10 Things Your Restaurant Waiter Wishes You Knew

10 Things Your Restaurant Waiter Wishes You Knew

Dining out is a delightful experience, but there's a lot going on behind the scenes that many diners aren't aware of. Understanding a bit more about what waiters go through can enhance your dining experience and make things smoother for everyone involved. Here's an in-depth look at what your restaurant waiter wishes you knew:


### 1. Tips Matter – A Lot!


**The Reality of Earnings**

Many servers earn as little as $2.13 per hour in some places, relying heavily on tips to make ends meet. This might seem shockingly low, but it’s a legal practice in several states due to the assumption that tips will make up the difference. Some states have raised the minimum wage for tipped employees, but tips still form a significant portion of their income.


**How Much to Tip**

The general rule is to tip around 20% if you’re satisfied with your service. This isn’t just a courtesy; it’s a crucial part of how servers earn their living. If your server went above and beyond, consider tipping more. Holidays and busy seasons are especially tough, so a generous tip during these times is greatly appreciated.


**Impact of Poor Tipping**

Poor tipping can significantly affect a server’s livelihood. Many servers are balancing multiple jobs or school, and every dollar counts. Understanding the importance of tipping can help ensure that those serving you can afford their basic needs.


### 2. It's Not Just Your Waiter Who Gets the Tips


**Tip Pooling Explained**

In many restaurants, tips are shared among the staff through a system called “tip pooling.” This means your waiter might split their tips with bartenders, bussers, and other staff members. Everyone plays a part in ensuring your dining experience is pleasant, so this system helps distribute earnings more evenly.


**Credit Card Tips**

When you tip with a credit card, the restaurant might deduct the credit card processing fee from the tip amount. This fee can take a small but significant chunk out of the tip your server receives. Tipping in cash, when possible, ensures that your server gets the full amount you intended to give.


**Fair Distribution**

In a busy restaurant, teamwork is essential. The bartender who makes your drinks, the busser who clears your table, and even the kitchen staff all contribute to your dining experience. Tip pooling recognizes this teamwork, but it also means that every tip counts towards many livelihoods.


### 3. The Staffing Struggle is Real


**High Turnover and Training**

Restaurants often face high turnover rates, which means there are usually new servers in training. Training takes time, and new staff might still be getting the hang of things. During peak times, this can lead to slower service as trainers and trainees work together to keep up with the demand.


**Understaffing Issues**

Understaffing is a common problem, especially during busy periods or in restaurants that struggle to retain employees. When a restaurant is short-staffed, servers might have to cover more tables than usual, leading to longer wait times and potentially less attentive service. It’s not an indication of their effort but rather a sign of the challenging environment they’re working in.


**How You Can Help**

As a diner, being patient and understanding can make a big difference. Recognizing that your server might be juggling multiple tasks and dealing with unforeseen issues can help you manage your expectations and enjoy your meal more.


### 4. Some Things Are Out of Their Control


**Kitchen Delays and Mistakes**

Your server doesn’t have control over the kitchen. If your food takes longer than expected, it could be due to a backlog of orders, a shortage of ingredients, or other kitchen mishaps. Blaming your server for delays is unfair; they’re often as frustrated as you are.


**Restaurant Policies**

Servers also have to adhere to restaurant policies regarding substitutions, special requests, and pricing. If a request is denied, it’s likely because the server is following these rules. Understanding this can help prevent frustration and create a more pleasant dining experience.


**Communication is Key**

If there’s an issue with your meal, calmly communicating with your server can help resolve it more effectively. Yelling or getting angry doesn’t speed up the process and can make the situation more stressful for everyone involved.


### 5. Hands Off the Servers, Please


**Respecting Personal Space**

Your server’s personal space is important. Grabbing or touching them to get their attention is inappropriate and can be uncomfortable or even frightening. Respecting their personal space ensures a professional and comfortable environment for both staff and diners.


**How to Get Attention Politely**

To get your server’s attention, try making eye contact or raising your hand slightly. A polite “excuse me” when they pass by can also work. Most servers are trained to be attentive and will check on you periodically, so patience is often all that’s needed.


