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.

Download The Guide

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?

Written by

Cinnamon hails from the prairie lands of North Dakota, has been told that she thinks too much, and possesses an enthusiasm for enthusiasm. In a previous life, she paid the bills by serving and bartending throughout college and graduate school. She currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Latin America with her dog, Gus, at her side.

  • Springs131

    “1- Smaller Tables First”

    Sorry, but CUTTING TURNS IS MORALLY WRONG! Sorry, but if I am in a party of 4, I ****WILL****** and ******HAVE******NOTICED if we were greeted in the right order or not. Cutting will make you get an automatic stiff deservedly so.

    ““the larger tables will keep themselves occupied with chatting [and] catching up, whereas a [two-top] will more than likely get bored waiting.” ”

    UMMM, NO, if the larger party was there first, then they should go first out of COMMON DECENCY just like you don’t want to be cut in front of in a line or waiting for a table, same thing.

    The larger table will notice and not tip you very well. Also, what about when people like us(me and my husband) have ordered at the GREETING (appetizer, modifications, entrées)? We will take MORE TIME than you going to that party of 4 as well than you think. CUTTING IS CUTTING no matter how you slice it(no pun intended).

    This is MORALLY WRONG and for you to CONDONE CUTTING, it’s just UNBELIEVABLE. I understand Cupcake_eater said this, but obviously you agree with and that is HUGE, HUGE issue!

    If you were in the party of 4 and waited an hour for a table, YOU SURE WOULDN’T APPRECIATE your server doing that to your time, hunger, and thirst, would ((**YOU**))???

    You are a mean person. I cannot imagine thinking it’s OK to CUT and I don’t understand why you think it’s OK??

    Whatever is faster is not how you serve. You serve by TURNS to be *****FAIR ********TO ALL YOUR CUSTOMERS. That means if that larger table was first, they were first and I feel if your hostess is double seating, they should make the customers wait in the waiting area at least until the server gets the drink orders first. Double and triple seating makes bad service for all doing it your way.

    “”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.”

    No, because once you bring drinks for that 2 top, they want to order and have questions possibly or modifications, etc. So that 2 top table would expect their food orders to be put into the computer and not be held just on your pad of paper or in your head that they would want their food started as it would seem to them it was their turn and not the larger party’s turn. This is totally bad advice.

    ” “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.”

    Sorry, but you are wrong. It wastes TIME. People have coupons for one. I have sent servers back before with a coupon MANY of times during the years. Also, sometimes they want dessert and sometimes they want an after dinner drink as well. Also, I have ordered before something to-go after my meal at restaurants before as well.

    This does **NOT SAVE TIME**. You waste time, ink, paper, and make the prices go up by wasting those things of the company.

    • s109943

      You’re so trashy wow. You need about 6 months of vacation to get all this tense anger over almost nothing out lol. It sounds like you typed out a temper tantrum of a three year old. Your comment is full of false analogies, logical holes, and making exceptions the rule.
      You’re wrong, deal with it. Everyone I’ve worked with in my years of service, from bars to upscale restaurants, preaches the serve smaller tables first if they’re ready first. You’re in the less than 1% so we will definitely be saving time and money by following the rule literally everybody else agrees with, also you’re clearly a guest that will blow their top over anything so it’s not worth it to jump through hoops to try to make you happy as you’ll find a reason to be miserable (which you deserve)!
      If my 2 top is all ready first and trying to gesture me over it would be the stupidest thing to tell them, “Hey sorry you have to wait 10 minutes so I can take this other table’s order first because they were here first.”
      And now I’ve dragged myself down by even acknowledging your ignorance and trashy, overblown fury. I hope you come into a restaurant of mine one day so I can see your face contort in anger over a server being efficient.

      • Springs131

        HOW am I “Trashy” to want to **WAIT MY TURN**, huh? If anything, that is MORALLY RIGHT AND THE **CONSIDERATE THING TO DO**!

