busy restaurant staff

You’ve got a few doubles this week, some social events to squeeze in over the weekend between shifts, and you start all over again on Monday, am I right? Serving is a demanding gig, both physically and mentally. Even though you know there are some gems out there, it’s not like you have the time to do things like scouring Reddit, picking through various threads for the best server tips and tricks.

We, however, do. So why don’t you let us, especially since we already have? Sit back, relax, and enjoy that post-shift drink while you peruse these top tips and tricks for servers courtesy of Reddit.

Restaurant staff taking order customer service

1- Smaller Tables First

It’s the middle of a dinner rush and you just got double sat with a two-top and a four-top. It might seem like visiting the larger table first is the way to go—you’ve got to secure a good tip from the bigger table right? Not exactly. As Reddit user, Cupcake_eater explains, “the larger tables will keep themselves occupied with chatting [and] catching up, whereas a [two-top] will more than likely get bored waiting.” They went on to explain that it’s quicker to get drinks for a two-top versus a larger table, so it’ll take you just a few minutes to get service started. Once they’re happily waited on, then you can move onto the larger, more time-consuming table that is likely still chatting away.

“I always tipped out [my] bussers well—and tipped even better if they did something extra to help me out that night.”

In the event that you can’t get to one of your tables right away, another user added this: “Just letting a table know that you see them and will be right over can buy you an extra five to 10 minutes of patience.”

2- Be Generous With Your Tip Outs

“I always tipped out [my] bussers well—and tipped even better if they did something extra to help me out that night,” explains Reddit user Chuck_Lotus. “Sure, it’s fewer dollars in your pocket at the end of the night, but no matter how in the weeds I got I always had a busser on my heels to help me out with refills or bread or even running food.” Tipping out bussers or other staff can seem like a loss, but really it’s an investment in future assistance that’s only going to land you more tips thanks to better guest service in the future.

“Don’t let one table mess up your night.”

Restaurant staff management just got easier, employee turnover just became a thing of the past.

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Along with money, a little kindness also helps. “At my restaurant, many of the bussers were older gentlemen who didn’t speak much English so a lot of the servers just ignored them. Spending a couple minutes getting to know someone in between rush times can go a long way,” the same user explained.

server giving guest food

3- Don’t Dwell on Bad Tables

You’ll have nights during which your tables are fun and they tip generously and you’ll have other nights when everything seems to go wrong. Even if you messed something up, the worst thing you can do is dwell on it. “Don’t let one table mess up your night. So you spilled hot chocolate on a baby, served spaghetti to a celiac, and mixed up the iced teas? Luckily, [your new] table coming in doesn’t know that,” explains a Reddit user by the name of CopOnTheRun. If you beat yourself up, you’ll have less positive energy to share with the rest of your tables and, as any server knows, your tips depend on your attitude.

”Do any modifications necessary to the bill immediately [and] always look over the bill before dropping it off.”

4- Don’t Leave Checks to the Last Minute

Leaving the check until the last minute just sort of happens naturally—it’s one of the last steps of the dining experience. However, this is one step where you can save yourself a lot of time with a little pre-planning. “When your table has ordered everything that you think they are going to order, print out their bill then and tuck it away. [Nine times out of 10] you won’t have to reprint it and you won’t need to visit the computer when your table is ready for their bill. This saves a surprising amount of time,” Redditer GunNNife explains.

Another user, birdsandbones, agrees. “This one always helps me: do any modifications necessary to the bill immediately [and] always look over the bill before dropping it off,” the user explains, noting that having to correct and re-print a check is not only embarrassing but a time suck as well.

Sound off: What are your best server tips and tricks?

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Cinnamon is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and journalist who paid a large part of her way through college and graduate school by serving. Her work has been published with outlets like National Geographic, the Washington Post, Pacific Standard, and more. You can read more about her at www.cinnamon-janzer.com.