**Setting a Good Example**

Respectful behavior sets a positive example for other diners and helps maintain a pleasant atmosphere in the restaurant. It’s a simple way to show appreciation for the hard work your server is doing.


### 6. Be Punctual with Reservations


**Why Timing Matters**

Showing up on time for your reservation is crucial. Restaurants often operate on tight schedules, especially during peak hours. Being late can throw off the entire evening for the staff and other diners waiting for a table.


**Reservation Policies**

Many restaurants have policies about how long they’ll hold a reservation before giving the table away. In a post-pandemic world, some places also set limits on how long you can occupy a table, usually around 90 minutes. These policies help manage the flow of diners and ensure everyone gets a chance to enjoy their meal.


**The Impact of No-Shows**

Not showing up for a reservation or arriving significantly late can lead to lost revenue for the restaurant and wasted effort for the staff. If you need to cancel or will be late, a quick call to the restaurant can help them adjust their plans and potentially seat other diners.


### 7. Don't Order Right Before Closing Time


**Consider the Staff**

If a restaurant closes at 10 p.m., showing up at 9:45 p.m. and ordering a full meal isn’t considerate. The kitchen and wait staff are likely preparing to close, and your late order can extend their workday significantly. This includes cleaning, restocking, and preparing for the next day, all of which are delayed by late orders.


**Plan Ahead**

Try to arrive at least an hour before closing if you plan to have a full meal. This allows enough time for you to enjoy your food without rushing and gives the staff time to wrap up their duties without a last-minute rush.


**Respect for Hard Work**

Understanding the effort that goes into closing a restaurant can foster more respect for the staff. They work hard to ensure a pleasant dining experience, and being considerate of their time shows appreciation for their hard work.


### 8. Remember to Close Out Your Bar Tab


**Bar Etiquette**

If you start your evening with drinks at the bar, remember to close out your tab before moving to a table. This keeps things organized for the bar staff and ensures they get properly tipped for their service. It’s a simple courtesy that can make a big difference.


**Why It Matters**

Bartenders often rely on tips just as much as waitstaff. Leaving an open tab can create confusion and delay their earnings. Closing out your tab and tipping accordingly helps maintain smooth operations and fair compensation for the bartender.


**Smooth Transitions**

By closing your tab, you also ensure a seamless transition to your dining table, avoiding any mix-ups or delays in service. It’s a small step that contributes to a better overall dining experience.


### 9. Prices Aren't Set by Your Server


**Understanding Menu Pricing**

Servers don’t have control over the prices listed on the menu. These prices are determined by the restaurant’s management based on various factors like food costs, labor, and overhead expenses. Complaining to your server about prices won’t change them and can create unnecessary tension.


**Ordering Within Your Budget**

Before ordering, take a moment to review the menu prices and choose items that fit your budget. This helps avoid any surprises when the bill arrives and ensures a more enjoyable dining experience.


**Constructive Feedback**

If you have concerns about pricing, consider providing feedback to the restaurant’s management. They’re in a better position to address your concerns and appreciate constructive criticism that can help improve the dining experience for everyone.


### 10. Expect to Pay for Extras


**Extra Costs Explained**

When you ask for extras, like an additional side or a larger drink, it’s reasonable to expect an additional charge. Servers usually don’t have the authority to give out freebies, and doing so could get them in trouble. This policy ensures fairness and consistency in service.


**Understanding Limitations**

Not all requests can be accommodated for free. For example, extra sauces, sides, or special preparations often come with a cost. Being aware of this can help manage expectations and prevent misunderstandings.


**Fair Compensation**

Expecting to pay for extras ensures that the restaurant can cover its costs and continue providing quality service. It’s a small price to pay for personalized service and helps keep the business running smoothly.


### Bottom Line


Dining out is more than just enjoying good food; it’s about respecting the hard work and dedication of the restaurant staff. By understanding these insights from your waiter’s perspective, you can contribute to a more enjoyable and respectful dining experience for everyone involved. Next time you

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