UnderCover Waitress: Stealing Tables

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stealing Tables

Ask the Waitress!

"What should you do when another waitress is stealing your tables or tabs?" 

We have discussed stealing tips from tables on this blog. This, however, is a different issue. This is the equivalent of stealing the opportunity to work from a colleague.

Restaurants are different. Most restaurants divide the dining room tables into sections. One waitress for each section; for example, if there are fifteen tables, waitress one serves tables 1 through 5, waitress two serves tables 6 through 10, and waitress three serves tables 11 through 15.

I have worked in places in which the waitresses took every other table. I prefer sections because there is less to keep track of. Also, the "take every other table that walks in" system only works if the waitresses are honest and can trust each other.

Let's go back to discussing sections. I have section one with tables 1 through 5. People walk in and are sat at table 6. My colleague, waitress two, is otherwise engaged. I say hello to table 6.

In some restaurants, I would be doing my colleague a favor by greeting her guests so they don't notice her absence. She would still take the table. In other restaurants, I would be taking her table or stealing her table, depending upon the rules of that specific restaurant.

The only way to answer the general question, "What do I do when somebody else is stealing my tables?" is to suggest discussing the issue with management. If somebody else is swooping on your table before you have a chance to get there and keeping the table, you are being taken advantage of. If management does not see fit to defend your right to serve the tables in your section, I would strongly suggest at least looking for other employment.

If the hostess is seating people in your section but assigning the table to somebody else, I have the same response: discuss the issue in detail with a manager and try to find a job in which you will be treated fairly.

I know that looking for other employment isn't aways easy. I have stayed in non-optimal situations because I didn't have the luxury of being able to quit and not have a job. Sometimes looking is empowering in itself, and it never hurts to see what is available.

Some dining room floors are full of bullies, seemingly more than other occupations. While stooping to their level is tempting, I still advise against it. Discuss the issue with management, and if you are not taken seriously, see what else you can do.

Best of luck.


  1. Yup, always best to talk to the boss about problems. If you don't have a boss you can talk to then it is time to find another job.

  2. What do you do when the boss doesn't care?

    1. Unless an actual law is being broken, there is little you can do. A friend of mine likes to say, "It's not illegal to be an asshole." Sometimes, the best advice is look for other work, and I certainly do NOT say that with a cavalier attitude.

      If you think a waitress is stealing your tables because she does not like your race, you have a discrimination claim. If she is doing it because she doesn;t like you or simply needs money, your only recourse is to go to management. I could probably craft an post looking at psychological bully management. Sometimes stooping to their level and showing that you won't be pushed around gains you respect. It's like a different set of rules...

      But to answer your question directly, if the boss does not care then you are on your own.

    2. Sorry for typos; I need glasses and had an appointment today.

  3. Unfortunately it's not illegal to be an asshole, but then there's no shortage of those....


Please share your thoughts.