Lessons Learned: Restaurant Edition

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I’ve spent a pretty hefty amount of time the past year & a half working in the restaurant industry. This might sound drab to some, but all those night shifts, silverware rolling, meetings, and work parties have taught me more than my college classes have. Here are a few of the important messages- some general and some restaurant specific- I’ve gained through my work as a hostess.

Teamwork truly does make the dreamwork.

It takes all kinds.

A restaurant needs managing, cooking, dishwashing, seating, serving, to-go orders, bussing, reservations, inventory, silverware rolling, ordering, cleaning, coordinating, and so forth.

The only way the restaurant world goes ’round is by everyone pitching in. It doesn’t matter if that’s not the job you signed up for. Their success is, consequently, your success.

When in doubt, tip.

You have no idea how much effort goes into putting together your to-go order or how bad of a night someone’s had. Tip an extra dollar and make someone’s day. Everyone likes getting a little cash and that applies to every industry.

Make friends.

Working is much easier when you like who you’re stuck there with. Sure, my shifts are sometimes tiring and long, but most of them are (believe it or not) fun. I love the people I work with. We joke around. We have each others’ backs. Smile at your co-workers, help them out, and get to know them. You might just find out that you have a whole room of new friends.

Keep the party going… somewhere else.

It’s great to have a good time while you’re dining out, but please, please, please do not stay for 3 hours talking. That takes away money from servers, food and timely seating from other customers, and patience from every employee. For everyone’s sanity, move to someone’s house or an ice cream shop or a bar. Anything.

Sit where the host seats you.

We have a plan. Servers have assigned tables. When three parties in a row refuse to sit at a certain table, they are depriving that server of making money. Your food will taste the same wherever you sit, I promise. You are there for an hour. You will survive.

Don’t be that person.

Don’t come in a restaurant 30 minutes before they close. Don’t order an appetizer as your meal. Don’t try to use expired coupons. Don’t order off of the kids’ menu. Just don’t.

Humility and overall human goodness.

In a restaurant, your needs come last. Your responsibility is to serve those paying your bills in whatever capacity you can. You have manners towards everyone, regardless of their sex, race, orientation, religion, age, etc. You treat everyone equally and with a smile. It’s your job, in the restaurant and in the world.

I surely don’t know everything and I will continue to learn as long as I work in a restaurant and anywhere else for that matter. But I strongly encourage everyone to work in a restaurant at some point in their lives. You gain new bonds, perspectives, and common sense.

It’s worth it.

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