So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Quick tip

When you take back your guest’s check after running the credit card, do two things – look at the signature block and take note of the name. If the signature block says “Check for ID”, ask them for ID when you get back. They will love you for it. And you’ll be one of the few people who ever asks them. This sets you apart from the crowd and is the final cement block in the foundation you have carefully built, a foundation of trust and care for the guest. There’s no way for me to quantify it, but I don’t think that it can do anything but help the tip.

I also give the check holder back and say something like, “Here you go Ms. Rogers. Thank you”. You’d be surprised how few waiters use the person’s name after having it handed to them on a silver credit card platter. It’s a pretty common adage that there’s nothing that a person likes to hear than his or her name. People almost perk up at the use of their name, especially when they haven’t told you.

Finally, I also shake their hand and give a little head nod. That’s something that I think seals the professional relationship that you have established.

One caveat – if it’s a difficult name, you do this at your own risk. Nobody likes their name butchered. I worked with a waiter named Villegas (like the famous golfer). He said that when he dined out, he would even reduce the tip if someone butchered his name by saying VIL e gus instead of Ve JAY gus. And this is a WAITER saying this. So be very careful, and if you have any doubt, don’t do it. I will sometimes give it a shot and say something like, “”Is it Mr. Bu LOAN ya” (for Bologna), as I did Sunday night. The wife perked up and said, with a note of puzzlement and happiness, “You said it exactly right! Nobody ever gets it right”! I turned to the husband and said, “Well, there’s the actor Joe Bologna, so I figured it was probably the same”. what I didn’t say is what i was thinking, “Would people actually think it was Bu LOAN ee like the lunch meat”?

Start doing these simple things and I think you’ll see better tips. At the very least, you’ll feel a more personal connection with your tables and it will help you recognize and greet guests who come back. It might help you build your call party list.


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