Everything I've learnt from working in the restaurant industry - Staff Blog
I often find that hospitality roles are often dismissed by corporate bigwigs as jobs with little to no “real world” application, but I beg to differ. From the moment I turned sixteen years old I’ve been working in various restaurants and pubs for a little extra pocket money while I complete my studies. All of those roles have been vastly different, but the one thing they undoubtedly have in common is the invaluable transferable skills they have afforded me.
First there was the pub: my first true glimpse into the world of work. I started working here as a sixteen year old, uncertain as to what I was getting myself into. It was a typical northern pub serving as a watering hole for locals, walkers, and football fanatics alike, also offering the typical comforting pub fare such as burgers and roast dinners. Don’t get me wrong, as somebody who had never worked before this job was hard. I was the only waitress covering a floor which comprised of about thirty tables; the kitchen was an angry and rowdy environment; and I had to juggle multiple plates like some kind of circus act. There were several occasions when customers shouted at me over burnt or cold food, and I dropped plates countless times when exhaustion and stress started creeping in. However, despite these shortcomings this role taught me an important lesson: resilience is the key to success. To work in the restaurant industry you have to be thick-skinned and adopt a can-do attitude, which I believe is a sentiment everybody should carry throughout life. It can be gruelling at times, but there is nothing more rewarding that returning home with achy feet, knowing that it was worth it because you provided the best possible experience for your customers.
My second job was at an Italian restaurant, although it was not your typical waitressing or bartending role, as the other staff were archetypes for every Italian stereotype. They were simultaneously hot-headed and passionate, but we were like a family. Before the start of every shift we would all sit down to eat a huge Italian feast prepared for us by the chefs, which ultimately made us feel like close-knit team. When your fellow colleagues feel like family I believe that it truly reflects in your work, as service with a smile comes naturally and the staff dynamic ensures that the restaurant runs smoothly like a well-oiled machine. A happy server is a happy customer.
My third job was at more of a high-end gastro pub, which also ran events for weddings and funerals. I worked here over the course of one summer, which was certainly challenging. I served seemingly endless canapés to guests at events (think miniature fish and chips, crudités and and posh hors d’oeuvres), ironed and neatly folded cotton napkins for hours on end, and my uniform had to be immaculately pristine at all times. Sometimes it felt that my managers were nit-picking as they insisted I wiped high-chairs for the fourth time or polished cutlery to the point I could see my own reflection in it, however looking back I realise that this job taught me the importance of being a perfectionist. Success is in the minuscule details that you think nobody sees, but believe me these go a long way and truly set you apart from the crowd in a world that appears overrun with restaurants to choose from. Repeat customers? Check. This brings me to my fourth and final hospitality role as Shift Supervisor and Cashier at Ned’s Noodle Bar, which combines and reinforces all of the knowledge I have learnt thus far and allows me to keep learning more about the restaurant industry and the world of work as a whole every single day. This job has allowed me to work my way up from the bottom, towards role that requires independence, a high amount of responsibility, and upholds the ongoing rapport with our customers through excellent service. As I graduate in a few months I feel prepared to embark into my new career with confidence in the knowledge that the restaurant industry has given me a multitude of professional and interpersonal skills that will set me apart from other candidates. Never underestimate what hospitality roles have to offer as they can be extremely rewarding. After all, you work hard, you play hard.