So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Pet Peeve

Unnecessary doubleseats.

Don’t get me wrong – doubleseats are part of the routine. Waiters should be able to handle them when they occur. Hell, I’ve posted quite a few strategies about handling them.

What annoys me is when managers or hosts or hostesses doubleseat when they don’t have to. The mindset is that waiters should be able to handle any doubleseat and that’s true enough.


…a doubleseat should actually be a last resort.

Why, you might ask. Well, it’s simple. It’s automatically offering worse service than if you didn’t get doublesat. Even though it goes smoothly most of the time, you can’t give your full attention to each table, especially at the beginning of the meal. Plus, it sets you up for getting doublesat all night long.

What happens if one (or both for that matter) table is especially talkative? What happens if one of your tables needs special attention such as helping with wine selection or having to serve two or more wines?

And imagine if you get a third or, god forbid a fourth table on top of the doubleseat before you even get the first two’s orders taken?

Despite the fact that waiters should be able to handle double-and-tripleseats, managers need to change their mindsets and stop thinking that “it doesn’t matter”. Managers should avoid doubleseat until there is no other clear choice. About a month ago, I actually got doublesat as the first two tables in the entire restaurant at the beginning of a shift. While it was no big deal in terms of service, that meant that there was no real sense of rotation. Our restaurant doesn’t get sat in any sort of real rotation since we have more than our share of call parties and regulars who have to sit at a particular tables. But really guys – can’t you think a little bit before you seat the first two tables in the same sections? Really?

Sometimes hosts and hostesses and other seating authorities have to move someone who doesn’t like their table. This can throw off the rotation, but the seater should be flexible and be able to figure out how to get the rotation back.

Most of the time, it’s just laziness. As I said, it’s the manager’s mindset that waiters should be able to handle doubleseats so they don’t bother to demand that their hosts and hostesses or they themselves prevent it from happening. When it gets busy, you don’t have much of a choice. But when you have 10 waiters and three of them get doublesat before the restaurant is even half full, you’re just setting people up for failure and you’re being slack in your responsibility to provide the best service that you can.

Managers, are you listening?

For waiters, here is an archive post about handling multiple tables:

And this post has a description of the sort of paces that you get put through when getting double-and-triplesat and some more strategies about handling such situations:


2 responses to “Pet Peeve

  1. tipsfortips March 24, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    Amen. The whole concept is that we are all there to service the guests and provide them the best possible experience. A host who simply slams tables down without factoring this in is no different than a cook that sends out every steak rare just to get it off his wheel. My last restaurant refused to acknowledge that the front door staff with an average of 3 months of experience in the restaurant industry could ever do wrong. Servers need to accept that the door will not always run the way they want it to, but managers need to keep a better eye on the staff at the door as well. The old excuse of “you should be able to handle it” that is given to servers by managers is one of the least service oriented attitudes that are commonly held by managers.

  2. 86refills March 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm

    Agreed. Sometimes I wonder if the hostesses have any knowledge of how the restaurant works. PLEASE just go by rotation.

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