Restaurant-LiveIamA Lead Waiter at a 4-AAA-Diamond, Michelin-Rated Restaurant. I make over $110k a year. AMA!
Mar 1st 2017 by WaiterBuddy • 27 Questions • 101 Points
My short bio: I've been in the restaurant industry for about a decade with five years in fine dining. Graduated from college in a STEM field, but starting salaries couldn't match what I was doing in the restaurant, so I decided to stay a while.
A few years went by and I kept climbing diagonally within the industry and ended up in a high end restaurant with a huge staff and high-end clientele.
I have worked most positions within the front of the house in a restaurant, ranging from food runner, bartender, to manager, hosting, and waiting tables.
It's a unique industry, with really unique people. You end up working with some very driven people and some very lazy people.
Nonetheless, I'm open to any questions about the industry or the fine-dining in general.
My Proof: Provided to the Mods.
Is your hourly rate still below minimum wage and that $110k comes mostly from tips? Or do they pay you a decent wage right off the bat and the tips are just the icing on top?
Our hourly rate is minimum wage for all front of the house staff. Everything else is tips. Which seems scary initially, but when restaurants are slow, the reduce the number of staff onboard and increase it when it's busy so it stays pretty consistent.
Good question. I have saved a large portion of my income over the years and have made investments betting on that happening. Personally, I'll be fine as I have picked up knowledge in other fields in my spare time.
For some of my co-workers... I'm not sure. But I can say that during the last recession, our restaurant didn't get hit at all in sales. People who still had money to spend, wanted to spend it. And people continued to celebrate special occasions.
How long have you been at your restaurant, and have you noticed any changes in quality over time? Has it improved, gone downhill, or had a shift in style?
Quality and standards remain the same. Dishes change with the season, but the Chef is always working towards the absolute best. In truth, some dishes are absolute hits with everyone. And some dishes resonate with some and not others. So we change our menu frequently based on the feedback we receive and then again throughout the season.
Former waiter here, do you memorize their orders or do you still write them down?
Depends on the number of guests and the complexity of the order. Up to 4-6 guests, memorize, unless modifiers are starting to happen, to which point I will pull my pen and pad out.
We live in a day where gluten, nightshades, fungus, and very specific types of seafood can be a problem. And when it comes to safety, we must take very step necessary.
$4000 before tipout.
Do you see waiting as a long term career considering the money or do you have ambitions to move into something else?
I spend my extra time training for new opportunities. Although financially fantastic, we have time during the day to study new areas of the labor market. I definitely work with many lifers, I just don't happen to be one of them.