How do you recharge when your battery is drained halfway through a shift? Here are some tips on the best ways to power-up during restaurant service.
Sometimes the realities of restaurant service can be pure chaos. There will always be days when you clock in, optimistic and ready to go — then suddenly one thing goes wrong, like the hood breaking mid-service. Before you know it things spiral out of control: smoke starts billowing into the dining room, the servers are losing it as the smoke turns their eyes an agitating shade of red, and for some reason customers keep pouring in because of a sporting event you forgot about. So how do you recharge on those days you swear must be part of some cruel universal joke?
Well, here are a few tips from a server who knows a thing or two about pretending to use the bathroom only to escape for 2-3 minutes of peace (that’s me and I’m not ashamed).
Take a break
Another reality of restaurant service is typically we don’t get breaks, but if you’re lucky and you work in an establishment that does provide structured break times, or with a team that’s cool enough to let you take a quick 5 minutes… Then take it! Trust me, you don’t know how good you have it. So cherish those 5 minutes like they’re your last — do it for the rest of us that will have to resort to the following tips in this blog.
When I’m serving, drinking water is my moment of solitude — it’s a great time to look like you’re doing something, because you’re drinking water and who can get upset about that? But really you’re just drinking water. Even if it only adds up to a cluster of seconds over the course of an 8-hour shift and 80-ounces of water, it can feel like you actually got a break. Plus, it’s good to stay hydrated when you’re running around.
Look around. After a rush there is always something that needs to be restocked — napkins, condiments, straws, etc. Then when you make your break to restock something that’s needed, take a quick minute to close your eyes, breathe a little, maybe even do some light stretching. Sometimes you just gotta shake it off and reset for the rest of your shift and with this trick, you’re still doing something productive.
Go to the bathroom
I used to work at a bar that got insanely busy on the weekends. Like, I’m a sardine in a sardine can, trying to squeeze my way through other stinky and sweaty sardines to get a drink to another sardine on the total opposite side of the can — kind of busy. The only way I could break away from the loud disorder on the floor was to take a bathroom break. Sure, it’s only three minutes or so, but those are necessary minutes when you’re working in a high-volume establishment.
Caffeinated beverages and the sheer will to survive.
This tip is the last resort, mainly because I wouldn’t say it’s the healthiest of options, but sometimes you don’t get a choice — so you chug coffee, or shotgun a red bull and hope for the best. Muscle memory takes over as your brain rattles back and forth trying to assure yourself that you can only do your best, despite everything that’s going wrong and that eventually it will be over. The madness will subside and order will be restored. Honestly, the chaos that happens in restaurants and the pure will to survive that it elicits can be what makes restaurant work so exhilarating… or that’s the caffeine talking (you should probably never shotgun a red bull).
Restaurant service can get chaotic, fast-paced and boisterous, but that’s what makes it fun and exciting, too. No matter how you feel about it, it’s hard work and can be draining at times, so picking up a few ways to re-energize amid the chaos is an important survival technique.