Question For Servers

Stacks of Plates

Image by sea turtle via Flickr

So, I’ve worked in a Brewery/Restaurant, but not as a server. I am,
however, acutely aware of how difficult the work can be and what pains
in the behind humanity are. In an effort to make your lives easier, I
tend to “pre-bus” my table: stack finished plates, gather up scraps
from the straw papers, etc. My question is whether this is helpful and/or appreciated or if it creates more work down the line because
I’m doing it wrong.


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  • MJ

    February 26, 2011

    I can’t speak for anyone else but I love when my “guests” stack plates at the edge of the table to make them easier to grab in a rush! It also eliminates guess-work about whether or not a table is finished with appetizer plates or salad bowls!

  • JL

    February 27, 2011

    I love it! As long as they stack them in a way that actually makes sense. AKA, there’s not a ramekin half full of sauce in between two plates with a pile of silverware teetering on the top. If I can pick them all up with one hand on my way by and not have anything fall, it’s greatly appreciated. I always make a point to thank my guests for stacking them too. Not to mention that’s usually a sign that you won’t get shafted on the tip, since they obviously consider their server to be a human being.

  • Cat

    February 28, 2011

    I love it! I always make sure to smile and thank them for doing that. It also makes it easy to tell when someone’s definitely done eating (and not just slowing down).

  • Lizzie

    March 2, 2011

    I wish every person that comes into the restaurant I work in was like you. It’s so much easier if the customers do little things like that, since all the little things add up and take a lot of time. The straw wrappings are the most frustrating things to clean off a table sometimes, especially if someone who was sitting there has been ripping them up while waiting for food. So, it’s really nice of you to do something like that, and, while I can’t speak for every server, I’m sure we’d all appreciate it!

  • Somer

    March 3, 2011

    As someone previously mentioned, it is greatly appreciated if the plates are stacked in a logical way–actually, it is still appreciated regardless of how they are stacked because it implies that you have me in mind. It is always nice to be reminded that my guests do remember that I am human.

  • Jennifer

    March 25, 2011

    I definitely think that it’s a big help. I’m a Bartender in a Japanese restaurant, in NY and when the waitresses start to get busy with tables, I always come out and give them a hand. It’s better for everyone. Thanks for the help

  • Hope

    March 28, 2011

    It depends on the type of restaurant you work in… when I worked in casual dining, I didn’t care, as long as it was done logically and without silverware in danger of falling off (usually onto another customers foot), but now that I’m in fine dining, it’s an insult. It’s particulary rude and difficult to bus a table while people are attempting to hand you plates to add to the already too-large-stack in your hand. I would much rather you sit there and enjoy yourself, let me do my job and pick up your plates, so I can carry them the most comfortable way possible.

  • Grace

    May 17, 2011

    I love it, and it makes my job easier. However, in many restaurants with management that watches the floor with a close eye, it may seem as if you are neglecting to bus your tables and that your customers are annoyed that you haven’t removed the used dishes from the table. Even if you stack your dishes and I come by two minutes later to pick them up, if my manager sees the stack within that window, it will appear as if I am slacking, or not doing my job properly.

    Use your judgement. If you are in a corporate restaurant, its probably not a good idea to pre-bus. If you are in a more relaxed, independently owned restaurant then its probably ok.

  • Kaitlin

    August 27, 2011

    If it is a nicer restaurant, then most likely not. The restaurant I work at, (Baiggi’s. It’s mostly only in the Midwest.) we do not stack plates when we take them from the table. We consider it rude. Until the plate reaches the kitchen, it’s still somebody’s dinner.

    So if it’s a more casual restaurant: yes! They love it! But at a nicer restaurant: it goes against procedure, and your server could get in trouble for it.

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