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20 reasons why working fine dining is the best

20 Reasons Why Working Fine Dining Is The Best


Working in fine dining has a bad wrap to a lot of people. I’ve heard many servers who work in casual restaurants say something to the effect of, “I could never work in fine dining, the people that go there are so stuck up!” In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. And the entire gig is (in my opinion) a whole lot better than working in casual restaurants, for a myriad of reasons that I will tell you below.

I have worked in fine dining for a long time and have a pretty good grasp of restaurants in general, so I wanted to create this list for the two types of servers out there:

  1.  Those servers who actually work in a fine dining restaurant. These people can probably back me up on this list.
  2.  Those servers who have preconceived notions about the fine dining industry. I would like to set the record straight with you and maybe, if it sounds like your wheel house, get you to work in one. (If you are interested in making the transition check out my article on creating a server resume.)


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This list is based on a subjective viewpoint rather than an objective one. Got it? Then let us proceed!


1. Earning 20% or more is a lot more likely to happen.


This is for a ton of reasons. Here’s a few:

  • You are probably giving better service because service is of a higher value to the owner, chef, managers and service team.
  • There is a great support team helping you to provide it.
  • Your guests are wowed by the food’s presentation.
  • The entire experience that your guest has just had is special, not familiar and more exciting than popping in to a casual place for a quick bite to eat.

When people go out to treat themselves, they are on their best behavior. As their server you are treating them special and taking care of them; you display manners, grace and kindness and because of that you typically earn higher tips.


2. Earning more than 20% is pretty normal.


When people are treated like they are famous (meaning their server, you, is treating them more special than they are used to being treated, because people are kinda used to being treated like shit) they tend to dig further down their pockets to treat you as generously as you have treated them.

I can’t tell you how many times guests have given me an extra 5 bucks to an extra 500 bucks just because they are SO HAPPY! And that makes me SO HAPPY!


3.   You’ll deal with an unusually low number of split checks.


When people who are treating themselves to fine dining they are either pretty well off, or they have been preparing to drop some cash on the experience. Usually someone in the group is planning to pick up the entire bill for their friends, families or colleagues. And as you know, there is nothing like waiting on a eight to knowing you don’t have to deal with, “I’m going to buy that guys first drink and that woman over there and I are splitting a salad and that guy over there is going to buy my third drink and can we split this bottle of wine three ways, and, and, and, and, etc.”


4.  Your average check is quite high.


So you’re more likely to earn 20% at a fine dining establishment, but not only that, that 20% is on a pretty pricey ticket. A 20% gratuity adds up much quicker on a $200 average bill than a 20% gratuity on a $50.00 one.

The reason the price is so much higher isn’t arbitrary either, it’s because the quality of ingredients is superior, which leads us to #5…


5.   You’ll have a strong sense of pride.


Delivering food that you know is high quality, beautiful and has been well thought out by the chef and a kitchen brigade that really gives a shit gives you a strong sense of pride. You are meant to live a life of pride and where you work plays a big part in that.


6.   It can be a pretty moving experience.


A beautiful, well thought out course using high quality ingredients.

I remember one of my first shifts on the service floor at BlueStem in Kansas City (the picture on the right is a picture of their pea soup). I was waiting on a two top that had never dined with us before. As I delivered one of their courses the gentleman had such a look of awe and happiness at the food that was set before him that I was actually moved. He was so delighted that it was hard to not be a part of that moment with him.

I leave work every night nearing elation knowing that the people in my section have left the restaurant full and in high spirits with a great experience under their belt, figuratively and literally.


7.   Handshakes, hugs and smiles.


As I said in #2 and #3, you’ll have evidence of people’s happiness by your generous, well earned tip, but you’ll also receive smiles, hugs, handshakes and a lot of “thank you’s” given with level and honest eye contact.

Where I work we open the door for our guests when they leave and at least half of my guests hug me or give me a handshake,  and everyone of them is smiling.

How can I leave work unhappy when my night is filled with that?

How could I ever want to leave the profession when there are all of these amazing feelings and money?


#8.  No handsy shit.


Ya, people will shake your hand and give you a hug, but that is done out of happiness and connection, not skeezy drunkenness. Your guests will never try to grab your boob, your butt or make lewd comments to you. They are on their best behavior and they are there for the service, cuisine and drinks, not to sexually harass you.



#9.   Guests are on their best behavior.


You’ve heard the saying, “familiarity breeds contempt,” right? Well, think of how familiar the general public is with going out for a casual dinner. Casual dining is in most people’s budget, therefore they are used to it: been there done that, nothing to see here folks, nothing at all.  But when you put people in a situation that they are excited about, that is different than their familiar dining experience, they tend to be on their best behavior. You rarely wait on rude guests.

