Press "Enter" to skip to content

A Day in the Service Industry

Part 1: Coming into Work

The setting is a restaurant called Mamnoon, located in Capitol Hill, Seattle. It’s Valentine’s Day, one of the busiest days for service industry professionals.

Max arrives first, 10-15 minutes early for his shift. Standing at five feet six inches, with a small to medium build, freshly cut short brown hair, brown eyes, and is 32 years old. With 12 years of experience in the service industry, Max has worked at Mamnoon for over three years. He walks through the main entrance, waving to the host and the person working the to-go window. Max heads straight to the server station, hangs up his coat on the top corner of the cubicle, and pulls out his phone, waiting until 3:30 p.m. to start working.

Charlotte, at exactly 3:30 p.m., comes in second. She is five feet three inches tall, has a small build, long blonde hair tied up in a ponytail, baby blue eyes, and is 28 years old. With over a decade of experience in the restaurant industry, she transitioned from being a line cook to a server after realizing she didn’t like the former. Charlotte has been working at Mamnoon for two and a half years. Upon entering, she greeted the host and the person working the to-go window. As Charlotte heads upstairs to put her belongings away, she stops to greet the cook working the front oven before reaching the server cubbies. She puts her backpack in one of the cubbies, grabs her apron, hangs her jacket on the coat rack behind her, and returns downstairs. 

Colton walks in about two minutes late through the main entrance. Before speaking to anyone, he clocks in on the to-go station tablet. Colton is five feet 10 inches, has a medium to large build, long black hair, brown eyes, and is 23 years old. Having worked in customer service for 10 years, starting as a dishwasher, he has worked at Mamnoon for over two years. After clocking in, Colton greets the host, the person working the to-go window, and the cook at the front oven before heading into the hallway upstairs. Once upstairs, Colton stows his belongings in a cubby, hangs up his sweater, and then goes straight to the bathroom, as he only uses the restroom while on the clock.  

Sriya rushes into the restaurant through the side entrance, 10 minutes late. As she enters, she meets Colton in the hallway, where he goes to the server’s station. Sriya is five feet five inches tall with a small and thin build, long, thick black hair pulled up in a bun, dark brown eyes, and 28 years old. With six years of experience in the restaurant industry, starting as a host/busser at an Italian restaurant, Sriya has worked at Mamnoon for the same amount of time as Charlotte. While running through the hallway, she removes her coat and places her belongings on a chair. Walking into the server station, she sees Max, Colton, and Charlotte setting the floor. 

Benjamin Walls | The Seattle Collegian

Part 2: Pre-shift

All four of them have been working together for many years. They all enjoy talking to one another, and their relationships have evolved from coworkers to friends. As they set up the floor for this extremely busy day, you notice their demeanor towards one another. They are somewhat stressed by the busy service ahead, but their years of working together have equipped them to help and communicate effectively. The restaurant is set up with plates, cups, napkins, and utensils. Candles adorn the candle wall, giant water bottles are filled, wine is stocked, and the silverware is polished.  Everything is ready. 

At 4 p.m., the managers call everyone to the lounge, a small private room that can fit about 30 people. They gather everyone to have a fresh talk.

During fresh talk, the managers and the sous chef discuss the specialized menu and wine pairing for the night. The bartender informs everyone about the beer on tap and the unique cocktails available. The host then shares with everyone the number of expected guests, with over 180 coming within the first two hours of service. The host then assigns what section each server has. Charlotte will take the front section near the entrance, Max will take the middle section close to the server station, Colton will take the back corner, and Sriya will take the lounge.   

After the fresh talk, everyone returns to the server station and tries to prepare themselves for service. The fresh talk took time, so everyone rushed to light candles and detailed their sections. Colton then goes over to the espresso machine at the to-go window. As he goes over there, Sriya asks him to make her a latte. Colton accepts, walks, and makes a double espresso and Sriya’s latte. The clock strikes five while Colton makes the drinks, and the first reservation arrives.

Part 3: Dinner Service 

When the first reservation arrives, Colton navigates back to the server station with his espresso and Sriya’s latte. He walks through the side door, goes through the hallway, and enters the server station through the connecting door. Colton arrives just as everyone is putting on their aprons. He gives Sriya her coffee, takes a quick shot of espresso, sets his cup off to the side, and takes his hair tie, putting his hair in a bun and putting on his apron. Meanwhile, the host leads the first pair of guests to their table in the middle section. 

