Oh the woes of being a server: the fast paced rush, the kitchen yelling at you for what your customers have ordered, the table of people that are mean to you and make you want to cry and the co-worker who is always telling you how to do things better! It seems the woes never end! One of the biggest influences on a shift can be how you and the BOH interact with each other. Thankfully, this is an area that you have more control over then you may realize.
I asked 100 chefs to offer their advice to servers to create a more pleasant and respectful relationship between the two houses. Here is what they said.
- Use your expediter to communicate. Your Expediter is the liaison between you and everyone in the kitchen. Don’t attempt to talk to chef’s on the line for any reason. Problems or modifications should be discussed with the Expediter. They will take it from there.
- Run food! Everyone in the kitchen has taken great pains in preparation and the creation of dishes that sit on the line waiting for anyone with time to deliver them. It doesn’t matter if it’s your table, your section or not, it is a paying guest’s food; plated and ready. Any call for “food runner” should be met with a sense of urgency.
- Don’t take things to heart. Thick skin is the order of the day. Don’t take any immature, stupid or sharp comments personally. Sometimes it’s not that easy but what is said during a busy rush is best not taken as a genuine insult.
- Hush on your tips. Don’t boast, bitch or talk about the gratuities you have received or not received. While it’s fine to talk to your FOH peers about the money you make that conversation should be a private one and does not extend to the kitchen.
- Don’t use your cell phone. While you are at work you should be focusing on things that need to be done or attended to: cleaning, guest’s needs or running food, not planning your time after work.
- Don’t use perfume or cologne at work. People come out to eat to smell food, look at food and eat food. The smell of perfume, while pleasant, has no business competing with the natural smells of the food.
- Make sure your order is correct. It begins with what the guest says they want and ends with them receiving what they said they wanted. The tricky part is everything in between. Make sure you write down what the guest says, correctly and legibly, and put effort into putting that correct information into the computer system.
- Have a solution, know what is needed. If you bring a dish back to expo from a guest, make sure you know what needs to be done to fix the problem right now. Don’t explain the whole situation to expo…they don’t care, not at that moment. What they care about is fixing the problem as fast as possible. Clear and direct dialogue is key. “Table 1, seat 1: cook this steak up to mid-well, please” or “Table 6, seat 3: Please re-heat this risotto, it’s too cold.” are great ways of communicating. The chef doesn’t need any back story, not right now.
- Say Please. Please! These are basic manners.
- Say Thank You. Thank you! You were taught this since you were a kid.
- Buy a round. Not all the time but if you have had an exceptional night thanks to a great kitchen team, it never hurts relations to buy them a drink. They’ll remember and they’ll be grateful.
- Greet and bid adieu. Saying hello to everyone when you come into work is a friendly and a nice introduction to a shift. There are often many servers that come in at a certain time and yet it is rare that any of them will actually go out of their way to say hello to the kitchen team. Often times they (the kitchen team) have been at the restaurant all day working; a friendly greeting is always welcome. A genuine good night is always thoughtful as well!
Alright, here is where I ask you to check out my website: http://iamwaitress.com. The 427,826,211 person to visit it will win a billion dollars, maybe it will be you!
Jennifer Anderson is a server, certified Sommelier and FOH trainer/re-organizer.