Monday, June 18, 2007

The Truth About Camping

Campers: Customers who have eaten, had dessert, coffee, paid, and are still sitting in their booth. You may even hear a waitress say something like "Table 57 has pitched a tent and moved in." This usually applies to parties who have been in their seats for more than an hour and a half.

There are MANY opinions out there regarding campers. This is mine: In general, they suck. Occasionally, I am proven wrong by a table, but not usually.

I know that for the most part, campers are not taking up my table just to be a pain in my a&&. I know that they are simply having a great time with their beloved friends or families, and they just don't want this wonderful night to come to a close. I know that many of these people only gather once or twice a month, maybe even year. (Even waited on two women Friday night who had not seen each other for over 30 years!!)

I can completely appreciate every party's need to spend half the night at my table. HOWEVER, the party who wants to pitch a tent and build a campfire also needs to be aware of how their actions are affecting their waitresses and their fellow customers.

Here are the plain truths.

How it affects waitresses:

  • On any given night, I am assigned 4 tables.

  • The only money that I will make throughout the night comes from these 4 tables.

  • Tables generally turn approximately once an hour.

  • If a table has pitched a tent, the table they are at is no longer available for future customers.
  • If the table does not turn, I will make no extra money from it.

  • This potentially cuts my profit for the night by 1/4, assuming that only one table is camping.

How camping affects other customers:

  • Campers hold up tables that could be used for customers who have had to wait.

  • Patrons on the wait list are quoted times based on the assumption that all tables will eat and leave.

  • Now, a quote may be over because of campers.

  • Some customers may leave rather than wait for a table that is not moving.

This is how this plays out in my bank roll.

In my first hour, all 4 tables order food, eat, and leave when finished. If the restaurant is on a wait, the potential for my second hour is very much like the first. However, this time around, all 4 tables order food, eat, and only 3 leave when finished. I am now working 3 tables. The night will continue like this until the campers decide to vacate their comfortable seats and move along. Meaning that I will miss 2, 3, 4, or more tables and the money that they may have left.

Should they leave an additional tip for taking up my table so long?

Some may argue that because I only refilled their sodas and coffee throughout the additional 3 hours that I should not be tipped beyond the 20% dictated by their check amount. But what if they only have a $35 check?

This is an issue that we face every night. My advice, move to the bar. Luckily, my restaurant offers a full bar with private seats available for people who want to stay all night.

**And Thank you to the two women who sat for 3 hours Friday with a $15 bill.

The $15 tip was greatly appreciated!!!***


karoline said...

our hostess used to politely ask the campers to come and enjoy an after dinner drink in the lounge, so the table could be set for waiting customers...

this usually worked only on nites when there was a lineup..


Waitress4Life said...

I was sharing this thought with one of my friends when she made an interesting point.


You don't stand outside the supermarket when you are done shopping, why would you sit at a table when you are done eating?


Anonymous said...

I sit at the table in my local diner and chart patient notes on my computer for 2 hours after breakfast. I also pay table rent- usually a $20 and I keep my eye open for the place filling up. If tables become rare, I pack up and leave.
Do you think I should leave more than that?

Waitress4Life said...

Anonymous -
That is fantastic! I honestly think that part of it is simply the fact that you have taken the time to appreciate the server and the restaurant. You would be welcome to sit at any of my tables! :)

Waitress4Life said...

After years of going back and forth between waitressing jobs, I finally lost the passwords to this blog... But I haven't given up! Or lost my absolute desire to share the JOYS of the restaurant world!!
Join me on the blog I CAN access and will be updating (hopefully!!) far more frequently in the near future!!
It's great to be back... I really need to vent! Waitress4Life