So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Once you’ve got the job, what should you expect? Pt. 1

The transition to any new job can be unnerving and confusing. If you have never worked in a restaurant and have just been hired, here’s what you might expect:

They’ll usually ask you to come back for orientation. When you do, make sure you bring the items that they say you need, things like driver’s licenses, green cards, alcohol serving certifications when necessary, etc. It doesn’t make a good second impression for you to come unprepared.  And bring your own pen. As a manager, I was always dismayed when a server-to-be didn’t bring their own pen. Maybe that was my own pet peeve, but why take a chance? As a server, you will need to be prepared and you should show your new employer that you are prepared.

You should already have part of the menu memorized because you should have asked/insisted on at least a copy of the food menu, and preferably also the wine list. The more initiative you show, the better off you’re going to be. Plus, this gives you a few days extra study time, because you are surely going to be tested on your menu and bar knowledge before you are allowed to go on the floor. Everyone’s got a different way to memorize boring lists of ingredients, but I certainly recommend the flash card method. Another good way is to visualize the total dish because a picture is worth a thousand words, so pay particular attention when you’re given the opportunity to see the food. It will make it easier. Some restaurants want you to know every single ingredient in every dish and others are more concerned with the main ingredients and type of preparation, paying particular attention to possible allergy-inducing components. After all, you don’t want to clean the walls after someone’s head explodes after eating shellfish.

Your first day will generally be an administrative day. You’ll go through an orientation process that will require filling out a few requisite forms. You’ll probably be given an orientation packet which will outline the restaurant’s personnel and operational policies. There might be a training checklist which will give you an overview of the day by day training that you can expect. You might sit through the dreaded orientation video. You’ll probably be briefed on any benefits such as health insurance and 401(k) plans (if any). You’ll be briefed on the uniform if you haven’t already. You might get your employee number assigned to you and be shown how to clock in and out. Pretty basic stuff really. However, now is the time to ask any questions that you might have regarding policies and procedures, things like parking, family meals, employee discounts, uniform policies, tipout policies, etc. You should also use this day to evaluate the type of corporate environment that you’ve gotten yourself into. You might find that everything is tightly structured and run like clockwork. Alternately, you might find orientation to be more informal.

In part two, we’ll discuss the employee manual and other niceties.

Hopefully, I can help you from looking like this:

confused-monkey-300x300

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