Dear Waitress…

Dear Readers,

I recently received an email from a new server looking for any help they could get while in the “rush”.  We’ve all been there and no matter how many years experience you have under your belt it doesn’t save your from those random times where you are just completely slammed with tables.  I thought it would be interesting to share this email with you, along with my response, and look forward to any tips you may have of your own.

Please feel free to leave a comment at the end of the post with any advice you may have for this new server.

Thank you!

The Waitress

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

QUESTION

“Hi!  I was hoping you could share your expertise on dealing with the “rush.” I’m new to serving and get overwhelmed a bit more than most. However, I really enjoy serving and want to know how to better take care of my customers during a rush. How do I best serve all my tables when I’m bombarded by tables? Is it better to wait a few minutes to greet a table so I can immediately serve than their drinks, or take their order immediately and have them wait several minutes until I arrive with their order? Any help and tips would be greatly appreciated!!”

– The Frazzled Waitress

ANSWER

Dear Frazzled Waitress,

Thank you so much for writing to us! We greatly appreciate all comments and questions.

Something to keep in mind when you’re in the “rush” is to remember to keep your cool.  Most importantly keep your cool around your customers.  The more they see you running around like a chicken with its head cut off, the more they’ll feel stressed about their service and wonder whether or not you forgot their order or not.  Remember to smile even when concentrating on the million things you have to do at once.  If the customers see that you’re busy, but it looks like you’ve got everything under control they’ll be impressed.

Now, I know you want to do a good job, so while looking all fine and dandy on the outside is great, you also want to feel good knowing that you’re doing the best you can with the situation you’re in. Plus, you want to know you’re doing your job well.  So…

Tables are being seated at an alarming speed and you’re having a hard time getting to them all.  Make sure you greet people in the order that they came in.  There’s nothing worse when you’re a customer and another table that came in after you gets to order first.  Mistakes do happen and sometimes you don’t see a table, but make that extreme effort to make sure that doesn’t happen.  Always be aware of what is happening in your section.

Think about what you need to do first.  What would that be?  The greeting and drink orders (most likely).  That’s something that can also buy you some time when you see other tables being seated as you’re at a table.  Ask them “Would you like something to drink to start?” and if they start to look at the menu, unsure of what to have, let them know that you’ll give them a few moments to look through the wine and/or cocktail list.  Not only does it help up-sell (they may not have taken a drink to start  if you hadn’t mentioned it), but helps buy you time to greet the new tables.  So, be sure that while those customers are busy picking a fantastic drink, you’re off greeting the new customers that just sat down.

If they’re ready to order drinks right away…well all the better!  Inform them that you’ll be right back with their drinks and head off to your other tables.  The place where it gets tricky is when they are ready to order at the same time.  Then you are at the table for a lot longer than expected and your other tables are starting to wonder where their waiter is.  That will stress you out, but try not to rush through the order.  That table deserves your utmost attention so keep eye contact and remember to write everything down and repeat the order to avoid mistakes.  Also, this is where knowing your menu 100% comes in handy.  The last thing you want to do is waste time taking an order, so when the customers have questions about the menu you should know the answers.  Memorize your dressings, toppings, sides, extras, etc.  It will help you to take orders quickly and accurately.

Something you can try is if you’re in the rush and walking away from a table with your hands full of plates, is approaching a new table and saying “Hello! I’ll be right with you” (or something around those lines).  It lets the new customers know that you are aware that they are there and that you haven’t forgotten about them.  Most customers will appreciate the gesture and tell you it’s no problem, but if you say you’ll be right with them, you’d better make it as quick as possible.  Don’t hold off on them for 10 minutes or else you’ll start to lose their respect.

Be organized!  Minimize your trips and maximize your steps (meaning don’t go back and forth for nothing and do as much as you can while walking through your section) The last thing you want to do is keep going back and forth for things that you’ve forgotten.  Use both your hands and carry as many plates as you can when clearing tables.  Use trays to pick up empty glasses and don’t forget to ask for refills while you’re at it.  Multitasking is key here.  You want to be as efficient as possible.

