Hi! Wendi here, along with my friends Sarah, Roland, Jason, Chelsea, Nick and Hope.

We’ve noticed that sometimes people struggle in restaurants and aren’t sure what to do. This series of instructional resources is our offering to you, with the hopes that you or someone you support might learn something new. We co-wrote this with Wendi and this is just the first part.

Here we go!


We don’t know about you, but we love going to restaurants. We love all kinds of restaurants.


Chelsea likes nice restaurants like the restaurant by the pier, where you can catch smooth jazz, eat good food, and have drinks. One way to know you’re in a nice restaurant is if there are waiters and waitresses, and if there are tablecloths and cloth napkins.

At really nice restaurants, you should dress a little better than you do everyday. Maybe not jeans or sneakers, or at least very clean clothes. Chelsea recommends jewelry if you are into that sort of thing, but at least wash your hands and make sure your face is clean and your hair is okay.

At those kind of restaurants, usually there is a hostess. The hostess has a job of saying hello, and then showing you to your seat after they pick out a good table for you. Chelsea recommends that you say thank you very much to your hostess.

Look at the table before you sit down. If you see crumbs or dirty dishes or food on the table, it’s okay to politely ask for another table. Jason doesn’t want to sit with other people’s mess, and he doesn’t want you to have to learn that lesson the hard way.

Sarah recommends that you check to make sure that you have silverware and a napkin, otherwise it’s going to be very hard for you to eat your food when it comes. Her favorite restaurant is Applebees, where they also have waitress and waiters and a hostess to show you to your seat when you arrive. Sarah suggests that you put your napkin in your lap. It will catch food and crumbs that might drop when you eat.  Nick uses a trick — he scoots up close to the table and leans over his plate to be extra safe. He says it works pretty often.

If you’re sitting at a table that doesn’t have silverware, you can ask your waiter.  It is important to be very polite to your waiter while you are at a restaurant, because they are your helper for the whole time you are there. It’s a good idea to be kind to your helpers, so that they feel good about helping you. A waiter that doesn’t feel good about helping you because they think that you are rude might cause you some problems.

Here are some problems that could happen if your waiter thinks you are rude:

  • Might give you the wrong food
  • Might make you wait longer
  • Might let your food get cold
  • Might not give you soda refills

Take it from Sarah, be polite!

Now comes the good part — figuring out what you want to eat!

A good tip from Hope: Decide what you want before the waiter comes to the table.

A good tip from Sarah: Remember to order a drink when you order food.

A good tip from Chelsea: Ask the person that you are with to read the menu to you if you have a hard time reading it on your own.

Jason thinks that a good way to tell the waiter what you want is to point to the picture of what you’re interested in, on the menu.

If you want something and the restaurant doesn’t have it, don’t sweat it. Chelsea says you should choose something else – or a substitute. Even if it’s something brand new, you might like it.

Sarah says that salads are good, just make sure to remember to pick your salad dressing too.

Hope says if it has bacon on it, you’re probably safe, but really recommends that you go with pizza. If you order pizza, you need to pick out the toppings. Toppings are things like anchovies, bbq chicken, bacon, pepperoni, cheese, sausage.


Hope says you really can’t go wrong with pizza.

Sometimes people get nervous when it’s time to order. Reasons why people get nervous are:

  • Because you are shy
  • Because the menu is hard to read
  • Because it’s hard to know how much things cost
  • Because it’s hard to make a decision between a lot of good food

Roland wants you to know that being nervous is okay. Everyone feels that way sometimes. Roland says that a great thing to do when that happens is just to take slow, deep breaths, and ask for some support.

… and when you do finally get to order, Nick has good suggestions.  He tells us that there is a nice way and a mean way to talk to waiters at restaurants, and warns us not to be rude.

MEAN WAY: “Give me that”

Ex: “Give me my food”


NICE WAY: Use the words, “Could” and the word “Please”

Ex: “Could I have sweet tea, please?”


Other things that are nice to say:

Roland suggests that you ask the waiter about the specials or to make a recommendation.

“Could you recommend something?”

“Could I have a refill please?”


Nick says this video is very funny. This video shows us things not to do in a restaurant. Don’t play with your knife! Don’t play music on your glass! Don’t throw your napkin. Make sure you have enough money! If you do these things, everyone at the restaurant will look at you funny and they might even ask you to leave.

When you order and your food comes, Roland suggests that you check your order to make sure that it’s right. If it isn’t, you can say, ‘Excuse me. I ordered such and such and I don’t see it. Here is my receipt.”

Jason recommends to keep your hands folded and don’t eat with your elbows on the table, like so: 

Also, don’t pass gas or burp at a table. If you have to pass gas or burp, excuse yourself to the bathroom and handle your private business there.  It would be THE WORST to be asked to leave a restaurant.

Next time, we’ll talk about ways to order for yourself, and things you should and shouldn’t do while you’re eating out. Thanks for reading!