So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Happy Labor Day!

For those of you who are lucky enough to have restaurants that close for Labor Day, enjoy the fruits of your labor. For those of you who still have to work, I hope that you have been lucky enough to be compensated with an extra day off sometime during this Labor Day weekend.

I meant to post about having to work the Sunday night before Labor Day because it’s such a tricky night, but I forgot. Even managers get sucked into a false sense that it’s going to be slow, but waiters can be lulled to sleep thinking it’s going to be slow. Logic dictates that if Sunday is normally slow, the day before Labor Day will certainly be even slower. After all, everyone’s going to be cooking out and partying on Monday. Who wants to eat out when they’re having to prep for a full day of stuffing faces?

Well, dear reader, logic fails if you don’t consider that Labor Day is a big travel weekend. People fly in to rejoin their friends from far-off places. Who wants to cook for them the night before the big cookout? People who travel are hungry and a restaurant is a good stopping off point on the way home from the airport. Parents fly in to visit their kids off at school and they enjoy the opportunity to take the spawn out to dinner. People like to turn the cooking duties over to the pros to give them some relief from all of the pre-cookout prep and concerns. And finally, this is the time when people make last-minute, spur-of-the-moment decisions to “grab a bite to eat”. So, restaurants which get most of their covers from reservations don’t see a lot of early names on their books.

When you take all of these factors into account, the Sunday prior to Labor Day often comes as a big surprise to novices as well as seasoned vets.

That’s why I wish I had posted a caution before last night.

I hear you saying, “Well, big boy, you sound smart now“. I’ll bet you got rocked last night and now you’re pretending to be really smart. Hindsight is 20/20, right?

Well, you’re right. We did get rocked last night. We started with about 35 covers at the end of Saturday night and ended up with 140 by the end of the night! Normally, we’d finish with about 60 – 80 if we started with 35. We even had one less than our normal Sunday crew of 7 servers, so you can imagine that we were relatively very busy. Of course, I knew that we were going to be busy, so I wasn’t blindsided, but the manager that did the schedule didn’t look at historical figures, I guess. The MOD realized that it was going to be busier than usual since we had gone from 35 to about 70 during the afternoon leading up to pre-shift. But even he was surprised at what we ended up with. We doubled that figure by the end of the night.

But you would be wrong if you think that I’m just posting this info based on hindsight.

For evidence, I give you this post from last year:

While you should read the whole post, and the other post that references the coming last quarter of the year,

here is the part that should make me look like a genius:”

“But don’t get fooled. Remember what I said about the day before a major vacation – it’s often times busier than you might expect. As the day before Labor Day always falls on a Sunday, a day that is traditionally already a bit slower than most, it’s easy to get lulled into a false sense of security. One thing about the Sunday before Labor Day, it can surprise you. This is because some people have family and friends who travel in to participate in the hallowed Labor Day Cookout. Because the grand feast happens the next day, some of these folks will go out the night before because they want someone else cook for them and they want to start their Labor Day in an institutional social setting. And the hosts like to be distracted from all of the prep work that they’ve done prior to The Cookout.

So, if you’re working Sunday, don’t assume that it will be dead. It might very well be, but if you go in anticipating better, you won’t be caught flat-footed”.

So, note to self, “Make sure that you post this warning next year to warn your fellow waiters that might have to work pre-Labor Day Sunday night”.

BTW, I walked with $325.

And didn’t get out of the restaurant until after midnight. We normally close at 10pm and do our last seating around 9:30. I got three tables at 9:45, only one of which was on the books (for 9pm).

So that reminds me of something that I failed to mention – be ready for uncharacteristic late tables. I’ve noticed that in the past as well. I think it might be related to travel.

One response to “Happy Labor Day!

  1. Nick Boodris September 6, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Your post was great and the grill with the burgers and brats added more flavor and now I’m hungry.

    Nick B.

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