Something I’ve always asked servers-in-training over and over again is “What’s happening in your section?”  I’d literally get them in mid “rush” to stop and tell me exactly what was happening.  “Table 1 is eating, table 2 needs the dessert menu, I need to do a check back on table 3 and 6, table 5 is ready to pay, and we need to order table 7”.  Now, that’s something that every server should stop and do.  If you don’t take that second, you may forget to order a table’s appetizers or print another table’s bill.  Every now and then just take a deep breath and ask yourself “What’s happening in my section?” and go through all your tables.

Please know, when I give my advice it is solely on what I have learned as a waitress.  You may work in a larger or smaller restaurant than I do, so the way the restaurant’s system works may be different than mine.  The restaurant I work in is quite big and takes a lot of time to walk from the back to the front so the “going back and forth” system doesn’t work.  We need to be efficient.  Also, some restaurants have runners, a teamwork environment, and bigger sections so it’s difficult to say what the best procedure for you would be.  I’m lucky to work in a teamwork environment where if I get slammed other waiters will notice and come help me, everyone runs everyone’s drinks and food, and anyone guest can stop any waiter if they are ready to order.  In other restaurants, though, you have to do everything yourself and I  can see how difficult that can be.

All I can really say is keep calm, smile, be patient, be focused, and know your menu inside out.

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To Write or Not to Write? The Pros and Cons of Memorizing Orders

fan4228379043Some servers have the amazing ability of listening to a table’s order and remembering every small detail without ever touching a paper and pen.  Some can take orders of up to at least 10 people without even batting an eye.  No matter how many exceptions, replacements, or changes the customers make these waiters will somehow manage to get the order rung up .Personally, that just boggles my mind.

As a waitress (and a person for that matter) who’s afraid to forget the simplest little thing, I am constantly writing everything down.  My fear is that I’ll carelessly make a mistake and forget to order a glass of wine or order a steak well-done instead of medium-well.  So, with that fear deep-rooted in my system, I make it a point to write down all my orders even if I’m taking the order for a table of one.

Every waiter and waitress has their own system of taking down orders whether it be just doodling on your order sheet while memorizing every point or penning every single word the customer says.  If you have a great memory and are just starting out as a waiter/waitress in training, you may want to consider the pros and cons of memorizing orders.

PRO

The eye contact that you keep with a customer while taking their order is extremely important.  Some waiters just stare at their order sheet the whole time while writing down orders which leaves the customers feeling short-changed on the “service with a smile”.  Some are capable of writing without looking down too many times, which is an improvement at least, but memorizing your orders can give you complete control over your eye contact with your guests, creating a very friendly and open service for them.

CON

If you’re planning on memorizing orders, keep in mind that you are more likely to make mistakes.  The amount of times I’ve seen a server run up to the kitchen and say something around the lines of “My bad, guys. It was supposed to be the salmon, not the tuna” is staggering.  It could end up happening more often than you’d probably like to admit and can maintain a certain amount of hostility between you and your coworkers.  Not to mention the managers will be wondering how all these mistakes are affecting their food costs.

PRO

With no pen and paper glued to your hands at every moment of service, your free hands allow you to do other things while taking drink and dessert orders.  You could be tidying up your tables of any clutter, picking up empty beer glasses, or picking up menus.  The ability to multitask in the restaurant business is a big bonus on your side if you are able to do many things at once.  Plus, the length of the service with diminish slightly by just having the free hands to clear the table and memorize coffee orders at the same time, making it easier to turn your tables and serve more customers.

CON

Sometimes, as you’re leaving a table to enter the order into the computer system, someone may stop you along the way preventing you from getting to the computer while the order is still fresh in your mind.  Maybe a customer will have a complaint and stop you for a whole 5 minutes before giving you a chance to ring up the order.  What happens then?  Your mind gets completely distracted by the complaint that you stand at the computer holding your head thinking “What did she order? What appetizer did he want?  Did he want fries or rice with his steak?”.  Sometimes you’ll remember…sometimes you’ll just forget.  Forgetting an order can be extremely embarrassing and seems pretty unprofessional if you need to go up to the guests a second time to ask that they ordered.

