Behind the doors of Restaurants

The stories of a server

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About Me

September 19th, 2016 · No Comments

Hello all,

I am Abby and I am a Senior at University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. In High School I hosted at a small Mexican Restaurant, and I have been working for the last two years at an Italian Restaurant nearby as a waitress.  Together I have four years of experience in the Food Service and have learned a lot about different aspects of the businesses. While working at each job I handled other tasks beyond what I was hired to do. At the Italian Restaurant I work at now, I have worked as a phone girl, hostess, and a waitress. My experience varies throughout the businesses I work at, with a variety of different responsibilities which are entailed in my job.

I decided to write this blog for my Social Media Assignment, because I have experience in this area, and I want to be able to give advise to those who are willing to listen (or read). Throughout my time hostessing, and waitressing I have learned some tricks to make my job more efficient. In my blog, I will focus on Waitressing, and Cleanliness within the restaurant. The audience I hope to attract will be those who want to are new to the Food Service world, or new to Waitressing. I hope to have people learn something, or find an alternative way of Waitressing.

 

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Uniforms

November 16th, 2016 · No Comments

Whether you like wearing uniforms or not, they have to be comfortable when you are working. As a waitress we started out with polo’s then the my boss bought V-neck t-shirts that the girls were supposed to wear. I didn’t mind this because having a bigger chest, I found these more comfortable but I did not like that the girls had to wear them without a choice. The uniforms also ran small, so my uniform ran tight around the chest making me feel more self conscious about it. I was not the only one with this problem, ironically the majority of the workers have bigger chest or they are tiny like skinny wise. We received a couple of comments about the shirts going too low, which we can only pull them up so much without us drawing more attention to our chests by continuously pulling my shirt up. Uniforms are supposed to give the business a face to have as the representative, and having uniforms that are not completely appropriate or comfortable to the workers is not ideal.

There are many different uniforms that I’ve seen for waitresses, ours are not nearly as inappropriate as e.g Hooters, but still I think there should be an option to keep wearing the polo’s if we choose. I wear a tank top under my uniform or a sweater over it to minimize the shirt going too low. There is flexibility most days unless it’s summer and its eighty degrees out and you are sweating, then obviously you will just wear the uniform because of the heat. Talking to your boss about these concerns can help you dramatically, in my case it had cost a decent amount to get new uniforms so he wanted to have these uniforms for at least five years so he could use all of them without wasting any.

Uniforms can make you more comfortable or awkward, I believe they are an intricate part of a business and how its recognized by the public. Our colors are black and maroon, as the restaurant is in Fort Atkinson so those are their colors, but to play around with colors or the placement of the logo I feel would help the uniforms a lot. So if you have a problem with your uniform, talk to your boss and see if there is any flexibility with wearing it, or if you could add something to it to make it better. These are my thoughts about uniforms, maybe you will have a different experience.

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Frustrations

November 14th, 2016 · No Comments

I apologize for the rant that is to come, but I know many can relate to having a staff meeting because a few of the staff have been making mistakes but the boss takes it out on all of you. We recently had a staff meeting, and the topics discussed needed to be talked about but towards the end when we got to cell phone use is when I got frustrated. There was only three people that kept breaking the rules for this, yet we all had to listen to the same speech when we follow the rules. I get we are a team, but why waste both of our time talking about something with people who follow the rules, instead of talking to those who break the rules. I have been promoted to head waitress, so when Joe tells me what we are going to be talking about he asks if I want to add anything, well of course I do. I usually give the same speech, about how everyone needs to do a better job cleaning, and making sure they bus their own tables in a timely manner. But I don’t talk about things where only a few aren’t doing it, because it would be a waste to spend time talking about a topic when the majority follow the rules to. Those who do not, I speak individually with to make sure they know i’ve noticed, and to improve on the things I spoke about. Joe probably gets tired of saying the same things to us, over and over, I know I do but I wish he could be a little more strict because then the girls would listen and not make the same mistakes over and over.

We are a team, but we cannot be a team when some don’t pull their weight, making other do more than they are usually used to doing but they do it to help out. I’ve been taken advantaged of when I started, the other girls thought because I was new that I would be willing to help out more so they could do less. I was constantly taking peoples shifts, cleaning up after them, and staying late to make sure everything was done. Girls tend to take advantage of others generosity, which is sad to hear but I know it can happen. If I see these types of things occurring, I usually say something to the girl who is being taken advantage of and tell her that she doesn’t need to do their jobs, thats what they are being paid for. Joe was the one who told me to not help the other girls so much, and to see if they will do it themselves or ask me to do it. At first they would ask me and I said no, then they started doing it themselves and respecting me enough to apologize because they know what they did was wrong.

