So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Definitions for newbies

No bev key– this order button is what you push at the end of the meal if a diner doesn’t have coffee or some other after-dinner drink. It can have various designations, and its function is management’s way to alerting you about ringing in coffees and the like. They track the number of items that they are concerned about and match them to the number of diners indicated on the check. If the number of coffees, hot teas, or other trackable items plus the number of no bev entries don’t match, then it’s an indication that the waiter might not be ringing in some of their self-serve items, usually because they simply forget. Not all restaurants track this sort of thing, but if they do, use it as a tool to help you remember to ring things in because, after all, the larger the check, the larger your tip is likely to be.

On-call shift – a shift that a waiter is scheduled for on a “need” basis. It’s considered a scheduled shift and the waiter is required to call the restaurant by a certain time before the shift to see if he or she is needed. Waiters usually hate this sort of shift because you really can’t plan one way or another. The important thing is to make sure you call in and cover your ass.

Marking tray– a tray preset with appropriate silverware for “marking” a course. “Marking” is the setting of silverware to replace silverware removed from a previous course.

Closing a check – the final completion of the transaction after you’ve received payment from the guest. Depending on how the system is set up, you may or may not be able to modify any terms of the transaction once it’s closed by having a manager reopen it. So, it’s important to make sure that you’ve entered the tip correctly or that you have removed any voids, comps or other items from the check that are not supposed to be paid for before you close the check.

Rotation – refers to seating by the hostess according to a station’s number. Some restaurants seat strictly in numerical order, others don’t. Even a strict rotation can be disrupted by a guest requesting a different table or a call party, so it isn’t an absolute.

Call party – a party that requests a specific waiter. This is gold.

Bump– an extra tip over and above a service charge or autograt. Same thing as grease. A double bump is a bump that is exactly or close to the original autograt.


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