shutterstock_72434743_webEveryone should get a day of appreciation, and most professions do. From teachers and nurses, to administrative professionals and dentists, Americans take the time to thank the people who work hard to make our lives a little easier. This week, we take a moment to appreciate the people that make us feel pampered and make our lives a little more delicious: the waiters and waitresses who get their day of recognition on May 21!

There are more than 2.3 million waiters and waitresses serving up your favorite dishes in restaurants across America, and while they might be easy to overlook as you focus on your food, those hardworking people behind the plates actually wield a lot of power.

In fact 95% percent of diners we surveyed reported that a waiter or waitress can make or break their restaurant experience. And, people listen to them: 71% of respondents said they were more likely to order a dish that their server recommends.

Plenty of servers have made a lasting impression on diners like you: 74% of our survey respondents said they have a favorite host, server or bartender at a restaurant they frequent regularly, and 56% have requested a particular server at restaurant.

The job also comes with high expectations. Our survey found that 65% of diners expected to be greeted within one to three minutes of being seated, and like to be checked on once or twice after their food arrives (but not more or less!).

Part of the experience – and the fun – of dining in a restaurant is getting served and not having to cook or do the dishes, but it’s important to treat your waitstaff with respect. Many servers make less than minimum wage and depend on the tips diners leave, which are often split with bussers and bartenders. That’s why it’s important to remember to tip 15-20% on the full, pre-discount total when using a certificate (you can find a full guide to tipping etiquette here!)

So what can you do to recognize the restaurant waitstaff you love this May 21? Start by thinking like a server! Just as you appreciate when they remember your order every week or take the time to refill your drinks without you asking, you can return the favor with a pleasant surprise. In addition to adding a little extra on the tip line, you can make a difference by stopping to speak to the manager on the way out and mentioning what an excellent job your server did, or by providing a favorable online review that mentions the waiter or waitress by name.

Need more ideas? You can read about other ways to get the best service from your waiter or waitress here, or pick up a certificate and head out to thank your favorite server today!