Do You Have What it Takes to Work at a Restaurant

By Allison McCullough

When teenagers reach the point in life where they are about sixteen years old, they start to look for a job, either waiting tables or in the kitchen cooking or washing dishes. What some people do not understand is that working at a restaurant is not always laid back and easy going. Every restaurant is different, like working with a million different sandwiches is more difficult than working with pizza, and some restaurants have a faster pace than others. Depending on things like how you work under pressure, in stressful situations and if you can get along with co-workers and the general public.

Waiting Tables


Working at a restaurant is a new kind of stress. When you first start, you are learning the menu and how the management runs the business. If you get stressed out easily, you might want to start out somewhere not so hectic and more laid back. Try a smaller, less busy restaurant or a fast food restaurant. If you feel like you handle stress fairly well and can successfully work at a place that is faster paced, go for it.


You are not going to like all of your co-workers. Some of them you will want to scream at and tell them how you really feel, but since you’re are in a professional setting, you can not. Others, you will adore and build wonderful friendships with that can last for a long time. Either way, for the restaurant to be an effective business, you have to get along well with others. You have to be mature about each situation and know your place. When working at a faster-paced restaurant, the entire staff has to work as a team and get their jobs finished and done well. If one of the cooks messes something up, it is your job as the server to bring it to their attention so that your customers stay happy. Customer satisfaction is the number one priority in the food industry.

General Public

Dealing with the public may not seem like a difficult task until you have to do it. People have a tendency to be unkind to their waiters and waitresses for the smallest reasons. You have to learn to be calm and collected especially when dealing with your customers, no matter how ignorant or horrible they are to you. I am a waitress at a small restaurant, but we stay very busy most of the time. I have personally had a customer complain because the grilled cheese that they ordered was simply the bread and cheese they had chosen themselves. Still to this day, I am not sure what she was expecting. But I stayed calm, and with the help of my boss, I was able to fix the situation the best we could and the woman was very kind to me afterward.

Tips to be Successful Waiting Tables

  1. Learn the menu at that restaurant, so you can be more efficient when serving.

  2. It is good to have an easy to get along with personality.

  3. Have a sense of humor.

  4. Be able to talk to people and make small talk or start a general conversation.

  5. Be polite and kind to ALL of your customers.

  6. Always talk positively about your co-workers and management.

  7. Be patient and calm is stressful situations.

  8. Treat everyone you come into contact with respectfully.

Rachel Epperly, a former co-worker, said that the hardest part for her was not getting distracted and making sure that she did not get behind when the restaurant was busy. Things like putting an order in as soon as she took it and then continuing to do other things helped her to stay on top of all of the tasks she was trying to take care of.

In the Kitchen

Just because the kitchen staff does not deal with the public directly, they are still affected by them. Customers can be very particular about what they want to eat or what they can and can’t eat. This is stressful for the cooks because if someone is allergic to something they use, they have to make sure not to contaminate their food with it.

These employees also have to know the choices on the menu so that they know what goes on what and if it comes with anything. Another stressor for them is messing up. No one is content if their food is not correct. If someone orders food thinking it is one thing and it comes out and it is another, there is going to be an issue.