Say What?? – A Servers Vocab

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Ever been out with a restaurant industry friend and not had a clue what they meant when they ordered their dinner or communicated with the staff? After 10 years in the industry I’m here to help you out! Follow these basics and you’ll never have that “what the heck did you just say?” look on your face again!

The Wood: This refers to the actual BAR where patrons will sit on bar stools and be served only by the bartender. Often you can order food and drinks at a bar, so if you don’t NEED a table, you’ll avoid the 90 minute wait and get your food and drinks before anyone else!

Service Bar: Have you ever been wanting to grab a drink at the bar while its crammed and suddenly you see that there’s an open area over in the corner? Ever notice how that’s where the bartender is seems to be putting up a bunch of drinks? That’s called a Service Station or a Service Bar. No bartender or server wants you anywhere near it. That’s why it’s empty. Steer clear. Generally a spot will open up so please, oh please, never stand by the Service Bar and ask the bartender for a drink. They have about 8956 other things on their to do list.

High Top: This is a table, often in the bar or lounge area that is accompanied by bar stools. Different bars/lounges have different seating strategies so your best bet is to ask someone who works there “is the bar/lounge open seating?”, in which case you may seat yourself and a server will come to you.

Tip Out: Ok…here we go. If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant you’re aware of tip out or some degree of it. Tip out simply means that a certain percentage of THE BILL, not the tip, goes to support staff. Im all in favour of this. There’s an entire world that operates behind you while you’re waiting for your meal. Supporting the other staff throughout the restaurant is important. Which brings me to part B…

Tipping is completely at the patrons discretion. However, just a few things to keep in mind: the server may be TIPPING OUT ^^^ a certain percentage of that bill to their support staff (often 3-4%) so when you leave 15%, the server actually walks aways with only 11% or 12%. Servers sometimes rely on tips to pay their bills and server wage is much lower than minimum wage. So if they did a good job, loosen up your purse strings to an 18% or 20%.

Auto Grat: This is an automatic gratuity percentage placed on top of a bill. This usually applies to groups of 6-8 or more with a percentage of 15%-18%. Not all restaurants do this. If you have questions, ask a manger and be sure to inquire about tip out ^^.

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 11.15.34 PMWeeds: High volume work can be stressful. Being organized in the midst of that stress is key. If you’ve ever heard someone say “Oh they’re probably in the weeds”, or “Are you weeded?”, they’re referring to the fact that the server or bartender cannot for any reason what-so-ever seem to catch up.

Allow me to paint you a picture…They’ve just been triple sat by the host team and a lady at one of their other tables is requesting every sauce, every seasoning and every garnish on the side of her meal. In addition, they just ensured Prime Rib availability to a large group of business men only to now hear that the kitchen has run out. Meanwhile a table of 6 women want all separate bills but to split the 4 shared appetizers equally among 5 of them- as it’s the 6th’s birthday. Finally, a child ran into said servers knees while they were carrying a tray of four martini’s which has now crashed onto the ground. Clean up!

Be courteous and understanding to the best of your ability during these stressful times. Generally, servers have zero interest in you having a TERRIBLE experience, so cut them some slack if they’re doing the best they can.

Cuts: This refers to when a server gets “cut” off the shift and any new incoming tables. Most restaurants mandate that their servers finish full service on all tables- no exceptions. You may here your industry friend ask your server if they’re “still on” or “cut yet?”. They’re simple asking if they are the only guests that the server may be waiting on, in which case they’re usually happy to settle up.

If you have any comments or survival tips of your own as a server, leave me a reply and use the hashtag #serverlife!

Also check out @server_life on Instagram. It’s worth a good laugh!

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