PRO

Memorizing your orders can save a lot of time when it comes to ringing up your order.  Instead of constantly referring to your order sheet, you’re simply punching in your orders without missing a beat to glance down at what you’ve written.  This can save time on your service and once again allows for a quicker service, which means your customers are receiving their orders sooner than other therefore satisfied with the fact that they aren’t waiting longer for their food to arrive.  Every second or minute saved counts for a lot in the restaurant business.

CON

Not writing down an order can make your customers nervous.  One night I went out to eat at a restaurant.  We were a table of 6 people and the waitress just took our order by memory.  I asked for a few things on the side since it was my first experience at that particular establishment and wasn’t sure about the sauces offered with my plate.  I felt worried that may order may be wrong, but decided to give her the benefit of of the doubt.  When it came time to the appetizers, I received a salad instead of the soup and my steak came turned out medium-well instead of medium-rare.  In my mind, if you aren’t going to write anything down then you’d better make sure that you’ve remembered everything 100%.  Sure, people make mistakes and I understand that more than anyone, but other guests may not be so forgiving.  When customers see that you’re relying solely on your memory for taking orders, they have that knowledge to use against you when things go wrong and may even approach a manager about it, suggesting that you write everyone down from that moment on.

CON

When taking orders, servers know that it’s best to repeat orders back to the customers as they go along to avoid any mistakes or misunderstandings.  When an order comes out wrong, your manager may ask you something around the lines of “Well, what did the customer order?”.  Your answer may be “She definitely said she wanted the mashed potatoes, but when the plate got there she said she asked for a baked potato.”  The manager might then proceed to ask what you had written down on your order sheet in order to see if you either a) punched it in wrong or b) wrote it down wrong.  When you’ve done everything by memory, the manager is then just taking your word for it and may jump to the conclusion that you’re the one who made the mistake.  If you’re repeating the order back to the customer and writing it down properly, he may then assume that it’s just the customer creating a problem for nothing and will be more inclined to believe you when you say you got the order right.

Remember…

Everybody makes mistakes, even if you’re the type of server to write each order down on paper.  The thing to keep in mind is that you’re only human, so do the best that you can no matter which order-taking process you choose to use as a server.  Think about what kind of waiter you want to be and go from there.

Good Luck!

The Waitress Confessions

 

 

Dear Customers: Taking Pens is Stealing

One thing that you should really know as a customer is that the pens that waiters leave you to sign credit card slips or lend you to write something down belong to the waiter.  They buy them with their own money.  Just because they leave them on the table for you, unfortunately does not mean that they are yours to take if you want.

I need to mention this because a lot of times I leave work with 4 pens missing and end up having to buy a whole new pack at the end of the week.  I have to admit, it’s a bit annoying because those pens belong to me and people feel that they can just keep them for themselves.  The restaurant does not provide the pens for their staff, so the money comes out of our pockets.

So please, on behalf of all wait staff…please do not steal our pens. And if you absolutely need a pen to keep, just ask.

Thank you!

The Waitress Confessions

Dining Etiquette: How to Get Your Waiter’s Attention

There’s nothing more frustrating during your night out to eat than a waiter who is never around when you need them most.  Either you get the walk-by with no eye contact, the waiter who pretends they don’t see you, or a server that tells you “Sorry, I’m not your waiter.”

First of all, those sorts of things should never happen in a professional restaurant.  If you find yourself constantly being neglected, it may be time to find another restaurant to dine at.  But for all other regular circumstances, there’s are some key things you can do to make it easier to grab your server attention when you need something.

1.  Raising your hand

This is one of the simplest and basic ways to grab your server’s attention.  In order for this to work, however, your server must be on top of their game and circulating within their section, readily available for any sign you may be trying to give them.  But, you have to keep in mind that they are not mind readers and sometimes need a clear sign to know that you actually want something.  Be obvious with your hand raising.  Especially while dining out at a busy, rush filled restaurant.  Otherwise, the waiters may think you’re just tapping your hand on the table or talking with your hands.

2.  Learn your waiter’s name.

I’ve mentioned this before in another post called “Remember to Tip Your Waitress”.  As stated before, it’s actually encouraging for servers to be called by their name instead of something as rude as a finger snap.  Imagine your in a busy, loud restaurant and you need another beer.  You call out “Excuse me, Miss” but the waitress doesn’t catch what you said.  If you raise your hand and say “Excuse me, Ashley “, the chances are much better that they’ll notice you.

