How to Fold Napkins Like a Restaurant Pro

By Danya Henninger
April 24, 2014

In Philadelphia restaurants right now, a white tablecloth is as hard to find as a craft beer-free drink list. Napkins have taken up the mantle of prime linen accoutrement, though they’ve long held their own as decorative table elements. These modest squares of cloth can be arranged in dozens of ways, from hipster-mod flat pleats to fanciful shirred towers.

Thanks to Sbraga’s Ben Fileccia, whose folding fingers performed valiantly, we present a step-by-step GIF guide on how to execute three useful napkin folds.

  • The Atrium Lily

    This fold hits a nice midpoint - it’s not overly fancy or outdated, but also shows you spent time getting the table ready. It also adds height to your setting.

    Step 1: Make your diamond


    Fold opposite corners together to make a triangle, then fold the tip of each remaining corner to the top point to make a diamond.

    Step 2: Fold and tuck the lily petals


    Flip the whole diamond over fold it nearly in half, but not quite. Then begin peeling back the layers, folding the top tip down toward the new triangle’s bottom. Fold all layers down except the last.

    Step 3: Create your tower


    Flip the whole thing over again, and bring the left and right corners in toward the middle, tucking one into the folds of the other. Stand the roll up, and voila - your Atrium Lily.

  • The Single Pocket Server

    This is an easy fold that ends up looking rather elegant. It’s also one of the only folds that works as well with paper napkins as it does with cloth.

    Step 1. Make your diamond


    This is a different diamond than the Atrium Lily used; it’s simpler. All it takes is two straight half folds of the original square.

    Step 2. Fold back the layers


    Again, very simple. Make sure the open end of your diamond is at the top, and begin folding back the napkin layers, flattening each one slightly higher than the previous.

    Step 3. Flip, fold and pocket


    Flip your fanned napkin over, bring left and right corners into the middle, and flip again. There is your pocket, ready to hold fork and knife or anything else you see fit to provide your guests.

  • The Farm to Table Fold

    As far as we can tell, this fold doesn’t have a formal name, but it’s the one you’re most likely to see at trendy restaurants these days. Most often done with linen that has the signature stripes of kitchen towels.

    Step 1. Fold up, fold down


    Fold the bottom of the square up a quarter of the way. Fold the top down a quarter and then down over itself again so the top and bottom edges meet.

    Step 2. Fold in, fold over


    Flip the whole thing over so the stripes are facing down. Fold one of the long ends toward the middle, not quite reaching halfway. Fold the other end in to meet it, then fold the result nearly in half, so you’re left with multiple ridges and overlaps to make a nice, subtle pattern.


Places Mentioned


American • Rittenhouse Square

Food25 Decor22 Service23 Cost$81
Stay in-the-know with our weekly Philadelphia newsletter.
comments powered by Disqus