I'm Your Server Not Your Servant

I'm Your Server Not Your Servant

Eight tips your server wishes you knew.
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After working 40 hours this weekend, I believe this article is highly necessary. There are just a few things that need to be addressed about the correct mannerisms when entering a restaurant. I promise nothing rude, just some concerns that many coming to eat don't realize when talking to their servers.

I just finished working open to close for three days straight. Yes I'm exhausted, slightly overworked, and still have loads of homework to complete (including this article). I just want to start off by reminding everyone reading this, that servers too are human. Just like you, we have good and bad days, and sometimes we make mistakes. Yes, I said it. SERVERS MAKE MISTAKES and (120% of the time we apologize endlessly for doing so). We don't mean for your burger to come out with no mustard or for your bar drink to take more than 5 minutes, it's just sometimes things get misread. You have to remember it's an assembly line for your order to get prepared. You come in and are greeted by a host who seats you so you can be seen by a server. That server then takes your order and relays it back to the kitchen and bar. From there, the food is prepared and the food runner must then bring the food out. During this, many mistakes can happen and we try our best for it not to but every now and then there will be a slight hiccup.

So here it is, some things to remember when it comes to eating at a restaurant.


1. We're human.

Yes, I said this earlier but I really need this to sink in. We aren't robots. We don't take an order, grab your refills, fill your fries, and leave. We have lives too and if your servers are anything like me, they haven't slept in days. College student servers have to balance working doubles on the weekends to make up for the hours they miss during he week from school. During the weekend is also when we should be finishing up homework. So, please be mindful that we're tired but we're trying our best.

2. You're not our only table.

This cannot be emphasized enough. While we want to give you the best experience possible, we also have 20 other tasks floating in our heads. *Table 13 needs fries, table 15 wants dessert, table 11 is probably ready to order, and table 14 wants their checks split and food for the road.* It's difficult trying to remember every little detail for every table we take. Just please try to remember that when you get upset that we greeted another table before coming to check on you.

3. We live off our tips.

Servers make an average of $3-$5 an hour. That's it. Our paychecks barely reach double digits and we're often scavenging to make ends meet. When I say we live off our tips, I mean it. Those tips are what pay for my car, my gas, my utilities, and sometimes rent. I can tell you that receiving a tip of $0.99 on a bill of $80.01 is not a good feeling. We just ran around this restaurant for an hour trying to accommodate your every need. If you do not have enough money to tip correctly, you shouldn't be ordering rounds of $9 bar drinks. It's that simple.

4. Plate stacking isn't recommended.

While we appreciate the gesture, often times it creates a bigger mess for us. Our plate stacking is like an art. The dishes underneath are wiped off before placing another on top. This way, when we head to the dishwasher we're able to give all the plates underneath and only have to clean off the top plate. This not only cuts down our time for staying back there, but allows us to come back to you quicker. If you want to help, please leave empty plates and glasses on the edge of your table so we can quickly walk by without disturbing the conversation and grab it.

5. Don't snap at us.

Never ever ever snap or clap at your server. We're not animals, we can understand words. If you see that we're talking to another table don't continually try to call me over to your table. This goes back to you not being our only table. I cannot and will not stop what I'm doing at one table to come to yours. In doing so, you're saying that your needs are more important than the rest of the restaurants. We're not all that special. So be mindful, give us time to finish up at our tables and I assure you we'll be right over to check on you.

6. Be mindful of the time you come in.

If you come in an hour before closing, just be prepared. Yes we are open but often times that is when cleaning tasks must begin for the kitchen. There are certain fryers that are shut down for cleaning while others are left intact in order to feed those that come in late. If you notice that we just sat you and 6 other parties, don't be upset that your food is taking slightly over what it usually would. We basically just destroyed our kitchen and now they're scrambling to get your food out as quick as possible.

7. Please pay attention to us.

If we're asking you a good amount of questions, it's to assure we don't screw up your order when we put it into our system. Please, just put your phones down and give us direct eye contact so we know you heard us. If I come over to greet your table and no one is paying attention to me, I will casually walk away and retry in a few minutes. I won't bug you to try and get your food and drinks in.