3.  Speak with a manager.

Of course, servers should be doing their utmost best to make sure your experience at the restaurant is a pleasant one.  If you’re a regular at a restaurant and sense that a server is disrespecting you or purposely ignoring you : ask to speak with the manager.  They may be able to switch your waiter or waitress and may even speak to the server who was ignoring you in the first place. If you find that you enjoy being served by a specific waiter, ask if it’s alright that you be put in their section each time you come.  Management loves to get feedback on the good…and the bad and will most probably do their best to try to give you the service you need as a guest.

4.  Treat your server with respect.

I can guarantee you right now that if you disrespect your server by snapping your fingers, yelling, making fun of them, or calling them names you will not receive the service you were expecting. I’ve seen waiters purposely ignore customers that were rudely snapping their fingers, so the solution is quite simple.  Don’t do it.  Period. If you are constantly getting bad service everywhere you go, take a step back and take a look at you table manners..  Are you making inappropriate jokes?  Do you find yourself swearing at them?  It may be time for a change in your dining etiquette.

There are always exceptions…

Servers are mostly responsible for being available for their guests.  The things, they aren’t machines.  They are responsible sometimes for quite a few tables and sometimes if one thing goes wrong, everything else gets dragged down with it.  If you see you server trying to take care of a problem with another guest, be patient and remember that they are doing their best in sometimes a crummy situation.  If you can help them out some of the time by making it obvious when you need something, it will make their jobs a lot easier and in return you’ll get the service you expect.

The Waitress Confessions

Forgot to Send a Table’s Order? My Bad…

A lot of servers go through this at one point in their career as a server.  It’s dreaded occurrence that will happen at one time or another, whether working as a server for your first time or if you’ve been doing it for years.

You will forget to send an order.

It mostly happens either when the restaurant is booming or when it’s disastrously quiet.  Is it your fault as a server when this happens?  Why yes, yes it is.  But we can come to realize is that we are people,plain and simple.  And what do people do?  Well they make mistakes.  It happens.  The best we can do is try to learn from our mistakes so as not to repeat them (hopefully) in the future.

I’ve seen a few different approaches as to solving this problem when it happens. There are a few that I find to be sneaky and deceiving and another approach I find is the best way to resolve the problem of forgetting to send an order to the kitchen.

So, imagine you’ve just realized that you never sent out a table’s order.  You scramble around to ring it up as fast as you can.  After the order is sent and you know it will be another while before the food comes out, so you need to decide what to do next.

Here are some different possible scenarios with different types of servers and let’s see which one seems like the right way to handle the situation.

1.  Skittish Steve – Avoiding the table until their food is served.

Skittish Steve is a waiter that will notice the customers waiting impatiently, looking around for their food and even stopping other waiters for information about when their meals will be arriving.  Skittish Steve knows that avoiding the table means not having to answer to the “We’ve been waiting half an hour for our food” spiel.  Of course, this type of waiter doesn’t want to confront that uncomfortable conversation, so even though they know it’s understandable that the customers will be furious, they’ll leave the plates on the table giving some half-assed apology of “Sorry, it was longer than usual tonight ” or even worse of pretending like nothing is wrong.  The customers now have their food and can hardly believe how long it took.  They’ll leave, reminding themselves never to return because the service was terrible and the kitchen was too slow at getting the food out.

2. Blamer Barbie – Blaming it on the kitchen.

Blamer Barbie, once realizing that she forgot to send the order, will proceed to approach the table in an apologetic fashion, informing the guests that the kitchen has somehow”lost” their order, so it will be another little while before their meals are served.  The customers will be slightly irritated at the kitchen staff for their lack of professionalism, but but Blamer Barbie knows that they guys in the kitchen will be none the wiser that she’s placed the blame on them and since they have no interaction with the guest and the diners won’t get up to voice their disapproval, no one will know that she forgot to order their food.  This leaves Blamer Barbie off the hook as long as no one finds out.  The customers finally eat, pay the bill with a decent tip (since they figure it wasn’t Blamer Barbie’s fault that the food arrived later than usual) and leave, perhaps only coming back to the restaurant when they know they’ll have a lot of time to kill.

