UnderCover Waitress: Florida Waitress Wages

Monday, February 13, 2012

Florida Waitress Wages

Got an interesting comment last week from Anonymous on my post about proposed legislation in Florida to lower waitress' minimum wage.

A server makes over $100 in a 4hr. Shift on a busy night. You do the math. I think they more than meet the requirement.

How many things can you find wrong with this picture? 

1 -- Does anybody work four hour shifts? Seriously? The only times I've worked four hours or less are those that I get sent home early because the restaurant isn't busy. 

2 -- Let's assume on a busy night that servers are making $25 per hour. Busy nights are Fridays and Saturdays. That leaves seven breakfast shifts, seven lunch shifts, and five dinner shifts that are not good for $25 per hour. 

3 -- During the nineteen less lucrative shifts, waitresses still pay tax on an assumed tip rate. 

4 -- Not every waitress gets to work in a restaurant that offers $25 per hour shifts. 

5 -- Not every waitress in good restaurants are given those desirable shifts. 

6 -- The best shifts are not year-round. Tourist season may be busy, but during the quiet months Friday night at the restaurant may be dead. 

And so on. 

This gives the opportunity, once again, to recommend Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. Ironically, she worked as a waitress in Florida for the first part of her research. Her colleagues were full-time waitresses, and homeless. And, no, they were not pulling in $25 per hour. 


  1. Whoa, she made a hundred dollars on a four hour shift. If she's lucky she'll have a shift that good next week too! A few of those, and she can probably make rent, and have some grocery money too. Livin' the good life!

  2. Lol. Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, isn't it? Really, if waitresses made $25 bucks an hour and only had to work four hours per day, people would be breaking down the door trying to get hired as servers. Instead, diners look down their noses at the lowly waitresses and people who get hired don't show up for work. But that is another post.

  3. Lets not forget the tip share that most restaurants require. If she made $100, chances are she sold at least $1000 worth of food and drinks. At my restaurant that would mean shelling out $30 in tip share, which means she walks with $70. And again, To make $100 in four hours it would have to be a weekend, and what restaurant allows servers to do four hour shifts on a weekend? This is a magical set of circumstances that rarely occurs. As Under Cover so aptly put in her comment, if this was the case, everyone would wait tables.

  4. Exactly, and a lot of places, like where I work, we do all the bus work ourselves. I've helped out in the kitchen sometimes when we get slammed and there was unexpected call offs, and also tended the bar a little bit when needed. All while earning waitress wages, since it was usually just for a little while to get through a jam. We also pay for our own uniforms, etc.... I mean I like where I work, but the point is what the rest of you are saying, that we don't make what they think we make and we do more than they think we do.
    Heck I've made 15 bucks on an afternoon and the next week on the same afternoon I might make 50. Its very unpredictable.

  5. I worked at a restaurant in which the owner would pinch pennies and send the dishwasher home. Guess who got to wash the dishes? (Come on, guess, I'll give you three tries...)

  6. You know, it takes a lot of courage... well, no courage at all, for someone to comment under the inevitable Anonymous label and then take cheap shots at waitresses and servers, who do a good job in an often thankless industry.


Please share your thoughts.