As more guests are seated in everyone’s section, Max greets his table with consistent body language and tone of voice. Max prefers building genuine relationships with his tables rather than changing his demeanor. He engages in friendly conversation, sharing laughs with his guests, and enjoys the evening, the luck of the draw, he guesses. However, a few tables always make him sometimes hate his job. Tonight, four tables treated him badly, ignoring his presence, talking over him, and being avoidant. With these tables, Max showed restraint in building relationships, no friendly banter, no laughing, opting to deliver orders with a smile and leave, that’s it.

Sriya is next to greet a table. Like Max, she remains true to herself, displaying no stage presence. She tones herself down and focuses on the table. No matter the experience at the table, good or bad, Sriya tries to stay consistent with all her customers. When reading her tables, she needs to know what experience they want: fast and casual or a dining experience. She acts aloof on fast-casual tables and becomes more interactive with tables that want a good dining experience. 

Colton is the third person to get a table. When greeting his first table, you can tell he has changed his demeanor, making it more professional. His voice pitches up, his posture becomes more polite, and at first, Colton tries to make conversation, though not smoothly. He’s warming up, and as the night goes on, his movements on the floor and his relationships with tables become smoother. Colton believes eye contact and engagement are important, as they really make the experience at the table. If Colton likes a table, he would send them something extra for free. However, Colton doesn’t like it when tables are short, blunt, and especially demanding. He doesn’t spend much time with those tables; he borderline ignores them. 

The last person to get a table is Charlotte. It’s expected that no one wants to sit near the door when it’s raining and cold. When greeting her first table, she makes a strong first impression. Her service at the table is a little rigid initially, but afterward, her service becomes more performative. She becomes a different person. Her posture is straight, and her tone of voice is welcoming, but her consistency changes depending on the table. A faster, casual experience differs from people who want a dining experience. As longer service goes on, her flow becomes more focused and sharp.

Benjamin Walls | The Seattle Collegian

Part 4: After Service  

Service has ended, and all the guests are out of the restaurant. Colton and Max are flipping the chairs and putting them on the tables. Sriya and Charlotte are in the server station polishing glassware and silverware. Right now, the only people in the restaurant are two cooks sitting at the bar, the four servers, and the bartender. After putting up the chairs, polishing, putting away family meals, getting rid of all the trash and dishes in the server’s station, and dumping the sani buckets, they finished closing the restaurant. Charlotte and Colton go upstairs, grab their things, and return downstairs to the main space. 

Max and Sriya are sitting at the bar, having their shifty drinks. Sriya has a shot of Meletti, while Max has a shot and a beer. Colton asks for his shifty, which is a Negroni. Charlotte goes behind the bar, talks to the bartender for a second, and asks how their shift was. While doing this, she pours herself a shot of bourbon. It was a hard shift for all. 

Colton slams his Negroni because he would rather spend some time alone at the end of a hard shift. After finishing his drink, he puts his glass on the bar and says goodbye to everyone. He hugs Sriya, hugs Max, and waves to the bartender and Charlotte behind the bar. Colton likes the restaurant industry but knows he doesn’t want to stay in it forever; he’s working hard to find other things to do but has no marketable labor skills. 

After a hard shift, Max, Sriya, and Charlotte are social creatures who talk up a storm about their day and how hard it was. All three of them have been in the service industry for a while and have liked the sense of community that comes with it. 

Max finishes his shot of whiskey, puts his glass up, and asks the bartender for another one. Max found this industry during a challenging point in his life, which has helped him through it. This industry allows for travel, has good money, and a great sense of community. Even though he likes the industry, he wants to leave it eventually.  He wants to see the next part of his life, even though he doesn’t know what it will be. Max finishes his beer, raises it, and asks the bartender for another. 

Sriya, sitting right next to Max at the bar, slowly sipping away at her drink, also loves the industry. She is still pent up from service. She loves the food and drink aspect of the industry, and the community aspect really makes it for her. Most of her friends outside of college were made in the service industry, and she makes good money, which allows her to travel. Sriya likes the service industry but wants to return to school and change to a career path that allows her to travel.

Charlotte is sitting in the freezer behind the bar, looking and talking to Sriya and Max. Yes, it was a hard shift, but she is a social being. Charlotte loves talking to these people; they bring good energy. Charlotte loves this industry, the community, learning about food and drink, and the money; she doesn’t want to leave. Charlotte sees the service industry as her end and likes what she does. 

After everyone finishes their drinks, Max and Sriya ask Charlotte to put their empty glasses in the dishwasher behind the bar. Charlotte grabs their glasses and puts them in the dishwasher with her own. Everyone grabs their stuff and says goodbye to the bartender. As they leave, they say goodbye to the manager and walk through the side entrance. Max gets into his roommate’s truck and then leaves. Sriya and Charlotte walk off into the city.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2018 - 2023 The Seattle Collegian