The Dinner Party Rule You Should Never Break At Restaurants

There's nothing more exciting than rounding up the crew to celebrate any accomplishment, big or small, over dinner. Whether it's for a birthday, someone receiving a promotion, or simply relishing in all that life has to offer, making dinner reservations with your closest pals is a pastime that never gets old.

According to Bloomberg, a 2022 OpenTable survey found that restaurant reservations have been on the rise as more and more people feel the need to get out of their homes and gather with friends and family. If it's been a while, people may want to brush up on dining etiquette, but even before setting foot in the restaurant, there are rules to consider. While landing reservations may seem like something that is as simple as calling an establishment with the details of your party, there is so much more that goes into the practice.

To better your chances of luck that things will go smoothly without any hiccups, it's imperative to know one golden rule when making dinner party arrangements. The last thing anyone wants is to have the night ruined when one unwritten rule was all they had to follow.

Be on time

Being on time is truly the golden rule for all walks of life, especially when it comes to those dinner party reservations. Some restaurants will refuse to seat parties until everyone has shown up. And a few late friends can create a big wait. Ellen's on Front in New York City, for example, warns that if the group is more than 15 minutes late, it will get put on a waitlist. So you should ensure that you and your guests arrive at the restaurant in a timely manner.

Of course, there is no way to control life's incidents like unexpected car troubles or traffic, but there is a way to plan ahead in an effort to avoid delays. In this case, bending the truth a little can save everyone the headache of a few people arriving at the venue late. One restaurant expert has a fantastic recommendation for the person leading the charge when telling guests what time to show up — especially if you know your crew tends to always be tardy to the party.

"When I plan group dinners at restaurants, I am not always truthful with my guests about what time our reservation is," said restaurant insider Jacqueline Pirolo told Food & Wine. "Instead, I tell them our reservation is 20 minutes earlier than the actual time because I know my friends often run late."

What happens if you can't avoid being late?

As "Chopped" host Ted Allen will tell you, a big rule for restaurant reservations is to let the establishment know when things go wrong. In the case that everyone is unable to arrive on time, it is important to always be in communication with the establishment that is hosting you and your party. If you're the point of contact for the event, be sure to contact the restaurant directly with updates. It is equally imperative to know what rules restaurants have in place for any changes that need to be made.

There is not only a possibility that your reservation will be canceled but that one or more people in the party could be labeled as no-shows if they take too long to arrive (Wa'z in Seattle, for instance, will list someone as a no-show if they are over an hour late). If a card was presented at the time of booking, per OpenTable some restaurants and platforms will charge the cardholder a cancelation fee. That amount will be specified by the establishment.

Whatever you run into, at the end of the day, the biggest safety net is to over-communicate, with both the restaurant and your party. It never hurts to triple gut check across the board. It'll save so much heartache and headache for both your party and the venue.