Thursday, June 14, 2012

Waiting Tables Is More Than You Think It Is

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the majority of foodservice professionals work part-time. Many of these people view waiting tables as a-tide-me-over job. The budding young actors who grab waiter gigs to get by until they land a role that pays. The college and high school kids who do it in the evenings or as summer work. The young careerists in creative fields in a full-time, but low pay, position who can make a little extra money with a part-time job at night.
Many folks, I’d bet, view temporary work as work taken less seriously … despite the fact that being a waiter or waitress requires a professional skill set, intensive interaction with customers and colleagues and grace under pressure. So the last place in the world I expected to see a somewhat philosophical message about waiting tables as a managerial and beneficial endeavor was in a teeny restaurant in a tiny little hamlet in Scotland called Dunkeld. I walked into “Spill The Beans Café” to have a quick coffee and pastry when I spotted this framed message on a table against the wall as you walk into the eight-table dining area. Waiting tables, it implies, is more than you think it is. The communication was compelling:

Waiting tables can be seen as a rite of passage job, something en route to something else or a non-job.

Ironically, waiting tables is highly skilled and demanding (if you don’t believe me, I am happy to invite you here for a shift).

Our training helps us understand the benefits of team work, how to work under pressure, dealing with the public and attention to detail.

If we get something wrong, please let us know so we can fix it and learn from the mistake.

Just as importantly if we get something right, please encourage us by letting us know.

We hope that we will raise the standard and keep people in the industry with pride.

If our staff go on to something else, we know we have helped develop people who can work hard and work well with others.

I can’t imagine that “Spill The Beans Café” had more than two waitresses. But it will most likely grow, because of the values in its statement: team work, training, hard work, quality control, the importance of client value, candor, selflessness, raising standards and helping others. I bet there are lots of larger restaurants right here in the U.S. that don’t do as good a job on this score as tiny, little “Spill The Beans.”

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