3. Humble Helen – Explaining the situation to the customers

waitressOnce they realize that they forgot to place the order, Humble Helen will approach the table and excuse themselves for interrupting.  She’ll then explain that she accidentally forgot to order their food and promise that they are doing their best to rectify the error.  She’ll go to the Expeditor and tell them that she fucked up (and talk to the kitchen if need be) in order to try and get the order out as soon as possible.  Humble Helen will then offer to bring them some more bread while they wait and ask if they need a refill of their drinks in the meantime.  Sure, the guests will be a little put off, but they’ll appreciate the fact that their waitress is being honest.  Once they receive their food, they’ll realize that Humble Helen did the best she could in a crappy situation and they’ll appreciate the fact that everything was prepared as fast as possible to compensate for the error. Humble Helen will ask the manager what they can do for the guests (whether it be free coffee and/or dessert) and be overly nice to show the customers that it was not for lack of caring that they forgot to order their food.  The customers will leave feeling like they were not forgotten about and will return because of the honesty of the staff of the restaurant.

There are, of course, exceptions…

Waiters and waitresses will of course react differently in certain situations.  Mistakes will happen where the kitchen somehow loses orders, or technology fails and orders are erased.  That happens, in case you didn’t know.  But you can tell a lot by how servers approach you!  If they seem sincere and they really care about what’s happening, chances are that they are telling the truth.  If ever you’re unsure about what’s going on: ask to speak with a manager.  They should be able to tell you what’s what.

As a server…

You should do your best to treat your customers with the respect they deserve.  The best way to approach this situation is to tell your customers the truth. The honest truth.  If you’re a decent human being and an honest server you’ll feel much better to do the right thing.  Try it out and see what happens.

Think about it…

The Waitress Confessions

Dining Etiquette: Cloth Napkins

Have you ever been out to eat at a restaurant that had cloth napkins?  If you haven’t, then here are a few things you should know if ever you do step into a restaurant that has them.  If you have, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Cloth Napkins are NOT tissues

I cannot stress this enough.  I can’t even count the amount of times I’ve walked by a table only to see a guest blowing their nose into our cloth napkins.  To say it’s disgusting is an understatement.  As a server, I am obligated by the management to clear the table the best that I can after you’ve finished your meal – that includes taking off all the cloth napkins.  In all honesty, I do not want to touch a cloth napkin that has (for lack of a better word) gooey boogers stashed away in them.  It’s unsanitary.  So please, if you need to blow your nose, ask for a tissue or excuse yourself and make your way to the rest areas.

2. They are not free to take home

Some how, some way, cloth napkins seem to “fall into purses” or are accidentally left tucked in someone’s shirt on their way out.  Cloth napkins are not free to take home.  They belong to the restaurant.  Leaving with cloth napkins (or anything else of the sorts) is considered theft.  Please leave the napkins at the restaurant.

3. Cloth napkins will always be washed – even if you don’t use it

It’s very nice when guests inform me that they haven’t used their cloth napkin and I can reuse it.  But, to be honest, I wouldn’t want to.  Imagine you’re sitting at a table with your untouched cloth napkin on the table next to you.  Throughout the meal, people are talking with their mouths open, little bits of food may be flying off of forks or spoons, wine is spilled, and crumbs are scattered.  Would you want that napkin knowing it was on someone else’s table before yours?  I don’t really think you would.

You’re right, you may not have used the cloth napkin, but chances are that something has fallen on it.  We would never want to take that chance, so we throw them out to be cleaned no matter what.  It’s very nice of you to want to save us time and  energy, but we make sure they stay clean.

Please…

Remember these few things the next time you go out to eat.  Simple little things can go a long way and make your dining experience all the better.

The Waitress Confessions

 

 

Follow The Waitress Confessions on Twitter!

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Follow The Waitress Confessions on Twitter!

Looking forward to hear more true stories about what happens in the restaurant business?  Want to learn the do’s and don’ts as a server and a diner? Ever wonder what the proper etiquette is while dining in a restaurant? Need to have a better work ethic?

All of these things and more are available on The Waitress Confessions.  Follow us now on Twitter for more updates and quick tips and thoughts.

Hope to see yo u there!

The Waitress Confessions

Tip Accordingly: Paying the Bill With a Gift Card

Throughout the year, and especially around Christmas time, people receive Gift Cards to either their favorite Italian restaurant or to a new Sushi Shop in town and are delighted by the fact that can use the Gift Card to either pay the entire bill – or part of it.

We all know that the standard tip a diner should leave the server is 15%.  Now, there seems to be a lot of people out there who believe that if they have a Gift Card it means either

  1. They get a free meal because of the Gift Card – in which case they don’t need to leave a tip   or
  2. Half of their meal has been  paid – which means they only have to leave a tip only on the amount after the Gift Card amount was deducted

This is a big problem between Gift Cards, Servers, and Diners.

What is the protocol here?

1. Paying the whole bill with the gift card

Let’s say, for argument’s sake, that your bill is $50 and you  have a gift card for $100.  You think “Wow, this is great! I don’t have to pay a cent for my meal plus I get to keep another $50 on my Gift Card for the next time I come to eat”.  I know it sounds great, and it is, but you have to keep in mind that the waiter/waitress who served you is (in a sense) not working for free.   S/he took your order, served your drinks,  made sure everything was to your liking, cleared the table, brought you coffee and dessert, etc.  Getting a “free meal” never means skimping out on the tip.

2. Paying part of the bill with a gift card

Let’s say that your bill is $50 and you have a $25 dollar gift card.  You think “Wow! I only have to pay $25 for a $50 meal.  This is great!”.  And you’re right, it is.  The thing is, when the waiter/waitress who served you takes your credit card and passes it at the remaining amount ($25) it doesn’t mean that your bill is suddenly only $25. The server doesn’t cancel half of your bill, they just declare at the end of the day that the bill was paid for by credit card and gift card.   You must tip according to the full amount of the bill before the Gift Card amount is deducted.

3. Paying with a bank card and gift card

When using a gift card and a bank card to pay your bill, a problem can arise when using the hand held machine to complete the purchase.  Let’s say that your bill is $50 and you have a $25 dollar gift card.  The server brings the machine to pass your bank card and puts the amount at $25 (the remaining amount after the deduction of the gift card).  The problem with this is that it will ask you what kind of tip you’d like to add (15%?  20%?  Other?).  If you choose the option of adding 15%, then it will add 15% of the amount put into the machine – which was $25.  Now you’re leaving a lower than 15% tip on a $50 bill.  Be careful to choose the “Other” option in order to add in the exact amount you want, or better yet you can always pay the tip in cash to avoid confusion.

A Note to  Waiters: Be Kind

It is considered to be inappropriate to approach guests about the amount of tip that was left.  Some mistakes are obvious and sometimes it’s easy to see when someone doesn’t understand how the system works, but please be kind.  Don’t lose your cool and make a fuss about it, that won’t help anyone and is extremely disrespectful.  Find a way to inform your customers of the original cost of the bill, or consult with the floor manager with the best way to deal with this kind of situation.

Have Any Questions?

Unsure of what to do when paying with a gift card?  Feel free to ask a server (or manager).  They should be happy to tell you the correct way to pay.  If anything, feel free to ask by leaving a comment below.

The Waitress Confessions

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Remember to Tip Your Waitress: a Guide to a Better Dining Experience

Remember to Tip Your Waitress: a Guide to a Better Dining Experience

Nowadays, there are such amazing varieties of restaurants you can eat at.  Whether it’s for a business meeting, family get together, or a hot date the choices are endless.  Anywhere from French cuisine to Fast Food!  There are a lot of factors that make your experience at a certain locale either good…or bad.  Music, ambiance, cleanliness, decor, seating, food quality, food portions, etc.  The list goes on and on.  But all of that means nothing if the service is terrible, right?

I think we can all agree that the most important factor, besides good food, is having a good waiter or waitress, right?  No matter how much you love that cozy little breakfast place, you wouldn’t go back if the waiters didn’t even bother to refill you coffee.  What a pain!  As customers, we do deserve to be treated with respect and served politely.

