When you go out to eat at a sit-down restaurant that’s supposed to provide a friendly staff who serves your food and beverages and caters to your every need pertaining to that experience, do you judge that restaurant experience prior to entering the building? I’ve held the title ‘server’ at seven restaurants in the past six years and it seems as if more and more guests come in to order with a negative attitude and a less-than-full wallet. Your restaurant experience will really come down to the type of dining atmosphere from which you are choosing: location, depth and variety of the menu, types of food on the menu and their market prices (compared to other restaurants that have similar food and claims), quality of the food and beverages, staff uniform, gender-specific staff, socio-economic and education expectations among staff and other guests, hygienic qualities of the staff, cleanliness of the bathrooms, dining rooms, utensils, dishes and any other paraphernalia that is supposed to complement the quality and standards of the restaurant.
Your server can be trained to accommodate guests’ expectations for any restaurant by shadowing other co-workers, adhering to managerial instruction, studying the food and drink menus, knowing what each dish looks like and what it comes with, practicing scripts to guests and sophistication (or not) of those one-fits-all scripts/ individual and personal treatment to tables, and by up-selling specialty food and drinks (the customer buys a speciality beverage or entree based on your recommendations and knowledge of the dish/drink). With each new serving job, the management, duties and atmospheres seem to be polar opposites from the prior and succumb to inefficiency without corporate affiliation.
Regardless to what the server knows about how the restaurant is run, the guest should enter the restaurant, look around, read a menu and decide if that restaurant is a yes or no for that dining experience. At that point, if your server is impressing you with skills, attitude and competency, YOU SHOULD NEVER LEAVE LESS THAN AN 18% GRATUITY. A SERVER’S ABILITIES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH THE ABILITIES OF THE KITCHEN STAFF WHO PREPARED THE FOOD. It is only the server’s responsibility to know what the food should look like, how they are supposed to serve that food, refill drinks when notified or noticed during a scanning round (casually looking around at your tables while they’re eating to see if they are low on anything/looks on their faces while eating/eyes searching for something or someone) and handling your money to pay for the bill.
***It is insulting to a server to receive lower than 18% if they’ve effectively performed everything listed above and gone above and beyond expectations, treating the guests like royalty. We work hard for your tips doing absurd things other professions would never require and if you don’t have the money to tip 18% or more of the check, the solution is simple: DON’T EAT AT THAT RESTAURANT. GO SOMEWHERE WHERE YOU CAN AFFORD TO TIP AT LEAST 18% AND THAT SERVER WILL BE PLEASED. ***
One last thing, your SERVER is not your SERVANT, so don’t treat them like one. Use your manners and professional demeanor when out to eat. Restaurants and their staff are businesses too.