restaurant manager

3 Ways Manager Screw Over Servers

How much money a server makes waiting tables is influenced heavily by their manager on duty. Servers stuck with inept managers can suffer big financial losses.

Below are 3 examples of of a manager can screw over their servers:

  1. The manager schedules too many servers for a shift.
    Sure, I know it’s a good thing to have enough bodies on the floor, but at the expense of whom? Previous years can only tell a manager so much about an expected turnout. If a manager is not willing to put in the time it takes to research and properly estimate the amount of guests the restaurant is likely to get, the servers are surely to suffer when too many are scheduled to be on the floor during any one shift. Have this happen too many times, and that restaurant will start experiencing some serious staff turnover. Nobody wants to get dressed and commute to work only to be sent home in an hour. Additionally, no one wants to work a full shift to make little or no tips.
  2. The manager insists on giving away food.
    While this can unfold in many different ways, I’ll speak about my own, recent, experience I had. A party of 15 came in. With a party of this size, I’m going to get an automatic gratuity of 18%. My goal, in this situation, is to get this ticket up to as large a number as possible. How I got screwed over was when my manager took $50.00 worth of food of the bill because the guy who brought in the party was a “regular”. Yeah, he was a regular…a regular, no-tipping, pain-in-the-ass. That $50 the manager took off the bill was the equivalent of taking $9.00 out of my pocket.
    Also, I’d bet a big reason there are so many tables that immediately complain about their food or service, even without reason, is because they KNOW they’ll get free food out of it. I see this over and over again. Managers who just keep giving these people free food only perpetuate the behavior, thus these vultures return to the restaurant and pull the same stunts time and time again. The tables are never likely to leave a good tip, if any.
  3. The Manager lacks a backbone.
    I worked in a restaurant one time that was absolute I’m serious about this. Everyone argued, slacked off, didn’t give a crap about anyone but themselves and there was a war going on between the back of the house and the front of the house. Most of the managers had absolutely no control over the staff and seemed content with just having enough people show up for the restaurant to operate. This led to a lot of people quitting because the entire operation was completely inefficient in all aspects.

Can you think of any other way managers “screw over” servers? Share them in the comments.


  1. Dlo

    Managers who break policy!

    You are told a table cannot do something (plate sharing, substitutions, ect) you tell your customers about policy, only to have them see the manager….and the manager totally turns the tables and makes you look like a lying POS…

    I had this happen before, had I took it upon myself to break policy, I would of come down under a hail of gunfire.

  2. Mina

    The lack of any kind of manager is frustrating too. Since my boss runs 3 restaurants by himself he’s M.I.A. most of the time.

    Last night there was a huge college basketball game and everyone was downtown watching it. For some reason 3 servers were scheduled. My boss wasn’t there and he’d left his wife, who has the IQ of a tree branch, in charge. Since I was the last person in and hadn’t gotten table in over an hour since arriving I offered to just go so the others could make more money. But she was scared and said it was too early to let me go.

    So here were three servers getting one table an hour and she STILL didn’t cut anyone, just looked at me and said: “You were right,” for a full shift. Even with the hostess leaving 3 hours early.

    I also got stiffed by white trash at my last table which was supposed to go to another server but my boss’s wife didn’t calculate the table time correctly. So she basically screwed me over twice in one night. I would give anything for a shitty manager as long as they knew what they were basically supposed to be doing.

  3. Dana

    I’m glad to see an article like this. I was promoted to a manager before I was 21 and had been working at the company for nine months prior, which was my first waitressing gig ever. I like to think that I learned a lot of valuable lessons from my original GM, who was excellent, but have recently transferred locations, so he is no longer around to mentor me. My new GM is a fine man, but definitely a softy. I find myself more intimidated by the clientele (upper-middle class people that love to give feedback) than at the other venue, but still trying to hold on to my personal standards that I held on to strongly, before. But even moreso, I find myself trying not to piss anyone off because I do not want to lose my job. Granted, our servers are all very young and work for extra beer money (aka they suck), but I have to remember what it is like on their side of things, and that the customer is not always right. And when they are wrong, it can be very degrading to reward them with free food or an apology.

