The Truth about Restaurant Romance

Recently, two of my co-workers broke up. Ironically, another couple that also works with me broke up the same week! In the restaurant world, I have seen many co-workers date and break up (yes, even I have done it!). Here are some reasons why dating a server in your restaurant usually doesn’t work:

1. It will not remain a secret. Even if you try to keep the relationship on the down-low at work, social media will eventually expose it. In result, your co-workers will become more involved and nosy than they should. Servers also love to gossip about co-workers, especially ones that are dating.

2. You will find your inner jealously. Even if you are not normally jealous, dating a server will change that. Waiters tend to have flirty personalities at work to get better tips, but watching your significant other flirt with cute table guests will drive you crazy. In addition, if you catch other co-workers flirting with him/her, you are not going to be happy!

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3. You will most likely break up. Not only will working with your ex be uncomfortable, but you will have to hear about their crazy nights out and new partners when they are talking to other co-workers. Sadly, your ex might spread hurtful rumors about you too.

Save yourself now by avoiding work relationships. You will see them too often, too many people get involved, and breaking up will be disastrous. So keep your work and love life separate!

 

Timing your Tables Perfectly

Studies show that diners are affected by the pace of their dining experience. If they feel like their server is rushing them or their food is taking too long, they won’t be happy. Here are a few simple ways for servers to achieve perfect timing at every table:

1. Get to know your guests. If they mention that they are on their lunch break or are going to a movie afterwards, pick up the pace. If they are celebrating a special occasion, give them plenty of time to eat and catch up.

2. Learn the cooking time of each food item. At my restaurant, the fish dishes take substantially longer to cook than any other dishes, so we ring them in immediately. Knowing how long it takes to cook each menu item will help you determine when you should ring it in.

3. Watch the expo window. Keep in mind how many ticket orders are in the window when planning out your timing. If there are more than ten tickets in the window, ring in your entrées right away−even if your table ordered an appetizer (especially since starters usually have short prep times!).

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By following these easy steps, your tables will have the optimal dining experience. In result, they will most likely tip better too!

How to Make Small Talk With Your Tables

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When you first become a server, it can feel uncomfortable and unnatural to make small talk with your tables. Here are a few pointers to master the skill of being a conversational waiter:

1. Read your tables. I have learned that there are many different kinds of tables; some tables want to be left alone and have a private evening while other tables love to joke around with their servers. Learn to gauge what each of your tables is like and adjust to them appropriately.

2. Don’t take things personally. Sometimes guests will be rude or talk down to you, which happens to me at least once every shift. When this happens, learn to let it go and kill them with kindness. Don’t let your negative tables to affect your mood, especially because your other tables will notice.

3. Be yourself while maintaining a professional demeanor. Most tables love when you are honest, friendly, and completely yourself with them. While it’s good to be open with your guests, you still need to be professional. With practice, you will learn to balance these two personalities perfectly.

By following these three simple steps, you will make a better impression on your tables!

 

Tips for a Waiter in Training

Yesterday at work, I started to reflect on the days when I was a waitress in training at my current restaurant. I realized there a several things I wish I knew when I was training. For example, I wish I knew to painstakingly study the restaurant’s menu because not knowing the menu leads to mistakes (and embarrassment!). In addition, I thought of three main pieces of advice that every server in training should know and follow from day one:

1. Listen to your trainer. Don’t just nod your head to everything they say; actually listen to them. Most trainers cover a lot of information very quickly, so you should pay attention and focus on memorizing every detail. The more you learn, the better server you will be!

2. Ask questions. I remember I held back asking important questions during training because I knew they were probably dumb and obvious, such as wondering if certain dishes were vegetarian. Believe me, it’s better to ask questions in the beginning instead of later on when you should already know the answer!

3. Be professional. As a new employee, you want to make a good impression on your co-workers and managers. Be on time, know your schedule, wear appropriate and clean clothes, and don’t talk about that party you went to over the weekend. Also, be positive and helpful so that your co-workers will enjoy being around you!

By following these guidelines, you can be an exceptional server right away rather than later on. There are also free online tools for waiters in training, such as http://waiterstudent.com/, that can provide you with additional training resources. Soon enough, you will be serving up this:

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For those of you that are already waiters, what do you wish you knew when you were going through training?

 

Holiday Madness

As everyone knows, Valentine’s Day was two days ago. For restaurants, this holiday is one of the busiest days of the year. Reservations are made weeks in advance, the restaurant floor is fully staffed with as many servers as possible, and managers make sure everything is completely over-stocked.

