I spent nearly a year as a hostess at a high class steak restaurant. In that brief time I learned a lot of the ins and outs of reservations and hosting and thought I might share some of it with you:
- Get a reservation!
Try to remember that for busy nights (like Mothers Day, Valentines, New Years Eve, and Restaurant Week) popular restaurants will start accepting reservations as much as a year in advance so if you want to get in get a reservation as early as you possibly can! A good rule of thumb is to make the reservation as soon as you know the night and the approximate amount of guests then call the restaurant back at least a week in advance to confirm the exact time, and guest list.
- If you have a reservation show up on time with the proper amount of guests
We will hold your table the longest we possibly can but doing so puts us at risk of incurring the wrath of both other patrons and the server assigned to your table the longer we wait. So when you finally do show up be courteous, apologetic, and generous with the tip. Also 5 people are not 4 people and 31 is not the same as 28. This is stuff we learned in kindergarten so why is it so difficult now? If you have a reservation for 4 people we will put you on a 4 top table – that is a table that fits 4 people and not 5. No, we will not just ‘pull up an extra chair’ and let you deal with awkward corners or sitting in a row that the servers need. And if you have a private party of 28 and you actually plan on bringing 31 then tell us beforehand so we can be prepared – don’t just assume we can’t count!
3. If you don’t have a reservation then don’t be mad about other people getting sat before you.
This isn’t rocket science it’s how reservations work. If you have one then you show up at the proper time and get sat before people that just showed up. If you just show up then you will get sat AFTER all those with reservations have been properly attended to. You know the rules. We don’t make the rules. Why would you think you’re above them?
- Don’t hover at the hostess stand
The host stand is our office, desk, and work station so you resting your weight on it or continuing to stand there watching us after our conversation is over is both off-putting and intrusive. Also, and this rings true for anyplace with a POS system, don’t try to lean over to see the screen! This isn’t necessary and you probably won’t understand it anyway. LEAVE MY COMPUTER ALONE!
- Don’t seat yourself
This shouldn’t even have to be said…. Like seriously…. If the restaurant you are going to even has a host or hostess keep in mind that at least 50% of their job revolves around showing people to their table – don’t do our job for us! You honestly have NO idea how much work and time (and sometimes tears) that goes into a complicated floor chart – so stop messing with it!
- Don’t change tables without our knowledge
This is another biggie. Just because a table is empty does NOT mean it’s free. Sitting in it without our knowledge or permission is a HUGE violation and if we let you stay we cannot guarantee good service as the main reason tables are empty is because the servers already have enough tables they are responsible for and forcing an extra table on a server in the weeds does not bode well for anyone involved!
- If you want a different table than the one we sat you at then tell us and be specific about what you do or don’t want so we can show you the best one to fit your needs.
I once had a lady and her two kids ask to be moved from a booth because she felt ‘claustrophobic’ I moved her to our only free table (which happened to be closest to the door) and that was ‘too breezy’… I ended up moving her 3 different times before she happily settled on a booth that she later revealed to be ‘just the one she wanted’. The moral of this story being if you want something specific TELL US and don’t expect us to be able to read your mind!
- Your bribe will NEVER be worth my job
Taking a tip to get someone a table faster is called a bribe and is not allowed at any reputable establishment. We could get fired and sent home on the spot for accepting it. So please stop offering!
- Call me by my name
Snapping your finger to get peoples attention is always rude and never appropriate. Most of us wear name-tags and we will all willingly tell you our names whenever asked. Yelling ‘Hey you’, waving frantically, snapping your fingers, or grabbing any part of us or our uniform are not good enough; please do us the kindness of treating us like the humans we are and call us by our given names.
- Follow the dress code or don’t be upset if we ask you to leave or sit in the bar
It’s always awkward and uncomfortable to tell a guest that you can’t sit him or her in the main dining room because of his swim trunks, trucker hat, or flip flops and I’m sure it’s slightly embarrassing to be told it as well – but thankfully there are things we can do to keep this from happening! If you think what you’re wearing might not be appropriate – it probably isn’t but you can know for sure with this four step process:
1. Look up the number to your restaurant of choice
2. Dial said number in to your phone
3. Ask the nice person who picks up if you’re allowed to wear whatever it is that you happen to have put on that morning into their restaurant.
4. And this is probably the most important one – do what they say!
With these 4 simple steps we can all avoid a little embarrassment!
Here is a handy little info-graphic to help you remember all you’ve learned today: