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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Waitressing Tips?

Ah since I received word from the restaurant that I have been hired there I am nervous. I've never served people!! What do I do if they are really rude? What if they bought something and then deny it later after I have cleared their table? What if they skip on the bill? What if they don't tip? What if I drop something? What if I bring them the wrong order?

Have you ever been a waiter before? Any advice??

If I'm not working tomorrow I'm going to climb in the trees and get a few more hours in! Woo.

Today I am going to look into getting a new phone without data. I would prefer a smartphone but really am not interested in the data. I can get wireless internet at home and that will be good enough, I don't need internet everywhere I go. I'll see if that is even an option for me. I do still like my durable flip phone I currently have but it's becoming dated and it often doesn't send me the third part of long texts and it has turned off randomly a few times. It's my lifeline to receive jobs so I need a reliable phone.


  1. I've never done it before but the trick to most things is to not stress it, you will make mistakes but that's how you learn. Learn as you go and try to enjoy it, even if someone skips the bill.

    I agree with you about the phone, you should have a reliable phone at least.

  2. If people are rude to you, just be as polite as you can and feel bad for them that they are living their life that way. I waited tables for 6 years and I never had somebody dispute something after I cleared the table. I have had walk outs and it depends on restaurant policy on what you should do. I never had to pay for a walk out tab but I know that some places will have you do that. If they don't tip, that just sucks. If you bring them the wrong order, you will just fix your mistake. It happens.

    You will do a good job. When you have serving experience, you can always find a job.

  3. I am the most unco-ordinated person I know. I can barely get a cup of coffee down the hall without spilling it. Kudos to all the hard working waiters and waitresses (servers) who do this everyday at lightning speed.

  4. Tips #1- smile!
    Tip #2- write everything down and then repeat it back to the customer to help avoid mistakes.
    Tip #3- if you make a mistake or the kitchen does, take one for the team and admit it.
    Tip #4- if someone complains and you can;t fix it it, tell a manager ASAP... some people just like to complain and try to get free food
    Tip # 5- if you're getting overwhelmed, tell a manager or a co-worker. Nothing worse that trying to take on too much and screwing a whole lot up! Tip #6- Tips are great, but you should know that a tip is a thank you and not everyone will tip. It sucks but that's a reality!
    tip # 7 carry the tray with two hands, it makes it easier to carry. Practice with plastic cups filled with water to get the knack of one handed carrying.

    Good luck!

  5. Good luck I did it for years.... I'm sure you have heard of the havelock jamboree? I waited tables in that little town. You'll never know what being in the weeds is like till you have that experience. You can only imagine how busy it was.

    Anyway. Good luck. For some humor.. Google the bitchy waiter blog. I absolutely love it.

  6. Good luck, serving people is all about keeping a good attitude despite the demeanor of the customer. Keeping a level head will help in remembering the orders and try not to freak if you do mess up in the first couple of days, its your first time, mistakes are expected always remember eventually you will find your rhythm and will laugh at the memory of when you first started out.

  7. I was a server in a couple of different places and I can tell you a smile and cheerful attitude go a longs ways with customers, even moreso than good food and quick service - it's all about the experience!

  8. Thanks so much for the responses! I am feeling less nervous about it now :)

  9. I'm going to be waitressing this summer for the first time too! A little nervous too! So thanks for posting this and requesting tips :)

  10. It is a manager's job to resolve issues with customers. It is a server's job to provide the customer with the best experience possible.

    That being said, make sure you are visiting your customers during every course. If they order an app, deliver it. If you have food runners, make sure you visit the table within 1-2 minutes of the first bit (don't hover). If you are writing paper tickets, update the ticket with a comment/checkmark/etc. to see that they received/enjoyed the dish.

    Tip: Try never to use too broad a question, like "How is everything?". Unless everything is perfect, the only response is criticism, and that is what will stay on the customer's mind throughout the meal.

    Experience: 10 years of food service (front of house, back of house, and bar).

  11. It took me way too long to realize that the majority of the time, if people were rude or obnoxious, it was because they were hungry, and that's why they were there! Just try to see things from their point of view, and you'll do fine.

  12. Just don't lower yourself to their level. Keep in mind that you're a better person than someone who treats a server badly.

  13. Having waited tables and bartended for 15 years -

    Never had anyone deny ordering something that was on the tab. You enter it in the computer, or on your notepad, that's what's there. Just pay attention to what they ask for.

    Guests are rarely rude in my opinion, as long as you can walk the line between antentiveness and being overbearing. Nothing is worse than waitstaff that nag you like your mother in law, however if the customer needs dressing, or some more water, you need to be there. It just takes practice.

    Just be aware, there are people who are always jerks, and people who never tip. It goes with the gig, don't let it ruffle your feathers. Don't carry more than you can handle. The establishment owner and guests are much more forgiving of two trips than they are of dropped meals or wine. Worse comes to worse, ask for help.

    In my opinion, non-chain fine dining is the easiest to work. Four or five tables, nice big checks, and you rarely get shafted. Chain restaraunts as a rule of thumb, suck.

  14. I waited tables for ten years, finally stopping a few months ago. Heres my sanity savers:
    1: its just food. they will eat and they will leave. maybe it will take a while, maybe an order gets messed up, but at the end of the day, going at your own pace & keeping a clear head is the best way to still be efficient. all that running around & yelling does nothing but make things more chaotic.
    2: when you mess up, admit it. "oh no, your entree didnt come out because somehow i didnt ring it in" or "i completely forgot" + a sincere apology is a breath of fresh air to customers who are used to being lied to
    3: make sure to have a good, honest relationship w management. they'll always have your back as long as you're upfront
    4: as for rude people? fuck em. get them a new server. they'll feel as if their malcontent has been addressed & are almost alway very nice to server 2. i loved taking over angry tables!
    good luck!

