About Freshly Completed

August 29, 2012

What your Server wishes you Knew, while dining out.

Did you know I used to be a waitress? 
(The p.c. term is server-- so I'll refer to it as thus).

I've been a server at four different restaurants.

Actually my first job ever was being a hostess/cashier..which eventually lead me to being trained to be a server.  It's a good/stressful/fast past job...but I did gain a little insight while working at those four different restaurants.

I was thinking about my time there and decided to come up with a list of 15 things, that I thought most people didn't know about servers.

And now without further ado, I give you...


Disclaimer: All these opinions are solely mine, but I've got a lot of experience, so hear me out.

15. Your server is hungry.
 More often than not, I was hungry.  We would arrive at the restaurant at 4:50pm, ready to start serving—no time for dinner.  Being around the smells of food all night makes you more hungry!  Of course, I don’t expect you to buy me food, just thought you’d like to know.

14. Leave your phone in your pocket.
 Is that possible?  I was always moving phones out of the way just so I could put the drinks and food down.  And along those lines, being on the phone is rude to all—your guests and the server.

13. Arriving 10 minutes before closing is allowed.
 But everyone will be annoyed at you.  You are single handedly holding up the cooks, the bussers, the server, the manager, the dishwashers—everyone.  Try to eat fast, and tip well and people will be slightly less annoyed.

12. Go ahead, share your food.
 Before I was a waitress I remember leaning over to share my husband’s salad, but as soon as the server returned I would quickly go back to my side of the table.   As a server I liked it when people shared, that means they’re having a good time and enjoying their food together. 

11. Enjoy the free stuff.
 Free bread is free the 1st time and the 2nd, and 3rd, etc.  If you’re not sure if it comes with a salad—just ask.  Enjoy the kid’s free crayons (they’re just going to be tossed) and the plastic cup, if you want it.

10. Servers LOVE eye contact.
Hello, yes, here I am trying to talk to you. Just give me a second before returning to that menu.

9. Servers are given sections with between 1 to 5 tables making up those sections-- typically 3 tables are in each section.
 Don't sit at your table after dinner and chat for the next five fours.  You would be litereally costing that server a chance to make money.  Even an extra $5 on the tip will not make up for the money you're losing them by not leaving.

8. Communication is the best way to get what you need. 
If you’re wishing for more water and we don’t see your cup, just speak up—we’ll get it.  Don’t get annoyed at your dish not being made right, let the server know and they’ll take it back and try to make it to your desire.

7. It is not appropriate to let children wander around the restaurant--ever. 
It is dangerous when servers are literally stepping over your children with arms full of food. If your children have the wiggles, take them outside with you until it is time to eat.

6.  If you had a great experience eating out, let the manager know.
--or at the very least write something down on the tip—it’ll make your server smile.

5. You were given a server, to take care of your dining. 
He or She should return to your table often.  Don’t ask another server to get something for you, I promise they’re busy too and will be annoyed at this.  But, of course, if your server has been gone for ten minutes + it is okay to start bugging other people.

4.  If you want more attention or you don’t want to wait, don’t go out during popular times or on busy days.
 Weekdays are better than weekends.
Holidays are busy for everyone.
 Eating before 5:30 or After 8 pm, will mean more attention for you and quicker food.
If you are eating out on Saturday at 6:30, it’ll be great, but everything will take longer.

3. Servers have to tip out from their gross sales and they declare their tips each night and get taxed accordingly.
If on a given night I sold $500 dollars of food and received $75 in tips (15%, which is an okay night) I would have to pay 1% to the bartender, 1.5% to the food runner, and 3% to the bussers.  That is off gross sales on my tips. So that would be $5 to the bartender, $7.50 to the food runner, and $15 to the bussers. Suddenly my take-home pay was down to $47.50. And that does not include taxes that I had to declare to the government. 

2. Minimum wage for a server is $2.13 an hour in most states.
Of course that number varies way up to $8 an hour in California and $7 in Hawaii, but somehow everywhere I’ve worked has been $2.13.  That is so teeny. Does the general public know that?

1. Tipping below 15% is incredibly insulting.  20% or more is appropriate for a job well done.
Being a server is generally exhausting, hard work.  You’re on your feet the entire time.  I once served at a place that included stairs, everything I needed was downstairs, except for the tables—so I was up and down the stairs 100 times a night. Add that on top of no dinner, I always came home exhausted at the end of the night. Be kind to your server, I suppose there are exceptions, but I’d like to hope that servers are trying their best with each table.  Their job is to serve your food, so you’ll have an enjoyable night out of the kitchen.  Be kind to your server.


Kami@KamiandN8dogg said...

Thank you for posting this! I too used to be a server, and always thought people would act differently if they just knew what it was like.

KT said...

ooh, great tips. Thanks man. I guess I better get with the times and remember #1.

crazycatladybj said...

Awesome post! So very true. I waitressed for 25 yrs. When I started it was $2.01 an hr. When I quit it was 'up to' $2.13. So sad.