National Waiters’ Day is celebrated on May 16 to honor and uplift the hospitality industry workers of the United Kingdom. Just as the word ‘waiter’ originates from the noun ‘wait’, the profession is all about waiting for people and addressing all their needs. Fred Siriex, the creator of the holiday, describes the day as a wonderful chance to promote the numerous career opportunities that the hospitality industry offers. National Waiters’ Day asks us to open our hearts and our wallets to show our genuine appreciation for this grueling yet promising profession.
History of Waiters Day
National Waiters’ Day fights the stigma of viewing waitressing as just an unskilled vocation and not a dignified and hardworking job that can lead to a rewarding career. The day is an ode not just to the waiters but to the entire service industry. As the great Anthony Bourdain once said, “You can always tell when a person has worked in a restaurant. There’s an empathy that can only be cultivated by those who’ve stood between a hungry mouth and a $28 pork chop.”
National Waiters’ Day is the initiative of the French restaurateur Fred Sirieix, who dedicated the day to celebrating hospitality as an exciting and fulfilling profession. Sirieix’s long-term association with the hospitality industry is the reason behind his passion. After his first job as a waiter at age 16, Siriex cultivated a unique perspective about leading a life of serving others, which propelled him to a career in catering. It is his belief that his brief stint as a service staff taught him more about life than any fancy degree ever could.
Since 2013, National Waiters’ Day has been observed across the U.K. The day is accredited with Springboard Charity and has partnered with the London Hospitality Festival in the past. A distinctive Waiters’ Day Competition is held involving a race amongst waiters for the spill-free delivery of a water tray from one location to the other. In 2018, Springboard’s race raised over £30,000 to help those who want to progress their careers in the hospitality industry.
Waiters Day timeline
Waiting staff emerges in taverns for the first time, and the concept of paying servers is normalized.
As restaurant culture evolves, eating out is popularized amongst the elites
American entrepreneur Fred Harvey starts hiring more women to serve in his restaurants, marking a major departure from the male waiter-only policy.
French restaurateur Fred Sirieix designates May 16 as National Waiters' Day.
Waiters Day FAQs
What is a three-minute check?
It’s a three-minute window in which you can communicate any discrepancy in your order. Ideally, noticing an error within three minutes can get you a better serving.
Is it rude to clap at a waiter?
Yes! Clapping or banging the table to get the attention of a waiter is considered rude not just for the waiter, but for the entire room.
What is the best way to get a waiter’s attention?
When in the eyesight of the waiter, just raise your hand and nod. In case you are far away, calling “Waiter!” is fine.
Waiters Day Activities
Plan a night out
There is no better way to honor the professionals than to enjoy their service. Ring in the celebration with a meal at your favorite restaurant, or better yet — visit a brand-new eatery that you have thought about for a while.
Wear the apron
If you get a chance, sign up for volunteer hours in the service industry. Working as a waiter develops soft skills such as promptness, discipline, humility, and observation and prepares you for the real world. You’ll learn more in the bars and dining rooms than any college can teach you.
Mark the day of the national celebration of waiters by opening your wallets and leaving a generous tip — ideally at least 10%. Tips go directly to the waiters and help them in paying their bills.
5 Simple Ways To Become Your Waiter’s Favorite Customer
Show up early and let your waiter lead you to the table before the dinner-time congestion hits the restaurant.
Pay attention to the specials
Even if you have a dish in mind, pay attention to the recital of the specials and nod along.
Give instant feedback
Point out any issues you have and open a window of reconciliation for the waiter.
Learn their names
Familiarize yourself with the waiter by learning his/her name and using it in conversation.
Open your wallet
While behavioral kindness is a wonderful foot to get on, nothing shows appreciation quite like a generous tip.
Why We Love Waiters Day
It’s a promise of a good meal
Being kind and respectful to your waiter won’t cost you a penny, but it will make you a personal favorite of the person responsible for bringing your food. Who doesn’t want that? On National Waiters' Day, we celebrate the tireless and back-breaking profession of the waitstaff by treating ourselves to a fancy meal.
It’s an honorable job
Waitressing is often looked down upon by the elites. But there’s nothing more honorable than getting up every day and earning a pound for a day’s hard work. National Waiters' Day fights the stigma against wait staffing as a profession and celebrates the passionate men and women who are a part of this grueling industry.
It’s a fitting tribute
The job of a waiter is challenging and thankless, which makes the dedication worth it. If you’re a fan of clean tables, fresh food, and seamless service, then May 16 is your chance to express your gratitude to the waiters who make it all possible.
Waiters Day dates