  15. Success as a food server is dependent on personality. Many mistakes are overlooked when you try to connect with who you are serving, pay attention to them, from the moment they sit to the moment they depart, and remember that the customer is always right, especially when you are depending on tips. All of the things you mentioned above will happen, but not often.Some people suck and there's nothing you can do about it. You can be 100% on your game and get a crappy tip, or make a gazillion mistakes and get a good tip.If there is any kind of mistake, and there will be , own it and own it promptly.
    Make friends with the line cooks. They will make or break your experience. They often assume servers are ditzy or airheads, and it's up to you to create a relationship. If you make a mistake, apologize. Even if it's their mistake, apologize. Buy them cold beverages if that's allowed at the end of a shift. A good relationship with the line has been vital in my experience. They will test you at first, and can be very insulting if you screw up. It's as important to keep your sense of humor and be professional in the back of the house as it is in the front.
    If you have the right personality, it's a very lucrative and fun job.

  16. I believe in most states, it's actually against the law for the restaurant to force you to pay for someone who skips out on their tab.

    My best piece of advice -- don't place knives, hot dishes or full glasses (of anything) in front of babies. You wouldn't believe how often I've had to grab those things when a server has set them down right in front of one of my (very small) kids. Granted, I know it's -my- job to keep my kids safe, but at the same time, it sort of seems like common sense not to set a pile of steak knives in front of a 1-year-old!

    1. it's illegal everywhere in the US for servers to pay for walk outs. But restaurants get away with it all the time. Depending on the place, you can go to HR or corporate and fight it.

  17. Just be nice and friendly at all times. I gave low tips when a waiter/waitress had a cold personality and attitude.

  18. Waiting tables is a harder job than many give credit for. Like any other job, take it seriously (but not too seriously), watch the good waiters/waitresses to learn how the thrive, and you'll do well.

  19. My first night waitressing, I dumped 2 23oz dark beers on a guy wearing a white shirt. I was totally mortified. But I picked myself back up and continued serving them. You're going to make mistakes, people are human. We drop things, we screw up orders..it happens. Waitressing is incredibly hard, but you'll get the hang of it after a few weeks. There will be rude people...let your manager handle it if it becomes too much for you. Managers are your friends. On the flip, there will be tons of nice people that you can make your regulars simply by doing something as nice as comping a drink from your tips that night.

    Overall, it will always make you very sympathetic to other waitstaff, and make you realize that 9 times out of 10, the reason why you're mad is NOT their fault.

    Always smile and try to keep up, it worked for me!

  20. Hi. I work in fast food (McD's, to be honest) and the only tip I can give for rude customers is...

    ... You don't want them there, they don't want to be there longer than they need to be. Just get their orders in and out and out of your sight and mind. Keep professional, kind, and keep serving everyone else you're hosting, but keep them at a higher priority if possible, even if it's just in your service and not the kitchen's.

    And when in doubt, ask a manager.

  21. Random thought about your phone - you can get a smartphone from Virgin Mobile with unlimited data and text and 300 minutes/month for $25/month - the catch being that you have to by the phone up front, but it's the best deal anywhere, if you don't use a ton of minutes each month.

    Also, given you're income, you may qualify for Assurance Wireless or SafeLink - I'd check in to those as well, if I were you.

    Good luck!

  22. Hi - congrats on the job!

    I waited/bartended for more than a decade. If someone is rude, just try to ignore it. That's their problem, not yours. Try to be pleasant without being cloying.

    If someone complains, apologize first. Then focus on the solution, not the problem, reason, or complaint. "I'm sorry that isn't right. I can either fix it for you right now, or get you something else." Whether it is your fault, the customer's, or the kitchen, forget trying to explain why. Whisk it away and make it all better.

    If someone denies something on their bill (pretty rare), double-check there isn't a mistake. Then grab the manager.

    People skipping on the bill is rare. In every state, you cannot be held liable, but the restaurant can issue written discipline (e.g. "a write up"), which can result in termination. Don't sweat that, it's rare. Same thing with dropping things - they cannot legally make you pay, but they can issue discipline and eventually say you're not good at your job and term you. Again, very, very rare.

  23. I worked in two stressful environments - phone sales (cold calling) and as a school teacher at really bad school. The trick to handle rude people is not to consider them people. They are just some animals, robots or whatever. I've lerned that after a week or so.

  24. While I've never worked in the food service industry, I can say from experience that writing can be very therapeutic. Start a blog like mine and type out your craziest customer stories. I'm sure it would be extremely entertaining! :D

  25. FYI:

    Your blog got linked by the Consumerist.

    Lots of helpful comments.


  26. Thanks! I was wondering what was going on, I never get this many comments.

    Thanks for all the replies and tips :) :)

  27. I'm starting my first waitressing job tomorrow, so these tips are very helpful to me as well!

  28. I just got hired as a waitress for the first time.. and it's a SUSHI bar. I don't know a thing about sushi, and I'm having a difficult time memorizing the menu. But all the advise above will be greatly needed!

  29. Serving others well is an art form that like any other needs to be practiced and honed. Pay close attention to these details. They are the finer points that will distinguish a good server/bartender from a great one.


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