        “logical holes”

        HOW it is so illogical to want to be served in the ORDER in which **YOUR TURN** IS, HUH? YOU LOVE BEING CUT IN FRONT OF AS YOU SEEM TO BE ADMITTING WHEN IT’S **YOU** IN THAT LARGE PARTY OBVIOUSLY!

        I am all for doing what is MORALLY RIGHT. WHY would you want to CUT in front of people’s turns when you wouldn’t want someone to do that to (YOU) when it’s your turn, huh?

        “making exceptions the rule.”

        No, then that would be VERY UNFAIR to the other table that got seated **BEFORE** us. I don’t care if it’s just me and my husband and the other table that walked in 1 minute *BEFORE* us, if they were there before us, they were there before us, so I would not mind and would 100% UNDERSTAND that it would be 100% TOTALLY **UNFAIR** to serve us first if they were first, because when **WE** are actually in a large party, I wouldn’t want the server to do that to us. It’s that simple. I am being a **CONSIDERATE, NICE*** HUMAN BEING and you aren’t!

        “You’re wrong, deal with it.”

        NO, YOU ARE MORALLY WRONG! IT’S WRONG TO CUT YOU STUPID MEAN UNFEELING, UNCARING B****! YOU ARE WRONG!

        It’s wrong to cut and you know it. SO YOU ARE VERY WRONG, NOT ME!

        “Everyone I’ve worked with in my years of service, from bars to upscale restaurants, preaches the serve smaller tables first if they’re ready first.”

        SO WHAT if they say it, doesn’t make it morally right to cut turns and they know if it were **THEM** in those large parties they would CERTAINLY NOT APPRECIATE seeing their server cut in front of their turns and you know it! STFU STUPID UNFAIR CUTTING B****! YOU ARE WRONG since it’s CUTTING!

        So I can go up to you while you are taking a food order and you should stop taking their order to get my table refills? BS that you would do that. You’d tell me “Wait my turn” wouldn’t you you HYPOCRITICAL B****??? You sure wouldn’t tell that table “This lady needs some refills, I’ll be right back to take the rest of your orders” and you know it you LIAR!

        Whoever got seated first is first PERIOD! That is whose turn it is, NOT because one table has less people than the other STUPID UNFAIR B****!

        THOSE PEOPLE ARE ALL WRONG and they know it. As I said, if there were at the larger tables, they’d be pissed too that their time(turn) got cut in front of delaying their food and drinks. YOU KNOW THAT IS THE GOD’S HONEST TRUTH, DON’T LIE!

        “You’re in the less than 1%”

        NO, the people that are in the large party sure don’t feel that way and you wouldn’t either if you were, don’t lie B****!

        “so we will definitely be saving time and money”

        You aren’t saving time and money since that larger table is occupied by more people that much LONGER YOU STUPID IDIOT!

        You won’t save time nor money at all. Also, you will make a much lesser tip than you could have had by cutting.

        “by following the rule literally everybody else agrees with, ”

        It’s not a rule. Cutting is the rule that should not happen, so HOW is what you think a rule when it isn’t, huh? Since when is cutting ***********EVER************ OK MORALLY SPEAKING, HUH?

        NOBODY that is in the large party agrees with it and who cares if the workers do. NOBODY wants to wait longer than their turn is so NO, THE PEOPLE THAT ARE BEING CUT IN FRONT OF DO *(NOT) * AGREE with it and you know it STUPID CUTTING B****!

        “also you’re clearly a guest that will blow their top over anything so it’s not worth it to jump through hoops to try to make you happy as you’ll find a reason to be miserable (which you deserve)!”

        When the servers see that 25%-30% tip they sure think it’s worth it. You are so mean to say such a mean thing. You are a hypocrite to blow the top off of this so you can cut. That’s blowing your top off for something that makes no sense at all, to say yes to cutting. HOW is that a good thing to cut turns, huh? Don’t cut turns if you don’t want someone to do that to you, it’s that simple!

