A Waste of Potential

A couple of posts ago I was mentioning the bar tending course and the lack of registrants that I had in order to make the course a go this semester.

There are a lot of people who think bar tending and waiting on tables is a bit below them. That they can walk into any job and be able to carry a tray of drinks to the table would be no problem for them. It’s true perhaps you do not need a university education to become a server or bar tender but having some idea of what you are getting in to before you enter a restaurant or bar to fill out an application would be helpful.

In Europe there is actually a 3 year curriculum on serving tables and bar tending. In Iceland where my wife took her course she had to experience what it was like to wait on tables for 6 months as part of the required tasks you had to do to complete and pass through to get your papers. It is a skill to wait on tables and highly touted. I can tell you my wife knows how to fold a napkin 30 different ways no problem whereas I would struggle getting up to 4 ways.

Of course in Iceland as in most other countries excluding North America they do not work for tips but get paid a pretty good salary with all the benefits. All servers belong to a union. It is just like any trades person here. They spend time learning and perfecting their craft.

In order for it to be the same here the employer must start demanding  higher standards of their pool of  people to choose from. If the employer is going to pay people minimum wage and offer at best part time hours and provide no benefits or incentive to get better at their trade they will reap what they sow.

That is a pool of talent that has no desire to make serving or waiting on tables a career choice. For most it will be just a job to do until they get a real one. With the real crisis of finding good people to fill spaces vacant in the hospitality industry it should be made more attractive by the employer. However in most cases it is not the case.

That is unfortunate.


  1. You know how they always say that there are so many immigrants in North America because they take the jobs United States citizens won't take? The jobs that have lower pay and less prestige like fast food and house cleaners, what not? That isn't the case with serving and bartending. It is rare to see immigrants working FOH, even with great English skills, here. And I think in part is because those jobs can be and if done well, ARE very lucrative as opposed to a minimum wage job. You are right tho'. No one will ever invest the time or the training to make serving a career because there is no incentive without benefits and a guaranteed amount of hours. It is by the whim of the management and what the market will bear. There will always be someone younger and needier who can step in and be trained [to their standards] who will accept the substandard working conditions for the good pay in tips.I never thought serving was beneath me – actually no job is beneath me [or anyone for that matter] – but there is such a sense of entitlement in this country that others look down on those that work in the industry and everyone suffers for it.I was talking to Pooldad the other night and we were lamenting the fact that we were tired of eating out at chain type restaurants [it's all our little burg had until recently] and how the staff always made us feel as tho' they were doing US a favor by being there and serving us. I can't remember the last time I spent $60 on dinner for two [no drinks/excl. tip] and actually had a waiter do his/her job well and with a smile. It gets so that it isn't worth the extra $12 – $15 in tip to have someone serve us dinner. That may just be where we live and doesn't include the nicer restaurants in Washington DC – but we are very appreciative of good service, we don't even hope for great, just GOOD service and tip accordingly. But when check prices are so high for a couple of burgers and sodas even a series of bad tips IS going to pay the waiter's rent. On a side note [sorry this is so long] but they did finally open a super nice, non chain restaurant in our town a few months ago. We received a gift certificate for Christmas and whooboy, all I can say is, it is about time. I will blog about it, but the next time we have an extra $125 -$150 – we are SO going back. Hopefully they will stay in business and all the yahoos will appreciate what fine dining and great service [and yes, you do have to pay handsomely for it] and they stay in business. I don't know tho' because when we went there was a patron a few tables over who was complaining quite loudly that for "$24 g*dd*mn dollars" he expected more on his plate than some slices of steak, gravy and some grass. Sigh. I can only hope. [Again, sorry that got so long. hee]

  2. Wow you are right on all counts! The sense of entitlement is right on what you say. I hate to say it but the people coming up working in the industry have that because a lot of them just gripe texting messages all the time. And that guy who complains about the steak well it is just getting that people just want something for free. A lot of people shouldn't even be going out to eat but for some it is there only way of getting attention in their unhappy lives. You can see it when they come in. They just want to take it out on the waiter. Perhaps I want to add along with the post is because some people have a job as a waiter they are looked down upon. It is the perception people have. If it was tougher to become a waiter and you had to be accredited with something before being hired then others would think twice about actually becoming one. You know like if it was harder to be a bar tender or waiter then the average complainer would not complain so much. Also a lot of immigrants may not do it because back in their country serving reminds them of the colonial empire when their people all they did was serve. They want to get away from that perhaps. You will find Indians in an Indian restaurant though.But because it is so easy to find one and work getting paid nothing to do it most places it is a revolving door of staff. No one stays. Maybe I am dragging on a bit but the points you make are spot on.

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