So You Want To Be A Waiter

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

Tag Archives: writing

“The stuff that I wish I had written” for the day

From bitter waiter (see perma-link in blogroll.)

“And they never hesitated to ask me for water refills.  

In new glasses. 

With a side of lemon, dead puppies, and crushed dreams”.

I guess you have to read the rest of the post for this to resonate:
It’s too many syllables for haiku, but I wish I had written it nonetheless…

Grammar and Hooters


One has to admire a Hooters Girl who appreciates good grammar. Of course, it’s difficult to decide whether it should be “Hooters’ Girl” or “Hooters Girl”. I assume that it’s officially Hooters Girl, and I’m willing to accept that as well as overlook the slightly demeaning “Girl” designation. I guess “Hooters Woman” just sounds weird.

Still, I’m glad that there are waiters (“Hooters Waiter” sounds stranger yet) at Hooters that appreciate the proper application of grammatical rules. Surely this bodes well for someone who wants to be a country star, especially if she’s a songwriter as well as a performer, although, frankly, sometimes you have to bend grammar to fit a song. I give you Midge Ure (Ultravox) “If I Was” as a prime example, a song that ignores the proper subjunctive mood but just sounds more “right” than “If I Were”. Of course it’s not a country song, unless your country is Austria.


How to make an extra thousand a year

There’s one thing certain about most servers (yours truly included) – it’s really frustrating to get a table at 9pm, especially when your last table closed out 30 minutes ago but the management hasn’t cut sections yet. The tendency is to say “Gee, I have to stay an extra hour and a half for a deuce that might only pay me $10”. And that’s a reasonable thing to think, believe me. Sometimes, if we get the chance, we’ll dish the table off to a closer or someone who already still has some tables working.

It’s hard to get out of this mindset, especially if you’re one of those people who likes to go out after your shift, or you have a turnaround lunch shift the next day. And I’m not saying that it’s unreasonable – that you should be glad to stay late and never think about dishing the table off.


…you can shift your thinking a little and get a payoff by hanging in there. There are several ways that this can pay off. First, dishing off even a $10 table a couple of times a week can add up. If you hang in there, now you have another thousand dollars in your pocket at the end of the year. Yes, it means another hundred hours of work a year, so that’s worth thinking about. 

You might also try to think of it as paying for a lot of your tipout for the night.

And if you work in a high-end restaurant, you certainly risk losing a lot more than $10 on a deuce. As anyone who works in such a restaurant knows, any table any time can be the one that makes your night and changes it from a $100 night to a $150 -$200 night, even with a small table. I can certainly testify to that. One thing to consider is that some of the heavy hitters in your restaurant like to come in after the rush.

This is a quality-of-life issue that everyone has to make for themselves. I’ve certainly been a serial table-dropper offender in the past myself. But I do it less and less. I find myself changing my mindset in subtle ways. I look at it as a way to do my closing sidework at a leisurely pace. I look at it as paying for my tipout. I look at it as “well, it’s only an extra hour or two and, who knows, I might pick up an extra table or two from people who are bustin’ to get out on the town”. 

This is just another way to look at getting by during these times of shrinking business. Remember, there’s almost always someone who is thinking of getting the hell out, so, if you can come to an accommodation with yourself, you could definitely profit from someone else’s “lifestyle choice”.

It’s another option that you have available to you; one that you might not have considered from all angles.

Oh yeah, one final thing to consider – management will come to depend on you as someone who doesn’t mind staying and doesn’t bitch about getting that last table. This can subtly influence their seating habits and you might start getting a higher quality of table in general.

Capital Grill hurting since firing blogger

Well, yes and no. They were hurting before they fired our friend in Kansas City, but I’d like to think that it was a direct result of being buttheads.

They are definitely underperforming in the steakhouse sector, but they did come in first in the chain steakhouse category in the most recent Consumer Reports nationwide restaurant survey. Personally, I’d listen to to them when it comes to buying a washing machine, but when it comes to matters of taste, as a recovering audiophile, I always had to laugh at CR’s complete lack of a sense of style and taste. I mean, Bose? Really? So, when a report that lists PF Chang’s as the number one “Unique Dinner House” chain restaurant, I have to wonder about Capital Grill.

BTW, for 3qtr fiscal year 2009, they were down 19.0% same store sales from 2008. Pretty bad indeed, even in these bad times. It jumped to 22.1% down in the 4th quarter. They are one of the worst performing companies in the sector. Other steakhouses like Palm, Fleming’s, Ruth’s Criss, Mortons, Sullivan’s etc. are hovering between 10 and 15% down this quarter.

