College students are notoriously known for being broke. During my junior year of school I decided to get a part-time job to earn some cash, for journalism doesn’t quite pay the bills while working for The Quad. I decided to start serving because I heard that the money was good from friends in the restaurant business. I figured it couldn’t be too hard, and servers are always making a lot of money, right?
I quickly learned that isn’t always the case. I got a job at a chain restaurant the summer before my junior year, which many students from WCU dine at. Now for those of you reading this article that have never worked in a restaurant, let me let you in on some inside information.
Servers make $2.83 an hour (that is the rate at my chain restaurant; the amount may vary per restaurant). And we have taxes taken out of that hourly wage, because we have to claim our tips. So, we live on the tips that we make every night. I am not running around, busting my ass, for $2.83 an hour. I work for my tips and that is my main source of income from working. Scratch that, tips are my income from working as a server.
On the subject of tipping, how much is enough? Now days, good service should be rewarded 18 to 20 percent of the entire amount of the bill. Yes, that means if you spend $50 on dinner you should be giving your server around $10. If you can’t cough up the dough, go to a fast food place. And if you receive excellent service, don’t be afraid to reward your server with more than a 20 percent tip. Chances are that person worked really hard to make your dining experience a positive one. Kindness and verbal praise is not preferred as a tip by servers.
This past Saturday night I worked a night shift, expecting to earn at least $100 for the night. To my horror, I received 10 percent tips from over half of my tables and I made only slightly above 10 percent of my net sales. At the end of the night, servers have to tip out the host/hostesses and the bartenders. So on top of the lack of tips I was receiving, I had to give away more of the little money I earned for the night.
Many people do not understand how stressful the restaurant environment is, especially behind the scenes. I can’t stand it when a table asks for something every other minute and doesn’t acknowledge that I have three other tables. Don’t worry, I will get to you eventually, you aren’t the only table in the restaurant. Figure out everything that you need while I am at the table so I don’t have to make numerous trips.
There is no reason for you to be rude to your server; we are just doing our jobs. Do I come and be rude to you at your job? It is a bad idea to piss off your server; this person is in control of your food, remember that.
Pay attention to who your server is. Servers work as a team to make sure that food comes out quickly, so often another server will deliver your food. Asking that other server to get you something is keeping him/her away from their tables, possibly lowering his/her tips. I don’t want to run around to get you something if I am not making money out of it.
If you go out to a restaraunt with a coupon or a discount, you should tip your sever on the price of the bill BEFORE the discount is taken off. Just because you got a discount doesn’t mean the server worked any less to get your food to you.
So if you aren’t able to go out and treat your server with respect and leave a decent tip, you aren’t able to go out to eat. Try McDonald’s, where the workers make more than $2.83 an hour.
Lauren Beley is a senior at West Chester Uuniversity, majoring in Communication Studies.