There are many differences in the restaurant world when it comes to the UK and the US; most of these differences are in pronunciation of words. However, here are a few other tips that are beneficial to know before being a server in the USA.
Don’t expect big wages
Being a server in the UK or the USA is not an exceptionally well paid job, but it is certainly better paid in the UK. This comes down to one thing: tips. In the UK tips are not always guaranteed, but in the US people survive off of their tips and they expect to receive between 15-20%, which is why the wage is lower. To not tip your server in the US means they must have done something terribly wrong!
Tables are booked for 8:30 not half 8
In the UK we say 8pm or half 8 but in the US they say eight thirty. If I ever said that I had reserved a table for half 8, I immediately got asked if I had reserved it for 4pm! To save any confusion, get used to saying 8:30.
Coriander is not a thing
I absolutely love coriander and could not understand why nobody at my work knew what I was talking about when I mentioned it. That would be because they call it cilantro, this is handy to know when taking people’s orders and ordering for yourself!
Neither is rocket
Another word that is not in an American Restaurant Dictionary is rocket. In the UK rocket is a spicy green leaf but in the US this same leaf is known as arugula.
An Arnold Palmer is a drink
Arnold Palmer may be a very famous American golfer but it’s also drink, consisting of half lemonade and half iced tea. This is a drink that’s popular amongst golfers and at country clubs. Because of its ingredients it’s also known as a half and half. It’s helpful to know that the alcoholic version of an Arnold Palmer includes vodka and is called a John Daly.
People don’t order starters
In the UK we ‘start’ our meal with a ‘starter’, but in the US people build up their ‘appetite’ with an ‘appetizer’. In the restaurant world this is abbreviated to ‘app’ – “are they having apps?”, “they’re eating their apps”. This is one of the things that I found hardest to stop saying after my time in New York and it quickly became very annoying for my friends and family!
99% of the time there will be subs
I know that in the UK people make alterations to their meal but it happens ALL the time in the US! People will want no onion, or bacon but extra tomato with blue cheese dressing instead of ranch but with the dressing on the side. Make sure you have lots of space on your notepad for all of the substitutes!
“I love your accent” is how people will greet you
The first thing you will hear upon welcoming a table is “I love your accent”, and from there they will try to guess where you are from. Being from Scotland it was normally a toss-up between being Scottish and Irish. The good news is that most customers will be extremely friendly.