The Return of Mr. Manners

Over 28 years ago, an article was published in the Sacramento Bee about the importance of educating our youth about manners. The article featured one of our long-term restaurant employees, Gary Grogan, and his quest to educate students at Rio Americano High School in Sacramento, CA about proper dining etiquette. Scroll down to view the original article as well as some of Gary’s current thoughts on dining etiquette.


Has dining etiquette changed since that article was written over 28 years ago? If so, how?

Gary: I believe that dining etiquette hasn’t changed, but lifestyles have. People don’t take the time to sit down and dine, they just eat. I make it a point to set the table every night that I am not working, and since I love to cook, and it’s more than just a hobby. I put down a tablecloth, place settings, wine glasses, and cloth napkins. I have several sets of nice dinnerware that I use everyday, not for just special occasions. I also believe that flowers and candles are must on the table!

What are some of the most important rules of dining etiquette that everyone should know?

Gary: Everyone should know how to set a table. If you are serving more than one course, lets say a soup or salad, and an entree, you should have a soup spoon and/or a salad fork, a knife, and an entree fork! And make sure you know where to place them.

Wine glasses are also important. Red wine should go in red wine glasses, and white wine in white wine glasses. You don’t need expensive wine glasses, just proper wine glasses. And don’t forget to also put water glasses on the table. You can serve tap water, bottled water, or sparkling water…whichever you think your guests would enjoy!

You should always wait until everyone is finished before you clear the table. If you need to leave the table for some reason, make sure that you excuse yourself first.

Most importantly, I believe that parents are responsible for instilling dining manners in their children. Not only when going out for dinner, but when dining at home. It’s important to teach our youth how to set a table, serve food, and enjoy a nice meal with friends or family. With all of the electronics and TVs nowadays, it’s difficult for people to relax and enjoy conversation while dining. It’s amazing how many things are learned and accomplished through conversations at the dinner table.

Tell us about a few lost rules of dining etiquette that you wish were still around.

Gary: Not many people still pay attention to how the food on their plates is presented or how their dinner table is set. Most people just want to eat and go. So much is lost when you eat and not dine. It’s important to take time to enjoy your good. Chewing food is actually good for you and your health. I believe that parents today are too busy to instruct simple dining manners, pass down traditional family recipes, and pay attention to what their children are eating. I wish more parents taught their children that eating can be fun…it’s not just something you to to survive!