8. Our demeanor is directly correlated to how we're treated.

If you assume your server is boring or plain, 9/10 times it's because we tried to be peppy or funny and you didn't react. We feed off our guests personalities. So if you're in a good mood and willing to tell me about your day, believe me, I'll sit there for hours talking to you. If you want to ignore my greeting and not acknowledge me, I probably won't try to spend time at your table. How you treat us will sometimes disrupt our mental focus.

I understand every server is different but at the end of the day we all have the same job, to ensure you have a nice time out with your family and friends and enjoy good quality food. Just knowing these small tips will surely create a better time for not only you, but us servers as well.


Cover Image Credit: Charming Inns

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As a server, I fully understand that myself, and others like me, make a living off of our tips.

I know how nice it is to get a $50 tip and how frustrating it is to get merely change when you did everything you could to make the unpleasable table happy. I am well aware that an acceptable tip is anywhere from 15-20% and I typically tip way over that.
However, I can easily say that there have been times where I have tipped anywhere from 5-15%. In these times, the tip was well deserved...or not deserved.

As before mentioned, I am a server, bartender, and part-time restaurant manager. It is safe to say that I know the business quite well. This makes me aware of the tipping process and what is deemed acceptable, but it also makes me aware of what a serving job entails. We are, without a doubt, the worst critics when we are out to eat. We noticed everything you did or didn't do and we timed how long it took to get our drinks -- it's just in our blood.

We also notice if you are genuinely good at your job, or if you are just there to be there.

The key point to any serving job is knowledge. I, as a customer, expect you to be able to answer almost all of my questions. If I ask you something absurd like "exactly where was your lettuce grown?" ....Like what the f****? Who knows that? But when I ask what beers you have on draft, or what all comes on a salad, I expect you to know it. If you don't, I dock it off your tip. No, it's not mean, it's you not holding up your end of the deal when you started this job.

I know that sometimes you get busy and it's hard to cater to someone's every need, but I do expect my refills in a timely manner and would also expect you to check back with me shortly after I get my food to make sure everything tastes good. I feel like that all is just common sense. If I have to wait for five minutes with an empty glass before I even have the chance to call you over, that's going to affect your tip. If you never check up on me after I get my food, guess what, I take it off your tip. If something goes wrong in the kitchen or you forgot to put my order in, do not avoid me. Tell me. I know how hard it is to tell a table that you are the one who screwed up their experience, but it is so much better to be honest and shows more about your integrity than by saying, "I don't know, the kitchen lost your ticket. There was a computer malfunction and then things caught fire. The firemen had to come and put it out, and then they found your ticket under the smoldering embers...so that's why your steak is five minutes late.".... Just tell me you got busy and it slipped your mind. I'm okay with that.

The worst one to me is when I see my server on her phone. I know that today's generation has some need to be in contact with everyone 24/7 and I have learned to accept that. But when I need something at my table, and you fail to notice because your girl friend just broke up with her boyfriend who cheated on her with his supposed best friend...I'm not going to be happy. You are here to work and this is your job. And, not to be conceded, but I come first. I am the one paying the bill that allows you to keep that phone your on in service, so make sure that I am happy before Samantha can't call you the next time shit hits the fan with Andrew. It's common sense.

Despite all of these, probably the number one thing I look for in a server is a positive attitude. We all have our own lives outside of work, and not to be cold, but I don't really care about yours. I am here for a nice dinner and a night out to not worry about my own crazy life let alone wonder about yours. As soon as you walk into work, the outside world needs to stay there. Do not be in a terrible mood because your girlfriend is psycho. Do not show the customer that you simply don't want to be at work. You don't want to be -- I don't tip you. Easy as that. If you engage in even a small conversation with me, I will tip you more than expected. I am extremely easy to please and really understanding.

I know that every place is different and every store/restaurant has different standards, but I the guest-service industry all lies on the same guidelines. The number one rule is to make the guest happy. I am not that guest who asks for the world from my server. Nor am I that guest who doesn't tip my server if my food came out overcooked or doesn't taste good. I know what lies on the server and what lies in other areas of the store. I know what they can and can't control.
As a customer, I can be your best or your worst, but that all lies on the service that I receive from YOU.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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