Time to Get Real

Sorry about the delay on posts over the past few weeks but I’ve been a little preoccupied at the moment.  Besides dealing with a minor car accident (my fault…dumb dumb dumb dumb!!)  I’ve also been in the process of switching jobs YAY!!! So that bring my to the first part of my title: goodbye True Food hello real job!  Not only do I have a real job now but even better is that I have a job where I feel like I’m important and I can see first hand the immediate impact of my work.  I honestly feel a world of difference in my everyday life (and not just because I have a normal schedule with weekends and bosses who talk to you like an adult).  Getting up in the morning and going to a job that makes you feel good about what you do permeates the rest of your day (at least it does for me).  It’s like a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  I know this isn’t necessarily what I will be doing my whole life…but just the fact that it can take me places and actually adds something beneficial to my resume has minimized the worry of “what am I going to do with my life.”  (STARS website: the company I work at now).

Don’t get me wrong, True Food has done a lot for me over the last few years!  I had the good fortune to have a relatively stable job right out of college where I was able to make a lot of money, could make a flexible schedule and could still dabble in my other interest i.e. yoga, paintings, baking etc.  I also think that everyone should work in the hospitality industry at some point:  it has taught more, more so than any other job, to take responsibility for my actions and ownership over my tasks.  If all people could work in this industry they would also have a greater appreciation for the people who serve them (in a sense bigger than just a waiter) and realize what a hard job it is.  People who also have the opportunity to realize what a huge different a genuine “thank you,” smile or even an extra 4 dollars can have on your entire day.  BUT since we know that not everyone has experienced the restaurant industry (which if you’ve interacted with some of the people I’ve had to, you would realize this immediately) I’ve decided, for all the other hospitality workers out there, to provide a list of things I think EVERYONE should know, and common annoyances, before they can step food in a restaurant (or probably outside their house for that matter).  I think I’m also going to throw a few of my best/weirdest/funniest stories out there just for fun (and since I can no longer get fired for doing that).  So once again, it’s time to get real.

  • If you leave anything less than an 18% tip you will probably end up on the waiter hit list…everytime you come in you’ll be the equivalent of Hester Prynne walking around with a scarlet A. (the only time it is acceptable to leave less than 18% is if you have HORRIBLE service: this is pretty much limited to a server her blatantly doesn’t give a shit or is openly rude.  Slow food, messed up orders, long waits don’t count because those are not necessarily the fault of your waiter…they’re probably just as upset about those things as you are)!  Under necessary circumstances…readjust your tip to how long you have been at the table.  IE if you sit at someone’s table for 4 hours (which happens often) you should probably tip at least %50.  Think about it:  your sitting there for that extremely extended period of time has cost your waiter at least 2 other tables…if each of those hypothetical tables’ bills were 50 dollars and they tipped 20%, you just lost that waiter 20 dollars.
  • The tip is on total bill….NOT your bill pretax…your server has to tip out the hostess, bartender and back servers post tax!!  Example: your tip pre tax is $ 50 something…comes to mid 60’s post tax..so you decide to tip 18 ish % off the first number, let’s say you leave 8 dollars.  So in actuality thats around 13% tip.  Then once you realize probably $1.50 ish goes to someone besides the waiter, they’re left with %6.50, and you basically left a slightly over 10% tip.
  • Your server is working hard to consolidate their trips out into the dining room…so help them out!  Nothing is worse than running your ass off to get your table: the first time you go over they want a straw, when you come back with a straw they want a lemon, when you come back with a lemon the other person realizes they want a straw.  Not only will it deteriorate the service for your table and ever other table that server has…they are not your personal servant.
  • When you waiter comes to say hi, don’t continue your conversation as if they’re not there.  A.  it’s just rude-and first impressions make a huge difference on your service B.  it’s awkward for your server  C.  If you don’t want to have to interact with a server to get your food…go to McDonalds (this is my absolute biggest pet peeve)
  • I’m more than happy to accommodate modifications (I do it all the time) and I’ll come up with just about any creation possible to make you happy.  But don’t request things that are impossible: i.e. tofu woked without oil or vegetables sautéed in water (uuuum not possible).  Or don’t say you’re trying to stay away from fats and sodium then upon my return to the table ask why we don’t have pepperoni pizza on the menu (come on people)
  • Just because you’re out of preschool doesn’t mean “please” and “thank you” aren’t appreciated.
  • If you’re over the age of at least 7, order your own food.  It’s not only sad, but actually kind of disturbing, when a teenager, who has to peel their nose off their iPad screen, uses their mom like a game of telephone, ordering into her ear and from her mouth.
  • Just respect the fact that being a server is hard work! and we’re just one benchmark in the chain of events it takes to get your food to your table.  So go easy on them when you’re food is taking a little longer than usual:  trust me, long ticket times make the experience just as (if not more) stressful for your server than for you.  It’s kind of like “don’t shoot the messenger”…some things are just out of your servers control!

When it comes to your pre-dinner wait:

  • don’t tell the hostess “why is there such a long wait? I see an open table right there.”  because there’s probably a reason it’s open i.e. reservation or they’re paging someone who is before you on the list for that table.  How would you feel if you got paged, showed up and realized they gave up your table?
  • sit where the hostess seats you.  There is a reason for everything in the restaurant business.  It’s like a well oiled machine and switching up where the hostess seats you can really throw a wrench in the system and even effect the service you get (there’s an organization to how tables are sat so the servers don’t get overwhelmed at once).  And really…is your dinner going to be so much better by sitting in a table 10 ft away.
  • If you’re quoted 30-40 minutes, don’t come back after 20 and ask how much longer.  Um we told you 30-40 so once it hits 41 minutes then you can come talk to me.  Also, they usually will have written down what time you showed up, how long they quoted etc.,  So you can’t trick them into thinking they’re wrong.

These are just a few of the things that used to drive me crazy as a server and I always wished I could say to my “guests.”  So I guess this is a way of trying to get it off my chest, but mostly try to make a few people realize that when they go to a restaurant they need to reevaluate their actions and perspectives…I’m trying to help out all my fellow waiters!

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