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Life on the Line


Life on the Line

Fred Chang

Words and Photos by: Amanda DeJesus

I believe everyone should at some point work in a restaurant. Going out to eat is something nearly everyone experiences, but it can be appreciated much more if you understand how a restaurant works. I study food and beverage management at BU’s School of Hospitality and in the summer of 2016 I was fortunate enough to intern for Glacier Park, Inc., one of the two major concessionaires in Montana’s Glacier National Park. I worked at their West Glacier Cafe and did rotations as barista, ice cream scooper, hostess, busser, waitress, and prep/line cook. These valuable experiences taught me vast amounts about how a restaurant operates, as well as how to improve the quality of my work in every position. Equally important, I developed a better understanding of the impact of customer behavior on restaurant employees.

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Ten Rules for a Happier Dining Experience for You and Your Server:

  1. Please don’t blame your server for the food taking awhile to arrive. The kitchen is responsible for how fast the food comes out.

  2. Preparation time is the same for to-go orders as for table orders. If you order to go in the hopes that you can bypass the long line, it may actually slow everything down.

  3. Try to be patient with your servers. They usually have several other tables and a complex array of things to monitor.

  4. If there is anything wrong with your order or anything that you are unhappy with, let your server know, so they may have a chance to fix it.

  5. The menu items are listed the way they are for a reason. Some kitchens are more accepting of substitutions than others, but if something isn’t on the menu, chances are we can’t make it. Ask your server if your order is possible, but have a backup in mind as well!

  6. Don’t make a scene. Even if something isn’t clean, discreetly ask your server for a replacement. Mistakes happen, and most things are easily fixed.

  7. Remember kindness. Most of our customers barely acknowledge us when we ask how they are doing. While we try to give the same level of service to everyone, the customers who make eye contact and respond to our attempts at conversation are our favorites. Be courteous: say please and thank you. Little things go a long way!

  8. Even if you can’t bring yourself to be personable, do not snap at your wait person or use derogatory names. I firmly believe the adage that you can judge a person’s character by how they treat those in customer service.

  9. If you are dividing a check, make sure everyone is tipping a proper amount. Waitresses often get cheated when they have been serving a large group and choose to not do automatic gratuity.

  10. Don’t ask for a table as the restaurant is closing. Along similar lines, if you are at a table after the restaurant has closed, be mindful that the staff is likely waiting for you to finish up so they can go too. The staff and I were often at the restaurant closing up for three hours after locking the doors at the end of the evening!

Sometimes my job was really fun and sometimes it was really stressful. Sometimes I would get pleasant tables and sometimes people were rude. While employees do their best to not let the attitude of guests affect them in any negative ways, it can be difficult. Dining in a restaurant is so much fun, so why not make sure that the people who work hard to make it so are enjoying themselves as well?