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Lake Effect Segments

Four Rules for (Polite) Outdoor Dining


Eating outside often feels more casual than sitting in a restaurant, or like you're partaking at a fancy barbeque.

But just because you're outside doesn't mean you can play Frisbee above the other patrons' heads, says dining contributor Ann Christenson

She says dining outside sometimes makes for some edible adventures - "I mean, all of us have been there when you’re at a restaurant and suddenly you’re accosted by bees.  Or you’ve got some pizza on your table, and there are flies all over it."

That said, Christenson offers up a few rules for being a polite patio patron:

  • Pushing tables together without asking is not more acceptable than it is inside. Ask first. They may need those table to seat others.
  • Smoking on the patio is not always cool. Many restaurants consider the entire place smoke-free.
  • There is no law prohibiting your dog from being with you while curbside dining, though establishments have the final say. Also, don’ t feed your Bullmastiff French fries from your lap.
  • Don't start conversations with friends who are dining on the sidewalk; after all, you wouldn't just come strolling into most places to chat. They’re there to eat.

Ann Christenson is dining critic and senior editor at Milwaukee Magazine, and Lake Effect’s regular dining contributor. She also spoke with us about who's who among Milwaukee chefs.