Restaurant work is one job that does not garner the respect it deserves. Often there are stories published of servers and bartenders not getting a tip for different reasons, and if you feel it is justifiable to not tip, I may just change your mind. After working over 10 years in the restaurant industry, I’ve learned there are many things I didn’t know, but also that the general public doesn’t know. Whether you are a patron or considering a job in the restaurant industry, here is what you need to know.
Truth behind the pay
Many servers are only making $2.13 per hour. You may think that is justifiable because they get tips, and many do well, but serving is un-predictable, seasonal, and underpaid. The minimum anyone should tip is 20 percent, but not everyone does. And I’m not saying you should tip over 20 percent if you don’t want to, but to tip less than 20 percent should be a crime. These workers are usually working through college, or providing for their families without being offered any health insurance. Servers don’t just bring you food; servers juggle many tables at once, they are required to remember your every desire, and do a lot of side-work/prep work. Restaurant jobs are high-stress jobs that get blown-off as useless, but if I had forgotten a side of ranch, it was like I had offended that person in the worst way.
Politeness will get you anywhere
I’m the type of person that will do my best to give you everything you want, the way you want it. If you want a crazy special order, I’ll ask the kitchen to make an exception for you. Some employees don’t work by those same rules, but I’ve learned that if you are extremely nice and polite, they can be talked into special requests. Maybe you wanted to sit in a closed off part of the restaurant-just be as nice as possible and state your reasons for wanting to sit there. If you throw a fit and threaten to leave, you’re guaranteed to not get your wishes, but if you use your manners, your chances are greater.
Servers sacrifice meals to feed you
Restaurant employees are legally given a “break”, but that doesn’t mean that they get it. On busy shifts, servers and bartenders are not allowed to eat. So often they go hungry to make sure you are well-fed with the best service possible. They eventually eat, but often times it’s not until closing.
Have you ever had bad service?
If you have, this means a couple of things. The first is that the server is not cut out for serving. I have trained enough people, and could tell the first night if they would make it. You either have the skills, or you don’t. Multi-tasking in a fast-paced environment is not something you can teach. They can get better, but they will never be the server you want serving you. Secondly, the restaurant was probably under-staffed. Managing a restaurant is similar to fortune telling. You either keep a full staff hoping it will get busy, and no one makes money, or you cut a few servers. When you take that gamble, you help the servers make their livelihood, but if a crazy rush comes in, the service could be slower.
There’s also the problem that the staff are friends, so they like to request off at the same time. A manager will then try to approve as many as possible, leaving a bare serving staff.
The position you put servers in with a food order
It may seem silly to you, but cooks do not like when menu items are tweaked with. Unethical cooks might spit in your food, but the majority will just take it out on the server. The kitchen is a very volatile place, and if my name is on a ticket with special requests, I take the heat for you. This is especially true when they are busy, and struggling with production times.