Introducing ME

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My personal Instagram – Me

You may be wondering what this blog is going to be about and I’ll get to that. First, let me introduce myself – I’m N. I’m 23 years young and am just trying to get by in this crazy thing we to call Life.

To break it down: I currently live in a city with a population of roughly 388,000 people, the same city I completed my undergrad and am currently completing a post-grad in. Five years ago, I moved from a small town and immediately realized what a big city has to offer in terms of opportunities. I was able to use my new experiences gained through education and social gathering as well as the ups and downs that came along, to grow and become the person I am today. It was through these opportunities that I made friends who would ultimately introduce me into the world of serving.

After a friend suggested that I try it out because the job offered both a social aspect as well as the ability to make good money working minimum hours (which was attractive to a busy, poor student like myself), I became a server, and instantly loved it.

Three years later, I’ve worked at many different restaurants both inside and outside the city I currently live in. I have had the opportunity to become not only a server but also a bartender and a manager. It’s safe to say throughout the years and experience I’ve gained within this role,I have learned a lot about the industry, other people and ultimately myself.

I intend to use this blog to showcase the ups and downs the job holds as well as sharing my input on topics such as “tipping” and the concept of “the customer is always right”. I want to discuss how to maintain work relationships while having friendships intertwined – as it can be challenging to differentiate from the two.  I understand, like many young adults just trying to get through their education, how difficult it is to hold a part-time job on top of everything else life throws at you. Through sharing my stories I aim to relate to those who are in the same position, reminding them that although you may sometimes be treated as “just a server” you are much, much more than that.

 

Until next week,

N. 

 

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What’s in Your Pouch?

As a server, its very important you come prepared for each shift. From experience, I have gathered and stuck to specific items that have helped me along the way. Ultimately, it’s the items in your server pouch that set you up for success during any busy shift.

In my server pouch I have:

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Source: My own personal image
  • AT LEAST two pens – there’s nothing worse than when your favorite pen runs out of ink mid-order. Come prepared with a pack or multiple just in case.
  • A billfold – This item has my OCD self at ease throughout my entire shift. One side is dedicated to bills while the other has a pad of paper designated for food and drink items.
  • A pad of paper – this is a way to help you stay organized when taking orders and if you run out, receipt paper always works.
  • A float of at least $75 – not all restaurants require you to bring a float. If you, like myself, are required to then you know the struggle of scrambling for change thirty minutes before your shift. It’s important to have a mixture of bills, including coin, so you are able to give back any desired change.
  • GUM – there’s nothing worse than having a server talk to you and all you can smell is the coffee he/she downed before the shift. Having gum on you prepares you for the worst, and can cover up the fact that you might have been stuffing your face on a mistake the kitchen made.
  • Hand sanitizer – people and money are invested with germs. Working in a social setting, like a restaurant, is breeding grounds for sickness. Come prepared and use accordingly throughout your shift to avoid any unnecessary sick days.

Like I mentioned above these are the items that I’ve stuck with and consider my bible of serving. Obviously, depending on the type of serving job, your items will vary. If you have any other suggestions, let me know!

 

Until next time,

 

N.

The Struggle of Maintaining Your Sleep Schedule

If you’ve been following my blog from the start then you’re aware of the ups and downs of being a server. One thing I haven’t discussed yet is the battle between sleep patterns.

If you work in a restaurant/bar like myself, you probably can relate…

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Source: Giphy

You go into work on a Friday at 5pm and you’re lucky to be gone by 2:30/3am. Once you’re home, you can’t seem to shut your brain off. You attempt to wind down by trying to forget about work and indulging in a Netflix episode or two. All of a sudden its 5am (cue “5 O’Clock” by Lily Allen) and you’re just starting to drift off. The next thing you know, you’re waking up in the mid-to-late afternoon ready to do it all over again. Well, until Monday that is.

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Source: Giphy

If you, like myself, are also a student then you understand that when Monday comes you have to flip your sleep schedule around. The early mornings are difficult the first three days of the week, you’re tired and grumpy and sometimes catch yourself dozing off in lecture.  By Wednesday, you start to get used to it, and then Friday rolls around expecting you to once again, flip your sleep schedule. How rude.