        “If my 2 top is all ready first and trying to gesture me over it would be the stupidest thing to tell them, “Hey sorry you have to wait 10 minutes so I can take this other table’s order first because they were here first.””

        I 100% FULLY AGREE with you STUPID! I NEVER SAID SUCH A STUPID IGNORANT THING, DID I? YOU ARE DUMB!

        What I said was, let’s say table 3 has a party of 10, a minute later me and my husband get seated right after. You did not greet table 3 yet. You should go greet table 3, tell us you’d be right with us as soon as you could, get their drinks to them. If they want to order some appetizers(assuming usually groups tend to not all know what they want right away, you can get at least those, if not, you should take their food orders and then go to the computer. THEN, you greet us. Understand what I am saying MORON?

        The way you say you’d do it is it sounds like is you’d greet them, but then instead of getting their drinks, greet us, and then get all the drinks for them and us. That is NOT how morally it should be done, because getting those 2 drinks for us is cutting turns and taking up table 3’s time away from them to make their food take a lot longer than it should costing the restaurant LOTS more money since more seats are taken up YOU DUMBASS IDIOT! That’s how STUPID you REALLY ARE saying it would save money. BS, the more seats you take up longer, the LESS SEATS can have new customers DUMMY! That’s how REALLY DUMB AND STUPID YOU ARE!

        You should not do anything with our table except to tell us you’d be with us as soon as you could. You should not get our drinks before those 10 drinks(assuming that it’s non-bar drinks) and if it’s bar drinks, you should be going to the computer to put their drinks orders in BEFORE going to fully greet our table.

        What if we are ready to order when greeted if you had chosen to ignore table 3 and go to us first? HOW is that saving the restaurant money? It’s not. 2 seats being empty is not saving as much money as getting 10 seats emptied faster you DUMMY!

        If they got seated FIRST BEFORE US, then their turn should be done before ours.

        I didn’t say tell them to wait 10 minutes. I said to serve in order. That means if table 3 got seated as I said a minute before us(2 top), then we should not get thought of at all at that point. You should be greeting your first table first. It’s just the morally right thing to do.

        If it had been the other way around that we(a 2-top) got seated first, then you should not be going to the other table of 10 other than to tell them you’d be right with them in just a few moments.

        You are supposed to go by TURNS, NOT by ANYTHING ELSE, otherwise, it’s cutting.

        If you were in that party of 10, you sure wouldn’t appreciate waiting longer to see a party that got seated after you get their drinks and get to order their food BEFORE you and your pals are. It’s not fair, it’s not.

        “your ignorance and trashy, overblown fury”

        How am I the one that is ignorant when it’s COMMON SENSE to get rid of 10 seats faster makes more money at a restaurant than getting rid of 2 seats faster, huh?

        You are hypocrite to say I am overblown or trashy. You are making a huge deal out of wanting to cut turns and then trashy to actually do so knowing you wouldn’t want to get treated that way yourself if **YOU** were in that situation yourself and you know it. DON’T LIE NOW STUPID CUTTER B****!

        “see your face contort in anger over a server being efficient.”

        HOW is it “EFFICIENT” to make the larger table wait longer than their turn is for their drinks, huh? THAT’S GIVING BETTER, FASTER SERVICE UNFAIRLY SO TO THE 2-TOP TABLE BY CUTTING TURNS!

        You are making the 10-top table suffer with their time to fix and get drinks for the smaller table of 2 people. 2 people’s drinks take time to put ice and drink in their glass as well as if it’s iced tea or water, possibly a slice of lemon as well.

        HOW is it “efficient” for the other table that is waiting for their turn when they got seated FIRST, huh? No, it’s not more efficient.

