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View Diary: What restaurants should you eat in if you care about workers? (100 comments)

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  •  So much is out of the server's control (1+ / 0-)
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    Besides the fact that 20% is simply to ensure that servers are paid fairly (which shouldn't be the customer's responsibility, but the reality is that for now, it is), another reason to tip 20% is because wait staff actually have far less control over the quality of the service provided than most people realize.

    Many hold-ups in service take place in the kitchen, up front, or in the bar and can be due to multiple factors, from a prima-donna chef who really doesn't give a sh*t how long the food takes to get there or who wants to punish servers he doesn't like for whatever reason, to a hostess who decides to go ahead and seat a large party that shows up without a reservation and ends up throwing the seating balance into chaos.

    Often the bar is running more slowly than the restaurant since people usually don't need reservations to eat/drink there, so that can affect how long it takes drinks to arrive. And sometimes there's been a miscalculation in how busy a shift is going to be and the manager will send people home only to get slammed with an unexpected wave of customers.

    Why you don't often hear about these kinds of hold-ups from your server is because any experienced server knows that explaining the situation comes off to many people as making excuses and can actually lead to an even lower tip. So we keep smiling (or, in my case I stopped smiling once I realized it had no effect on my tips and people were going to be rude anyway) and do our best to deal with the situation.

    In the end, as this project highlights, it all comes down to management and the type of work environment they're willing to tolerate or cultivate. I worked in a mid-priced restaurant on a choice piece of real-estate in a tourist town, so we were going to be busy regardless of the quality of the service. The manager I worked for not only tolerated but sometimes encouraged the behavior described above, and anyone who complained knew that they would lose prime shifts.  

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