Thanks for listening to my rant, but the lesson is 1) Don’t talk about things that the majority of the group aren’t having problems with. 2) People need to pull their weight. 3) Don’t take advantage of the new girl just because she is new. 4) If your boss or superior says to do something, do it.

quick meeting

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Interview process

November 9th, 2016 · No Comments

Hello people!

Today I am going to be writing about the interview process, and I know every place is different so odds are your interview will be different but i’m going to tell you about my experience. I started by going into the restaurant for an application, and awkwardly filling it out in the lobby while the host was staring at me. Now i’m friends with the host and we laugh about it, but at the time her staring at me made me nervous and then I couldn’t remember the information about my last job etc. I ended up spending twenty minutes filling out a simple application, which I laugh about now. A couple of weeks later, I received a call for an interview and I remember jumping up and down from excitement. Since I had past experience as a host I assumed that would be the position I would be hired as, but they needed servers so that is the role I was interviewing for. I dressed semi-business casual just because I didn’t know how fancy the place was, but also I wanted to let the boss know I took this interview seriously. I remember interviewing with the manager Holly, she was so nice and she could tell I was nervous. But once Joe, the owner, came in to finish the interview that is when I really became nervous because Joe looks like a tough, biker guy, and I am 5ft who looks like i’m 12. I couldn’t of been more wrong about Joe, he is the best guy who i’ve talked about in a previous blog. He used the structure of the interview as a conversation, us talking but him asking questions based on what I would say.

He spoke of the following:

  • My responsibilities
  • Promptness
  • Training
  • Atmosphere of the restaurant
  • Pace of a typical night
  • Dress Code

I was lucky and I was hired on the spot, which made me feel really good but then I was thinking “wow they must really need people” haha. My other job I had as a hostess at a Mexican Restaurant I was hired while eating at the restaurant. I asked the server/owner if they were hiring and he asked me a couple of questions and then when he gave us the bill he said I was hired. So i’ve been very lucky when interviewing for jobs, and I admit i’ve been spoiled but this was my experience so hopefully your interview will be as easy.

Good Luck! :)

 

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Video

October 31st, 2016 · No Comments

I feel this guy made some valid points, but some were very drastic at least to me. I agree with the majority of his video but maybe it was the way I was trained but I was told to clear out any plates right away so that you didn’t have to do so many later on. He mentioned not being too friendly which I agree with to a certain point because if you are too friendly it’s weird but if you aren’t then the table thinks you’re mean so it’s hard to find a good spot in-between. At the end I agree most with the waitress having to be around to give the customer their bill, that is the worst when you want to leave and the waitress is no where to be found. I’ll admit when I get busy I tend to do this but I try to have another waitress drop off the check if they are going on the floor. It helps them get the check, along with it allows me to take out food or do what I needed to do without having to go back and forth from the floor to the kitchen. Being a good waitress is not hard to do but it has its challenges daily, you are trying to give the best service possible to each customer but every table is different. I’ve had a table who was very friendly and who wanted a chipper waitress, and then right after I had a table who kept to themselves who didn’t want to talk just order. You never know how the table is going to be, so I tend to have a certain speech that I feel is both straight to the point and happy. I try to be nice to every table but some tables are not nice, and I wish I was a better person but i’m clearly not. Overall i’d give this video 3.5/5 because I agreed with most of it, but clearly not all of it.

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Cleaning the workplace

October 26th, 2016 · No Comments

No one likes to work in a pigsty, especially in a kitchen where people will be eating what you are making. Every night the dishwasher sweeps and mops the floor, and the servers are responsible for cleaning all the things we use. Typically the salad bar takes the most time to clean because between the lettuce, and the produce and the salad dressings it tends to make a mess. We go through three huge jugs of homemade ranch a night, and when we refill the bottles it tends to make a mess. Most of our cleaning should be happening during the night, taking a cloth and wiping down the tables to make sure things are clean, wiping around the soda machine, and just making sure everything looks as nice as it can. I know when we are busy it is hard to keep areas clean, but it needs to happen because if we don’t then things will pile up and there won’t be room to make salads or get deserts. Another problem we tend to have is when the soda machines haven’t been cleaned then the spot gets sticky and is harder to clean later.

There are tons of miscellaneous things that need to be cleaned, but in order to clean each of the things; we need to take the time to clean everything. Laziness is not accepted in the food service industry, because we are constantly having to keep up to code, and making sure everything is completely suitable for eating.

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Relationships in the workplace

October 24th, 2016 · No Comments

This blog you will either like or don’t, so I apologize ahead of time. When I first started a waitress had a crush on one of the pizza guys, and I thought it was so cute how they met at the workplace. A week passes and they are still cute, flirting with each other, and i’ll admit I was kind of jealous. Then as time went on I realized that they stopped talking, so I asked her how they were and I found out they broke up. I felt bad but I was really worried about the working dynamic and if things would be awkward or different. Unfortunately I was right, she started acting different at work, and he was being awkward as well and I just could feel the tension. She ended up quitting, and she said it had nothing to do with the split but I think it had something to do with it. No one wants to work with their ex, and especially at our restaurant where we are a close knit “family” atmosphere it can be difficult. I’m not saying it will always not work, but it has to be talked about before you both decide to make it public.

