So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Daily Archives: May 14, 2009

Be careful, your waiter might be packing heat

Would you like a side of gun oil with your waffles?

PS, I dated a Waffle House server for a few months.  She kept a 12 gauge shotgun in the bedroom corner and her freezer was full of deer meat. So yes, I can believe this story.


I am not associated with the fine blog, “So You Want To Be A Banquet Manager.” I’ve had this working title of a proposed book with this title for several years now, long before I even knew of the referenced blog.

It hasn’t been mentioned or made an issue, but I wanted to address this preemptorily. I don’t want the author of that nice blog to be confused with my own humble offerings.

And, I should mention that everyone should check it out, because much truth is spoken there.

I’m adding this link to ye olde blogroll.

Found this book at my local used bookstore.

This is a well-written comprehensive (if a little bloodless) textbook on being a waiter.

Culinary Arts IV

Robert M. Nograd (I love that name!)

Consulting Editor

Johnson and Wales College

P.A.R. Incorporated

Educational Publishers

Providence, RI

Copyright 1985 by Johnson and Wales College

Revised Edition 1988. ISBN: 0-89702-073-1 (I-IV)

This is a textbook that they use at Johnson and Wales to teach front-of-the-house principles. I’m sure that they’ve updated it since this edition, but should you find an earlier copy or even this edition, you should pick it up, especially at the $2 that I paid <chuckle>.

Especially noteworthy is the wine and alcohol and bar setup information that is neatly summarized at the end of the book. But the first part of the book goes into the nuts and bolts of table service. And there’s an extensive primer on tableside carving, something that the vast majority of us don’t need to do any more.

Good luck in your search for this rather unpresupposing book. Lots of great info packed inside.

From Waiter Extraordinaire

This is something that I would have written about eventually, but he covered it just recently, and very well.

The link says it all.

He also talks about the importance of writing everything down. I’d add that, while the server might think that it makes them appear to be super competent and amazing not to write down an order, the guest is only impressed by getting their food correctly. Maybe you have perfect photographic recall and don’t need to write anything down. You still need to write everything down. Really. If you want to do parlor tricks for your guest, learn how to make balloon animals.

Also, it’s amazing how much of the noise of a restaurant tends to settle like a smoke cloud right about waiter eye level. Since your ears are right by your eyes, it can sometimes make it hard to hear the difference between medium rare and medium well, especially if someone is deep in a booth. I know that I’m sometimes corrected when I repeat the temperature back.

Finally, believe it or not, mass delusion can sometimes set in. I remember one time, I repeated back the order and I wrote it down exactly as it was repeated back to me. When they got their food, they claimed it wasn’t what they ordered. The person next to them chimed in, “I heard her and that’s not what she ordered”.  So, there are times when repeating the order back won’t help cover your ass.

Still…repeat the orders back.

That’s an order.