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Why everyone needs to work in a restaurant... [moved from General Chowhounding Topics]

This has been a topic that I have thought about for awhile, and am wondering what everyone else (restaurant workers or non) have an opinon about. I think everyone should put in a two year internship, in any type of restaurant, to truly understand the behavior on both sides. There is so much that goes on ("behind the scenes") in both points of view. Good and bad.

What is the number one "event" that we partake of? Going out to eat. The majority of diners have never worked in a restaurant, alas never really understanding the "inside" of what really goes on and how hard of a job it is. Thankfully, from what I have read, alot of you 'hounds really do understand. Yet to really bust your a** in a restaurant, comfort both front and back of house, be a problem solver in so many ways while remaining calm in extreme situations...we really do so much in so many areas. We are the ultimate major (marketing, phychologist, business, accountant, etc, etc...) rolled into one!!

I want to know what those in the industry feel towards a community that will understand all that happens (and may have been through) in a restaurant. And what those have never worked in this wonderful business think of not working in it. What knowledge have we gained or lost by our individual experiences? Is working in a restaurant beneficial to our appreciation to those who work in them?

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  1. Good point, but this could probably be said for most professions out there. My folks just retired from teaching, and they, too know what it's like to be over-worked and under appreciated. I served my way through my bachelor's and now am working on my master's. I find that sometimes I have higher expectations of my server - because I know what he/she *should* be doing. There are other times though when I find myself to be more forgiving because of my personal experience. I think you make a broader point that can be applied to most walks of life: there is much more that goes on behind the scenes that the everyday person is unaware of. When we can, we should try to think of that and consider it before jumping to any major conclusions about the individual and the profession.

    1 Reply
    1. re: enbell

      I agree. I work in the heat and air business and everyone has either heat and/or air in their house and people in general have little respect for us (I was surprised at how much people expect for nothing) and little knowledge about their systems and what servicing entails.

    2. wow... great posting... i worked my way in college as a hostess for at a great restaurant in la... i didn't want to do food service, but the place wasn't a chain, and it wasn't bad... it was actually a good place and we had clientle from bel air, beverly hills, brentwood, industry folks, etc....

      i was making a little more than minimum wage at the time and am now a "professional." i will have to say, that the hostess job was one of the most tiring jobs i had, but it was also very very insightful.

      i also did retail before and there's something about working a restaurant and really learning about behind the scenes...

      i am patient with the servers, i try to give them the benefit of the doubt, and i also make sure to communicate with my server about what my needs are (sauce on the side?). i really appreciate the servers...

      also, at the same time, i don't appreciate rough attitudes from servers, 'cause i've been on that side... and just in general, i tend to want to respect other people =)

      and i don't think people should look down on people who are in the service industry... they all worked so very hard.. and it's TIRING... =)

      1 Reply
      1. re: kinipela

        Working in a restaurant isn't in the same realm as surgeons or lawyers. Visa versa, to say the least. Every career choice has its appreciation and its critisism. But working in a restaurant is still something that I believe everyone should do for a time in their life. Just for the fact that it one of the top leading (and alluring) industries today. Kudos to everyone else out there. It all comes full-circle...

      2. No offense, and this comes from someone who has worked in a restaurant, but this is the most assenine thing I've ever heard of. You can make the same statement about any profession where one has to work hard if they want to get paid.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jpschust

          As a former resto worker and owner, I have to agree. Every job has challenges and rewards. Servers are not martyrs and line cooks are not essential to the smooth functioning of our whole society. They got into it for the money and if the work/rewards ratio isn't what they want, time to find a new job.

        2. I waited tables for years, have worked as a short order cook and as a baker/pastry chef. I agree that having been on the inside in the restaurant business does make me more sympathetic when I am eating out and I am much more likely to tip over 20% than my dinner companions.

          But - I'm not always so agreeable when I get bad service, because I know how easy it is to do it right. I can't stand it when the server doesn't apologize for a mistake! And some servers are lazy, blame everything on the kitchen and think I can't tell. Sorry, but that won't fly with me.

          Having worked front and back in the business I learned that waitstaff and cooks certainly don't appreciate each other. It's true what other posters have said - none of us realizes how hard it is for the other guy!

          One thing I try to do is give a complement to a manager when things go well (in addition to my tip). If a server is good and you tell management they reap all kinds of rewards for that - better shifts, better tables.

          1. I agree with the sentiment of this topic and also agree that it really does apply to so many jobs, situations, etc.
            For me the bottom line is that I'll never have a complete understanding of what everyone does or what situations folks are in, nor will others know all about my life, and if we'd all just give each other the benefit of the doubt, try to be empathetic and kind, it'd work out reasonably well. Golden Rule and all that. Doesn't mean we have to be doormats, we should all expect to be treated considerately, and to treat others the same way.

            I would think most adults have enough life experience to know that there's usually more than meets the eye to most anything we do. I don't have to do your job to understand that it, like so many others, can be very difficult and requires many skills. I respect you already.

            1 Reply
            1. re: xena

              <For me the bottom line is that I'll never have a complete understanding of what everyone does or what situations folks are in, nor will others know all about my life, and if we'd all just give each other the benefit of the doubt, try to be empathetic and kind, it'd work out reasonably well.>

              Love that statement!! That is the bottom line.