Service work of any kind is often vilified and associated with gruling hours, annoying customers, and awkward we-work-together-but-we're-not-really-friends relationships with co-workers. Prior to college, I hadn't had much experience working in the service sector because I didn't really have an extreme need to save money. After reviewing my college finances, however, I decided that working in a restaurant would be the easiest way to make ends meet and still have some flexible hours for academics. 

I applied to a couple of area restaurants before accepting a job as a hostess and a waitress at a local pizza restaurant. I knew I wanted to work in a place that has a family, but also laid-back, atmosphere. Although the first few work nights were an adjustment, I quickly learned to appreciate and genuinely enjoy my job. 

Here's some of the most valuable things I've learned through my time working in a restaurant. These have both informed my experience as an employee and a resident Burlington "foodie." 

Tip well- very well. 

The sad fact of the matter is that many service workers do not receive a "10.50 minimum wage," but rather a "service wage" plus some portion of tips. Although this equation gives some security with a base wage, it means that a good chunk of someone's earnings are dependent on tips. If the people I go out to eat with have a problem with tipping 20%, I have a problem with going out to eat with them. 

Never, ever stay in a restaurant past close. 

Folks who work in restaurants indeed have lives and families to get home to after work. Not only is it super inconvenient to have to work around customers to clean tables and close up the restaurant- it's just plain rude. In a world with Yelp and Google, you can check the hours on your favorite local place to make sure you leave ample time for the staff to close while also not forcing yourself to eat your food as quickly as possible. 

As a customer, asking for something isn't an inconvenience to workers, unless you really make it one. 

I understand that you might want x/y/z on your order, and I am certainly willing to accommodate you as much as you can. But, if management has a certain policy in place, it's there for a reason. I can't argue with rules- nor can I bend the rules just for you. 

Positive feedback goes a long way. 

If you like your meal, let us know! Our goal is to give customers a great experience, and it means a lot to know that we're a step closer to that goal with every meal. I feel genuinely happy when customers tell me they enjoyed their meal or look forward to dining with us again, so I always like to offer positive feedback when I go out to eat at other restaurants. 

Don't argue with wait times, nor roll your eyes when we quote you one that is substantially longer than you'd consider ideal.

There is a method to the host/hostess' madness.  On a weekend night, expect that your wait will be longer than during the week or at "off-peak" hours. We try our best (and best case scenario- you get your table earlier than expected)! 

Letting your kids run around in a restaurant is not only dangerous for them, but also inconsiderate for other patrons.

When hot food is moving around, we want to make sure that everything gets to every table without incident. If you're worried that your child can't stay in their seat, consider bringing some toys or activities for them. After all, have you ever wondered why restaurants give out crayons and coloring pages?