So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Change of seasons

As we head into summer, one of two things will happen to most waiters.

First, if you wait tables in a place that doesn’t have a lot of tourism, it’s likely that business will slow down dramatically. People go on vacation, they tend to BBQ, go to the lake for the weekend…you know, that sort of thing. If you don’t have a patio, you are also competing with those restaurants that offer al fresco dining.

However, if you work in a touristy location, this is the season that makes or breaks your year.

In any case, you need to make adjustments to your mental attitude.

If you know that business is slow during the summer, it’s important to be sure that you can ride out the slow season. If you’ve prepared properly during the Christmas season and forward, you can rest easier. In fact, this is the time when you can actually take some time off without severely impacting your budget since you won’t be losing as much income. Many waiters plan for this, taking their time off during the slowest weeks of the year.

If you are in the second category, now is the time to squirrel away as much money as you can in order to get you through the lean fall and winter. It’s also the time to get yourself prepared for heavy business.

Another thing to realize is that, as the sun sets later and later, people tend to dine out later. If you’re used to the rush being over at 8pm, you can be blindsided when you discover that business is just getting started at 8. You need to adjust your mindset because, especially in restaurants that depend heavily on reservation traffic, you might be idle for the first couple of hours. This can be hard to adjust to. You should start preparing around Memorial Day. This is the day when people get the message that summer is here. There’s usually a bit of a dropoff around the first part of June as parents get their kids back for the summer, the picnic basket gets filled and bathing suits are unearthed from the bowels of the closet.

The lesson is that the restaurant business follows certain seasonal cycles. If you can recognize your restaurant’s “biorhythms”, you’ll be better prepared to deal with the change of pace.

While this advice might be a little late this year, file it away for future reference. After all, it will only be 3 months before the next shift if guests’ dining behaviors changes. Labor Day is your next touchstone. When August rolls around, start preparing yourself or pay the consequences.

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