Summer Patterson
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10 Things You Didn't Know About Your Server/Bartender

An Insight Into the World of Restaurant Working and Workers


10. Dine and Dashers

Most people probably don't know this, but dining and dashing means that your server just paid out of their own pocket to serve you. Most restaurants have a system where the server will tip out a small portion of their earnings to the bartender and the host (if there happens to be one) and that's taken out of the servers accumulated tips. Not only do they have to pay tip out of their tips, but some places (not mine) even make them pay the amount that was walked out on.

Don't be one of these people. Skipping out on a tip is bad enough, and don't even think about coming back. A server never forgets the face of someone that walks out on their check or a gratuity.

9. Centennials vs. Millennials

Starting out in the restaurant business, I started working in a booming retirement community. Up and coming, this place was swarming with inhabitants over the age of 60. In fact, it was hard to find a head of hair that wasn't gray... or for that matter; gone.

Needless to say, I wasn't expecting what I got. I expected these folk to have a sense of manners, a kind demeanor, and a somewhat professional vocabulary. I learned that lots of these people were actually quite rude, egotistical and they're under the impression that their dung smells better than their Elizabeth Taylor perfume. It came as quite a shock that they felt like they were owed the world for whatever reason it may be.

Just to shed a little light on the perils of working as a server/bartender, I'll share a few of my own. Many times I was snapped at, yelled/cursed at, falsely accused of whatever they could think of at the moment, grabbed, and I've even been called a few demeaning names in my time as a server. Thank you to all the elderly folks giving me the means to share these encounters!

Now, let's talk about the millennials, the ones that are rumored to be rude, ill-mannered, and unprofessional in every way. Working in the retirement community mentioned above, I didn't come across many people that would qualify to be a millennial, but those that I did were far more mannered, more professional, and polite even if there was an issue of any sort. Leagues more understanding (and better tippers) than most of the older folks I encountered.

All in all, my opinion is unbiased as a millennial myself. I've been impressed by both age groups as well as disappointed. I do want to state that no one is perfect and you will encounter this in every restaurant you ever work in. 

8. I: The Drink Order

Let me start by saying this is a pivotal moment, and the mood for the whole experience rests on this first impression. Read intently.

DO NOT cut your server/bartender off with a "Water," when they are trying to introduce themselves to you. You better be dying of thirst for this type of behavior to fly. I can't stress how annoying this is, not to mention the bad taste it will leave your server with when they leave your table to go get your water. It takes two seconds of your time for us to tell you our name and that we will be taking care of you, even though no one remembers your name usually.  

II: Your drink of choice gives a little insight into the type of person you are. This is a collection of thoughts your server or bartender may be having while taking your drink order.

  • Water: Probably not looking to spend a lot of money.
  • Water with three ice cubes (A literal order I've had personally): I can't wait for the entree order.
  • Any Coke product: This could go one of two ways. Good or bad.
  • Dirty gin martini, no dry vermouth: You're going to complain about the amount of liquid in your glass.
  • Old fashioned : $$$$$$

7. Impatience is not a virtue.

Unfortunately, I learned that this was the general population of the people I encountered. I completely understand that you go out to eat and expect a certain level of service and getting things promptly is a part of that, but at the same time, it's a little irrational to expect something directly after you ask for it. At least give me a moment to return to the back and bring it to your table. Nothing is wrong with a friendly reminder either, keyword being friendly. I am more than happy to fetch whatever you need; just be a little kind and patient and it'll go a long way for the both of us. 

6. The guest is always right.

This one may sting a little. I have encountered a ton of these types of issues as both a manager and as an hourly. I will pride myself in saying that I'm pretty lenient and tolerant as far as managers go. This goes to say that managers are not naive to certain things and loopholes that exist, we just choose to ignore and allow certain things. As far as coupons, discounts, and such, we usually oblige and allow certain things to slide. Whenever we have guests that complain or try to create their own rules and regulations that pertain to these things, my pride will step in and the guest will not win. I hate to say this but when I prove them wrong, it's gonna feel good. I'm polite and courteous when doing so, but sometimes it has to be done.

This all being said, I realize that to a certain degree the customer SHOULD always be right, and if there is an issue, it's to be fixed. As far as things like steak/burger temps, hot/cold food, freshness and etc, it makes sense to listen to the guest and fix whatever the problem is. In this scenario, the guest is always right and it's our job as the restaurateur to make sure the guests leave happy.

One more thing on this subject; it is so annoying when someone comes in and demands that what they ordered doesn't live up to the original expectation. For example, a Philly cheese steak from Florida isn't going to be a Philly cheese steak from Philadelphia. 

