So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Daily Archives: November 28, 2009

Gifts for Waiters, Pt. 3

These fall under the “nice to have” category.

These days, few waiters are called upon to light cigarettes and cigars. In the old days, a lighter was an indispensible tool that every waiter carried. Even today, it’s considered a mandatory tool if only to light a candle on a birthday or anniversary dessert. Most waiters simply buy a Bic or other disposable lighter, but a nice refillable lighter is still considered a stylish gift. I’ve always like the Colibri brand and they have a wide variety of nice lighters. We’ll start with a pricey lighter, the appropriately named “Tonino Lamborghini”. Here’s one that will remind you of a Miura from the ’60s, with its striking green color (and it’s $150 retail price):

 

 

 

 

Obviously, this is for those with deep pockets and champagne tastes.

Here’s the art deco/prairie style Aspire (for a more modest retail of $59):

For the sporty, outdoorsy type, here’s a rubberized yellow slicker colored “Jet 2”:

And, if you want to emphasize the “culinary” theme, here’s a flask-inspired model that’s priced right, the well-named “Flask (at $34.95):

Obviously, you can find cheaper lighters just about anywhere. Feel free to shop around. But I really like the Colibri brand. They are well-made and stylish. You can get single, double or even triple flamed models (the later great for the cigar smoker, but not necessary for the waiter). And you can find them at selected retail establishments at a discount.

Along the same line is the increasingly obsolete cigar accessory. They are obviously not obsolete for cigar smokers per se, but most waiters now work in smoke-free environments. If you know a waiter who works in an establishment like a private club or country club where smoking lounges are still found, you might consider something like this:

This is a well-made model, far better than the cheap plastic ones that you can pick up in cigar shops for $5. This one will set you back $24.95 retail.

Finally, we have the humble crumber. Most crumbers are aluminum metal affairs, but some are made of stainless steel (these hold up better). Some are painted, some are distributed with logos, some are bare metal. They vary in thickness. In many restaurants, especially those with tablecloths, they are a required item. They look something like this:

The thing about crumbers is that they are easily bent or lost and the pocket clips tend to fall off. They are pretty hard to find locally so waiters are always in need of extras. They usually cost between $1 and $3, although they are often given as liquor company promos with logos of famous wineries. This isn’t much more than a stocking stuffer type gift, and it should be given in quantity (5 is a good stock for a waiter to have available). Here’s a good source for them:

http://barsupplies.com/table-crumber-stainless-steel-p-2162.html?osCsid=r9tapme50soje2h66d5ub38rq2

But if you want to go a bit further, you might offer them this:

As you can see, it’s a variation on the Bissel manual sweeper that every waiter is familiar with. It’s bulky but it’s priced at a reasonable $6.95. I’ve never used one, so I can’t vouch for how well it works, so gifter beware!

http://crumbsweepers.com/index4.php

Here’s a more upscale and higher-priced version:

This will set you back $19.95 here:

http://www.thehomemarketplace.com/HomeMarketPlace/Shopping/ProductDetail.aspx?CID=Keep+It+Clean&SCID=Keep+It+Clean+Kitchen&ProductID=0000101371&SourceCode=50509000002&mr:referralID=26adacb0-dc49-11de-9b2c-000423bb4e79

And even more upscale at $36.33:

http://www.wasserstrom.com/restaurant-supplies-equipment/Product_442314?srccode=cii_9324560&cpncode=25-19250978-2

So, I hope that this gives you more ideas for a holiday gift for the waiter in your life.

Two books on waiting tables

These aren’t formal reviews because I never review a book that I don’t already own. This shouldn’t even be considered a recommendation per se because, once again, I haven’t had the pleasure to personally check them out.

Paul Paz runs a site called “WaitersWorld.com”, a clearinghouse for waiter resources, including a news area and a forum.  It has been around for a long time and is part of  WaitersWorld, a commercial training program utilized for staff training. Paz has been in the field for 30 years (next year) and conducts seminars and training programs.

Here’s is the most admirable mission statement:

The mission of WaitersWorld is to elevate the status of waiters in America to a professional career level. by craft is a career of choice offering unlimited opportunity! http://www.WaitersWorld.com is designed to offer terrific tools and training; to give waitstaff the opportunity to network with other professional waiters and hospitality peers around the world. Above all, WaitersWorld aims to serve other professional waiters all over the world by providing current information to achieve professional, personal, and financial success!

Obviously, this dovetails with my own desire to bring professionalism into the job of waiting tables, whether the waiter works at a meat and three or in a high-end establishment.

Paz has co-written a book called Service At Its Best: Waiter-Waitress Training: A Guide to Becoming a Professional Server. It’s published by Prentice-Hall (Pearson Educational) and the ISBN is 0-13-092626-4.
The price is $65.

Bernard Martinage was trained in France and has taught at the Culinary Institute of America, specializing in the service aspects of the restaurant. He is the founder of The Federation of Dining Room Professionals, another training organization that focuses on certification of food service standards.  http://www.fdrp.com/

He has written The Professional Service Guide, published by his organization. The ISBN is 10: 0972039902. the cost is $85 and if you join the organization, they’ll sell it to you for $65.

In addition to the two main books mentioned, here are some adjuncts:

Martinage has written what I presume to be a companion volume, Dining Room Associate Student Workbook: Third Edition (Vol. 1), published by ClearSpace. The ISBN is 10: 1448681294 and the cost at Amazon.com is $49.

He also has written Associate Handbook: Certification Manual (Vol. 1), published by the FDRP, ISBN 10: 0979104998, priced at $79 at Amazon.com. Presumably, a discount is available for both books for Federation members. But I don’t see any of these additionalbooks at their website.

Dining Room Apprentice Student Workbook (Volume 1), published by CreateSpace, ISBN-10: 1448681294 is a book with the same ISBN as the “Dining Room Associate” book, so I presume that it’s the same volume, only retitled.

Obviously these books are designed to be textbooks and aren’t cheap. I assume that there’s a lot of information about the art of hospitality, but, as I said, I haven’t seen any of these works. If the authors wish to send me review copies, I’ll be happy to review them here.

I am hesitant to recommend them as “gifts”. I’m not sure if this might send an unintended message to the recipient about the level of their service. Even if my own book ever gets finished and published, I doubt that I would recommend it as a gift for that very reason (letting a waiter in your life know about this site isn’t out-of-bounds since the recommendation can be phrased as “Here’s an interesting site that you might enjoy” sort of thing). And, of course, there’s the price thing. These aren’t cheap books.

I welcome books that promote professionalism in the industry and I will be striving to promote the same ideals myself if and when my book is completed. My goal is to provide an accessable source of information to everyone working as a waiter, and part of that accessibility is to make it affordable and available in the local bookstore. Based on the interest that I have seen in the first 9 months of this site, I think that there’s definitely a hunger for self-improvement. As I approach the 15,000 views per month level, I’m betting that there’s a place for a more informal guide. There are various books out there, some not much more than pamphlets, but you really have to seek them out and it’s hard to judge content based on an internet listing. It’s also hard to determine the relevancy to the waiter toiling in the mall. I hope to fill that niche one day.

I will be adding links to both authors in by blogroll and I hope that everyone will check them out. Paz’s site in particular has a lot of “free” information about the art of waiting tables, while Martinage’s site is pretty much commercial only.