'wait staff' on Serious Eats

Fewer Waiters Going Penless These Days

[Photograph: Samsara in Wikimedia Commons] A paean to old-school waiter badassitude in the Washington Post as the paper reports that fewer waiters are going pad-and-penless these days. Instead of memorizing customers' orders, the new generation of wait staff has to jot it all down. Why? An increase of finicky demands from diners, larger party sizes, and "a generation that seems less comfortable with memorization." Says Richard Weber, a longtime waiter at the Palm in D.C.: "I've always gone by memory — it just feels more professional that way. Sometimes you have to go into the walk-in cooler and scream, yeah, but usually I can keep it all straight without too much trouble." Too bad. I've always been amazed when... More

Four Veteran Servers in Los Angeles Profiled

Los Angeles Times The Los Angeles Times profiles four waiters who, among them, have provided more than 100 years of service to diners: Vladimir Bezak, Sergio Guerra, Pablo Zelaya, and Manny Felix (who "has a smile as big as an iceberg wedge"). They are the types who know you dropped a fork before you need to ask for another. They remember the hold-the-onions request without writing it down. They are a rare breed of "veteran career waiters," and even though they work at Southern California celebrity hangouts, "if you’re expecting any juicy stories, forget it—when pushed, they all fall back on the famous discretion of a great waiter.” This was a feel-good piece, and a refreshing one, without a... More

A Waitress Sketches Her Clientele

Artist Anna Magnowska may be taking down your order, but she's also noting your facial contortions and talk bubbles. "Check this ring out...that would cost a year's wages for you! See what you get if you find yourself a rich man (another glass of bubbly please)." Tipsy/well-fed people say the darnedest things. Her series of sketches reminds me of the HBO hidden-camera series Taxicab Confessions. [via Made in England]... More

Served: Why I Have the Best Job in the World

I blog by day and wait tables by night. I'm excited to bring you Served, dispatches from the front of the house. Enjoy! OK. I don't have the best job in the world. I'm not deluded enough to think that waiting tables has anything to do with saving lives or sticking it to the man or changing the world. I'm also not deluded enough to think that every gig waiting tables is as pleasant as mine. That is not to say, either, that my job is painless. (Is any job painless?) You won't hear me singing its praises at 4 a.m., when I am so tired it feels like corkscrews are burrowing into my temples and my blowing out all... More

Waiter Wind Sprints: Has This Ever Happened to You?

In a recent blog post, Frank Bruni reminded me of that exquisitely painful moment when your waiter informs you there's only one order of a particular dish left, and if anyone at the table wants it, they should speak now or forever hold their peace. This is Bruni at his best.... More

Waitering, Part Two

As I relive all this, writing this story, I’m realizing how dehumanizing the whole experience was. Restaurant culture mirrors real-life culture, and if you have any delusions about how the world works, about absolute power corrupting absolutely, go work at a restaurant. Your romantic bubble vision of the world will burst. More

Waitering, Part One

I was working as a host at an Atlanta restaurant, but I wanted to be a waiter. Not because I’d make more money (which I would) but because I wanted to be like Flo at Mel’s Diner in Alice and tell customers to "Kiss my grits." A few weeks into my hosting stint, I overheard a manager talking about how a waiter quit and how they needed a fast replacement. "I can do it!" I said. "I learn really fast." More

The Ordering Game

The goal of the game was to order in one go, and so comprehensively that the server would not be forced to ask for even a single clarification. As such, every variable had to be examined, every corner of the menu explored, lest something—a complimentary glass of juice on a pre-set breakfast menu, for instance—go unnoticed. More

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