Things People Who’ve Never Worked in Food Service Will Never Understand

Yesterday was Mother’s Day, so we took Kathy out to one of her favorite Italian restaurants and treated her to all the cheese and pasta that could be bought with the money two humble students could cobble together.


The fire was real. The meatballs were spicy. 

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you know that mother’s day is the absolute bat crap busiest day of the year, because who doesn’t love their mothers?

I worked as a hostess at a Ram’s Horn for about 8 months, and let me tell you that was enough for me to know that I never wanted to stand behind a podium again. Even if it does have expired candy in it.

I’ve never been a waitress, but I knew a few, and they are some of the most high strung people you’ll ever meet. Because they are food ambassadors. They don’t have any actual part in the making of the food, but if it’s not perfect shots are going to be fired. And not by soldiers. By middle-aged soccer moms and business men in ill-fitting suits.


Literally the bane of my whole existence.

My sister also works as a hostess, but neither of my parents have ever so much as run a lemonade stand before, so when there was a problem with our reservation or our food or our service, they would immediately lash out.

And yes, if there was genuinely something wrong that could’ve been avoided but wasn’t because of a stupid thing someone did out of negligence, I can understand being upset.

But I just want to stand up for all of the hard-working, caring people out there who sacrifice their dignity and their sense of fashionable footwear to bring you your Shrimp Scampi. They deserve some recognition and appreciation.

Things you’ll never understand until you work in a restaurant:

1. Just because you made a reservation, doesn’t mean you’ll get seated immediately.

Usually, if it’s a weekday and it’s just a normal day (not the previously mention bat crap crazy day), you’ll probably get seated at or around your reservation time. But when it’s busy, and the kitchen is overloaded with orders that would take a normal person two hours to overcook in their convection oven, you might have to wait a teensy little 15-20 minutes to get your table. Also, a lot of restaurants that take online reservations don’t have a program that allows them to stop taking them if it reaches capacity. You can thank all of the people that make 5 different online reservations and pick the shortest wait for that one.

2. Your servers are giving up their holiday for you, involuntarily.

The dumb thing about most restaurants that get busy during special occasions is that they often make it mandatory to work on those days, or at least they don’t let anyone take that day off. Because no one wants to work on Christmas or Thanksgiving, so that means forced labor. That means having Easter a day early or celebrating Father’s day a week late if you want to do something together. So be nice to your servers, because they want to see their mommies just as much as you do.

3. Hostesses are trying to please everybody and it’s impossible.

Hostesses are the little worker bees of the restaurant, except they don’t get to bathe in honey or have sex with any Queens. They’re not only trying to make you happy, but they’re trying to make all of the waitresses happy, since each one has a defined section and you’re supposed to seat the same number of tables for each section. This way all of the waitresses make around the same amount of money. Unfortunately, if a party moves, or wants to be seated with a particular waitress, that really messes up their mojo, and waitresses are NOT forgiving if a hostess gets in between them and their ability to eat next week. So plop down where your hostess puts you and just pretend you’re near a window.

4. Waitresses get paid peanuts, and tips on credit cards are smaller than you think.

I know it’s easy to just add another 5 dollars to that little line under your total when you’re checking out. I KNOW it is. Cash is cash and it’s really nice to have and did you hear how each bill has a little bit of cocaine and feces on it? That’s gross, no one wants to touch that. But hear me out. When you leave your tip in cash, the waitress/waiter is allowed to take that cash home, provided they don’t have to split it with the bussers. If you leave your tip on your card, the wait staff won’t get that until pay day, when it’s taxed along with the rest of their pay (which is only about $3 an hour, btw). Meaning the 4 dollars you left is actually about $3.20, and your waiter won’t get it for another month. So gets your hands a little cocaine-y and tip with cash.

5. They might close at 9, but that doesn’t mean everyone leaves at 9.

I didn’t ever experience this, because the restaurant I worked at was open 24 hours, but my sister works at a Bob Evan’s that closes at 9 every night. But when she closes, she often won’t be walking out the door until 10 or 10:30. If you come in to get some of those heavenly mashed potatoes or broasted chicken at 8:59, they legally have to serve you, which means keeping the kitchen open and keeping people past their work times. And you really don’t want to be one of those people that’s unaware of this and kills the dreams of 5 lonely teenagers who just want to see their mommies on mother’s day.




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