Serving is easy, when you break it down. People ask for things and you bring them those things. If servers were soulless beings than there could never be a complaint about the job they posses ever. It’s just that simple of a profession. But we do have souls. Here is a step by step guide to being a server at a restaurant without killing anyone:
Have Lemons Ready
When people go out to eat they want lemons. They want them in their water, tea, iced tea, diet coke, with their fish and on their Caesar salads. In fact, there is not a dish known to sophisticated diners that they wouldn’t invite squeezing a lemon on the top. Prepare for this by slicing up lemons in advance. You must be careful to make sure that you have properly sliced lemons for different types of diners. there’s those who just enjoy the splash of color that the lemon provides on the side of their glass, those people get the twisted wedge. Others prefer the thick slabs of lemon that they can saturate their fish alongside the chips with. Make sure that you have lemon wedges of various cuts prepared in the morning for all types of squeezers.
Refill coffee every 30 seconds
Your customer will not need the refill every 30 seconds, of course. But the customer will wonder where you are just after they decided to wash down their dessert with half their cup of coffee. You must be prepared. Then of course theres those customers who don’t touch their cup for the first 30 minutes of their meal. those customers ask for a fresh cup of coffee at this point because they wasted the first cup. resist the urge to take the wasted product and nuke it for a minute seeing if you can trick them. You would trick them, but then you also have to hang around the microwave for a minute and that is valuable coffee pouring time.
Tell the customer they are your favorite table of the day.
This humanizes you. They then also see you as a person who also has favorite movies and songs. But they will not ask you about your choices in those areas, but instead ask why they are your favorite. [note: only tell every other table in your section this lie, you don’t want the others to hear you as they are leaning over trying to get some more lemons from you]
Take a french fry.
Go ahead, you deserve it. That meal on that plate is only going to be consumed halfway anyhow. Before you bring it out into the light of the restaurant grab a fry and pop it in your mouth. Savor the salty goodness. No customer has ever eaten every fry on the plate. They never will. And when they ask for a box to put the leftover fries in they never remember to take it with them as they leave. When the plate is in the kitchen remember: This is your time; your fry.
As middle aged women enter the restaurant: Bow down immediately or suffer the wrath.
This is true for about 90% of middle aged women. They have spent the last 25 years of their life serving babies, kids, teens and husbands. When they enter a restaurant they want you to be pampered and they want to sit at that table forever, though they usually only last two or three hours. Make sure if they ask for extra ice you fill that glass to the brim or you will have to redo the job. No matter if you are at a burger joint or a 5 star they will expect service and respect as though they are the pope. Always refer to them in groups of four or less as ladies. This makes them feel young. In groups of 5 or more call them girls as they are obviously on an “outing” and right of the bat offer them cocktails. These groups will always laugh louder than any other. Be prepared.
This is why you go to work. This is the only reason. The paychecks you receive every two weeks never amount to enough to cover one single bill in your life. But if I have found one thing to be true: Tips wont change based on your anxiety. You will always try to make the customer happy, but even when the customer walks away in a huff, they still tip. You might as well whip out the ketchup squeeze bottle and draw funny pictures on their plate because most people have figured out how much they will tip you before they walk into the door. [Readers:don’t tell me I am wrong. Sure if a server is a flat out an intentional ninny you won’t give them a cent, but most servers get a 15-25% tip (yes, that averages out to the expected 20%) regardless of the amount of juggling acts they did.]
Someday I am going to “do lunch” several times a week while sitting down. And I am going to stroke the aprons of my servers in reminisce of when I was one of them. Then I will be asked to leave.