in your purse.  Men, you may want to keep some in your pocket or buddy up with a female shopping partner that keeps antibacterial spray in her purse.  Chances are, no matter how much you wash your hands you will never feel clean after leaving the restroom in the food court. Just try to be as brave as possible and use your antibacterial lotion. After all, if you've gotta go, you've gotta go!

Now Go Home

I know you've had such a great time at the food court you cannot imagine saying farewell to it, but the time must come for just that. Loitering at the mall food court is really not a good idea. If the food court is not too busy, then it is OK. If you've gotten a sub, a salad, a slice of pizza, and ice cream from a few restaurants at the food court, I am pretty sure the staff will look the other way if you stay a couple hours. Otherwise, when you are done eating, just leave.

To all the teenagers out there that believes loitering is cool - it's not . There are benches and other places to sit at the mall, so you do not need to stay in the mall food court.  However, there is no need to loiter there either.  How about you go in some stores and buy some items?  That will make mall employees happy.  If you do not have any money because you do not work, how about you pick up some applications while at the mall?  Obviously you like it there.  Why not get paid to be at the mall?  You will never look at it (or the food court) the same way again.

Just like the food court experience, all things must come to an end. Yes, it has been another fun etiquette lesson, but I must go too. I would love to get some Chick-fil-A, but it is Sunday and you know how that goes. So farewell for now! Please let me go and find something else to eat that will not be nearly as delicious.


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