Everything I learned as a restaurant hostess

And all the things your hostesses really wish you knew


It’s summer time for most students. What does that mean? It means the summer job grind has officially started. And hosts and hostesses make up a significant chunk of the summer jobs available. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 349,440 hosts and hostesses working in restaurants in the U.S.

I worked as a restaurant hostess and cashier on and off for three summers. It’s an extremely social job in the sense that you have direct contact with a lot of people on a daily basis. Hosts and hostesses observe a lot of stuff. They see everything that’s going on and can see a conflict coming from a mile away.

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Here are some of the things I’ve learned during my time behind the hostess stand.

Analyzing and managing a situation

Like I said before, hostesses can see most problems coming. Hostessing helped me learn how to read people really well. This doesn’t mean being judgmental, but being proactive in knowing how someone might react or treat the restaurant staff. There were times I saw people who had a few too many before they were seated and I found myself mentally checking on them throughout the night to make sure they stay in their seat or manage to pay their bill. This also applied to children. Hyper children like to venture away from their parents – I’d constantly be watching out for kids from afar.

Hostessing allows you to be a second set of eyes and ears for the manager and serving staff. You’re constantly in or by the dining room, so you can be the watchdog for any problems that arise or even prevent any issues from coming full circle. Utilize this aspect of your job to create a conflict-free environment. If you can solve problems before it affects the waiters or reaches the manager, your life will be a lot easier.

Working as a team

Going to work is a lot easier when you know there are people who have your back. Help coworkers, even if you’re not sure they would do the same. Treat your fellow workers with respect. Be the bigger person and good people will appreciate it and do the same for you someday. If you play your cards right, your coworkers can become some of your closest friends. The time spend during late nights and double shifts can turn into unbreakable bonds.

Answer questions

Yes, you’re going to be asked where the restrooms are countless times throughout your shift. Customers will ask what menu items you recommend or if they can change different aspects of their reservations. I learned how to answer repetitive questions with the same level of courtesy and effectiveness. This helped me to not go crazy during job interviews or family dinners where the only topic of conversation was my life plan.

How to be a great customer

I am forever cursed. Whenever I go out to eat, I automatically think of ways I can make the night easier for the servers and hostesses. I make a strong effort to be on time for my reservations. I never want to be the customer that ruins a worker’s day. The golden rule of hospitality is “the customer is always right.” However, I’ve seen so many instances of people overreaching that standard to where it makes for a terrible dining experience for both parties involved. Also, I never refuse to tip. I was that girl carrying room service trays to hotel guests just to help out my fellow servers. When a guest would give me even one dollar, it would make my week. Be that person who makes someone’s week.


 

And for all restaurant customers, here are a few things hostesses wish you knew for the next time you decide to eat out.

We aren’t in control of how long your wait time is.

Kelly, New Jersey

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“We are not psychics. We cannot predict your future, but we can make educated guesses on the time we think it will take for your table to be ready. When we tell you its going to be an hour, do not came back 10 minutes later and ask if the table is ready yet.”

We do not live in a world where there are an infinite amount of booths available.

Laura, North Carolina

“Sometimes there aren’t booths open, and that’s okay.”

Give an accurate number of how many in your party.

Emily P., North Carolina

“When people say ‘we need a table for 2 and a half.’ That use to drive me crazy!! Count your children as full humans!”

Be courteous. The hostess is a person just like you.

Emily G., North Carolina

“When you say ‘Hi, how are you!!’ and all they say is ‘two.'”

Whether you’re a host or hostess and these life lessons apply to you or you’re considering taking up the job this summer, all I can say is you gain a lot more from the job than just a paycheck. I learned so much about myself and a lot of skills that can make me a marketable and resourceful employee. Sure, I dreaded my long shifts and hated conflicts, but all of these experiences shaped the way I handle life and work today.