Scott Wells – Restaurant Etiquette

Columnist:
Scott Wells

Restaurant Etiquette

Where did you learn your manners for going out to eat? Perhaps from a book on etiquette or in school but more than likely you learned them from your parents, grandparents and/or your friends. How about tipping when you’re out? Here again the answers may be the same. But are you properly equipped to know how to interact with the magician who performs at your table? How will you treat him? What is the proper procedure for getting the entertainer over to your table, what do you say to him, what do you not say to him, how much do you tip him?

As a magician perhaps you haven’t thought about these questions. But as a restaurant patron who is unaccustomed to being personally entertained at the table (except by the occasional Mariachi band), these questions and many more must race through their mind. As an entertainer in a restaurant you need to be keenly aware of your audience. They are not necessarily there to see you but rather to have an enjoyable, uninterrupted meal. You need to choose your time wisely when to approach the table, if at all. Maybe they are engrossed in a personal or business conversation that defies interruption. There have been many articles and books written about this field and detail how to approach a table. If you are a restaurant magician, then I just want you to be conscientious of your audience and their feelings.

If you are a magician visiting another working magician in his restaurant, then the same rules of etiquette apply to you as they do to the other patrons. Let’s go over the major points. When coming into the restaurant to watch a fellow magician perform, be seated like the other diners, place your food order then ask your waitperson to have the house magician visit your table when he is available. When he is able to get to your table, introduce yourself as a magician if you have not yet met. If it’s a slow night or he is on break, then you can spend a bit more time talking with him. By introducing yourself to him, he may show you his regular routine but more than likely he will show you something special that he has ready to show his repeat customers. Since he is treating you like one of the regular patrons, then you should treat him like you would if you were a regular . . . specifically, that means you should tip him. The amount of the tip is up to you, but shouldn’t you tip him as much as you would like to receive if you were on the opposite end of the wand? Then, on your way out, be sure to thank the management for providing such fine entertainment to the diners. This would be polite restaurant etiquette for visiting magicians.

On the other hand, let’s go over improper etiquette. When coming into the restaurant to watch a fellow magician perform, rather than be seated you immediately go looking for the magician. Once you locate the performer, stand beside him or look over his shoulder, because after all, you are a magician too, you know all this stuff and you’re just as good as him. And by standing beside him you are subliminally telling the other patrons that you are his equal. No doubt he will end his routine short with his current audience in order to acknowledge you presence. By the way, this ensures that he won’t be getting a tip from that table. You can spend a lot of time with him by introducing yourself then telling him the kind of magic you do, where you have worked, who you know, where you have been, and most importantly showing him some of your moves. You can do this because you have, of course, brought along a “few” things just in case he might need someone to help him out if they get too busy. While you’re talking with him, be sure to talk rather loudly so others know that you too are a magician.

Once you have made your initial contact, try to be seated near the middle of the restaurant so you can watch him work the room. While you’re sitting there for a couple of hours, you can save money by just ordering a soda pop or, better still, coffee because you get free refills. If there is someone with you, then be sure to loudly critique his routine and detail how each effect is accomplished. You might even want to duplicate it for your companion. Then you can perform your own magic at your table, because your stuff is much better. If some of those at the surrounding tables are watching, then so much the better . . . show them, too.

When you’re ready to go, leave the waitperson about a 10% tip for your beverage (a quarter ought to do), no need to tip the magician since he didn’t fool you. While you’re checking out at the cashier, ask for the manager on duty. Since management obviously supports live entertainment, then why shouldn’t he hire you? Give him your business card and tell him that you would like to fill in when the house magician is off or, better still, replace him altogether. After all, you’re better than the guy he has now and you can prove it. You may even want to prove it right then . . . dueling magicians. Just let you work a few tables and allow the customers to choose who they enjoyed the most. If you try this ploy, then be sure that you’ve got your best stuff with you so you can really blow them away. Oh, don’t forget to wear your winky blinky rabbit lapel pin.