How many times have you gone to a restaurant and been disappointed in the food, atmosphere, and or service, yet continued to return? Please take a moment to take the reader poll below. Check out my post “If Our Restaurant ALWAYS Lets You Down, Don’t Come Back! (For All of Our Sakes)” for more insight into a server’s perspective on this topic. Thanks for your participation! God bless!
1) How to be a Better Restaurant Customer: http://www.howrc.com/
This blog has it all. Its humorous, educational, inspiring, and interactive. Its got photos and videos, a chat room and guest posts, the works! And the author is a really cute, groovy chick. This blog is clearly destined to release a book, Lord willing.
3) How Not To Do Things http://vandervecken.blogspot.com/ Vandervecken is relatively new to the server blogging scene, but his writing style is hilarious, and his posts are spot on! One of my favorite posts (mind you, they’re all excellent, this one really tickled me!) is called “Ask The Food Knowitall: Your Waiter’s Name is ‘Rumplestiltskin’ “ . I advise you to check it out, along with the rest of his awesome blog!
4) So You Want To Be A Waiter http://teleburst.wordpress.com/ This one is funny and informative, an excellent educational source for someone just breaking into the server biz, or someone who wants tips on how to up their game. He has an entertaining blogroll and an impressive amount of hits for someone who’s been server blogging for less than a year! I featured him in the second You Got Served post, and I think the people like what they saw/read. I know I did!
5) Servernotslave http://servernotslave.wordpress.com/ This blog has hilarious anecdotes that entertain RCs, while simultaneously informing them about what’s not ok from a servers perspective. This one has been around for almost two years, and received a hefty boost in readership when it was featured in a Reader’s Digest article. The author has a large Facebook Fan base and quite a few Twitter followers. Definitely a good read!
So that’s my current Top Five favorites. I follow and enjoy several more on a regular basis that I couldn’t include, mostly due to profanity in the title and/or content of the blog, something I strive not to promote or endorse. Hope y’all check out all of these awesome blogs! God bless.
So this was the second installment. As in the inaugural post, we featured two awesome servers with funky fresh websites. We posed the same five questions to them both, and you, the readers, vote on who had the best answers, and you can do so in the comments. This is all in fun, obviously both candidates are super awesome! Alright, here we go!
In This Corner:
Bio: Grew up in the hotel/restaurant biz in D.C. Adhering to my stepfather’s stern advice to “never go into this business!”, I worked as a writer/editor for years while raising my kids. When I couldn’t bear to sit a desk one second longer, I ignored my stepfather’s advice and went to work for a successful restaurant group in D.C. as a maitre d’ and later a private event coordinator. Now I live in the Keys, where I’ve slung a zillion eggs as a server and tended bar.
1) How/why did you become a server, and how long have you been in the biz?
I’ve been officially in the biz for almost five years, if you don’t count my growing up in it. Generally, I like serving the public, even though the public can be challenging while being served. I like the fast pace, I love that no two days are alike, and mostly I love the stories that unfold during every shift.
2) What is the average tip percentage that you receive? What is your best advice for servers who would like to average your tip percentage?
As a server, 15-25 percent. As a bartender, 20-40 percent. Advice: Enjoy your easygoing, appreciative customers. They generally tip well. Put the troublesome ones behind you and don’t sweat their terrible tips. Bad tips are always balanced by the good ones,when you add it all up over a couple of shifts. And if you’re weeded, or the kitchen is crashing, or all else is falling apart in your store that is out of your control–level with your customers. An “I’ll be with you in just a moment,” goes a long way, as does a simple explanation (“The kitchen is a bit backed up, but your order is coming right up”) or an apology (“Thank you for being patient, I know you waited a long time for your table”). While some customers won’t understand or appreciate your efforts to keep them informed by being honest, most folks will. Ignoring your customers will net you a whole lot of grief and almost guarantees a terrible tip.
3) What are the best and worst things about serving and why?
The best part of serving is getting a glimpse into people’s lives and characters and getting to know your regulars. The worst part is dealing with the minority who are over-demanding, arrogant, self-important pains-in-the-butt no matter how hard you work to provide good service to them. Thankfully, as with tips, the good folks outnumber the ones you wish had stayed home.
