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Many people have earned a living waiting tables including movie stars, models, singers, college kids and moms. Waitresses often choose this job because they receive daily cash from tips and have a love of interacting with customers. As a waitress you would do more than just take orders and deliver food with a smile, however; your duties would extend to many behind-the-scenes tasks as well.
Serving piping hot food to diners in a timely manner is what servers are best known for. However, waitressing involves more than just getting the food to the table. Servers also fill cups and glasses with hot and cold beverages, fill baskets with bread, rolls, toast and condiments such as butter, honey, jam and jelly and dish up sides including salads, coleslaw and soup. They also check that orders are correct and that food has been prepared according to customer specifications.
Service with a smile is always the goal of a skilled waitress. Greeting customers with a grin and a cheery comment, taking orders quickly and accurately and answering questions about ingredients, substitutions and food preparation methods are key as well. Waitresses also check back often to handle drink refills, inquire about the quality of the food and take any additional orders for after-dinner drinks and desserts. Most waitresses also bid their customers farewell and wish them a good day.
Money also plays a part in the service a waitress offers. Most waitresses prepare the bill by hand or by computer, ensuring that all items are included and totaled correctly. They take the customer's cash or credit card payment and return with any change and a receipt. Waitresses also collect their tips and report them on a form that allows them to be tallied for taxation. Unfortunately, many waitresses make only a few dollars an hour -- usually less than minimum wage -- and depend on tips that they hope will make up the income difference.
Before an establishment opens and long after it closes, waitresses are often hard at work preparing for customers and cleaning up after them. Rolling silverware into paper napkins, folding cloth napkins and replacing soiled tablecloths with fresh linen usually falls on the shoulders of the waitress. Stocking carryout stations, refilling condiments such as ketchup and mustard and topping off coffee creamers are other tasks they regularly undertake. Many waitresses also break down steam tables, clean out coffee makers and soda stations and wipe down everything in sight after a hard day's work.
2016 Salary Information for Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers
Food and beverage serving and related workers earned a median annual salary of $19,710 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, food and beverage serving and related workers earned a 25th percentile salary of $18,170, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $22,690, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 5,122,500 people were employed in the U.S. as food and beverage serving and related workers.
- Career Planner: Job Description and Jobs for: - "Waiter and Waitress"
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition: Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook: Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers
- Career Trend: Food and Beverage Serving and Related Workers
Amie Taylor has been a writer since 2000. Book reviews, gardening and outdoor lawn equipment repair articles and short fiction account for a handful of her published works. Taylor gained her gardening and outdoor equipment repair experience from working in the landscaping and lawn-care business she and her husband own and operate.