Professional Hospitality

The archetype of the struggling actor/waiter has become almost obsolete. As waiters we still often struggle to excel outside of our hospitality jobs, but we’re not all actors anymore. The flexibility of restaurant work continues to attract artistic people, but, increasingly, the demographics within our ranks have changed and so has the nature of the job. We are now more educated; most of us have college degrees many on the graduate level or are post-baccalaureate candidates.

Today’s restaurant work is much more demanding than in eras past and hiring has become more rigorous. The level of knowledge and commitment that is expected of you in fine-dining restaurants makes it difficult for transients to make the cut. There was a time that you could get by on good looks and competent presentation skills. Now, you’re expected to master wine like a sommelier and menu with the expertise of a chef.

Part time restaurant work is less prevalent. Restauranteurs prefer hiring candidates with more stability, making the actor-types less attractive. Some restaurant jobs require even entry-level staff to work over 50 hours a week. In exchange for this commitment, salaries and benefits for tipped employees are becoming more prevalent in fine-dining as restaurateurs work to counteract turnover and encourage a more stable workforce. The result is that the hospitality industry is becoming more and more legitimate as a career and less the gypsy-like existence that has defined it in the past. The service sector is one of the largest growing segments in an otherwise sluggish economy and, particularly in fine-dining, there often aren’t enough qualified applicants to fill the demand for skilled labor.

Respect for our line of work, however, has a long way to go to catch up. There will always be a prejudice against those of us who don aprons—that our decision to serve others is borne out of desperation or short-term opportunism rather than long-term vision or career-mindedness. Does anyone ever ask you at your office job what else you do on the side? That’s funny because we probably make more money than you and people ask us that all the time.

Race Against The Clock

Time is of the essence.
Time is of the essence.

If you have a specific time constraint, communicate this to the host or Maitre’d upon arrival or to your server at the beginning of your meal. Don’t make assumptions about how much time you have, then expect the rest of your five-course tasting to occur in less than a half an hour. Serving flavorful food elegantly is a complex formula that coordinates the time, effort and talent of many individuals, so knowing your schedule ahead of time will help us shepherd your table through the experience in the appropriate intervals.

You Complete Me

Help me help you.
Help me help you.

Your waiter isn’t only asking for a complete order because he wants to turn your table. In some cases, he is trying to avoid the wrath of a tyrannical chef. Most of the time, though, he is trying to help you have a better meal. We know you just want to “fire up some appies!” but there is a delicate progression in restaurant kitchens and you should honor your role in preserving that balance. In some restaurants, if we allow you to order appetizers and entrees piecemeal it is near impossible to organize the “firing” of those dishes in a manner where the timing will be right for every table. A restaurant is a complex ecosystem where many parts must work in synchrony to make service go smoothly. Partial orders are a wrench in that plan that can and will often disrupt the equilibrium that is necessary for a restaurant to function properly. It’s no problem if you want to add something to your order in the middle of your meal, just don’t order your courses incrementally. If you are worried about being rushed, express this to your server.