4) What is the most important insight into the human psyche that you have gained waiting tables?
A lot of drama, happiness, sadness, and profound moments seem to occur during a meal being served outside of the home. Maybe it’s the lack of household distractions, or maybe the chosen day/night out is a momentous day on the calendar. I am continually amazed by what I witness, what I overhear, and what I am directly told.
5) What is the best advice you can give RCs (Restaurant Customers) on how they can be a better restaurant customer?
Expect good service and tip well when you receive it. But also understand that many layers of service exist in a restaurant. Servers have no control over guests who camp at a table well past your reservation time. Servers don’t prep or cook the food. Servers don’t write the schedule that allowed for only two people on the floor during an unexpectedly busy night. If you truly feel your server is inadequate, by all means address it right away with the manager. Mostly, remember–it’s only food. Relax and enjoy yourself for an hour or so. I know, I know, you’re paying a hefty sum to dine out. But if your boss just demeaned you, or you’re fighting with your wife or boyfriend, or your kid just flunked a test, or you basically think your life sucks, don’t take it out on your server. It will change none of your reality, and it will most certainly ensure a negative dining experience for everyone.
Awesome! Restaurant Gal is a great storyteller, every blog post on her site is beautiful prose.
And In This Corner:
So You Want to be a Waiter
Bio: The writer of “So You Want To Be A Waiter” first became a server in
1974, when he took a job with “The Magic Pan”, a creperie that started
in San Francisco and was taken nationwide by Quaker Oats, which
eventually liquidated it long after he left the company. He was 20
when he started and 21 when he left after almost 2 years. After a few years
of doing unpaid and commercial radio in Memphis, he re-entered the
restaurant business for 2 years in 1980 and 1981, helping get a
vegetarian restaurant established.
At this point (1982), he apparently lost his mind and he became an
Infantryman in the Army, getting stationed overseas in Germany. Turns
out that he didn’t actually lose his mind, but that he was determined
to serve his country.
And then, he ended up staying overseas to sell consumer electronics
and musical equipment on the miltary tax-free market, only to come
back to the States when Ronald Reagan decided to close most of the
NATO US bases in Europe.
At this point, after trying a couple of jobs, he got a job as a waiter
in a restaurant/brewpub (because, let me tell you, $4.50 an hour
working in a bookstore didn’t go that far, even back then). This was
1994 and within a half of a year, he was asked to be the assistant
manager. He did this for another 3 1/2 years when the hours finally
got to him and he went back to waiting tables. And he’s done that ever
since, first working at an “American bistro” whitetablecloth
restaurant for six years, followed by two years at a major mass market
mid-priced chain, then almost 4 years at his current restaurant, an
expensive white tablecloth national chain.
1) How/why did you become a server, and how long have you been in the biz?
I think I covered this in the CV, but really, it was just
serendiptity. I had gone to school at my hometown university for my
freshman year and then I went to the big state university across the
state only to be brought down by endless partying and parental denial
of funds driven by low scores because of said endless partying. I
think it was just a random application at a restaurant that seemed
interesting to me close to where I lived. and I was hired for some
2) What is the average tip percentage that you receive?
I track my tip percentages very specifically on occasion and I do a
rough calculus everyday that I work and I find that I average about 18
- 19% on my pretax totals. This translates into a 21- 22% percentage
on the the final post-tax total. it’s pretty consistent. Obviously, I
have days like the other day when I barely averaged 16% because almost
everyone was tipping 15%. Having said that, my tipout is 28% of my
tips on everyday other than Sunday and Monday night, so really, I walk
with 12 – 13% of what I’m given by my guests. When I worked in the
mass market restaurant, My tipout was 45% of my sales!
What is your best advice for servers who would like to average your
Give a crap about your guests. REALLY give a crap about them and their
dining experience. It’s hard, because you see so many people, but each
one is looking for a great dining experience, whether it’s “Don’t
bother me, I just want to eat” or “I need you to make me look good in
front of my guests”, or, “I need you to make me laugh because I’ve
really had a bad day and I need some comic relief”. What this means is
that you HAVE to learn how to read your guests and you have to put
aside any personal problems that you have and go out and kick butt.
Every time. No, pumpkin, it’s not easy. Nobody ever said it would be.
