I Can Say This Because "When You're Here, You're Family"

Today marked my two years of employment with Olive Garden Italian Restaurant. I know what you're thinking. "O-M-G, I love their bread sticks!" Yeah, I know.

In the past two years, I've interacted with thousands of tables, exchanged stories and spilled a few drinks. I've been yelled at, preached to and ripped off. I've learned a lot about practicing patience and human nature.

But still some people are unaware of the fundamental elements of restaurant operation. I've compiled a list of pointers to keep in mind when visiting any restaurant, and especially if I'm your server.

  1. It is standard to tip 15-20% of your bill unless something goes horribly wrong. Even satisfactory service should receive this amount. If your server goes above and beyond or there are more than six people in your party, leave more. Keep in mind that (at least in Texas), servers make $2.13 an hour and tip-out our bar and bus staff.

  2. You are probably not the only person in the restaurant. Yes, you might be in a hurry or think you're more important than anything else, but there are in fact other priorities. Don't ever wait forty minutes for a refill, but be patient and always use your manners.

  3. Servers are people, too. People have bad days. Indeed it is our job to maintain a cheerful disposition, but briefly forgetting the side of ranch is not just cause to leave a giant zero on the tip line of your credit card receipt.

  4. Try to keep a mental inventory of items you need or will need shortly. This will not only save you time, but also prevent the server from making six trips to the kitchen for items that could have been brought out all at once.

  5. If something is wrong, please politely speak up and help the server make it right. After all, you are paying for this dining experience and everyone involved wants you to be happy.

These guidelines are simple and revolve around common sense. Waiting tables builds character. Every job has it's perks (discounted food) and downfalls (bad tippers), but working in a restaurant is a unique experience. I certainly don't aspire to work at Olive Garden for another two years, but my time spent there so far has been rewarding.

Happy Dining.

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