Taking guests to their table, taking orders and setting up for the next day. They’re just some of the many typical duties you’ll do as a waiter or waitress. This role is usually seen as the first step into the culinary world for those passionate about food and hospitality. If you’re thinking about what a typical day in the life of a waitress consists of, then you’re in luck.
Recently, we sat down with Mia, an energetic and bubbly waitress who provided us with some amazing insights. After getting her big break in a restaurant after completing her work experience, she knows exactly what really happens in the life of a busy waitress.
There’s no secret formula when preparing for the role of a waitress ahead of a busy morning or evening shift. While everyone is likely to have their own little routine to get in the right frame of mind, Mia explained that preparing for work is just the regular process of getting ready for any job.
It involves taking a shower, getting into the uniform, having her much-needed fix of coffee to fuel her for the day ahead and then browsing through her phone. Then she’ll head to the restaurant to get started.
The Typical Morning Shift…
Mia shared that a typical shift can depend on whether she’s working in the morning or an evening shift. If it’s a morning shift, then Mia sets up the breakfast and takes customers over to their tables.
She’d then make sure each guest is asked if they’d like a tea or coffee before getting them the hot breakfast they came in for. For Mia, these small interactions with guests are really important as she believes her attentiveness is what customers value the most about her as a waitress.
It’s also her favourite part of being a waitress - engaging and interacting with the customers that walk into the restaurant, as well as other members of staff.
Customers come to the restaurant to pay for a meal, so they want to have a good experience while they’re there. To help with that, it’s Mia’s responsibility to ensure that every guest she interacts with has everything they need and that they’re happy with the food they’ve paid for.
...And the Evening Shift
If it’s an evening shift, she sits the guests down and brings them all a menu. Mia asks them if they want any water or drinks before bringing out their food. When she’s not busy bringing out the restaurant’s speciality coq au vin, she makes sure that she’s around her guests enough and that they feel happy with the food.
Part of the amazing customer service Mia offers to guests is through the recommendation she provides for both food and wines. This shows the knowledge and learning involved in being part of the waitstaff as Mia needs to know which wines go best with different foods - such as red meat and how dry the customers want their wine.
More often than not, it comes down to categorising the wines and what the customer prefers. Although, learning the information is a good step towards progressing in this career and standing out from other waitstaff.
With so many tasks to do, it can often be a stressful place, but managing that is one of the many skills Mia believes waiting staff should have or work on.
She said: “The three most important skills a waiter or waitress needs...don’t get stressed. Obviously, you’re going to get stressed, but try not to - try to manage it.
“Pace yourself. So, knowing what needs prioritising and what can wait. And then I think good patience as well. Sometimes people can get very stressed so you just need to learn how to deal with it, tolerate it and just keep going.”
“Sometimes people can get very stressed so you just need to learn how to deal with it, tolerate it and just keep going.”
Describing her role as energetic, fast-paced and engaging, it’s no secret that the restaurant can be a potentially dangerous environment. However, Mia has her own tips on how she keeps herself safe, especially during those long shifts.
She explained that it’s important to clean up a spill right away and also move anything that stops anyone from moving around the restaurant. Plus, she emphasised that it’s important to be aware of your surroundings, especially when everything is happening so fast.
So, how do waiters and waitresses cope with long shifts? For Mia, the business of the restaurant actually makes her forget how long she has left, especially since her teammates are in the same situation. Most importantly, she emphasises wearing a good pair of shoes.
She told us: “In a role like this, you’re sometimes too busy to actually think ‘How long have I got left?’ so you just keep going. Most people are in the same boat as you as well. You can’t complain because you’ve done a long shift because somebody else will have too. So, you just have to keep going.
“And also, get a good pair of shoes because you don’t want to get blisters when you’re on a long shift. At the end of it, you just want to sit. So if you’ve got a good pair of shoes, it helps ease it a little bit.”
Mia’s reliable choice of footwear was Marla, perfect for waitresses. It has built-in extra cushioning for amazing comfort, the TripGuard feature keeps you moving smoothly and also boasts a slip-resistant outsole. These features are perfect when working on potentially slippery surfaces and moving quickly between different types of flooring.
End of the Shift
At the end of the night, Mia helps to clear up the tables and then set up for breakfast to do it all over again. Although, her shift wouldn’t be complete without the occasional strange request - including foods she’s never even heard of.
After leaving the restaurant, Mia tends to wind down by having a shower and another coffee before a relaxing dog walk and some light reading. To prepare for the following day, she makes sure that she gets enough sleep to be fully prepared for another long shift.
Then, the process repeats for her next shift the following day. It’s clear that a lot goes into being a waiter or waitress in a busy restaurant. To stay safe and comfortable, one of the steps Mia takes is to invest in a long-lasting pair of safe and comfortable footwear.
Mia’s choice of Marla is just one of the waitress styles available at Shoes For Crews (Europe). To find your perfect style for your next shift, view the full range below.