Most people aren’t used to receiving a new fork with every course, or dropping their napkin on the floor and having it immediately picked up and replaced, or being offered an amuse-bouche, or not having to ask for a water re-fill, or being offered still or sparkling water when they sit down…whew! So much new, awesome shit! And new, awesome shit calls for a new, awesome attitude on their part.


#10.   Everyone smells good and looks nice.


We are all visual creatures, and being surrounded by beauty is fun! People that are going out to eat at a fine dining restaurant usually get ready for the experience. They shower, groom, put on their favorite outfit and look damn fine and then you get to look at them. Lucky you!

This goes for the staff as well. People take pride in their appearance and their uniform. They look good too. Lucky you!


#11.   There’s hardly any children!


You have kids? You love kids? That’s great, but it’s nice to work in an environment where you don’t have to hear the wail of a baby’s cry or have naughty children running around the dining room, or sweep up Cheerios from the floor, or heat up bottles of milk, or pour apple juice.

And when their are children they are usually being taught by their grown-ups how to dine. Seeing that is pretty fabulous.

I used to have a man come in with his two young boys, the kids were probably six and ten. They would all be donned in suits and ask me pertinent questions on the menu. They ordered their meat medium rare. They were legit.


#12.   You don’t have to sing the worst song in the world.


   Happy Birthday to you, happy birthday to you… Guess what? You don’t have to sing it. To anyone. Ever. And that is your gift to your guest.



#13.   There is no blender in the building.


You don’t serve blended strawberry martini’s or frozen daiquiris. You don’t do blended drinks. BUT!, you’ll help your guest find a new drink that they’ll love, that is not blended.



#14.   You don’t use marachino cherries.


I suppose this goes along with #4 and #5, but it’s nice to use a high quality cherry, isn’t it?



#15.   You don’t have to touch condiments or say the word, “ranch.”


Believe it or not my mother, a career server, always told me that I should try serving. She thought I would like it, but what did she know!?!? (My mom is usually right and as annoying as that is, it should be noted.)

In my mind waiting tables was full of sticky children and stinky ketchup. Blah! And I suppose it can be, but that’s not so much the case in fine dining. I was pleasantly surprised at the lack of condiments used in fine dining, but there’s really no need, is there? The menu is crafted so people don’t need things like ketchup, ranch or A1. (All of which I personally love to eat but would dread serving. Hypocrite? Maybe; I don’t care.)



#16.   Few mods.


I used to work with chefs who would go foraging for ingredients. They would have meetings where they would pair foods and discuss the flavor and base their menu on this masterminding. A great chef’s job is to create great flavors and guests know that. For the most part guests understand that chef knows better than they do as far as engineering their plate. They put their trust in chef and therefor you will have few modifications (if they are even allowed).



#17.   You have you finger on the pulse of contemporary dining.


You yourself don’t have to spend thousands of dollars dining out to know what the current trends are or what certain things taste like, you know because your restaurant is up to date on those trends and ingredients. During line ups you get to try the food, the wine and the your popular bar drinks, because it’s your job to consume excellence and articulate it to your guests.

How much more baller does it get?


#18.   You’re invaluable to your friends when you dine out.


Because of what you do for a living you are the official menu decoder when you are out with your friends. You can explain the restaurant’s menu better than Siri.



#19.   Your days are yours, and so are your nights.


“It’s supposed to beautiful tomorrow, It sucks I have to work.” This is NOT something you say very often. Many fine dining restaurants are closed for lunch and the ones that are open still won’t have you scheduled to work all the lunches. That gives you time to hike, paint, sleep, meditate, rock climb, take your dog for a walk or binge watch Netflix.

What about nights? No worry. You won’t be out of work too late. You’re not a bar, you’re a restaurant and you close at a reasonable hour.


#20.   You work with hilarious badasses.


For the most part the people that work in fine dining are career servers. This is what they have chosen to do for a living and they are happy and proud to be doing it. Waiting tables isn’t a transitory job for them. They’ve either been doing this forever or they left the industry for awhile to get a “real job” and realized that “real jobs” suck. They see that most other jobs you have to put in a lot more hours for a lot less money…any it’s not as fun, and you have to watch your tongue in the real world because everyone is sensitive, and they belly laugh a lot less, and they learn that daylight is just too bright when you’re clocked in.

Fine dining servers know what’s up. They are well educated, exceptional actors, people people, and have some of the most perverse and hilarious senses of humor you can hope to find.




   What did I forget? Help me let the world know how great our profession is by including your favorite aspect in the comments below. And share this article with your friends who just don’t know how awesome you have it.




  1. Brunch is nonexistent.

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