If you can go to United States, why shouldn`t you? Work & Travel student project is a great opportunity to grow up, if you are willing to take the challenge. Working 16h per day, in two restaurants for three months made me see what is beneath the elegant surface and how one should behave.
I had worked as a hostess in a Chinese restaurant at first and in an American restaurant in the end. Here are some tips I have for the average person eating in a restaurant:
** Hostess does not mean waitress. I will not take your order or pick up your food from kitchen, so don`t bother asking.
***If you seat yourself in a busy restaurant, don`t complain for not having a menu or waiting a long time.
1). Every restaurant has sections and for each section there`s a waiter/server. Most hostesses give tables to waiters by rotation. The first waiter who came in is usually the first in order and so on. This been said, when the hostess seat you at a specific table, please stay there to not mess up the order and calm between servers.
The hostess has to be nice with you, she won`t push further, so please be nice too. There is no bad table in a restaurant.
2). When the hostess double sit a waiter (two couple sitting at two tables from one`s section in the same time) is hard for him, because he cannot let either table wait too long and has to bring food almost in the same time. So, I am trying to avoid double seating. Most of them cannot handle 2 tables at once. In this order, sometimes I lie telling costumers that the table they want is reserved or people from it just left to the bathroom. A white lie never hurt anybody.
3). In every restaurant there is one charming server that makes everyone feel cheerful. Be nice with the hostess and ask who is the best waiter and if you could sit in his section. She might say that “all our waiters are handsome” but she`ll give you the right sit. Also if you`re coming in a restaurant for the second time, you can ask for the previous server. You`ll enjoy a familiar face and he/she will know how to entertain you. If it is busy and this is not possible, please be understandable.
4). Some might think the manager is the most important person in the restaurant. He is not. The hostess is responsible to make everything go smooth between servers and everybody knows they basically own the place. “Nearly everyone in the world believes their job to be difficult” as Paul Ford said, but being a server is truly not easy. It`s like working in the Public Relationship department while being the pizza delivery-boy.
As a hostess, I am trying to make their life easier by picking up their checks, dealing with food related complains (you should ask for the chef, not yell at him.
Obvious fact: he`s just serving food, not cooking it), open doors, pour water and fill glasses. I am doing these especially when restaurant is busy and even most of them would say they can deal with it;
Fact: not many are cut to be servers, I know it`s a relief to know your costumers had paid and the check is in a safe place.
In most restaurants from America, cookers are underpaid, so they are moving really slow. With clients pressure on their head, it`s on common ground servers to argue with kitchen staff. Even when everybody is trying to not stay in someone`s way, problems still appear.
My point is: most of the time the manager sign the papers and “supervise” restaurant. But the crew make it work. If you liked what you had eaten, ask for chef, not manager.
5). Don`t ask for special treatment when is not possible!!! If the law say you have to wear shirt and shoes when entering a restaurant, please do. If the rule of “all you can eat“ menu says you cannot share it, please don`t. We have eyes too.
6). Room service does not mean house keeping. So don`t call at the restaurant to ask for towels.
7). Do not try to take advantage of waiters. The “I found a hair in my salad, so take it of my paycheck“ is already old and used.
Example: Picture this young couple entering in a restaurant and sitting at a table. She is blonde with long hair. He is in love. She “finds” a blonde and long hair in her salad, so he (outraged) calls for waiter and demands to bring another one for free. The waiter (after a long and stressful day of work) is telling them: “Today all waiters are male with short hair. The only females in this restaurant right now is the hostess and as you can see she does not have blonde hair, and a girl from the kitchen staff, who is brunette. So this hair is definitely your girlfriend`s.”
They left ashamed leaving behind a big tip. In restaurants, servers prepare salads and some others cold food.
8). Be sure to tell the name of the birthday girl/boy if you want the server to sing Happy Birthday to your husband/child/friend.
9). If you are a party bigger than 4, be sure to call for a reservation.
10). I hate when I seat people and the minute I turn around they move or walk away. They mess the order (read 1)
Until next time, check my bitter-sweet (partly sarcastic) open letter to my non-travelled friends. Be sure to sent it to all your “non jealous” buddies who shout instructions on how to live your life. Be the sole judge of your own happiness!
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