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How to Roll Lunch Silverware Restaurant-Style

by Amelia Allonsy, studioD

With the exception of fine-dining establishments, most lunch restaurants provide silverware rolled in a paper napkin. This ensures all guests have a napkin and the necessary utensils, which makes it easier to set a table and helps keep the silverware clean. An experience server rolling silverware in a restaurant can roll it so fast that it might seem impossible to duplicate, but the process gets easier and faster with practice. Try this style to reduce preparation time next time you set your table -- you can roll the silverware well in advance.

Fold the napkin into a smaller square, if needed. This largely depends on the type of napkin you use. Paper napkins come folded in the package, but cloth napkins usually require folding them twice. The diagonal measurement of the napkin from corner to corner should be at least 2 inches longer than the knife, but rolling is easiest when the knife length is about two-thirds this length.

Lay the napkin on the table in front of you. Turn the square so it's a diamond with one corner pointing toward you.

Lay the knife horizontally in the center of the diamond with the tip of the blade 1 inch from the left corner. If you use small paper napkins the knife might extend beyond the corner which leaves the tip exposed.

Place the fork on top of the knife so the bottom of the fork is even with the bottom of the knife. Place the spoon on top of the fork, nestled in the fork's curve.

Fold the bottom corner -- the corner pointing toward your body -- up to cover the silverware handles. Hold the napkin tight against the sides of the silverware. The tip of the corner that you fold falls in perfect line with the top corner of the napkin, but falls short of perfectly overlapping the top corner.

Fold in the right-hand corner of the napkin so the napkin is tight against the bottom of the knife. Line up the fold with the side of the silverware that faces you. Keep everything as tight as possible.

Fold in the left-hand corner to cover the ends of the silverware, if possible. This depends on the napkin size.

Roll the silverware away from your body toward the top corner of the napkin. While you might need to use both hands and roll slowly to keep everything tight, with enough practice, you can roll the silverware quickly with just the palm of your hand. Hold the fold at the bottom of the silverware with your right hand, place your palm on top of the silverware and simply push your hand away from your body to roll a napkin quickly.

Tuck the top corner of the napkin under the silverware to keep it from unrolling. Slip a napkin ring over the rolled silverware and napkin, if desired, particularly if the top corner of the napkin doesn't end perfectly under the stacked silverware. Restaurants commonly wrap rolled silverware with a paper strip that has adhesive to stick it to itself, much like the adhesive side of a sticky notepad.

Items you will need
  •  Napkin rings
  •  Paper napkin bands


  • If the lunch won't include a dish that requires a spoon, leave the spoon out of the napkin. If, however, you'll be serving hot tea or coffee at some point during lunch, provide a teaspoon even if one won't be needed for eating the meal.

About the Author

A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.

Photo Credits

  • Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images