  4. Christi

    Another way managers can screw servers is to
    6: Schedule too few people.
    We had our manager screw up the schedules on Saturday morning (tax-free weekend). Everyone knows that tax-free weekend has the potential (an is very likely) to get really busy. I show up for work, find out that there’s only 3 servers on the floor. When I ask what happened to the other two who were supposed to work, the manager just shrugs and says “Oh, I accidentally double scheduled stations for this evening, I meant to have them work this morning but accidentally put the schedule in the computer as night shift.” Then he walks off, and even though we were still an hour from opening, he doesn’t bother to call people in. Needless to say, all 3 of us poor servers got our butts kicked up and down the floor for several hours. The restaurant was nearly full (at least 30+ tables, not to mention to-go orders). I was working sick, with a fever because my manager refused to let me call in sick which made things worse. That of course meant that none of us made very good tips because our service wasn’t as good as it could have been. Where was our manager? Back in the office watching youtube videos. -_-

    7: Making servers find a replacement when calling in sick.
    At the restaurant I work at, it’s harder than pulling teeth to find someone to cover for you. I called in sick one day, with a 102 fever and vomiting, and was told that I needed to call and find someone to cover for me. I told him that I didn’t have anyone’s numbers, and he told me, too bad, I either had to find someone anyway (how?) or come in and work. I had no choice but to work since I didn’t want to lose my job.

    8: Making people look like snitches.

    The last thing you want to do at any restaurant is to make enemies among the servers. I caught someone smoking pot after their shift out front in uniform. Why they were being so stupid I have no idea. I had a customer approach me and tell me that they had seen this person smoking pot, so I mentioned it to the manager because the customer was threatening to call corporate etc, because of how unprofessional that person was being. I didn’t even list the person by name, just said that I had seen “someone” and had been alerted by an angry customer. The manager then addressed everyone in the next shift meeting, and started by saying, “______ has informed me that someone was seen smoking pot in their uniform etc. etc.” Awesome. He just made me look like a complete suck-up and snitch in front of everybody. For the longest time, I had to deal with not being sat any tables (we have no host most of the time), and no teamwork if I ever got in the weeds.

    I’ve also been victim to the whole being picked on thing, as well as having spineless managers. I guess there’s one (or more!) at every restaurant! 😛

    • TannerBoyle

      Christi, your hypocrisy is cute…to say the least.

      Your manager didn’t make you look like a snitch. You made yourself out to be a snitch when you ratted that hop-head out in the first place.

      • CollegeChris

        Very incorrect.

        Christi, it was right of you to mention something of that effect to your manager. Not only could a phone call to corporate have cost you and your co-workers job, but you probably saved yours as well. You were not a snitch when you didn’t mention their name.

        Your manager was right to have said something in the meeting, but was totally wrong for calling you out on it. Praising you in private is acceptable, but ruining your integrity with the team is unacceptable.

  5. TannerBoyle

    4. [b]They play favorites[/b].

    Maybe it’s for someone who’s been there for years. That’s understandable. But, when they’re favoring a new employee it gets annoying…especially when the manager is obviously trying to get into his or her pants.

    And, they only make it worse when they studder and deny it when confronted with it.

    5. [b]They pick on people[/b].

    This hasn’t happened to me at all in the 8 odd years I’ve been in the business…but I have seen it happen to other people, and it’s bullshit. You know how it goes–the rules suddenly change depending on who they’re dealing with…or they’ll give somebody a hard time about little nitpicking shit just because they’ve got a hard-on for that one special person.

    But…all in all…I think the worst of the bunch has already been covered–the “no backbone” thing. I’ve seen it get worse and worse across the board in the time I’ve been serving/tending bar…and the place I’m working now has gotta be the worst.

    For instance, in the four months I’ve been at this place, I’ve seen…

    1. One time, we had this crackhead literally standing in our lobby durring a thunderstorm, soliciting people for money. He was there for about three hours before the hostess begged me to tell him to get the fuck out of there. I got rid of him, and asked if the manager knew…and she said that yes, he had been informed a couple of times. His response was to shrug and say, “What am I supposed to do about it?”, after which he hid in the office.

    2. Another time, we had a group of five black youths hanging out in front of the restaurant. They were just a bunch of kids, and they really weren’t bothering anybody…but, the head male GM told the floor manager, another male, to tell them to leave. He chickened out as well, and told his assistant, a 22 year old female, to do it. She freaked and asked me to do it in a state of near panic. I told them to split, and they took off…but it makes me sick that it got to that point in the first place.

    3. Last weekend, we had a group of six black females come in. Typical story–we close at 11PM and they come staggering in at 10:45 or something like that. They’re rude, confrontational, and actually throw a basket of bread at their server–a 19 year old white girl, new to the business, who literally broke down crying at least twice over this table. It just got worse and worse for her when they sensed her fear, and the manager literally didn’t do shit for her. He wouldn’t even go to the table. He just let her get fucked with for two hours…all for six bucks on something like $180.

    Now, I realize that I come from a hard background (former USMC Infantry and 10 years of Chicago-area Law Enforcement), and that everybody doesn’t have the balls that I do. But these managers are beyond pathetic in the pussy department. They shouldn’t be asking their people to do jobs that they themselves are too chicken-shit to do in the first place…

    • admin

      A manager who says “what am I supposed to do about it” then hides in the office should NOT be a manager of anything.

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