Here are some tips and tricks I’ve found useful when dealing with two opposite sleep schedules:

  1. Invest in a meditation app like HEADSPACE – from beginners to expert it talks you through different meditation sessions that help calm your busy brain.
  2. Stay away from screens – avoid your phone, computer and TV as much as you can. Research has shown that technology can actually suppress melatonin.
  3. Aromatherapy or essential oils work wonders – there are many different scents and oils that not only assist with sleeping but other problems like stress or anxiety.
  4. Talk it out – if you had a good or bad night, sometimes talking about it briefly with a co-worker can help ease any stress or thoughts running through your brain. I’ve found that getting something off my mind is usually key to helping my shut off my brain after a long shift.

 

Hopefully, these tips and tricks help you the next time you’re experiencing problems adjusting your sleep schedule. Let me know your thoughts or if you have any other suggestions!

Until next week,

 

N.

The Best Part About Working as a Server

Some will say that its the tips or the social setting that make serving so appealing. Personally, I feel the best thing about being a server is the copious amounts of food at your fingertips… at all times.

Now, to most people’s surprise, the majority of restaurants don’t offer their employees free food *cue dramatic gasp*.

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Source: Giphy

At all the restaurants I’ve held a serving job, I’ve only ever been discounted 15-20 percent and allowed to have the odd bowl free soup. Don’t get me wrong, the discount helps and it was always appreciated, but having to pay for my food doesn’t stop me from ordering and eating copious amounts throughout my shift.

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In my natural habitat at work
Source: my personal photo

I am a foodie at heart so its safe to say I tend to come up with wild contraptions. I usually will take something on the menu and spice it up with whatever flavour or add-on I’m feeling on that given day.

some of my favourite go-to meals at work (with a few add-ons of course)
Source: my personal photo

I’m a true believer in the saying that money can buy you happiness, well that is in the sense that it buys you food and food can make or break your mood (in my opinion).

Although there are many perks to working in the service industry, I without a doubt will say that for me, it’s the food that has me looking forward to go work. Is there anyone out there that agrees?

For my fellow servers, what to you is the best thing about being a server?

 

Until next time,

 

N.

To autograt or not to autograt

The trend that restaurants are adapting to quickly is that of auto gratuity. If you’re unfamiliar with auto gratuity, I’ll break it down for you. It’s an automatic tip that the server can charge you if you’re with a group of people, usually equalling five or more. It is seen more in larger cities such as Toronto, and the percentage typically ranges from 18-20.

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Source: pixabay.com

Although most servers will agree this is a great idea, some people have their doubts. The main argument is that some people feel as though 18-20 percent is too much. To counteract that argument, managers at restaurants have the power to not autograt or to take away such auto gratuity if the table feels as though the service level was not met and have valid reasons to back their argument up.

An argument from a server’s perspective is that many customers are unaware that we have to tip out to our co-workers. For example, at my current workplace I am required to tip out one percent to the bar and four percent to the back of house – this consists of the support, cooks, and managers. Adding an auto gratuity to a large table of people ensures that you will not have to pay out of pocket (five percent of your sales) for that table.

The debate of tipping is controversial already so throwing autograt into the mix is bound to create mixed emotions. It’s fair to say that both sides have valid arguments, however, it is the restaurants that make the rules on auto gratuity and ultimately requires all customers to follow them – unless your service has not been met.

Do you agree or disagree? I would love to hear some outside perspective on this topic!

 

Until next time,

 

N.

Finding a balance between​ work and school

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Luka Siemionov
Weight Scale

Since starting my undergrad at Western University, I have always held a part-time job on top of my studies. At first, I felt completely alone because many of my peers only had to focus on their school workload. It wasn’t until I began working at local establishments that I realized there are many students, like myself, just trying to get by.

As if the transition from high school to university wasn’t enough, just throw a part-time job on top it, right?

At first, I struggled to find that balance us university students seek to have. After a few months, I was able to get into the swing of things. I realized that holding a part-time job actually allowed me to put time aside specifically for school work, resulting in higher grades. Most importantly, I found myself more organized in all other aspects of my life.

