Going out to eat is great for two things: spending time with people you like, and eating great food. Being able to sit with a group of friends and/or family is (hopefully) a great time, well spent. Before being in the restaurant industry, I loved being able to go out with friends, hanging out for around two hours, and then leaving full and happy.
Now, as a server, for the most part I hate large parties. The absolute worst part of it all isn’t even the mess I have to clean up at the end. It is carrying a tray of 10 plus glasses full of liquid across a crowded kitchen, and then through a dining room of guests. Keeping up with the drink refills, bread, sides of ketchup and ranch are sometimes overwhelming. Running back and forth between the kitchen and the dining room, trying to please the same 10 plus people all while doing the other server duties can make one’s head spin.
Surprisingly, the easiest part of the entire experience is taking down the order. I start with one guest and snake around the table, being extra careful of what I write down. The hardest part is passing out the plates of food to the guests who seem to forget what they wanted within the 20 minutes of me taking the order.
When I trained to be a server, my first couple of shifts I was trained with big parties. I’ve never been one to shy away from a huge group of guests, but after giving a few large parties everything I had in me and getting tipped only 10 percent has made me wary of all large parties. Now, not everyone screws us over. Many people have tipped me 20-30 percent on a large party, but it is not that often. After working Mother’s Day this past May, I swore off large parties. In a span of 7 hours, I took about 4 large parties, and was tipped so bad, I took 3 co-workers offers to clean their tables for money.
When large parties become difficult, I try and remember why they came out to eat. I think back at the fun times I had with friends and family before I was a server. Everyone wants to have a good time, and be with the people they care about. We as servers want the same for you. Here are some helpful tips to large parties for the next time you go out to eat.
Tips when you go out with parties over 8 people:
- Make sure you are patient with your server- sometimes the server has a section where they have you as a large party and a few tables around you. If they seem busy with another table…they probably are, and are trying the best they can to accommodate everyone.
- If you need your check to be split– tell your server first thing! If you are not seated with the people on your check, elect someone to speak for your check. Try and sit with those you are paying for. The simpler the better.
- Tip at least 20%– besides the fact that you should almost always be tipping 20% (and more), make sure you take care of your sever. Sometimes you are the only table they have all shift and the server is depending on a decent tip. If you know the person who is paying the whole bill is a bad tipper, bring extra cash with you to give to your server.
- Bringing your own desserts– it is fine and all to bring a cake into a restaurant to have at dinner, but please don’t bring a million candles to go with it. It is hard enough to light one candle and walk through a crowd full of people, its another balancing a huge cake while trying not to let 10 candles blow out. Extra brownie points are given to those customers who let the servers have the rest of the cake. You are the unsung heroes.
I hope the tips above are helpful for the next time you go out to eat as a large group.
Until Next Time!