So, maybe CJ’s firing has had some effect! Look at their bar – deserted:

Capital Grill


A World of Curries redux

I reviewed a book called The World of Curries the other day by DeWitt and Pais. Well, Dave DeWitt  wrote:

“Thanks for the plug on my out-of-print book! Your readers might like to know that an abridged version exists on my Fiery Foods & Barbecue SuperSite. Also called “A World of Curries,” there are a lot more illustrations, including food shots. See? I figured out what to do with out-of-print books–recycle, recycle”!

So, let’s give you the link (and you can bet that it’s going to be put in my Foodie blogroll as well).

Some might remember his Chile Pepper Magazine from over a decade ago. He also still has several books in print, one of which, The Whole Chile Book is in my queue for review. He is one of the pioneers of writing about “fiery foods”, having done it way back in the 70s.

So, go forth and patronize his web site. You’ll find scads of info on peppers, curries, BBQs – heck, virtually anything that falls in the “heat” category.

And this is a good time to remind you why I write about cookbooks on a waiter’s site. The more you know about food, flavor profiles and esoteric knowledge about various cuisines and food styles, the better prepared you will be to serve the guest. I hope that the food books that I recommend get you interested in picking some of them up to expand your food knowledge. Plus, maybe it will make your kitchen one that friends, neighbors and family come to know as the most interesting place to catch a bite to eat outside of a restaurant.

Just so you know, I only review books that are in my collection. I don’t crib from other sources or speculate about books that  I’m sure are great books until I have them in my hot, sweaty hands (although I use stock photos in most cases). In fact, when I write these short promos (I consider them as much promo as review because I want you to seek them out), I always have them in my hand for reference. Oh yeah, as DeWitt points out, some, if not many of these books are out of print. Virtually all of them can be had either used or NOS (New Old Stock) at sites like eBay, Amazon, or the many websites that specialize in used books. You can find them in your local used bookstores as well.  When an author has taken the time to move information from an out-of-print book to a commercial website, I vigorously recommend patronizing their websites because they obviously get no income from an out-of-print book.

As far as DeWitt and Pais’ book goes, despite the fact that he’s moved a lot of this information over to virtual form, I highly recommend you get a copy of the book. Just make sure that you go to his website early and often. And hell, buy stuff there.

Finally, if you want to browse through the books that I’ve highlighted, just type in cookbook in the search box and you’ll get all of them back to back. But you knew that, didn’t you?

Dave DeWitt

Dave DeWitt

Tipping at Hooters and new link added

If you were ever wondering what a Hooters Girl should be tipped, here’s a very clear and reasonable outline of what you should do if you find yourself scarfing down wings at Hooters.

And, because Sauce, the blogger with the guitar, has a great blog, in addition to writing this very clear and understandable defense of a higher standard of tipping, she gets a link in ye olde blogroll.

And, here’s hoping that a Joe Galante or a Scott Borchetta ends up signing her!


“Think you’ve got enough pens, pal”?

Yes, I never get tired of that question from guests when they see the 6 pens in my breast pocket. It’s almost as entertaining as the “Give me your number so that I can call you at 3am if this isn’t decaf” riposte after I assure them that the coffee is indeed decaf.

For any greenhorn server, let me say this quite plainly – you can never have enough pens. Anyone who only carries a couple of pens is inviting the wrath of the the thing on high (some have named it Murphy) and will surely cause you to suffer a large table with separate checks at the very time that you’re getting slammed.

I suggest that you have no less than 5 pens during every shift. This gives you separate checks for 4 plus one for yourself while the others are being used. I try to have even more.

In the old days, Houston’s was notorious among the server world for doing a “pen check” during preshift lineup (that might still be in their corporate culture as far as I know). You could only use  black ink click pens. No removable top stick Bics. No fancy gel pens that have removable tops. There’s a case to be made for not using the stick Bics. Their tops go to the place in the universe that holds single odd socks that are lost in the laundry. Plus, they’re just cheap looking and too long to be practical. Yes, I know you can get a dozen for like 50¢ and all, but I say, steer clear of them. Fortunately, these days, there are some nice gel pens in a click style (back then, if you wanted a “soft tipped pen”, you only had “Flairs” – oldsters might remember them). I like the feel of a good gel pen on paper so I use them whenever possible. I always keep at least one regular ink ball-point pen though because sometimes I have to have guests fill out a form that’s on nice paper and I find that gel ink doesn’t soak in and is easily smeared. You probably don’t have that issue at your work though.

