People have been waiting for tables for centuries, so it’s no wonder a whole waitering ‘ethos’ has grown up around the profession. Here are a few super-secret secrets that waiters perhaps might not want you to know …
What they say …
86 – a dish that is 86’d means it has run out and is off the menu. Can also be applied to colleagues who suddenly find themselves off the employment roster.
I’m in the weeds – overwhelmed; usually shouted at kitchen staff who are not creating dishes with as much speed as they need to do.
WKF – short for ‘well known face’ and used at toffee-nosed establishments where ‘VIP’ status is considered open to interpretation.
Campers – diners who spend too long eating their meals, ruining the smooth flow of getting bodies at the tables.
How they work …
Waitering is not currently an Olympic sport, but perhaps it needs to be considered as one. A waiter can burn over 300 calories during a single hour’s work, even when walking at just average pace.
Waiters claim that during a four-hour shift they can walk up to five miles. There is now a special ‘waiter’s walk’ exercise they can perform at the gym which involves walking while holding a kettleball weight high above their heads with the wrist facing forward.
How they gain tips …
Waitering is not usually considered an employment where you can get rich quick, so topping up your salary with customer tips is extremely important. The shrewdest waiters understand that remaining friendly and cheerful at all times has its own reward. A study conducted by the University of Mississippi concluded that even a light touch of the arm by a waitress can see them score a 36 increase in tipping revenue.
If you call a customer by their name, it typically results in a gain in gratuity of 10 percent, while even something as simple as drawing a smiley face on the bill can raise tips by 17 percent.
If you dine out, it’s cheaper on your pocket to be truthful. If – when your waiter asks you “how was your meal?” – you claim it was delicious when it wasn’t, then you’ll typically end up adding a higher tip to cement your untruth.
Where they end up …
Not everyone considers waiting on tables a ‘job for life’ – Renee Zellweger, Russell Crowe and Megan Fox were all table servers before they hit the big time.
For some, the win was on the diner’s side. Former ‘Friends’ star Jennifer Aniston worked in a burger bar before she received her big break and admitted that she’d “dropped more than one Alpine burger in customer’s laps.”
One young French-born waiter called Raymond Blanc was working at The Rose Revisited in Newbridge, Oxfordshire restaurant in 1972 before the head chef took ill and he was asked to lend a hand in the kitchen. The then twenty-three year old ended up owning Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Great Milton which has earned two Michelin stars and has employed Heston Blumenthal and Marco Pierre White, among others.