So not many people know, but I used to work as a waitress for probably seven years between two different restaurants. One was a huge sit-down fast casual chain and another was more of a high-end seafood restaurant. Since today can turn out to be a stressful, I thought I would share my tips for Valentine’s Day as a previous waitress. Hopefully, this can alleviate some of the stress for yourself, you date, and your server.
// THE BACK STORY //
I’ll always remember this one Valentine’s Day where literally anything that could go wrong, did go wrong. It was probably also the night that I decided never to go out on Valentine’s Day ever again. First, I probably was in charge of 7-8 tables which is unheard of. Usually you get a section with no more than 3-5 tables. Second, we were running anywhere from 30-45 min behind on seating our reservations. Since it was Valentine’s Day, people sat longer at their tables then they normally would. I guess the restaurant didn’t account for that little detail. Third, right in the middle of the rush, all our computers crashed so we had to write every order by hand and then make a second copy for the kitchen. Fourth, we actually ran out of a few main entree items on our menu. Can you imagine going to your table and telling them, “hey, I know it’s Valentine’s Day, but we ran out of what you wanted to eat.” Lastly, if that day wasn’t crazy enough, a gentlemen in the main dining room had a mild seizure and fell to the floor dragging the table/food with him. Luckily, one of the bartenders was also a paramedic and came to the rescue right away. An ambulance was called for and the man ended up being alright.
// MY HONEST ADVICE //
My advice (especially if you actually enjoy eating out) is to save it for another night! I’ll tell you right now that the restaurant will probably not serve their full menu. They will most certainly try to sell you on a special Valentine’s Day “set” or “prix-fixe” menu. What this really means is they want to limit their menu so they can push out more food per hour. Also, when I used to actually dine out on Valentine’s Day, the food ALWAYS came out mediocre. If you are going to spend this much money on food, I would see if your significant other is willing to eat out on a different day. You will definitely receive better quality food and service. On top of all that, you will have a better chance at getting the type of table you want (i.e. booth or window). If you are going out on Valentine’s Day, you are most likely going to experience a first-come-first-serve situation. That means there is a chance to be shoved next to the bathroom or in the hallway.
// IF THE ACTUAL DAY IS A MUST, THEN HERE ARE MY TIPS FOR VALENTINE’S DAY //
- If you want to have a good table, go early to the restaurant and check in with the host. The host will most likely say that there will be a wait for that type of table. But since you got there early, you can then now at least wait for it. You can also have a drink at the bar at least while you wait. It also doesn’t hurt if you tip the host.
- To guarantee that you will have the best service on this night, tip your server extra before the meal even starts. Just let them know that today is special and they want the best service possible. I have never experienced this, but my co-worker had this happen to her and she said she was definitely more attentive to the table throughout the night.
- Keep your food/drink modifications to a minimum if possible. The more modifications that you make to your meal, the longer it’s going to take the kitchen to make. Obviously, let your server know about any allergies you may have, but maybe think twice if you really need your coffee at a temperature of 170 F, with low-fat milk foam, and two dashes of cinnamon on top on this day.
- Don’t be afraid of flagging down your server. Your server will most likely be running around like crazy and if they forgot something, definitely let them know so they have a chance to fix it. Flag one of the other servers or even one of the bussers down if you can’t find your server. It is industry standard to help your co-workers out. At minimum, the other servers will let them know that you are asking for them.
- Lastly, be flexible! Valentine’s Day is a VERY busy day for restaurants and mistakes are bound to happen. If you are nice and understanding to your server, they will most likely return the favor by doing something extra for you for the hiccup. Usually, this is at the discretion of the server so hence why it’s good to be nice.
Remember, Valentine’s Day is a day where you get to have fun with your significant other and enjoy each other’s company. I know it sounds cheesy, but emotions are running high on this day and sometimes people forget what they are really celebrating. I really do hope this helps someone out. If any of these things worked or didn’t work for you, I would love to hear your stories!