Newport Manners & Etiquette: Doggy Bag Etiquette, Fender Benders, Hospitality Etiquette + More

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


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Summers always stir up a frenzy of dating and hospitality etiquette questions from guests and hosts to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners.

How do we ask restaurant waiters to be less rude? What about doggy bag etiquette? Etiquette for fender benders and loaning money to your boyfriend.

To ask or not to ask for a doggy bag

Q.  My wife and I recently visited an old friend in Northeast Harbor, Maine, for a long weekend. One night we took him out to dine at a restaurant of his choice. When the bill came, I paid it and I asked for our leftovers to be packaged up to take back to his house. The portions had been huge and as a European, in good conscience, I could not bear to think of good food going to waste. Our friend, however, was mortified. He said I had embarrassed him because asking for a "doggy bag" was bad etiquette. What's your opinion, Didi? Do I need to apologize for supposedly embarrassing our host?  Name Withheld, Far Hills, NJ


A.  You said it all. If you didn't tell him at the time what you wrote to me, that "The portions had been huge and I cannot stand to think of good food going to waste," mention it again. In your thank-you note to your host for the marvelous weekend, say, "As a European, I cannot get used to the huge American portions and I cannot abide seeing good food go to waste."

Some restaurants are refusing diners' requests for doggy bags, either because the restaurant considers itself too formal, or there is too little on the plate to bag. Then there is the liability issue of health risk. There definitely is a stigma attached to requesting leftovers at fancy eateries. In France, for instance, the home of gourmet cuisine, it isn't the sophisticated thing to do.

There are two sides to the doggy bag issue:

  • Interestingly enough, Gen Y is less apt to ask for a doggy bag. A fourth of 18-26-year-olds in a recent survey answered that even if they wanted to ask for one, they wouldn't.
  • We're seeing a trend in restaurants refusing point-blank, or simply telling diners to bring their own containers and pack them themselves. Some restaurants will even ask you to sign an indemnity form.
  • On the other hand, consumer food waste is a bigger pollutant than cars and industry.


Here is a short list of doggy bag etiquette guidelines:

  • Doggy bags are inappropriate to ask for at business meals and social events where you are a guest (such as at a wedding or dinner party). On the other hand, if the hostess offers you the rest of the Key Lime Pie, let her wrap it up for you.
  • Also, never ask for a doggy bag at a four- or five-star restaurant because they won't have a container and you wouldn't bring your own.
  • Never take someone else's leftovers home.
  • Even if you paid for your date's dinner, don't ask to take his or her leftovers home, as it will make you look like a cheapskate.
  • Furthermore, if you take home a doggy bag and reheat it two days later, don't go whining on social media that the food from that restaurant made you sick, because it's unfair to the restaurant.


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Rude restaurants

Q.  Our friend owns a popular upmarket restaurant where we dine frequently. The food is as excellent as one can expect in a resort town. The service is over the top. When I say over the top, I mean the service is too intense. I know that sounds utterly amazing for a resort restaurant, but hovering service can be extremely annoying. Every time we dine there, with friends or without, the waiter or busboy tries to remove our plates before everyone has finished eating. Much to my husband's amusement, I speak up and say, "No, go away" before rushing to explain: no plate should be removed before the last diner has stopped eating. It is rude of the waitstaff to pressure diners to hurry through an expensive meal and puts a damper on what should be an utterly pleasurable experience. When we signal that we are now through eating, the waiter stacks three or four plates, which is also tacky! Any suggestions?   MV, Newport, RI


A.  Don't make a point of this by sending a text or an express letter to your friend the restaurateur. But next time he stops by your table, or if you run into him socially or at the dry cleaner, mention your pet peeves. Ask him how you should signal your waiter that you don't want the plates removed from the table until the last person has laid down his/her fork. A good restuaranteaur will see to it that a notation of your requirements are made on the computer. On your own, in the future tell the waiter in advance that you do not want any plates removed until the last person is through eating. Let your waiter tell the busperson. A good gratuity should encourage better listening.


What to do about a fender bender

Q.  As I was getting into my car in the parking lot of our country club after a festive lunch, I heard a crash. Looking over my shoulder I could see a well established and respected member of the elder set pulling away from the car directly in back of the parking space he had just backed out of. He stopped and asked if I thought it a problem. He said it was nothing. There was a smudge of beige paint on the rear of the scraped black car left by the rear end of his beige car, but there didn't appear to be an actual dent to the fender. I didn't give an opinion either way. As the only witness, was I responsible for telling the owner that his car had been slightly damaged? Or should I have encouraged the driver to report the incident to the owner, whom we both know?  JS, Watch Hill, RI 


A. It is too bad the elderly driver didn't try to wipe the beige paint off the fender to ascertain whether or not a dent had been left. Nonetheless, the outcome would have been the same whether you had heard the crash and responded, or had not been on the scene at the time. He left without trying to find the owner and didn't leave a note. When parking in a public or private parking area one is always at risk of getting a nick or two here and there. If your response had been that the car was damaged, you should have encouraged him to report the scrape. But you didn't. The timing is such that you would risk becoming a tattletale, if you told on the elderly driver after the fact.

What about a boyfriend asking for a loan

Q. My boyfriend and I have been dating for the past six months and recently he asked me for a loan. As much as I love him, it only makes me think that loaning him money will complicate our relationship. What advice can you give me?  LC, Providence


A.  Loan nothing to a person you are dating. It is as simple as that. Loaning someone you are romantically involved with - but not legally bound to - can change the dynamics of the relationship. However, if you need to show your love and support, protect yourself. Loaning him money shouldn't be fear-based. You shouldn't loan him money because you think you might loose him if you don't ante up.


Take precautions:

  • Be sure of the specifics and know exactly why your boyfriend needs money.
  • Only lend money for paying rent, buying food, and paying bills, including money owed for child support.
  • Never lend money for luxuries, vacations, and vanities such as plastic surgery.
  • If you don't agree with the reason, don't give him a loan..
  • If you argue about money now, then loaning him money will only increase the stress.
  • If he is starting a business and you loan him money, be sure to put the terms of the loan in a formal agreement or contract, and have your signature witnessed by a friend of yours, or a lawyer.
  • Be sure to include a repayment schedule and be wary if he doesn't make payments on time.
  • Keep in mind of the fact that all texts and emails are legally binding.


Didi Lorillard researches manners and etiquette at NewportManners.


Related Slideshow: 20 Free (or Almost Free) Things to do in New England Before Summer Ends - 2018

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Click here for more information 

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