Huck's Rant: Won’t somebody please think of the waiter

Anthony Huckstep could never be a waiter – he's not very good at biting his tongue. But those who can should be celebrated, as he argues that working front-of-house is as tough as it gets.

Before penning my first rant of the year, I took a moment to consume the spleen-splitting views I’d expelled in this column during 2018.

Each rant has an intended purpose: to shine a light on the poor practices of some in the industry, in order to help those with spirit steer their ships through choppy waters.

But sometimes, as much as you try, it’s those with the bib on in your dining room that hold all the cards, and boy oh boy are some hustlers.

I could never be a waiter. One of the only things I’m not very good at biting is my own tongue. I’ve seen enough poor form from diners to know I’d lose a waiting job before the start of the second seating for telling them where they can shove it.

Most customers are the pits. How smoothly would the place run without the one who always sends food back, the one who always says the bottle is corked, the one who clicks fingers for service, the one who belittles servers, the one who beats their chest and shows off at the waitstaff's expense, or the one who knows it all?

Front-of-house workers have the hardest jobs in the industry. They are the marketing team, sales team, entertainment providers, and managers of a room full of opinions. Sure, chefs have it tough in the engine room, but those out the front are dealing with the public. Have you ever been in public? There’s a whole rucksack of rapscallions out there putting a rather large dent in the average perceptions of the populace.

At one venue, a rude businessman demanded of the waitress, “Fetch me a spoon, I shan’t ask you again”. At another, a pack of drunk business wolves bragged about the size of their, ahem, “portfolios” to a very uncomfortable young waitress. While at another, a party of three, who were three sheets to the wind, turned up an hour and a half late.

“We tried calling you, but there was no answer,” said the host.

“Well I don’t answer my phone, who answers their phone these days? What sort of fucking place is this?”
Not one for you, madam.

Each moment is considered, juggled and ironed out to ensure every guest ends up with the same outcome – a high perception of value and a desire to return. The servers don’t always get it right, but the very best bestow a clear intent with genuine sentiment to give you the best night they can, and it is those people that should be celebrated, not belittled.

The truth is that there will always be bad restaurants, and there will always be those that push on each day to make their establishments just a little better. It’s these venues that tend to attract and hold onto staff and, funnily enough, are fuller than a fat lad’s sock too.

This article first appeared in foodservice magazine's February 2019 print issue.