So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Daily Archives: November 19, 2009

In recession, Vegas eateries can’t beat odds – from Newser

From mid-summer:

By Jason Farago| Posted Jul 15, 09 6:14 AM CDT

“(Newser) – Just a year ago, 25% of the country’s highest-grossing restaurants were in Las Vegas—where diners ran up $15,000 checks and tipped waiters with wads of C-notes. But now restaurants are closing, new construction languishes half-finished, and more than 5,000 food industry workers have lost their jobs. “It was gold, and suddenly it became fool’s gold,” one restaurateur tells the New York Times”.

Read rest of the article here:


Vegetarians fall into different categories.

The strictest is the vegan movement. Partly political, partly dietary and partly a moral system, this food philosophy forbids the consumption of any animal products, animal by-products and food processed with animal products (the use of fish bladders or egg whites in the fining of wine, for instance). A true vegan extends this into other areas of life such as the wearing of leather or the avoidance of things like soap, perfumes and other products that might either utilize animal products or are a by-product of animal testing.

As strict as this sounds, there are still shades of veganism. While honey is an animal by-product, some vegans accept its use. Some vegans absolutely have to be sure that there are no animal by-products in anything that they consume or use – others don’t necessarily have to examine every point in the production of a food item because there are some food products that have incidental contact with an animal by-product and sometimes it’s just impossible to assure that no such by-products have been used. There is a sub-set of the vegan movement that promotes the exclusive consumption of only raw foods.

Some vegans are very militant – others are more into it simply as a healthy lifestyle choice.

All vegans are vegetarians, but not everyone who calls themselves “vegetarians” are vegetarians. However, many “true vegetarians” don’t consider themselves vegans, which is as much a political movement as it is a lifestyle choice. They simply avoid any animal product or by-product.

A “true vegetarian” doesn’t eat meat in any form. However, a “true vegetarian” might consume honey. It gets a little trickier when it comes to poultry “by-products” like dairy and eggs. There are lacto-ovo vegetarians who eat both dairy and eggs. there are lacto-vegetarians who eat dairy but eschew eggs (because, let’s face it, eggs are “meat”, right?) Obviously, an ovo-vegetarian will eat eggs but not dairy.

Then you have “pescetarians”. They aren’t true vegetarians for obvious reasons. Fish is meat. However, many of them consider themselves vegetarians who “happen to eat fish”.

There are “vegetarians” who don’t eat red meat but will eat chicken or pork. It is fairly rare for these folks to actually call themselves vegetarians, but I’ve actually seen it on the rare occasion. 

These various ideas about what makes one a vegetarian can make things tricky for the waiter.

In the next post, we’ll talk about what you should do as a waiter to try to accomodate vegetarians of all stripes in your restaurant.


Waiters are often confronted with the issue of vegetarianism.

I’m sure the term “issue” would be considered a pejorative term by vegetarians of all stripes. And I sympathize. But it’s the “all stripes” part that makes it an “issue”.

So, let’s stipulate that I’m not calling vegetarianism itself the issue, only the different ways that people categorize themselves as vegetarians and how restaurants that don’t primarily cater to vegetarians accomodate those that have different needs than what the menu was designed for.

This was brought home to me just last night.

I had a guest who said that she was vegetarian and wondered if we had something other than seafood or meat as an appetizer. We have a side dish that we can prepare that would work great in that context. The thing is, there’s cheese on it. So I asked her, “Is cheese a problem”? She said no. So I mentioned this special side dish that we can do and that I’ve incorporated into my normal spiel. I also asked if she’d simply like a small plate of freshly steamed or grilled vegetables. She said that she would get back to me.

What was her final choice?

Crab cake.

Yes, my head literally supn 360 degrees on my shoulders and driblets of pea soup starting dotting the walls.

In the next post, we’ll explore the different levels of vegetarianism.

After that, we’ll talk about ways that you as a waiter can help a vegetarian of any stripe receive at least an acceptable meal.

So stay tuned kids – excitement will ensue.

Thanks to for this nice image.