Sunday, November 19, 2006

I was a hostess and waitress at Bill Knapps

When I moved to Calvin I knew that I needed to find a job. The money that I earned working in the factory that summer would just not be enough to pay for tuition and the few living expenses I would have. So I went searching.

Since I figured that all college girls were waitresses and it sounded kind of fun I went looking for a waitressing job. They weren't as easy to find as you might think. For one thing, 28th Street out by Calvin was not full of chain restaurants back then as it is now. There weren't a whole lot of desirable restaurants to work in within a 5-10 minute drive of Calvin.

My second, much bigger issue, was that I didn't want to work on Sunday. I didn't realize that this would be such a problem, but as it turned out, it was. Olive Garden turned me down based on that. But Bill Knapps' didn't.

I was hired as a hostess with the potential to train as a waitress in the future. The guy who hired me looked like Dean Cain, so I wasn't too worried about whether or not I would ever become a waitress - as long as he was working the same nights I was, it was all good;)

I don't remember how long I hostessed for, but eventually I did get a chance to become a server and I loved it.

Here are a few things that are big Bill Knapps' memories for me:

*Servers were not allowed to use trays, we "stacked" our dishes up our forearms and learned to carry more than one glass in each hand. If you ever meet me, ask me - I can still demonstrate the unique art of waitressing without a tray... and I feel little sympathy for any server who comes to my table with a huge tray of food that he/she is trying so hard to balance. Wahhh. Wahhh. is all I have to say:)
* Bill Knapps' was the Dutchman's dream. Every week there was a coupon in the newspaper for a Meal Deal - An entree, Soup, Salad, two sides AND dessert all for the great price of $5.79. Without the coupon all of that would amount to probably $8 or $9. But our customers only tipped on the $5.79 - thank you:)
* On your birthday you could come in and get the same percentage as your years off of your bill (so on my last birthday I would have gotten 30% off of my bill - not everyone's bill, just mine). You also got a whole chocolate cake.
* Buttermilk biscuits and honey
* Custard Pie
* Bean soup
* Clam Chowder
* Chocolate Cake
* Customers = not very friendly when you run out of almost everything on your menu
* Older, regular customers don't like it when young, new servers spill hot coffee down their back - not that I know from experience or anything, I'm just saying... hot coffee on the skin, not good.

I loved my two years+ at Bill Knapps'. I loved the tips, I loved the people, I loved the work. Oh - and I loved the food. Mmmmm. Chocolate Cake.

Do you tip based on service or do you feel obligated to tip a certain percentage regardless of the kind of service you received?

getting to know me 100 days - day 20


Jen 7:44 AM  

Tipping servers~good. I always tip 18% for good service~at least 20% if it's awesome and my kids destroy the joint.

Now if it's terrible service~and it's the servers fault, not the kitchen~I leave a nickel. I have only done this twice~and only after complaining to the manager. I also screwed up the tip once and tipped 35%. Our waiter followed us into the parking lot and wished us a "Very Merry Christmas!!!"

Now while we're on the subject of tipping. . .I HATE it when the grocery store hi-jacks my bags and then stands around my car waiting for a tip. I can load my own groceries and do not wish to tip them. GGGRRRR. . .

amanda 3:37 PM  

Having been a server before also, I usually try to tip 20%, but my husband, who is not Dutch, but grew up surrounded by them (lol) sticks to 15%. If we have horrible service, we never go over 15%.
Jen, can you just tell them 'no thank you' or do they really just jump right in and take off with your cart? I'd say something to the manager or something if it happens a lot.

Heaven Sent 10:42 PM  

I usually tip at least 15 percent, but if service was good, I do 20 percent.

And I have to say I'm jealous. I always wanted to try waitressing. Once when I was younger, the pastor asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up during "children's time" in front of the church. I said, "A waitress, just like my Mom." My mom was a little embarrassed, especially since she only waitressed for a short time when she and my Dad were first married...

kkoois 9:22 AM  

and you looked awesome in your little uniform...

usually 20% unless it was bad service or i just got a lecture from jer about how much money we have been spending...

Cousin Jen 8:12 PM  

I don't post that often, but I had to comment since I was a waitress at Russ' for seven years! Seven years! I loved it mainly because I was working with so many people my age who were fun (& it was totally a hook-up place- I dated two guys there). Also, the fried mushrooms, pies, and cream puffs were yummy.
We usually tip 20% because we feel we should, and as a former server, I know how little they make in their paychecks (probably more than at Russ') I got mad at the people who'd come in for pie and coffee and leave me a quarter.

If we are really upset about the service, we usually tip less, but I always speak to someone about it.We had HORRIBLE service once at the Cracker Barrel.

Anonymous 10:26 PM  

I also worked at Bill Knapp's back in 1975/1976. When you worked there did you have the bright yellow uniforms made of the "swishy" fabric with the apron with the big white bow? I too have never forgotten how to carry all those plates up my arms. It still is fun to show people. That place will always be a fun memory of my younger years.

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