5. Taking and Ringing in the Perfect Order

This is a really important section for a few reasons. The entree order is the most important part of the entire experience. If this is messed up, everything is messed up. I have a couple points to make here because again; extremely important!!

SLOW DOWN!! If you want your server to accurately take your order, slow it down just long enough for them to write down what you're saying. Especially if it's a little complicated. There is nothing wrong with having something your way (within reason. Just make sure that you're giving us enough time to catch up with what you're saying.

Allow us to ask all the appropriate questions! If you want to make sure your order is in perfectly, we may have to intercede and ask a few questions that pertain to how you'd like something cooked, sides, etc. We want to make sure it's right for you every time!!

IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC TO SOMETHING, LET US KNOW IMMEDIATELY!! Allergies are not taken lightly. The server is responsible for alerting the MOD of that allergy, making sure there is no cross-contamination, etc. Managers are responsible for taking out the allergen item out to the table to make sure it won't send someone to the hospital.

If you want something on the side, make sure you vocalize that. Especially if it's served on the food item, it's detrimental that you tell your server you want it on the side and if it's possible to put on the side it's not a problem to do that for you. Giving extra instruction with things such as burgers is helpful too. If you want your mayo/mustard on the side, tell your server. If you don't want onions, tell your server. 

4. Correctly Presenting the Check

Believe it or not, this is important mainly because of timing. It's so easy to offend a guest if you bring the check too early, or god forbid they have to wait for it. As a server, I was trained with a guideline of how to give all guests the BEST service possible and this training taught me to drop the check about halfway through the experience. Usually, I had no issues with this, just a polite, "This is here for whenever you are ready, absolutely no rush," and people usually appreciate being able to deal with the bill at their own leisure. Unfortunately, not everyone shares the same sentiment and it can get ugly. On a couple instances, guests felt that I was rushing them and were quite offended when I dropped their check. Needless to say, managers got involved, I was accused of rushing the guests out, etc. Sometimes it pays to wait to drop the check as well. It's just a touchy area I suppose. 

3. The Verbal Tip

As anyone in the service industry can tell you, the verbal tip is the worst. If you've ever worked in a restaurant, you know how this goes. You are ran ragged for this table, you bend over backwards to make them happy and when they leave, they give you the, "You were amazing, thank you so much" or my personal favorite "We are gonna come back and ask for you!!" and you open the check presenter and it's a whopping 10 percent gratuity. You watch as everything they just said goes down the drain and you just watch in despair as your wallet cries. You don't want them to come back and tip you 10 percent when you worked yourself crazy for next to nothing. As a server, I graded myself on how the experience was for you based on the percentage of the gratuity I was left. This both motivated and crushed me. If you're this person, STOP!! Don't do this, it's the worst. It's worse than not tipping at all. I understand that most people that do this don't understand the fundamentals of tipping, and that is even worse than just not tipping because you don't want to, the service was terrible, or whatever reasons people have for not tipping. 

2. Tipping Etiquette

This is something I've found needs a little attention, so if you're reading and you go out with your friends, share the wealth a little. You'll be doing your part to help the strain on the job of a server or bartender.

Now, I will start by saying before working in a restaurant I didn't know what was appropriate to tip when you went out and there are different ideas that different people adhere to about what is acceptable when you're eating out. I have known people that didn't understand that you should leave at least 18 percent if you were happy with your experience, and I've known people who were upset and still left at least 18 percent. It's all over the place with what is acceptable. I'm here to try and shed a little light on the subject.

IF YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO TIP AT LEAST 18 PERCENT, DON'T GO OUT!! I've had guests that have come in and apologized right off the bat for not being able to leave a tip, and quite frankly who wants to do their best to take care of someone if they won't make anything off of it?

If you're unhappy with the way your food was prepared, or it came out wrong, it is not your server's fault. More times than not, the server isn't at fault for the wrong order, cold food, or whatever the issue may be. Of course, there are times when the server may have taken the order wrong and this happens, but if you're understanding and realize we are all human, it makes things a lot better. It's unfair to not tip your server for something that is out of their hands. 

1. Your server enjoys their job. Don't change that.

I thoroughly loved being a server and a bartender. I guess it's the hospitable adult in me that made it so. I enjoyed giving guests an enjoyable experience, the best I could. There was always someone that felt that they were the only table in the whole restaurant, and it always makes things hard and everyone gets a bad experience. Please let your server know up front if you need something. Don't run them all over the restaurant for nothing in return. If you work your server, you should pay them their dues. Believe it or not, a server won't mind getting every little thing you need as long as it's worth it in the end.

All in all, there are tons of little things that go into being a restaurant worker and there are lots of things that make it a great job. Most servers and bartenders enjoy their job for the most part. Remember some of these points next time you go out to eat!! 

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