9 Life Lessons Learned from Working at a Restaurant ...


9 Life Lessons Learned from Working at a Restaurant ...
9 Life Lessons Learned from Working at a Restaurant ...

Whether you've worked as a hostess, waitress, bartender, busser, or even a cook, you know that there are tons of life lessons learned from working in a restaurant! I worked in the restaurant business for 3 years as both a hostess and a waitress and believe me, you learn A LOT from these jobs. So if you're looking to connect with a fellow restaurant veteran or if you're looking for a job in the restaurant industry and want to know what you're in for, then continue reading these 9 life lessons learned from working in a restaurant.

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Tipping = You're a Decent Human Being

One of the biggest lessons learned from working in a restaurant is the correct practice of tipping. Contrary to popular belief, waiters and waitresses do not get to keep all of the tips they make. They almost always have to tip-out a percentage of their tips to "the house," which includes the bussers, hostesses, and bartender. Thus, when you tip poorly (or not at all), your waitress loses money because she has to still pay that percentage at the end of her shift. Having been a waitress, I usually tip more than average because I know how much it can brighten someone's day who makes barely anything in hourly pay alone.


In addition to the financial aspect of tipping, it is also important to remember that tipping is a reflection of your character. By tipping well, you are showing that you appreciate the hard work and service of those in the restaurant industry. It also shows that you are a considerate and generous person. On the other hand, tipping poorly or not at all can be seen as disrespectful and may negatively impact the server's morale. In fact, many restaurants rely on tips as a significant portion of their employees' income. So by tipping well, you are not only being a decent human being, but you are also supporting the livelihood of those in the service industry.


Teamwork is Key

Working in the restaurant industry has taught me just how important teamwork really is. If you can make friends with the hostess, busser, bartender, and chefs, it will benefit you greatly as they will help you when you're running around like a crazy person during the dinner rush. If you help another server bring out food when they are busy, they will in turn help you get your drinks from the bar if you don't have the time. Always be sure to return favors and be friendly with your coworkers!


Respecting Yourself

Unless you've worked as a waitress, you won't understand just how often you are treated like a servant rather than a company employee. I have been talked down to, ordered around, and criticized during work hours. The important thing to learn is how to respect yourself when others don't. Remind yourself that you are smart and beautiful and people who look down on you just because of your job are just unhappy people who need to feel powerful. Venting with your coworkers or on an anonymous blog can help you feel better too! (I've done both!)


Don't Judge Others

Following the last lesson, learn not to judge others based on their position or appearance. Customers will judge you due to the stereotypes surrounding waiters or waitresses but don't listen to them. Just because someone is a waitress doesn't mean they aren't also going to college or looking for a new position in their career. Take this lesson to real life too and learn to be less judgmental of others.



When applying for a business position, multitasking is always a good quality to have! Waitresses definitely need to have this quality as well, or they will learn it as they go. Learning how to wait on multiple tables can be extremely challenging, especially if your table gives you special tasks to complete on top of the basic ones. The ability to manage your time, stay calm, and prioritize what needs to be done is a huge part of waitressing, and a very valuable set of skills you will take away.


Self Control (with Food & People)

Being in any customer service job really teaches you to have self control. There were so many times that I just wanted to throw food at customers or stand up for myself when someone was treating me like a servant. However, wanting to keep my job, I had to learn how to go to a "happy place" and have some self control. This also comes in handy when you are around so much food (often free) that you have to refrain from eating!


Learning How to do without

You may think that because you work in a restaurant, you are well-fed. However, this is definitely not the case! When you are running all over the restaurant, you often don't have time to go to the bathroom, let alone eat something. Waiters and waitresses often go 8 hours without getting a break! You will learn how to go without sitting down to rest, eating, drinking, or even going to the bathroom. In turn, it will help you learn how to put your own needs aside to complete a task, how to work diligently, and have a good attitude while doing it!


This demanding environment fosters an incredible sense of discipline. You find new levels of endurance as your shift wears on without the typical comforts many take for granted. Mastering the art of patience and personal sacrifice becomes second nature. In the midst of this, there's also a strange liberation in realizing just how much you can accomplish on sheer willpower. Above all, this experience cultivates a deep appreciation for the small breaks—a quick sip of water or a few moments of respite—which seem like luxuries in the hustle of service.


How to Communicate

I am generally a very shy person when it comes to talking with strangers. However, being a waitress helped me get over this fear instantly. Being charismatic and friendly is a huge way to get bigger tips, so it's an essential trait to learn in the restaurant industry. You will learn how to act with certain personality types as well as what conversation works with customers. This is a valuable lesson to bring with you into your career as it will benefit you if you have to entertain clients or be liked in an interview.


You Won't Always Get What You Want

Sometimes you can do everything right, work really hard to make a customer happy, and in the end get stiffed on a tip. Being a waitress is a great way to learn the hardest lesson of them all: you won't always get what you want in life. It's because of this that you will also learn how to pick yourself back up when things don't go your way. Your table made you work your butt off and then gave you nothing to show for it? You compose yourself and move on, just like you should when things get you down in your life.

I have learned some of the best and worst life lessons while working in the restaurant industry. Out of all my various odd jobs that I had before heading into my career, being a waitress and hostess were two of my favorites. It's definitely an experience I think everyone should have as I definitely came out a better person in the end! What life lessons have you learned working in the restaurant industry?

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I worked in a restaurant for 7 years as waitress and I agree with everything here! I couldn't wait to leave in the end but the skills I've learned are now helping me in my current job as a graphic designer.

All true. And I hated every second of being a waitress. It also taught me to be jaded, cynical, and introverted after being treated so poorly by the general public.

Amen to all these points!

Totally agree! I also could get over my shyness and build my character a lot from working in restaurants for a few years. It does teach important stuff. You can tell who did it by the way they appreciate working and of course how they treat their waitresses :)

Tips were my motivation! It was like, how much can I get tonight? The food was also an awesome bonus! I loved trying new foods & my favourites stuck with me, trying to re-create the dish at home! But it also taught me to work fast and to have fun with your team, otherwise you'll go crack!

Sooo True ;-)

Its not always about the tips though, you should be 'nice' with customers just for the sake of them being 'nice' and courteous back to you which in turn makes it a more plesant shift for you. I would much rather tables of chatty, friendly customers and little tips than a resteraunt full of dry miserable people and loads of tips. (This is a UK perspective: we don't have as strong tipping culture as you do in the US) x

I have never worked in a restaurant, but an aquaintance of mine has, and he says he gained a lot of insight into characters as well.

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