Relationships are a complicated thing, especially when you work together and it doesn’t work out then you are forced to see each other. Make sure that the relationship is worth the troubles it could possibly become.

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Checking the ID of the little ones

October 19th, 2016 · No Comments

This will be a short post because the theme is pretty simple. It is not always easy to tell if a customer is 21 or above which can be a tricky. Throughout my time being a waitress and customer, I can never tell if someone is the legal age or not, I mean I personally look like I am twelve. My rule of thumb is to just ask just in case, because you never know if the person is underage or is undercover. The worst thing you can do is not card those who look of age, because if you do not card that one person and they turn out to be undercover; your business will be fined as well as possibly losing their liquor license. Currently in Wisconsin, there are three different licenses circulating all different styles. With mine since I am 22 ,the license is horizontal so that’s convenient. Also in the upper part of numbers (that no one usually looks at) it has my birthday in the number scheme. I have the newest version of licenses so each may vary, but besides looking at the picture to make sure it is the intended person. If you already have suspicion and see that  the persons license is from Wisconsin and is wearing an Illinois sweatshirt that can be a red flag as well.

Carding is mainly a liability risk, by not taking a few minutes to check their ID, you are saving your company money, their reputation, and possibly your job. So do everyone a solid, and just check the persons ID.

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Practice makes perfect

October 17th, 2016 · No Comments

It can be frustrating somedays when you just aren’t on your game, i’ve been there it seems like more than I should be. I’ve been waitressing for two years and still I mess up on the simplest things that make me so frustrated. I remember a couple of weeks ago I was working on a Friday, which I hadn’t done in awhile so it took me a little bit to get back into the groove. We have Friday fish fry, and I forgot that all of the dinners come with dinner rolls until my table asked where the rolls were. I felt so bad that I forgot, I mean they were nice about it but I felt bad. Later that night, I put in someones food wrong and at that moment I felt completely overwhelmed. I decided I just needed a moment to myself and luckily I was able to take a minute to calm down while I stood in the freezer literally cooling down. After a couple of minutes, I left feeling refreshed and I was then able to think clearly again. I went back to my tables with a new set of mind, and I think they could tell the difference.

Sometimes just taking a couple of deep breathes, and realizing it isn’t the end of the world can help. Of course you want to give your customers the best experience but that won’t happen unless you yourself are in a good place to be able to give them that. Smile, breathe, and try your best; that’s all you can do in the waitressing life.

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Have respect for your boss always

October 12th, 2016 · No Comments

Not everyone is as lucky as I have been, I have been lucky enough to have a boss that takes care of his employees not just while they are working but also outside of work. My boss has helped me get off work when I had family emergencies, as well as helping me with my car when it would give me difficulties. I admit when I started working at my current restaurant, I was surprised on how many of the staff would talk to my boss about their personal life. Then after a month, I found myself going in his office talking about my life and him taking a interest in my life. Having a person to be there for you if you ever need is nice to have, especially in a work setting. Especially when you are a good relationship with your boss that they offer to write you a recommendation letter if you ever need it. I expressed to him how much I appreciated him offering to help me further my career, even though it would mean I wouldn’t work at the restaurant anymore.

Having a good relationship with your boss can offer the following positives:

  • Open communication about possible problems
  • Understanding of possible days needed off
  • Support system
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Better hours
  • A better work environment
  • Ability to learn more from a peer you admire

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Working together is a must

October 10th, 2016 · No Comments

Hopefully you and your coworkers get along, but if you are going through a rough spot or flat out don’t like them then you have a problem. Sometimes people just do not get along, and sometimes you are lucky and everyone clicks. At our place, there were these two girls who did not get along and would not keep it to themselves. Both would constantly talk about the other, and start drama where none was needed or welcomed. Although both received warnings from our boss about their behavior not being welcomed or accepted, both ended up on probation which ended in one of the servers quitting. It’s never easy working in an environment that you feel is not suited for you, but there are numerous ways to avoid tension.

  • Talk it out to the other person
  • Try to be civil during the work hours
  • Ask to be scheduled on the days the other doesn’t
  • Try to take the higher road, or at least try
  • Talk to your boss and explain to him/her what is going on

It may not be easy, but any efforts you put towards the situation your boss will appreciate. Hopefully by communicating your differences, you and the other person can come to a compromise or agreement of how to work together without your restaurant or the customers paying the price. Communication is key, without it no one knows what the other is thinking.

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