But it can be really rewarding, especially when a guest can lift YOU
out of your funk.
3) What are the best and worst things about serving and why?
Best? A schedule that you can build yourself once you have a bit of senority.
Something new and different everyday. working around food and the
people who create memorable dishes, the dishes that are touchstones in
peoples’ lives. The fact that I can possibly provide a memorable
dining experience that can be a touchstone in a family’s life, even if
it’s a humble meal in a humble restaurant. Remember that kid that you
complained about? That kid might very well have you in their mind’s eye
20 years from now. I still have flashes of waiters from my childhood
days, although they are obviously just vague images of bowties and
Money every day.
The freedom to say, “Screw it, sure you can take my shift – I’m going
to go get drunk or catch a band”.
When a guest thinks enough of your service to ask for you.
Having a regular in your restaurant that isn’t one of your call
parties acknowlege your presence and say “Hi, how are ya today”?
“Screw it, sure you can have my shift even though I’m stone broke and
I need to make $700 next week to make my rent”.
The inability to set up an auto pay for bills because, heck, I don’t
know what next week is going to be like in terms of my finances. The
fact that, even at over 50, work is sometimes like high school, even
in high end restaurants because of the cliques and bull.
Someone who says, “Thank you for your great service. You really made
the evening special” only for them to leave you 14% on the pretax
total because, “Heck, $129 is almost like $120, so $18 is just as good
as $19 and change, except that it isn’t nearly like the $25 that
someone who would leave you 20% for your great service would be and
isn’t nearly what the $28 would be for most of the people who would
leave 20% on the post-tax total for my “great service”.
Having a manager who has a grudge against you.
Owing the IRS two grand at tax time every year, even though you have a
mortgage that you can deduct
4) What is the most important insight into the human psyche that you have
gained waiting tables?
People are like snowflakes – no one is alike and people don’t react
the same way to the same set of stimuli. All you can do is read your
guest the best you can and hope that you set the right tone. Sometimes
you will be wrong. Don’t let it affect you after the shift is over,
but file it away for future reference. Because, heck, you’re human too
and you are as trial and error as the rest of humanity. Your mental
rolodex is the best tool you have in your arsenal.
5) What is the best advice you can give RCs (Restaurant Customers) on how
they can be a better restaurant customer?
Be nice. Even if it kills you. Because if you aren’t, you’re
sabotaging your own experience. I’ve seen more iffy service
experiences saved by tolerant guests than I’ve seen iffy guests saved
by tolerant servers. Is it fair? Maybe not. But it’s YOUR meal, not
mine. I’ll move on to another 10 guests next hour, but your dining
experience can stay with you for a lifetime.
Coolness! You can tell from his blogging that So You Want to be a Waiter has been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt when it comes to serving.
And there you have it! Let us know in the comments whose answers you like best, and check out both blogs! God bless!
Jack Rule is 33 years old and has been in the Food and Beverage industry for 17 years. He has been bartending and/or managing for the past 10 years. He has done every job imaginable in the restaurant/bar industry, from the dish pit to running the joint. He was a corporate opener for a company that owns boutique resorts, and he is a certified sommelier. Jack says, ”I love making drinks though, I really love mixology and wine. Those are definitely my passions. Bartenders are definitely a different breed from all the rest though.”
The restaurant business has taken Jack all over the U.S. Santa Fe, NM, Scottsdale, AZ, Newport, RI, Key West, FL, Miami, FL, Daytona Beach, FL, Delray Beach, FL just to name a few. At the time this was written, Jack was residing just outside of Atlanta. However, he moved to New Orleans just in time for the Super Bowl and Mardi Gras.
Jack on How to Be a Better Restaurant Customer, “I love your posts!!!” Thanks, Jack, I think you’re awesome! Hope you had fun at the Super Bowl! Good luck in all of your endeavours. Keep us posted, Jack! God bless and thanks for all of your support!
We’ll feature the 500th fan on the website next, is that you? Join us on Facebook and tell a friend!
So here’s my question. How long do y’all think a meal out on the town should take? We’re talking at a sit-down restaurant with a server who comes to the table and takes your order, not an establishment where you give your order to a person at a counter, pay them and then slide to the left! Take a moment and share your opinion in the poll below! Thanks so much for your participation. God bless!