The ways of diners, or manners maketh the restaurant-goer

If restaurant manners – how to order, eat and tip – are a sign of culture and education, then the Games provide an opportunity for countries to gain a medal at the table as well. Conversely, a code of good behavior and service to clients is also called for from the restaurant. Professional restaurant-owners (in every sense of the word) had no cause to change for the Olympics. But those with low standards of service will obviously have needed to beef them up. Greeks, experts say, have taken major steps forward in this respect over the past few years, though they still succumb to culinary crazes which lead them to bite off more than they can chew, money-wise. Tipping, however, varies by culture, nature and habit. In Greece, the tip is a sign of customer satisfaction. How much to tip, however, is not subject to rules, but depends on financial ability or degree of generosity. The French – with few exceptions – avoid leaving a tip even if they have been wooed with the best of service. «They might be demanding clients, well-versed in restaurant lore, but they almost never leave tips.» At the other extreme, Americans will leave a tip worth 10 percent of the check, regardless of the quality of the food and service «and that’s standard,» Giorgos Rizopoulos, restaurateur on Myconos, told Kathimerini. Britons, Germans, the Swiss and Australians leave lower tips, at 5 percent of the bill. Eastern Europeans, perhaps as a result of impecuniousness, lack the propensity altogether. With some exceptions, the Italians and Japanese tend to follow the French example. However, Italians are regarded as the best clients because of the prodigious quantities they consume as well as the number of dishes they order. Turks also top the list of good customers in terms of behavior and orders. «They usually order a rich meal,» said Antonis Simantiras, a restaurant owner in Neo Faliron for nearly 30 years. He notes that Greeks have acquired restaurant manners over the last 10 years, and the tip they leave is a question of inclination, though most choose to leave a symbolic sum. They have also acquired new gastronomic tastes, which they follow en masse as a matter of fashion. «Lobster macaroni and sushi are two cases in point. Most opt for them because they’re the ‘in’ thing: ‘Let’s go for sushi,’ is something that rolls off the tongue,» Rizopoulos said. But restaurateur Panayiotis Pigaditis declared himself satisfied with the generosity of local clients. «Greeks always leave a tip when they’re satisfied. Although it seldom comes to over 5 percent of the check, there have been cases when they have left disproportionately large tips. One man left 50 euros!» The most obstreperous clients, he said, tended to be Greek Australians and Greek Americans.

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