      • Springs131

        Here’s some people that have done that job that have said what I am saying:

        http://forums.sherdog.com/threads/tipping.2337603/page-14

        flowwiththego said:

        “Springs does make some good points. In my experience, at least half the time if not more it is the servers fault when food takes too long. for example, I hate when the servers hold their tix and put in 4 (or even three) at once. They are not allowed to do that. So the first table has to wait extra long and other servers got tix in also. I can’t tell you how many times someone will say they have been here for 45 minutes and the tix time says they were 20 minutes.”

        flowwiththego said:

        “I had a server last year who twice in one day did not realize she had customers waiting and hour and did not get food. One tix she forgot but one tix one of the cooks put it on the done spindle instead of on the board. The thing is though her section was only five tables and c’mon how do you not realize that one of your tables didn’t get food but tables 20 minutes after them did? We were slammed but still. Like I wrote it is a tough profession that most people couldn’t do.”

        http://forums.sherdog.com/threads/tipping.2337603/page-26

        flowwiththego said:

        “yesterday we had five tables come in literally at once. No other ticket on the board at the time. Two three tops and three two tops. The two waitresses alternate tables when their is only two of them. Now the one waitress is the only one who consistently asks us where her food is and that her table is getting mad. Well, guess what I observed her doing? She put three orders in at once. She got the first table then went to the next table and after that went to the next table. I was nice but explained that what she was doing was against company policy. I explained that her first table had to wait and that the other server got her tix in before her even though her first table was there before everyone else. I also told her that at least 75% of the time it is the servers fault when an order takes too long. I also told her that we know now why she is the only server who has customers getting mad because their food took too long on a consistent basis. I told her if she needed to save time to get faster on the pos system.”

        Read what Stef 319 said:

        http://howtobeagoodserver.blogspot.com/2007/07/how-to-be-good-server-in-restaurant.html?commentPage=4

        She is responding to MT’s comment and this was a waitress at a Red Lobster. I had gone on her blog, she came onto mine agreeing with me. Her blog has since been deleted, so I can’t go on hers, but her comment is still on my blog.

        “>”MT
        Your system of never taking another tables drink order before turning in a ticket would back you up terribly, not to mention the humongous quantity of time you’d waste checking plates and menu prices. It would take you forever to get anything done.”

        “”In my opinion, MT, once an order is taken, it should be put into the computer IMMEDIATELY. Once my guests place their order with me, the clock begins to tick. They should be getting their apps 5-10 minutes after they PLACE their order, and their entrees should take between 20-30 minutes (where I work). You really should not start off a new table with an appetizer or dinner order on hold. The guests who just placed their order (who are hungry) are watching you approach another table. You then have to build your rapport, go over the specials, and possibly answer questions. This can potentially be very time consuming and your guests are not going to appreciate the delay in your service. There are other times when it is acceptable to work all your tables together, but when you have a food order you shouldn’t be doing this. The correct way to handle this is to approach the table (with the other tables’ menus in hand) and acknowledge their presence, and tell them YOU WILL BE RIGHT BACK. Then you ring in the order, go back to the table, and then you can do your greeting, go over specials, answer questions, etc. Now you can take your time with the new table cause you know that your other tables’ food is getting worked on by the kitchen. I know that this can be time-consuming but it really is worth it. Waste no time getting food orders in. August 5, 2011 at 12:05 PM “”

        It’s not more “efficient” and it sure doesn’t save more money to do it the way you are saying. You know that is the GOD’S **HONEST** TRUTH! STOP LYING!!

        You are PURPOSELY DELAYING people’s food to cut turns and creating longer waits that just like flowwiththego said, the 1st table waits “EXTRA LONG” when they weren’t supposed to be. It’s UNFAIR TO CUT and it actually creates LONGER WAITS for EVERYONE, including people waiting for a table to wait for a 10-top table that didn’t get their food as quickly as they could have since they weren’t able to order because of people like you that want to cut turns. If I were a manager, I’d write you up for creating 10 places that I could NOT get NEW customers to make them wait much longer over 2 people. YOU ARE IGNORANT!