Secrets of Waitstaff

by Deputy Team, 5 minutes read
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If you've ever stepped foot into the world of restaurant work, you know that it's a choreographed dance unlike any other. From taking that initial order to gracefully serving up salads and dinner rolls, all while carrying piping hot plates with an ever-present smile — the life of waitstaff is a performance of precision. But how often do we have the chance to shift the spotlight onto their unwavering commitment and diligence?

At Deputy, we understand the indispensable value of a dedicated and hardworking team. We conducted an extensive survey involving over 600 shift workers to shed light on the unique insights only these industry insiders can provide and express our genuine appreciation for their unwavering commitment. From tipping culture to restaurant lingo— keep reading to uncover the well-guarded “secrets of a waitstaff.”

Insider Insights from Waitstaff: 10 Confessions Unveiled

Waitstaff consistently faces various challenges throughout an average shift, with the customer experience always taking precedence. Regarding recommendations, 70% of restaurant servers confidently vouch for the tastiness of a dish, even without having had a chance to taste it themselves. However, not all tasks are equally straightforward. For waitstaff, the trickiest drinks to serve often start with cocktails, closely followed by coffee and hot tea preparation.

Servers are accustomed to navigating obstacles with skill and dedication. Working in a fast-paced, ever-changing environment means they face their fair share of hurdles, with unpredictable customers topping the list of challenges at 35%. Long shifts (18%) and addressing complaints (16%) are significant hurdles.

When serving customers and cultivating a relationship with them, waitstaff shares that an ideal table to serve is often a couple or pair (42%), closely followed by small groups or families (31%).

Do you ever wonder if you’ve earned the title of a 'regular’ customer at your favorite restaurant or cafe? You'll typically need to dine there for 5 to 10 visits before achieving that coveted status, as reported by 63% of the waitstaff. Sometimes the restaurant atmosphere is so great that you want to stick around, even when your meal is finished! If you’re wondering where that sweet spot is, 38% of restaurant servers expect most diners to leave 15-20 minutes after their meal.

Camaraderie plays a significant role in the hospitality world. Surprisingly, 4 in 10 waitstaff have forged genuine friendships with customers they initially met during service, and more than two-thirds have found a work best friend amongst their colleagues.

When faced with a choice between working a grueling double shift on a busy weekend or having a single, long shift on a quiet weekday, most servers lean toward the challenge of the busy weekend, with 58% choosing the double shift.

Behind! On the Fly! Corner!

Waitstaff have a language uniquely their own. Words like "86", "runner," and "comp" are just a glimpse into the linguistic tapestry of their fast-paced work environment.

Revealing the Strangest Server Gifts

Tipping culture in America has long been a topic of debate, with some advocating for a living wage for waitstaff rather than relying solely on restaurant tips to make ends meet. Since most waitstaff do not receive a living wage, tips are essential to their income. Nevertheless, some patrons still express their appreciation in unconventional ways.

Approximately 2 in 5 waitstaff consider a 'good' tip around the 20% mark. More than half (51%) find restaurant tips below 20% sufficient, while 11% said they consider a good tip well above 20%. 

Waitstaff invests countless hours on their feet, supporting their own families and providing exceptional service to diners, making a generous tip well-deserved. The most generous tip reported by restaurant servers averages around $66, with the highest being $1,000.

Nearly 4 out of 10 waitstaff have received gifts from customers beyond the usual monetary tips. Among these non-monetary gifts, the most common offerings include chocolate, wine, drinks, cake, flowers, food, jewelry, and books. Some of the most unique and memorable gifts reported by waitstaff include a contact to a scholarship opportunity, a guitar, a children's finger puppet, a steamer, a whole pizza, and many more.

For waitstaff, the most appreciated gestures of customer appreciation include leaving a generous tip (44%), maintaining consistent politeness throughout the meal (21%), and offering genuine compliments or expressions of gratitude (16%). Check out the table below for a closer look at some of the most intriguing server gifts.

Server Superpowers: Recognizing the Remarkable Abilities of Waitstaff

The tireless efforts of servers often need to be noticed and appreciated. That’s why we wanted to encourage our readers to share a heartfelt thank you and shine a well-deserved spotlight on the servers who make a difference in your life.

On average, waitstaff have braved grueling 12-hour shifts, with some recounting marathon shifts lasting over 20 hours. From stepping in during busy shifts to covering a coworker's absence to …, waitstaff consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty.

For servers, seamlessly juggling multiple tables (17%), handling various side tasks (16%), and catering to large parties (14%) often rank among the least challenging aspects of their role. These skills come second nature to them.

A remarkable 23% of restaurant servers can memorize an entire table's order without jotting down a single note — ensuring consistent and impeccable service.

What's more, over 4 in 5 servers can recall the orders of certain customers by heart, demonstrating an exceptional level of customer service.

Notably, 58% of waitstaff pursue additional employment alongside their serving roles, while a dedicated 42% are career servers, committed to the craft.

Closing Thoughts

While it should be a given, it's worth emphasizing the importance of treating waitstaff with the respect and kindness they deserve. Waitstaff dedicates countless hours to attending to customers' needs, playing an indispensable role in our society and economy.

Just as appreciating your team can help your waitstaff flourish, it's also worth recognizing how effective management is integral to fostering their development. At Deputy, we understand the importance of maintaining a well-staffed team and optimizing schedules for peak efficiency. You can harness the power of our advanced technology to streamline workflow management, schedule breaks efficiently, and much more. 

Are you eager to experience the benefits for yourself? Begin a free trial today!


To gain a comprehensive understanding of the life of waitstaff, we carried out a survey that engaged 664 individuals currently working in waitstaff positions. The survey ran from 9/19/2023 to 10/10/2023.

Our objective was to gain an insider's perspective on the experiences and obstacles encountered by the waitstaff and other professionals within the restaurant industry.

The survey questions were strategically designed to delve into the intricacies of customer-waitstaff interactions, the preferences and expectations of waitstaff, and the broader work environment prevailing in the restaurant industry.