Below are a few tips and tricks I’ve found helpful in finding that perfect balance between work and school:

  • Use a planner: write down any important school or social life events for which you can use to book off any time required from work. This ensures you stay organized in balancing work, school, and anything outside of them.
  • Schedule “me” time: sometimes you can get lost in the hectic hours you spend on the go. It’s very important to make sure you set time aside for yourself to wind down. Find a hobby that you enjoy doing and make sure you set time aside to do it.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed, ask for help: your mental health is very important and often it can get overlooked. All universities provide counseling to those who seek it so don’t be afraid to reach out if you need to. Most importantly, you are not alone, I’ve found that talking to someone who is in the same position is also a great outlet.

 

Until next week,

N.

Some of my BEST Experiences​

Working in any industry you’re going to have experienced both good and bad days. More often than not, its events or circumstances that happen throughout the day that make or break it; the service industry is no different.

As I’ve talked previously about some bad experiences, I want to highlight some of my best experiences to counteract.

So far my best experiences consist of networking opportunities and meeting some very cool, successful people. My first serving job was a popular restaurant in my hometown of Bright’s Grove, Ontario. Like any restaurant, you usually have a consistent set of regulars. One of our regulars just happened to be David Chilton, an author, investor and former dragon on the show Dragon’s Den. Obviously, my first time serving him, I was a little starstruck, but everything went smoothly and we had some great back and forth conversation. From then on, I continued to serve him the odd time he came in and was able to learn a lot about the business industry and how to become successful.

Another really cool experience was when my friend Jordyn and I sat next to a couple at my current workplace and it just happened to be Nadja Bender. After exchanging in some conversation, they bought us a round of drinks and we reciprocated. It was through our small talk that we began to learn details about their lives and the fact that Nadja was a well-known high fashion model. She’s modeled for magazines like Bazar, Vogue, and Chanel and walked alongside Gigi Hadid, Irina Shayk, Isabel Fontana. Since then we have been in contact through social media channels and I continue to follow her career.

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Nadja Bender – Personal Instagram

Working in an industry as social as the serving world brings many highs and lows. Although I have had many bad experiences, it has been encounters like these that have allowed me to have a positive outlook on working in this industry.

I’ve learned that you must take the good with the bad and to ultimately appreciate and put more weight on the good to truly enjoy what you do and to excel at it.

 

Until next week,

 

N.

 

 

A Customer’s Perspective

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Source: Ahmed Ismail

GUEST BLOGGER TIME – My Name is Ahmed, although I have no server experience I most certainly have lots of experience as a customer in restaurants: mostly because I love food!

“Processing…”

You received the order, delivered the drinks and served the food, now what? It is now time for the most dreadful moment for any server… collecting the bill.

The 2-3 minutes, when you’re collecting the bill from the customer, is always awkward. It’s a test of your patience and often consists of faking a smile to a table full of people that you may have heard complaining about the food/drinks. It’s a test of how well you can fake-laugh any corny joke that comes your way. Most importantly, it’s a chance to leave a lasting impression as the customer is putting in their tip RIGHT in front of you.

Below are a few tips for servers based on my experiences as a customer in restaurants:

How do you break through the awkwardness? Start a conversation.

There are many conversation starters that are applicable to all customers as they prepare to leave the restaurant. Don’t just ask something related to the weather, ask something that would create conversation and try not to seem impersonal.

“Any plans for this evening?” is a great way to pretend like you care. Whatever their answer is, you can respond with something from your own experiences and open up a brief conversation from there. Even if they reply with “Nothing”, you can say “Oh, there’s nothing I love more than doing nothing (insert fake laugh)”.

Where are you guys from?” is only applicable to people that you can tell are out of town. If they’re wearing a Guelph hoodie, then this question is applicable. If they are not from London, this is a chance to briefly talk about your London experiences, a solid way to pass the time.

Where conversations can go wrong.

As a server, it’s important to never jump into a conversation that is already going on at your table. It could be personal and private, and you could ruin the vibe of their evening by simply speaking. If you arrive at the table and the customers are already chatting, always be cautious.

Avoid the rowdiness. People are already weird, and their behavior when placed at a table with their closest friends, is even weirder. As a server, you will have inappropriate comments thrown in your direction and you have to remember to try and avoid it. If it’s deeply insulting to you, you can always contact a manager to deal with it. Always remember that the opinions of strangers are not worth your time and that once you collect the bill, you won’t have to deal with them ever again (unless they’re a regular).

If you dislike the customers ensure you breathe, remain calm, and just wait for the bill to process – then you’re free! (until your next table of customers you hate).