What’s it Really Like? – Dining Server

Enjoy this new Riderwood Reporter reoccurring column that focuses on various jobs around the campus and how certain employees found their calling.


By Corrinne Lennox
Resident Writer

Dinner (and in some restaurants also lunch or breakfast) is served in the dining rooms of Riderwood’s four main buildings. Riderwood frequently recruits local high school students at high school job fairs to wait tables in its dining rooms. These students, known as servers (not to be confused with the later-described task of the same name), are picked up by Riderwood shuttle from high school campuses after school and later returned by shuttle to central metro stops.

During the period 3:45 to 4:00 p.m., called the “pre-shift,” a Riderwood restaurant manager gives an assignment to each server. Assignments include one of four tasks: “server” (takes meal orders), “runner” (brings meals to table),” “dessert” (brings dessert order) or “coffee” (brings coffee order.)

Task assignments may change daily. Coordinating the various tasks performed by the servers requires scrupulous orchestration, both in planning and in performance.

Terry Kasaka is a server at the Overlook Restaurant at Lakeside Commons. He has worked at Riderwood for 2 years.

“An experienced server will train a new one,” Terry says, “The trainee shadows his trainer for five or six days. He watches his trainer introduce himself to residents, announce specials, take and transcribe orders and generally observes all restaurant duties being performed.”

In this regard, Terry points out that not all trainees learn at the same rate. “The trainer must watch to see if the trainee is doing well,” he says. “If he is having problems, he will be retrained.

“The system here works pretty well,” Terry says, adding, “of course, there may be a bug here and there.” Here Terry gives an example of a “bug”:

“Each seat is numbered by the server,” he says. “He should go around the table clockwise to take food orders. But, suppose the server puts the wrong seat number into the computer. Well,” he continues, “then seat number one may get a baked potato when he really ordered cole slaw.”

While mistakes may occur, the hope is residents will recognize that the staff is doing its best to make sure that each resident’s meal service is the absolute best that it can be.

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