Seattle has its own Emily Post, Arden Clise, and she offers a business manners seminar quarterly at Sorrento Hotel’s penthouse suite called Business Savvy: Essential Skills for Professional Success.
I went. I learned a thing or two. Here’s some of what she had to say about business dining:
- Never ask your guests, “Where would you like to eat?” Instead, give them two restaurant choices with a descriptive word about each, then reserve wherever they chose. Confirm with your guests on the day-of.
- Arrive early to greet your guests and to pre-arrange payment with your server. The host always pays.
- Give your client the best seat.
- Offer all courses. Say “I really love the chicken,” or “The steak tartare is terrific,” to signal acceptable price range. If they get salad, you get salad—then match your guest’s dining pace. You don’t want your guest eating alone.
- Business meals aren’t about food, so whether you’re the guest or the host, don’t eat like a pig. Eating a lot won’t get you promoted. (Unless you're in my line of work.)
- (Neither will getting a doggy bag at a restaurant, alas.)
- If your boss or, worse, your client gets a big green piece of broccoli wedged between her front teeth—tell her, for goodness’ sake. Very discreetly.
- Don’t order booze at a lunch meeting, unless your client does. And probably not even then.
- Best, in fact, not to drink at all at meals you’re hosting. We all know how that can can end. But always offer it. And then order something non-alcoholic for yourself.
- Bug in your food? Don’t make a scene. Call your waiter over for a discreet word, then, if you can, deflect your guests’ questions with a vague “Wasn’t quite right.” No sense turning everyone’s stomach.
- Bone or gristle in your mouth? Don’t fish it out with your napkin, or your fork, or—God help you—your knife. Artfully cupped hand, my good man.
- As for the lemon slice dilemma in the headline—trick question! You don’t squeeze a lemon slice, you squeeze a lemon wedge. (Behind a shielding hand.)