It’s a problem, however, when people start to treat their waiters like their own personal servant.  I’ve seen it many times, a gentleman snapping their fingers angrily at a waitress instead of politely saying “Excuse me, Miss?”, a woman calling out to a waiter while he’s in the middle of taking another guest’s food order, customers ignoring waiters when they ask questions like “Would anyone like some more coffee?”.

A little friendliness from yourself (as a guest in the restaurant) can go a long way.

Here are a few tips on how to treat your waiter with kindness and respect.

TIP # 1

Learn your waiter’s name.  It’s encouraging for waiters to hear their name from their guests.  It lets them know that you respect them (ex: Thank you, Jessica) and it also makes your dining experience all the better.  You’ll know who your waitress is and be able to get his or her attention better when they are walking by your table.  If you say “Excuse me, Michael” as they pass, hearing their name will definitely grab their attention!

TIP # 2

Smile.  Many experienced servers can tell in the first greeting whether their guests are happy, nervous, angry, frustrated, etc.  If you don’t smile at them, they may pick up on some bad vibes coming from the table and limit themselves to basic monotone service, anxious about upsetting you more.  Smiling will let them know that you are open to hearing what they have to say (whether it’s about the evening specials or the daily desserts) and in the end your server will feel relaxed and give you an even better service.

TIP # 3

Be understanding.  Waiters are first and foremost people and what do people do?  They make mistakes.  It happens.  They order your steak Medium-Well instead of Medium-Rare (they sound pretty close in a crowded, loud dining hall on a Saturday night).  They forget your refill of Pepsi.  They order a small beer instead of a large.  I’m sure it’s happened to you and trust me, it will happen again.  The thing to remember is that people make mistakes.  Now, I’m not saying that if your server makes 10 mistakes in a night that you should be 100% okay with it, but maybe that waiter just went through a divorce and has other things on their mind, maybe it’s just “one of those days” for them, or maybe their car broke down on their way to work.  You never know what could be going on in their lives that could be affecting their work.  It’s good to try to give them the benefit of the doubt.  The only problem with that is that there actually are waiters out there who really just don’t care.  You do have to watch out for that.  But if you have a waitress who’s smiling and you can tell is doing her best to satisfy her guests, if she forgets to bring you bread …try to be understanding.

TIP # 4

Be polite Say “Thank You” and “Please” when addressing your server.  They are there to help you, and if you are getting good service then it’s important to let them know you appreciate it.

TIP # 5

Compliment them!  If you just dined at a restaurant and had the BEST service you’ve ever had at that restaurant, or even any other restaurant you’ve been to, let them know!  Don’t be afraid to tell them.  You may notice they suddenly feel shy or even surprised.  Many people don’t open up enough to let people know they are doing a good job.  Hearing that from guests will give good servers a reason to stay that way.

TIP # 6

Leave a good tip.  If you go to the same restaurant every other day, every other week, or every other month and the staff recognizes you, it means that you appreciate the staff, quality, and food the restaurant has to offer.  It means that they must be treating you well!  Make sure that you let them know that you appreciate their hospitality.  When it comes to paying the bill, be sure to calculate your tip correctly.  There are many apps for your phone that are designed for calculating tips.  You can always ask your server to add on the correct percentage.  The average tip should be 15% of the bill and an excellent tip for excellent service should be more if you really want to show your appreciation.  Money isn’t everything, but you must remember that your servers are making under minimum wage and rely a lot on their tips as their income.

TIP # 7

Ask for your favorite server.  When returning to a restaurant that you love, learn the names of each waiter you’ve had and ask the hostess/host in the front to be seated with your favorite server.  If there’s one in particular that you trust to make your dinning experience a pleasant one, ask for them.  They will feel ecstatic to know that they remember you.  A bonus in asking for the same waiter/waitress every time is that they get to know your likes and dislikes and should know them by heart.  If you order a beer to start every time you sit down and you ask for the same server every time, they may already order one for you so that it arrives as you sit at your table. They may give you something on the house.  If there’s a problem with your meal, they will try their hardest to right it because you are now a regular customer.  There are major advantages to asking for your favorite server.

All these tips can really help you with your dining experiences.  Remember to recognize the difference between those servers who just think of serving as another job and  those who do it because they love it!  You’ll notice a huge difference.  Be kind, understanding, and treat them with respect and they should do the same!

The Waitress Confessions