Some ways to make any business dining situation go more smoothly:
•Choose a restaurant where you are comfortable and can easily manage all the details, but do be sensitive to your guests' food preferences or restrictions.
•Confirm your appointment the morning of the meeting via email or voice message.
•Offer your cellphone number to your guests so they can contact you if they will be delayed.
•Tell your guests where you will meet — at the table or in the foyer.
•Arrive 10 to 15 minutes ahead of your guests and let the wait staff know you are in charge and that your guests are to be served first.
•Inform the wait staff as to your time frame. If you are on a tight schedule, they need to know that.
•Make sure your guest has the best seat with the best view.
•Make suggestions to your guests as to what is good on the menu so they have some idea of what to order.
•Allow your guests to order first and then order a comparable number of courses.
•Take care of the bill ahead of time and ask that the bill not be brought to the table so there is no question as to who's paying.
Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. To submit questions, email firstname.lastname@example.org.