10 Reasons Why Serving Is Not Like Your Job

Let's hope he isn't working while sick.

After 15 years in the restaurant industry, I can still be surprised at how little some people know about how the industry works.  Restaurants operate in a manner far different than most businesses in the United States.  While most Americans are familiar with restaurants from dining out, very few are aware of the working conditions endured by the average restaurant server.  This lack of knowledge is made worse by the fact that the customer who is unaware of this information determines the wage of servers.  This is why a brief refresher on life as server is worth reviewing for those who dine out.

Here are ten ways serving differs from most occupations:

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10 comments on “10 Reasons Why Serving Is Not Like Your Job

  1. SKC Observer on said:

    I have tried to explain to people why I just about always tip at least 15%, even if the service was not great. I just refuse to be a part of people not making a living wage for their labors. It seems to me to be the right thing to do.

  2. yellowcat on said:


    One of the things that irritates me the most about being a server is that my income is based on the customer’s perception. We have an open kitchen, but somehow they think I am responsible for the quality, quantity and speediness of their food. Every time I have to decline a customer’s wishes (sharing the salad bar, free upgrades, beer and (cheap) wine only) I watch them deducting dollars from my tip. Many of the things I have to deny are things my employeer either does not stock or does not give away, yet I’m the bad guy and I pay for it.

  3. Hira Animfefte on said:

    I always tip at least 20%. More if I can. Because it’s the right thing to do. And at any rate, 20% is normative in the area where I live (Washington, DC area)–which stands to reason, we have a godawful cost of living here.

  4. Unionize restaurants!

  5. teleburst on said:

    Here was my typically over-verbose take on this subject back in April:


  6. theinsidewaiter on said:

    Front of House staff is expected work even if you are truly ill. When you call in “sick” it’s like you better be using your high-deductible insurance that day, or your not REALLY sick.

    I once called a manager from the ER and informed him that I wasn’t coming in that evening, that I had a serious condition, and that more labs had to be run. He asked when I expected to be coming back, or if I could make the brunch the following morning. I simply stated, “well, the doctor is coming now… let me ask him.”

    • tipsfortips on said:

      I once got bit on the knee by a brown recluse spider. Within hours it was swollen to the point I couldn’t bend it to drive and had to have a friend take me to work. When I got there I showed it to my boss. She said, “you should really go to the emergency room and have that checked out… After the shift.”

      It really is a different world in the restaurant business.

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