Let’s all be honest with each other about serving. It’s not glam, it’s not very rewarding but almost everyone is a waiter of some description at some point. From my experience in the hospitality industry, working in various places and exchanging infuriating and also hilarious stories with colleagues, I thought it would be good to reveal what’s really going on here.
They can make or break you. The decider of how much you’ll go home with and whether or not you will be needing a drink or a long night sleep after work. They can say really nice things, but mostly outrageous claims or comments. Here is an example of some things you may hear and have to deal with.
The Claim: We’ve been waiting for our food for an hour
The Truth: It’s been 20 minutes and you’ve been here about 50 minutes
The Answer: Sorry about that, the food is literally coming up right now
The Claim: This wine is corked
The Truth: It’s a screw top and it’s perfectly fine
The Answer: I’ll let the barman know right away
The Claim: My steak was under cooked
The Truth: You’ve managed to eat the whole thing and have decided by the end that the middle is too pink
The Answer: Is there something else I can get you?
The Claim: I know the manager
The Truth: You probably read it somewhere and don’t even know his last name
The Answer: Cool, yeah he’s lovely
The Claim: There’s too much crab in this starter
The Truth: It’s a crab starter
The Answer: Would you like something different
The Claim: We didn’t order these vodka tonics
The Truth: Yes, the person at the end of your table did
The Answer: Let me just double check for you
The Claim: I thought you served burgers, can you ask the chef to make one?
The Truth: No we don’t and no they won’t have spare burgers lying around
The Answer: (after telling them sorry but no for certain) I’ll ask the kitchen
Things that Annoy You
When something bad happens in work, try and just leave it there when you clock out. Even though table 40 that you were serving were extremely rude and DID order 6 bottles of wine and not 5, complained their desserts were bland even though they’re delicious, once it’s been sorted it no longer matters. Tomorrow they (probably) won’t be there again and you’ll most likely forget it even happened.
Or holding on to the fact that you spent so much time, love and care looking after & talking to that really sound couple and they didn’t leave you a single cent, isn’t going to do you any favours. Doing your best when serving your customers will pay off most of the time so don’t take it personally when scabby students aren’t feeling generous.
The best advice I could give about working with chefs is just give them what they want. And what they want is :
1. Coffee – (chefs drink like 18 espressos a day cause they work like 70 hours a week)
2. For you to laugh at their dirty jokes – good luck if you’ve got meatballs or crab on your menu, both very easy targets. Anything to do with meat, juicy, tender, chicken breasts… Chefs love serving up some dirty jokes so just laugh at them or at least don’t get offended/ take it personal… and they’ll probably like you for that
3. Ice Water – (in a plastic cup – no glass in the kitchen, obviously!) chefs are literally in a billion degree heat situation for the entire duration of their shift… In massive chef uniforms (and crocs – just saying)
4. Service – when they call service, they want someone to come and take the dish that they have just slaved over and bring it to the awaiting customer. Sometimes you’re too busy, but if you’re not and you stand there ignoring them; they gon get real angry.
People Dissing Your Job
Sometimes I hear people dissing a servers job, because well, our job is to literally be serving people all day. It is true that we become slaves to others, but it’s definitely not a walk in the park. Depending on where you work, there can be a significant amount of steps of service. I’m not going to bore the internet with the list of tasks we carry out thousands of times over and over again. But let’s just say, your water, bread, recommendations, wine, food, cutlery, banter and everything else you may require (more drinks, condiments, adjusting of air conditioning, photo taking service, birthday/ anniversary dessert plate, extra sides, extra anything you can think of) did not just walk over and land on your table by themselves. It’s all us people, and we are happy to do it all, but the fairies didn’t wave their magic wands to make it happen. In addition to this we polish cutlery, glasses and dishes till our hands are wrinkly.
We put up with bad manners, snobbery, drunk people, bad tippers, awkward dates, rowdy stag nights and picky children. We force a smile for the rudest people and belly laugh at thee least funny and stupidest jokes cracked by men who say stuff like “good girl yourself” and “is it on the house yeah? Hahaha”. We get strangers’ food all over our clothes and deal with their new paeleo/ raw vegan/ no dairy + no sugar diet that they saw Roz Purcell doing, knowing the chef is going to tear us apart with that many substitutions to one dish. We run around sweating, making sure couples and families have a wonderful dining experience while in the background we’re all freaking out because there’s only a few forks in the restaurant and the second sitting is about to start. No it’s not glamorous… at all. But let’s all remember that there is no restaurant without waiters. The chefs can make the food & the bartenders can mix the cocktails, but without us the order can’t be taken and it won’t get to the customer’s table.
So remember that YOU are the face of the restaurant and YOU are how the place makes money (if you’re any good). So while we may be flailing about to multitask and sometimes getting in a fluster for people that we don’t know, we’re still a part of one of the best things ever. We are that night out with the girls, the anniversary dinner or late night drunk pitt stop for food. And there ain’t nothing wrong with being a server, you work hard, it pays the bills and poses many opportunities. So tell that to someone who thinks serving is easy/ boring/ embarrassing. At least we can have a bit of craic during service and if you’re lucky, get some yummy leftovers 🙂