Waitress work isn't usually highly paid, but it can be very satisfying for congenial people who like to interact with the public. Friendships are made and trust established as you build your loyal following and customer base. However, starting at the bottom is the rule, not the exception; it takes time to work your way up to the higher paying venues and/or positions. Here's how to get started:
- For first time employment in the food and beverage industry, a server position in a fast food restaurant is the easiest way into the business.
- Once you have some experience under your belt and you are comfortable with completing orders on time, a move up to a diner or family-type restaurant is the next step. In this position, every order is custom made and your personality needs to shine. This type of restaurant can be a lucrative business if the customer turnover is high and you have established yourself with the patrons. Many times, a customer will ask for a certain waitress even if it means waiting extra time to be seated. In addition to a smile, speed and accuracy is a must. Not only it mentally demanding to retain orders in your head, but it is also physically challenging: you will be on your feet most of the day, carrying heavy plates up your arm. At the end of the day, don't be surprised if you have walked 10 miles and carried 2000 pounds.
- For the more experienced waitress, an upscale dinner house is the next step. With many fine dining establishments, a 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to the customer's bill. This adds up to thousands of dollars a month, but also demands a higher quality of service. You will have to work hard to keep mistakes to a minimum. Dinner houses may require their waitress to be 21 years old to serve cocktails. However, if only beer and wine are sold, the minimum age to serve is usually 18. In contrast to a diner, the finer restaurants put increased demands on the waitress, such as carrying the plates on trays. Unlike balancing plates on the arm, the tray service requires great upper body strength, as you will need to support as many as six meals on the flat surface. You may be issued a busboy to assist with the fold-out stand for the tray, but the waitress is ultimately responsible for the safe handling of the food.
A waitress job is not for everyone, only the select few who love to make new friends while working under constant stress. The money you can earn is as big as your smile, and there are lots of opportunities for the career waitress to advance to management levels. For those who choose a waitress job in a hotel restaurant, there may be added work available for banquets and catering. Booking a few banquets around the holidays can make you quite a bit of cash, so sign yourself up for a little extra work on the weekends.