1. You have to work your way up.
There is no better way to understand the concept of being the low man on the totem pole, and how to work your way up. You start as a host/hostess or busser, you move up to server, maybe bartender, but you have to earn it. If you’re lazy, it won’t happen.
2. You learn how to deal with difficult people.
Restaurant patrons love asserting that the customer is always right, especially when they are so, SO wrong. You can’t hide in the service industry. You can only kill ‘em with kindness.
3. You have to fake it ‘til you make it.
This goes along with the last point. You might have slept like shit, be really hungover, be sick, have a headache, or any number of ailments that make speaking to other humans unbearable. In the restaurant industry if you let your composure slip, then you don’t make money, plain and simple.
4. You will develop an untouchable optimism.
Did you spill salsa on your new jeans today? Probably. Did you drop five glasses in front of your table? Maybe. Is your hair sticking together because there is soda in it? Most likely. Weird and annoying stuff happens every day that you work in a restaurant. If you aren’t optimistic and able to laugh it off, then this isn’t the job for you.
5. You will meet some of the best people that you will admire for the rest of your life.
You have the funniest and most strange conversations with the people you work with in restaurants. You will meet people from all walks of life. Maybe they’ve been there twenty years, or they’re seasonal, but no matter what they can teach you something. Either way, you are in the ultimate melting pot of age and personality, where, for the most part, everyone is on the same playing field. And it’s awesome.
6. You learn how to multitask.
Remember table 6’s drink order, table 1 needs extra napkins, table 3 wants a side of ranch, and table 12 has been waiting 25 minutes for food you so better check on that… Oh and drop of these dinners NOW.
7. You learn how to multitask quickly.
None of the above can get done slowly, because in ten minutes there will be another ten things to do. People who work in restaurants know how to do many things at once, and do them correctly the first time, because there isn’t time for a redo.
8. You can’t avoid a customer.
Some jobs make it easy to avoid your customers if you’re having an off day. In a restaurant, there is no way to hide. You will learn to approach conflict head on, rather than avoid or make excuses. I can promise this will come in handy down the road.
9. You learn to be a part of a team.
If you aren’t willing to help other people then they are not going to help you. If someone doesn’t have time to grab something and you’re sitting around, then you offer. It’s all about give and take in this business, because you never know when you might need a favor too.
10. You know the importance of tipping.
Hands down, this is the most important reason I think everyone should work in a restaurant just once. Many people say they don’t tip because it took a long time to get their food, their drinks or food weren’t good, or any number of things. What they don’t realize is that most of these things are out of the control of your server. Oh and that server is making much less than minimum wage trying to accommodate you. A good tip means more than you realize.
Working in a restaurant is no walk in the park, especially depending on where you work. But, you walk away with a family that you’ll never forget, stories that you will always look back and laugh at and some damn good interpersonal skills.
Cheers to all the restaurants out there, for better or worse, you’ll always be my first love.