Photos by Rochelle Li, Words by Kiersten Utegg
It is a Friday. Your calendar is clear, your friends are together, and it’s dinnertime. The five of you pick a place with a happy atmosphere, tasty dishes and colorful ambience, ready to enjoy an evening of chatter and good food. But for some, like your server, this night will be much different.
The job of a server is to make the customer’s night as seamlessly enjoyable as possible. They are the people who bring you food when you are hungry. They are the people who always keep your glass full. They are the middleman between you and a perfectly prepared meal. In short, your server is an integral part of making your night out worthwhile.
If you’ve had a good server, you will remember their fantastic ability to change your decision from getting a dish listed on the menu, to getting a salivating special they had just described.
“And this evening we are featuring a sizzling pan roasted cod served with fresh chopped rosemary and thyme in a light lemon, butter, garlic sauce paired with a roasted cauliflower, parmesan purée and crisp, steamed asparagus.”
And with that, you are sold. This is a server’s hidden talent—their ability to pick and choose adjectives that make food sound so mouthwateringly good that you simply have to have it.
At most good restaurants, chefs try to introduce constant variety for their customers. This means that specials can change up to every week. A server must be able to listen to the chef and choose the parts of the dish to highlight for their tables.
It is an art to sell someone food. Many people have certain preferences or cravings that evening, which may deter them from listening in the first place. A good server, however, will make his or her presentation enjoyable to hear, maybe even funny, depending on the first impression.
The first impression is the most important part of the evening for the server. It is upon this initial meeting that the server gains insight into the type of people that you all are. If you and your friends are chatty and smiling, your server will pick up on that and be equally as joyous. If your group is more serious and professional, your server will adapt a more refined, business-like approach; this is called matching the mood.
If a server does not match the mood, it is noticeable for the table, which can lead to an uncomfortable night. We have all had to deal with that depressingly morbid server or the excessively enthusiastic one, and I am sure that at some point in the night the bizarreness of that experience came up in conversation.
Overall, a server can make or break your evening, so pick a place where you feel the servers and their service are valued. By the end of the evening, if your server has done the job right, you should be full, satisfied, and eager to give a well-deserved tip.