I think that a pen that has the right feel on paper is one of those little things that adds comfort to the shift. If the pen clogs all of the time, it’s no use to me. If it doesn’t glide over my captain’s pad, it makes me uncomfortable.

You might not need this level of writing utensil to provide you comfort during the shift – it’s up to you to find your own safety blanket. It might be a certain wine tool or pad to write on. Once you find something that’s comfortable, try to stay with it. A waiter needs all of the help he or she needs, even if it’s something as subtle as a pen or a favorite crumber.

Finally, it’s considered pretty crude to use a pharmaceutical or other advertising pen to present to a guest. Servers in nicer restaurants often have access to those same pens that you find in a doctor’s office because drug companies usually leave a lot of them behind after they wine and dine people. Resist the urge to use them though. I used to keep a Viagra pen in reserve though. I used it a few times for comic effect.

Don’t forget, the last thing a guest is going to do before they leave, and the very thing that they’re going to do with that pen is to fill out your tip. Don’t come off as cheap with the very instrument of your income.

If it weren’t for the fact that you’ll lose at least a couple of pens a week from guests who take them (and there’s nothing more frustrating that getting a shitty tip and having them walk off with your pen), I’d use really nice dress pens. Otherwise, I use the nicest pens I can reasonably afford. I look at Office Depot/Office Max boxes of things like Pilot G-2 07. Sometimes Target will have some cheap packs of generic gel and ballpoint pens marked down to almost nothing. I have never been disappointed when I’ve bought those various packs but I have been disappointed when taking a chance on a sexy-looking pen from other discount stores though. When that happens, it stays home in the pen cup.

So, find a good variety of pens that work for you and make sure you take at least 5 of them with you to work. Or suffer the waiting gods consequences.


Article in Kansas City Star about “Girl in the Weeds” blogger CJ, fired from The Capital Grill for blogging

Should a witty blog about your job get you fired?


The Kansas City Star

The restaurant server predicted her own demise when she posted these words: “Well, here goes suicide by blog. Stay tuned for the fallout.”

The fallout arrived last week inside the cramped office of a well-to-do Plaza venue. CJ was fired after a handful of witty postings on all things fine dining — spot-on takes about dining room dramas, hilarious dissections of patron personalities and an explainer on the deft touch that support staff (dishwashers and backend kitchen help) employ to shake down their cut in tips.

You can read the rest of the article here:

It’s a shame that this dining room at this “well-to-do Plaza venue” (The Capital Grill) won’t be graced with her continuing presence:


If you haven’t been following along, click the “Girl in the Weeds” link in my “Waiter’s Stuff” area.

A milestone (of sorts) – gratuitious bragging of little import…

I feel just like a proud papa.

Today, I hit over 100 hits in a day. I’m especially proud since it was 11:55 CST and I was hung at 99 hits (don’t even ask me why I was checking). I’ve got a friend in the Pacific Northwest that I was in the middle of FB’ing with regarding some music that he had posted on his music site and I could have easily cheated and asked him to put me over the top by checking out my blog.

But noooooooo…I was strong and I resisted the Dark Side.

And I ended up with 107 “hits”. 

So kids, this should be a lesson to you all. Cheaters don’t win and winners don’t cheat. Don’t do steroids. Take Home EC 101 in high school. Don’t do heroin because the proceeds of the sales go directly to terrorists without passing Go and without collecting $200. Don’t bet on baseball unless you know for sure that you’re not going to play the game professionally or vote for potential Hall of Famers.

Got it?


Oh yeah, thanks for the support, my peeps. You can rulez, yo.

Correction of “Update from my last “New Link Posted” – a cautionary tale” post

I confused the Admin of, Shannon, with C*****, the creator of the  “Girl In The Weeds” blog. I think that I thought that C***** was giving up a pseudonym and giving her real name.

My sincere apologies and I’ve corrected it.

Just a reminder, C***** (from now on known only as CJ) will be updating her post tomorrow and it should be quite a post indeed. Make sure that you check it out at…schreeeeeeech…:cue sound of squealing brakes:

OK,  I’ve taken out the original link because of potential issues with her current situation. As soon as I get a proper link from frothygirlz that eliminates any reference to her real name…hint, hint Shannon, you need to do some erasure on the original blog pronto!…I’ll be adding the updated “Girl in the Weeds” link to the blogroll…until then, please have patience…