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Servers normally try to work on Valentine’s Day because a busy day means a lot of money. However, holidays can be the toughest and most stressful days for waiters. When you’re constantly getting a new table the instant that one leaves, always waiting on your guests’ food to finally come up in the crowded kitchen window, and trying to track down managers in a packed restaurant, it can make holidays the most overwhelming times to be a waiter. But with the following tips, you should be able to survive the busiest days of the year:

1. Come in prepared. Make sure you get a good night’s sleep the night before you work so you’ll be well-rested and energized during your shift. Also, you might not get any time to eat once you clock on, so make sure your belly is full with healthy foods such as eggs, toast, fruit, and granola before you start your shift. At my restaurant, it’s common for our managers to buy us donuts and pizza on the busiest days of the year. However, these are the worst foods to put in your body because they will only weigh you down. Avoid heavy and greasy foods as much as possible.

2. Keep moving. Once people start pouring in, they won’t stop coming until the restaurant locks its doors. It can be overwhelming to suddenly get slammed and have it never end, but you must endure! The key is to stay focused on what you need to get done, and ignore any negative anxiety that is bringing you down. As long as you stay on your feet and keep getting things done, everything will be just fine.

3. Enjoy the holiday spirit. People eat out on holidays to celebrate the special day with their families and/or loved ones over a good meal. Thus, everyone is usually happy and looking to have a great time. Keep the good vibes alive, socialize with your tables, and soon you might realize that your job can be a little fun. Being positive and outgoing should also increase your tips, and all of this money that you’re making should keep you smiling too.

4. Ignore the crowd. Restaurants get packed full with people on holidays, and these people usually do not understand that they need to get out of the way. Be loud and aggressive when you need to get through crowds of people waiting for a table at the front or standing around the bar. But also be polite by saying “Excuse me” and holding your serving trays high above everyone. Also, in the kitchen, servers are always frantically running around everywhere to get things done quickly. So think fast and complete your list of tasks in whichever order avoids running into other servers.

5. Be smart with your free time. There will occasionally be moments when all of your tables are happy and need absolutely nothing. However, this is not “down time” where you should just sit back and relax. Instead, help run food that’s in the window or bus other tables. This will help maintain the flow of the restaurant and show that you’re a team player. Also, by asking your co-workers if they need anything, they will be more inclined to help you in your time of need.

By following these steps, any server should be able to survive working on holidays. First, it’s all about having a good attitude and determination. But you must also have energy and stamina so your body does not give out early on you. No matter how physically ready you are though, you will most likely be exhausted by the end of the night. Fortunately however, you should still leave work smiling because of that huge chunk of money that is now in your pocket.

Attitude is Everything.

While I was at work today, I had to remind myself that my attitude towards my customers and my co-workers can influence my entire day. I woke up in a bad mood this morning; I was tired and didn’t want to work a 10 hour shift when it was the weekend. Then during the morning shift, it was incredibly slow and I was hardly getting any tables. So right away I knew I wasn’t going to make any money, which made me even more upset to be there, since it was basically a waste of time.

No matter how annoyed I was though, I tried not to focus on it. Instead, I tried to enjoy the fact that it was going to be an easy and stress-free day at work. In result, I was being sociable with my customers, cracking jokes with my co-workers, and enjoying the free time I had. Since I was so laidback and easy-going, my tables loved me and the good tips just kept on coming. Thus, I got even more happier and positive as the day went on! By the time I went on my break, I felt good and had made decent money.

So trust me, if there’s anything you don’t want to do when you’re a server, it’s being in a bad mood. First of all, other servers can’t stand it when one server is always a “Negative Nancy” and constantly complains about the same things that all of us have to deal with (that we never complain about!). Your co-workers won’t enjoy working with you and then you’ll find that you have nobody to talk to during the painfully slow days. Not only that, but your guests won’t find you pleasant to be around either. They will also have no reason to think “She/he was awesome! I’m going to leave them a good tip.” And isn’t that the whole point you’re working anyways?

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So by being in a bad mood, you can lose companionship and even lose money! And finally, feeling down also affects you. By constantly hating the fact that you’re at work, it’ll feel like the hours are dragging on and you’ll become more irritated than necessary. Being pessimistic has negative health effects on your mind and body too!

When you’re thinking positively, being happy, and laughing with your guests and co-workers, your shift will be much more enjoyable and profitable. So if you’re feeling negative when you go into work, try to remember the reasons you enjoy your job. Or as an alternative, at least fake that your happy. A big part of serving is your ability to act like the happiest and more pleasant waiter ever, no matter what mood you’re actually in. As this Emily Nevius explains, “put your work face on.” 

Eventually, even fake happiness can rub off on you and become the real deal. So in the end, everyone will be smiling.

What are your guys’ strategies to snap out of a bad mood?