How to Set a Restaurant Table Like an Expert

How to Set a Restaurant Table Like an Expert

At any restaurant, presentation is key. However, presentation doesn’t just stop at the food - it continues into the restaurant, from the decor right through to the table settings. A messy table suggests a restaurant doesn’t care about presentation or customer service, so it’s important to familiarise yourself with how to properly set a table.

To ensure your tables look respectable and your guests have everything they need for their meal, it’s important to train your staff on how to set a table like a pro.

Follow our top tips below!

Table mats

Table mats should be positioned straight and parallel to the edge of the table. Remember, don’t cram any of your guests onto the table; each person should have enough space to comfortably eat and move around. Make sure table mats are wiped clean with no food on them.



Napkins should be folded neatly and carefully; creased and scrunched up napkins will only bring down the aesthetic of the table. Napkins are commonly folded into a simple yet elegant triangle and should be placed on the right side of the table mat (or in the wine glass, depending on your preference).



The plates are the focal point of the table; they’re what your guests eat from and what the cutlery is set around. If you are setting a bread plate, this is placed on the top left of the table mat along with a bread knife.



Generally, restaurants will provide customers with two sets of cutlery; one for their starter and one for their main course. Cutlery for dessert can then later be provided if they order off the dessert menu.

Forks are placed on the left, knives on the right. The dinner knife and fork are placed parallel on either side of the table mat, and the starter knife and fork on the outside of the dinner cutlery.



If you are setting wine glasses, they are placed on the right-hand side of the table mat. The water glass is also set behind the wine glass. Remember, all glasses should be sparkling clean and polished before they’re set on the table.

No restaurant table is complete without high-quality table linen. At South West Laundry, we’re proud to be Cornwall’s leading specialists for table linen hire. Simply visit our website to learn more about us.


Published on: November 12, 2020

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