4 Ways to Thank Your Waitstaff

To keep your best servers, show them you care.
National Waitstaff Day, May 21, is the perfect time to extend a special 'thank you' to your waitstaff. (Photo: Thaninee Chuensomchit/Shutterstock)

A good dining experience centers just as much on the server as on food served. A bad server can easily ruin a dining an experience — and cause you to lose a customer. A good one, on the other hand, is worth his or weight in gold.

The turnover rate in the hospitality industry reached 70 percent in 2016. And the costs to recruit and train a new employee aren’t cheap.

Good restaurant employees aren’t easy to keep, so be sure you to show yours how much you appreciate them. An employee who feels valued is more likely to stay.

“You have to make your waitstaff feel that it’s their restaurant too,” said John J. Hogan, principal of Hogan Hospitality and the chief learning officer at Hospitality Educators.

“If all they do is collect a paycheck, some other restaurant could come along and pay $10 more a week and they will leave.” -John J. Hogan

Check out these ideas for treating your servers to a special “thank you” on National Waitstaff Day (May 21 in 2017) or any day.

Serve them a meal

Waiters and waitresses are used to serving everybody else, so why not turn the tables?

David Rothschild, co-owner of EATiQuette dining etiquette and restaurant service training, suggested having managers or supervisors serve a meal to the servers before or after their shifts. “And maybe make it something a bit more special than the typical ‘family meal.’”

When Gilbert R. Lagunas, founder of First Class Waiter managed a private restaurant, he threw a party for his waitstaff and cooked for everyone. “My wife and I did all the cooking and cleanup,” he said. “If a restaurant owner does that and shows he’s interested in the waitstaff, they will really appreciate it.”

Along with serving the waiters, Rothschild recommended allowing the staff to bring their families to the restaurant on this day. “Some family members might not have visited the server’s work environment so it’s a nice way to introduce them to the restaurant.”

Related: 5 Creative Ways to Thank Your Employees During the Holidays

Match their tips

For National Waitstaff Day, Hogan suggested matching the tips everyone receives. “This won’t cost the owners a lot of money, but it would show their appreciation and that they’re in it all together.”

Host an awards ceremony and raffle


Hold a raffle and award servers with a day of fun and a series of prizes. (Photo: Adam Alagna/Shutterstock)

Your servers may be great at their jobs, but nobody ever tells them this. Show them you’re paying attention to their hard work by holding an awards ceremony. Rothschild suggested hosting a ceremony, perhaps at a pre-shift meeting, with trophies and medals and categories for categories like best guest interaction, best beverage tray carrying, best at serving children

Another idea is to have a raffle and prizes. Rothschild said some great prizes would include a day at the spa or waterpark, movie tickets or a night in a hotel.

Related: 7 Things You Should Never Ask Your Employees to Do

Say thank you

On National Waitstaff Day, Rothschild said you could hand out small goodie bags full of gifts, gift cards or even cash. Employees could receive one gift for each year they’ve been employed by the restaurant. You could also write a thank you note to your servers “mentioning something about the server’s service that especially impresses them,” he said.

It doesn’t matter how you celebrate, as long as you make your waitstaff feel valued. They are the face of your restaurant to your guests — so make it a happy one.

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