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In honor of National Waitstaff Appreciation Day (May 21st), guest blogger Emily Knight shares her experiences from years as a server/bartender and lets us in on some great ways to maximize your meal and your time with your server.

Before I was a stay-at-home mom and writer, I waitressed and bartended for many years.  I loved interacting with people on a daily basis and I learned a lot while doing it.  In fact, in some ways I’d say that my years behind the bar and serving taught me how to be a better parent – or at least how to have a lot of patience!  I like to joke with my fellow serving buddies that waitressing is a job that everyone should have to try for at least a month.  With my mom I joke that I should have written a book about all the crazy and fun things I got to experience in my years in the serving industry.  Being a server can be very demanding job, but when your customers appreciate the work and effort you put in, it can also be a very rewarding job.

When you choose to dine out, you are choosing to put your dining experience in someone else’s hands.  A lot goes into making sure a customer has a good experience.  However, you as the customer can also help make your waitress feel more appreciated which will in turn make your dining experience a great one!

  1. Look your server in the eye.  Not only does this communicate a level of respect, it helps your server to be able to hear you better and get your order exactly the way you want it.  I can’t tell you how many times I have waited tables only to have the patron never even look at me once.  I promise you’ll get better service if you do!
  2. Feel free to ask your waitress if they can accommodate any food allergies, issues, or sensitivities.  Even if you are just picky!  Ask, your server is happy to help you.
    On the other side of that, if you are open to trying something new, ask the server what they recommend or is their favorite.  Often times that will end up being the best plate on the menu!
  3. If your food doesn’t come out the way you asked, say something, but don’t blame your server for an improperly cooked dish.  Things get mixed up in the kitchen, and often times your server can’t control that.  What they can control is how they work to make it right and let the manager know you had an issue.  Remember, you are tipping your waitress on their service, not the food.
  4. Speaking of tips … Your server relies on them.  Often they will make way less than minimum wage because they get to take home tips.  If you get good service (i.e.: a friendly helpful server who fills your drinks, takes your order, works to insure you have a nice time) consider leaving a nice tip.  I do 15% of standard service, 18% for good service, and 20% for great service.  I worked at one restaurant in Las Vegas where people didn’t tip or tipped very low.  Maybe it was because they thought they were on vacation so they didn’t have to?  At the end of my shift I would owe a certain amount of my sales to the bussers and bartenders.  If I didn’t get tipped, I would have to actually pay money from my paycheck.  There were nights I left with less than $10 in my pocket for a hard 6 hour shift.
  5. One time I had a customer ask me to pick a number between 50 and 100.  I picked 82.  That was the tip he left me.  Their bill was only $24.  I have never forgotten that.  He said I was the best waitress he ever had, and it made his night out with his wife so much more enjoyable.  Don’t think you have to leave a large tip for your server to feel appreciated.  Every time I made 18 – 20% off a bill I knew I was doing my job right.
  6. To show your server even more appreciation, either stop and ask for a manager on your way out and let them know you had great service, or write a letter.  Those do make a difference.  Not only is it really great to hear how much your table appreciated you from a manager, but that could help your server get better shifts and table sections.

When all is said and done customers can make the difference between a good shift and a bad one.  Thank you goes a long way.  When was the last time you thanked your waitress?


Emily is a Blog Ambassador who lives in Las Vegas with her husband and two sons. You can read more fun tips from Emily on her blog Our Knight Life where she documents her family and life in Las Vegas. You can also find Emily on Twitter @FamilyNLifeLV and Facebook.