When I began to write this column for the paper the intent was to share a few recipes and my love for cooking and the event(s) that surround a great meal. Also, I had figured it was a great way to tell a few funny stories along the way about the many characters I have run into over the last 59 years during the process. That intent is still going to be the main impetus of my articles but I find myself from time to time compelled to write about other areas in the business of FOOD!!
In last month’s column I wrote about the change in eating habits that have affected old line restaurants yet has opened the door for new concepts. I hope you enjoyed that. This month’s column will cover an area in the restaurant business that HAS NOT changed….I will get to that in a moment.
For all of use Boomers and maybe a few years younger I have a test for you. How many of you remember going to a restaurant with the family and the waitress (YES Waitress) came to the table and took your order on a green and white tablet that said ‘Guest Check” ? She would write the entire order on the check and when you were ready to check out she rang up your total, stapled the cash register receipt to the order sheet and left it on the table. Your Dad or Mom would leave a tip on the table and then went to the front of the restaurant and paid CASH or in some cases a CHECK for your meal…No debit cards back then and very few credit cards…remember Diners Club, MasterCharge and Bank Americard!!!
Well, the way we pay for meals has changed a lot but the one remaining constant that HAS NOT changed in the restaurant business is how that WAITRESS got paid!!! Back in the day the person waiting on you was probably someone’s Mom or Grandmother. She was the kid’s Mom who sat next to you in English class or perhaps your friend down the street’s Grandmother or Aunt. ALL were working full time or, some were doing it part time to help “make ends meet”. Well today’s Waitress has been replaced by “Servers” and although the mold may still fit as above, you are now just as likely to have a “college kid” waiting on your table as they work their way thru school. There is a much greater mix in the make-up of the staff than “Back in the Day”. However once again, one constant remains……they are working to pay their bills.
In order to pay their bills the servers of today draw their money by the same means as the “waitress” did years ago…..TIPS. Today’s servers are paid a below minimum wage “hourly rate” but have the opportunity to make MUCH MORE than minimum wage with great service. That is where you the consumer and restaurant patron comes in. The rate for a “customary tip” years ago was suggested to be 15% of your total bill and if you felt like your server gave you service over and above what would be normal service that rate went to 18%. Of course there is nothing to say you cannot give them MORE!!!
The gist of this article today is sort of a “Memory Jogger” for some, or perhaps a lesson for others who do not realize HOW the food got to their table. To paraphrase what band members or DJ’S say at night clubs is “remember to tip your servers tonight. They are working HARD for you so you can enjoy the evening”. The same goes for the restaurant servers. They are working hard for you so that you and your family can enjoy a great meal and relax. So remember, the next time your server greets you at your table, that young man or lady may be “Working for a Living” as Hughie Lewis used to sing, OR they may be trying to pay for that last class at Georgia State .No matter the reason, they are “earning” a living ,so please remember that as you do the math in your head trying to figure out the tip. Maybe you are helping feed a family or perhaps educating the next Bill Gates….either way it is money well “INVESTED” !!