Name: June Gunderson
Job Title: Waitress
Years of Experience: 20 years
Where: Green Bay, WI
Education: ITT Technical Institute, Green Bay
Salary: See the PayScale Research Center for median waitress salaries.
Waitress Job Description – Tips on Better Waitressing
If you're looking for waitress job openings, take a moment to read our interview with June Gunderson, a waitress with 20 years of valuable experience. She explains which waitressing skills are most important, offers tips on better waitressing, and more. Find out why waitressing jobs can be challenging, rewarding, and lucrative.
PayScale: What is your waitress job description?
Everyone thinks waitressing is just waiting on tables. There is much more to the job. When I get to work I have a whole set of prep work I am responsible for before opening for breakfast. Those syrups pitchers and ketchup bottles don't fill themselves. I also have to make sure we have enough silverware wrapped in napkins for the day. The night crew is supposed to help with this, but somehow they are always short. I also do basic food prep. I have to do some of the garnishes and sauces for many of the meals I bring out.
PayScale: How did you get started as a waitress?
I started waitressing in high school to make money for college. I starting going to ITT to work on a graphic arts degree. However, I ran out of money so I started waitressing full time. Once I actually got good at waitressing I was making more per hour than my friends who were graphic designers, so I just kept doing it.
PayScale: What do you love about your job?
My favorite part of the job is making $40 an hour. Sometimes I get a $20 tip from one table and it makes my day. This is when I know they truly appreciated my service and wicked sense of humor. I try to bring humor to everyone's day because it's a way to make waitressing fun at a whole different level. Although, some people don't appreciate my sense of humor so I get stiffed every once in a while. Sometimes people just take breakfast too seriously. I really do love waiting on people, especially my regulars. They make the waitressing job fun and I feel like it is my second home.
PayScale: What are the biggest challenges you face in your waitressing job?
My biggest challenge is when I get five or more tables at one time. Everyone wants their coffee right away and we don't have a hostess all the time in our little restaurant. People sometimes get very angry if you don't greet and take their order immediately. Joking that I have tables of uncaffeinated people jonesing for their morning fix, sometimes help them be a little more patient with me. Another challenge is dealing with the fact that we have no bus boy. I have to clear the tables as well as waiting on the table. You would think I would get more base pay for doing two jobs, but I still only get my waitress pay.
PayScale: What advice would you give to someone interested in waitressing jobs?
You have to keep a sense of humor and not let the angry, impatient customers get to you. Make every day fun by giving incredible service and it will pay off. Also, treat your "regulars" extra special and they will show their appreciation. Greeting people by name, giving them their regular table and tossing in free tastes really help increase the amount of tips I bring home. If you are not too busy, chatting with customers who frequently eat alone is also a great way to build up a following. If I take a day off, everyone asks where I am.
PayScale: What is the craziest thing that has happened while working as a waitress?
The craziest thing that happened was spilling on a customer and then I couldn't stop laughing. I had a side compote of salsa on a plate and when I set down the plate it spilled all over the customer. Thank god he wasn't a regular. It was an uptight man in a suit who definitely wasn't from Green Bay. He jumped up and made such a fuss you would think that I spilled burning hot oil on top of him. The way he acted made me laugh so hard it was very inappropriate. But, sometimes you just have to laugh.