For those of you who don’t already know, I’m a huge foodie. So for obvious reasons, I decided to get a job at a hip bakery/cafe joint in town for the summer.
Restaurant jobs are tough — you have to be able to adjust what you’re doing as soon as the environment changes. For instance, moody customers, hectic lines, and messed up orders all have the possibility to throw you off, that’s why you need to be prepared. After working for about two months, these are the things I learned and you should know before you accept a job at a cafe.
1. Don’t forget to smile.
When greeting customers, taking orders, or really doing anything, don’t forget to smile. It may feel weird to constantly smile at people who are staring at their menu trying to figure out what to order, but you never know who is watching.
2. Don’t ask stupid questions.
When the chefs are busy they don’t have time to answer questions that customers ask like, “Where is the Gulf fish from?” It’s from the Gulf, duh. Before you run to the back and ask someone a question, think to yourself, “Can you answer the question using common sense?”
3. Coffee will become your best friend.
Working 2 or more days in a row can get exhausting. By the second or third day, you’ll need at least 2 cups of coffee to prevent yawning while taking someone’s order.
4. You will repeat the same phrase over and over again.
“What’s the soup today?”
“What is that?”
“How do you pronounce that?”
Daily specials will be your least favorite thing to talk about during the day. Make a game out of it and see how many different ways you can describe the special.
5. Your coworkers will find your blog.
Chances are if you put Spoon University on your resume, your bosses will ask you what that is and later on check it out for themselves.
I still don’t know how it was brought up, but everyone I work with knows I have my own personal gluten-free food blog. They mentioned it every time I walked by and when I ate something glutenous. Some of them even asked for a feature on the blog. #byefelicia
6. Family meal will become the best part of your day.
Lunch is usually provided when you work at a restaurant, also known as family meal. This will become your favorite part of the day. However, sometimes when the kitchen is jammed you might not get to eat until some ungodly hour like 3 pm.
If you can’t make it to the family meal without eating something, then you should always bring a snack. I always brought bananas or Nourish Snack packs with me (use the promo code SPOONFEED and you’ll get 20% off #winning).
7. Open > Close
If you’re a morning person, then the opening shift is for you. But if you like your beauty sleep, snag a later shift for sure. When additional items are added to the menu, the chefs have all the employees sample the dish, usually before the restaurant opens. So if you’re on the morning shift, prepare for a second, free breakfast.
8. Customers like pretty packaging.
Pastry boxes are 100% cuter than pastry bags. It is important to ask the customers which one they prefer because, chances are, you’re going to have to repackage their pastry into a pretty box.
9. Make use of leftovers.
Feeding the homeless is illegal in Houston without a permit, so some restaurants end up throwing their leftovers away. Ask your boss if you can take some of the leftovers home, it’ll save you money and you’ll get fresh bread.
10. Chefs aren’t always the ones who do the cooking.
Restaurants usually hire cooks to prep all the dish ingredients so they are ready when an order is placed. Just because it only took a couple of minutes to get your meal doesn’t mean that it didn’t take longer to prepare.
11. Built in tips are weird.
The Square software system has a built-in tip option. If you have to use one of these, the polite thing to say is, “If you can finish this transaction, it’ll ask you a few questions and then have you sign.”
12. Be patient and polite.
Whether it’s you or a customer, someone is bound to be in a funk. Remember to take it one breath at a time.
13. Befriend the regulars.
Notice the regulars. It’ll make their day if their order is ready by the time they walk in the door.