Swampland Server Survey with Kristy Check out all the other Swampland Surveys
Server, Hostess, Bartender, Expediter,
Manager for a few months at Vinny’s
Years of Service:
RP: Do you like your job?
KL: I loved my job most of the time. First, I’m a night owl, so the hours fit my personality and lifestyle well. I pretty much loved all of my coworkers and I forged long-lasting friendships with many of my customers. I only stopped bartending because I blew 2 discs out in my back in 2012; otherwise, after Vinny’s closed, I would have picked up another gig. The money is great for a part-time job (I’m a teacher). The times I disliked my job was when we had huge functions that didn’t tip well, or when I had a jerky customer or jerky “friend of the owner” who we had to be nice to.
RP: Do you feel supported by your employer?
KL: Absolutely. There was a restaurant I worked at before these 4 that I listed above that did not support their employees and took delight in humiliating them. This made me appreciate the folks who ran the Gary’s, etc. so much more.
RP: Are your duties written in a handbook?
KL: In smaller, family-owned restaurants, we don’t really get handbooks. Sometimes they’re posted as sidework duties, and the owners usually tell you what they expect of you.
RP: Do you personally like the cuisine served at your place of employment?
KL: I did! Which made it easy to sell. I worked at a chain restaurant for 6 months between the closing of Sparkfish and the opening of Garabaldi’s. The food was hard to get excited about, so when it came to recommendations, well, I’m not a very good actress! Liking what I was selling was a huge part of being a good server and bartender for me. If you like the food, you’re also more likely to try more of the menu that way and offer honest, enthusiastic suggestions.
RP: Do you have a good rapport with the Chef?
KL: Yes, I had good rapport with every chef/line cook I have worked with. It’s crucial, because when you mess up or need something, you need them to not throw a dish at you.
RP: Would you question a plate put up by the Chef if you believed it wasn’t prepared the way the customer requested?
KL: Yes, and I have. I guess it goes with the good rapport, but in the end, the customers are paying the bills. As the server, you are their advocate for their food being done right.
RP: Are you ever personally grossed out by any of the food that you serve?
KL: Liver and onions, and anchovies. ‘Nuff said.
RP: Have you ever given into temptation and secretly eat off a plate?
KL: Never. That kind of stuff wigs me out. I’ve seen customers do weird things at their tables with their hands while eating. Gross. However, if there was a mess-up (say, customer ordered a sandwich with NO MAYO and it came with mayo), the mess-up would be left in the back for servers to pick at.
RP: Are you encouraged to upsell?
KL: Yes, but corporate places are more strict with that policy. They have secret shoppers and district managers involved with making sure that happens. It’s good to greet a table with a couple of drink specials and priority meals in mind.
RP: Do you ever / usually have to fake a cheery persona when you really don’t feel cheery?
KL: Yes, but that’s the nature of any job. The only difference is in the restaurant industry, how cheery you are/are not can directly affect your income. Servers make less than $3 an hour, so everything depends on tips. If you can’t scrounge up a smile, guess what? You don’t get paid.
RP: Do you use sex appeal in hopes of a bigger tip?
KL: Nah. I use humor– it works better.
RP: How do you handle removing finished plates?
KL: This is a touchy subject for some. It was drilled into me by my parents to never remove a plate from a finished patron while one or more patrons are still eating. However, if the patron has put it out to the edge, or I can gauge that they want it removed because they dislike the mess, I will. But I would always ask first and make sure they know to take their time.
RP: How do you handle the check?
KL: I learned the hard way when I was 17 and just starting out–
ALWAYS ASSUME THEY WILL WANT CHANGE!!!! I will say, however, that most people don’t pay with cash anymore, so the more awkward conversations come about with: “Book is on the table and closed. Looks like it moved. Can’t tell if they looked at it or not. Is there a card in there? I don’t want to rush them or hover. Are they ready?”
RP: How do you handle leftovers? Do you take the unfinished plate
and box it for the customer behind the scenes or do you bring a box to the table?
Do you box it in front of the customer?Do you just let the customer box it themselves?
KL: If it is crazy busy, sometimes I would bring the boxes to the customers. I was always told it’s illegal to box the food out of sight of the customer, so I always did it right in front of them. However, I’ve been told that there is an exception for boxing out of sight in the kitchen if the kitchen has cameras. Someone else might have more info on that. I personally as a customer do not like boxing my own food because it can be messy and awkward, but at the same time, I understand when a server is in the weeds and can’t do it.
RP: Do you think on average that customers tip well or not?
KL: On average, yes. If not, it evens out. 20% is the standard, and many people go above that.
RP: Would you like it if A Swampie requested your table?
KL: Absolutely!! I wish this group had existed when I was still bartending. I would have loved to share in the enthusiasm and excitement of good food, good drinks, a good atmosphere, and good service. Not going to lie, though, there would also be some anxiety because I’d know I was going to be reviewed!! Lol
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