Morning! It’s Saturday, 60 degrees, a beautiful spring day. Bottomless mimosa/margarita brunch is calling your name. It’s not what you think.
Rather than a crop top, you throw on a t-shirt and jeans because you’ll be the one serving those mimosas to the crop top girls. Prepare for an inside look at the tricks of the trade — this is bottomless brunch from the perspective of the server.
Arriving at work, you clock in and inhale whatever food you can get your hands on because you won’t be eating for the next eight hours at least. Brunch days are 9 t0 5, no lunch hour. Make sure to go to the bathroom while you still have the chance. From now until 3 p.m., the bathroom will be filled with sorority girls twerking in the mirror, and there’s a good chance when you catch a moment between running food that the stalls will be occupied by someone who had one too many mimosas.
For the first half hour, you’re on your game and things are running smoothly. You have three tables of six doing bottomless, a family who obviously didn’t know they were in a college town — AKA your new best friends — and two friends at a table in the corner chatting away.
Suddenly, the host seats you a group of twelve split between two tables, as well as a table for two outside on the patio. The waitlist hits a two-hour wait time and chaos ensues. Of course, there’s only one bartender on today who must pour mimosas faster than humanly possible. Spills are inevitable, so your hands are going to either be sticky or sweaty no matter how many times you wash them — by the end of the day your hands are cracking.
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Bottomless lasts two hours per table, and people will use it. When they hit about an hour, they start to get a little sassy. You bring them a new round and right away it’s, “excuse me ma’am, can we have another round please?”
Be thankful they were polite, but respond apologetically that no, I’m sorry, I have to wait until you get low on this round or it’s considered overserving.
The crop top girl looks sideways at her friend.
“Ohhhh I see… It wasn’t like that last time,” she says.
Yeah well, we all got reamed out by the boss because some people like to stretch the rules. Don’t say that though. Say, “I’ll have another round out to you soon.”
Bring it when they finish, as you said you would. When you go back, they ask the same question as before. Smile and say “Sure, of course.” Do whatever you want anyway.
When they finally close out, they’ve had seven rounds total. Now, I personally wouldn’t make it past three, but these girls are totally fine. When you go back to bus the table, most have tipped about 15%, which is fine, I guess… but it’s not 20%. One of them tipped nothing but wrote “thank you!” on the receipt — that’s not a tip, hun — another left a stray dollar on the table even though the bill was over $100. Nice. You shrug, you’re too busy to have time to be annoyed anyway.
Now, here comes the second wave of bottomless. Brace yourself, because here’s where things get really cray-cray. The bartender announces that we’ve gone through six boxes of champagne — that’s seventy-two bottles. The server alley is out of ice, cups and napkins. The floor is wet, and someone yells from the kitchen “RUNNERS PLEASE!”
Your manager points to a girl at your table and says that she comes here every week and always ends up way too drunk. Serve her one or two before cutting her off. Your coworkers are running all over the place, mumbling to themselves a queue of things to do — this is a habit that most will develop as a server — or saying aloud “what the hell am I looking for??”
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The restaurant is absolutely poppin. See, if you love serving, you thrive in this environment. Luckily, you are one of those people. But, that is not to say that you don’t have stress dreams about tacos after a brunch shift.
The second wave hits, meaning your whole section got sat all at the same time, all college students wanting bottomless. Check their IDs. That one kid looks 15. He’s all good. Maybe ask him about his skincare routine?
Many of your tables have likely already been drinking. This is tricky. See, servers get paid $2.33 an hour, the restaurant assumes we’ll make minimum wage in tips — which we usually do, and they cover it if we don’t — but that means we feel a stronger urge to comply to a customer’s desires, despite how ridiculous they might be, to get paid more. A table might be mad if you cut them off and tip less. Still, though, it’s your responsibility to not overserve.
A group of frat-looking boys all order bottomless. One says to you “hey, uh, can you like, bring them as fast as possible?” You respond that you will do your very best, laugh and touch him on the shoulder.
Hey, don’t judge. Remember what I said about $2/hour?? You do what you gotta do. When you bring their first round right away, he says “hey, good job, you listened!” This is a true story. Condescending mother — “RUNNERS PLEASE!”
When you return for their second round, he reiterates, “uh, can we have them faster?”
It may be that the customer is always right, and you are the face of the restaurant, so you learn to keep your cool, but you’re not above a little passive aggression. Smile.
“Of course, you’re my top priority.”
Not like you have eight other tables and one bartender for the whole restaurant. Roll your eyes when you turn away and cuss him out to your coworker in the safety of the kitchen. Not like he’ll tip well anyway. When they finally leave, he’s left you a 10% tip and his Snapchat with a smiley face on the receipt. All you can do is laugh.
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Four to five hours later, you’ve made $200 — on a good day — you have a pounding headache, you’re dehydrated, and finally, you get to use the bathroom. When you get home, you shower and pass out at 7 p.m.
Here’s the thing, I actually love serving. I always say this, and it’s always proven true — for every rude, entitled customer who doesn’t tip, you have someone you really bond with and who tips you above and beyond. It’s exhausting, but satisfying. You see the instant results of your work in each tip, and you meet lots of interesting people. On the days that you reconsider why you’re still serving — cough bottomless brunches cough — you’ve got some hilarious stories to tell.
P.S. If you can’t afford to tip 20%, you can’t afford to eat out 🙂