Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip-Confessions of a Cynical Waiter

Rate this book
According to The Waiter, eighty percent of customers are nice people just looking for something to eat. The remaining twenty percent, however, are socially maladjusted psychopaths. Waiter Rant offers the server's unique point of view, replete with tales of customer stupidity, arrogant misbehavior, and unseen bits of human grace transpiring in the most unlikely places. Through outrageous stories, The Waiter reveals the secrets to getting good service, proper tipping etiquette, and how to keep him from spitting in your food. The Waiter also shares his ongoing struggle, at age thirty-eight, to figure out if he can finally leave the first job at which he's truly thrived.

302 pages, Hardcover

First published July 29, 2008

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

The Waiter

4 books2 followers
“The Waiter” is a pseudonym of Steve Dublanica.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
2,485 (17%)
4 stars
4,770 (33%)
3 stars
4,934 (35%)
2 stars
1,462 (10%)
1 star
398 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,817 reviews
Profile Image for Will Byrnes.
1,310 reviews120k followers
November 3, 2022
Hi, I'm Will. I'll be your reviewer today.

Maybe to start I can point you to the author. Yes, the book is written anonymously. The author had for four years written a blog about his experience as a waiter in a New York restaurant and needed to preserve his anonymity in order to prevent mayhem at his workplace. But you may notice that there is an actual name displayed up at the top of this menu page, so I guess he moved on in the years since his book came out.

The author revealed

Steve Dublanica's is a tale of having wandered a bit, never really catching hold of a career, until at age 31, he found himself in a situation with which I am far too familiar, unemployment and desperation, and made some meringue out of the lemons life had served him. I found this to be (occasionally) a laugh-out-loud funny read, with much information to impart about what life is like in the restaurant business. We learn of the difference between the waiting and cooking staff. The latter work 13-14 hour days for less money than the waiters, for one. He tells of miserable customers, unpleasant restaurant owners who think nothing of regularly insulting their employees, stealing from them, and treating them terribly in a wide range of ways. How they are not shot dead more often is one of the mysteries of science. It was entertaining and informative, raising one’s appreciation for this work, and encouraging us all to leave better tips.

I'll get that check for you now. Thanks for reading, have a great day and come back soon.

=============================EXTRA STUFF

Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages

March 1, 2016 - Boston Globe - Boston Globe - Why working in the restaurant industry can be hard on your mental health - by Kara Baskin

August 7, 2017 - Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema spends some time in the shoes of restaurant dishwashers - At the Heart of Every Restaurant - a wonderful article
Profile Image for Bill Kerwin.
Author 1 book81.9k followers
September 5, 2019

I'm wary of books that start off as blogs. "Waiter Rant," however, turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

I recognized many anecdotes from the original blog, but in almost every case the original has been refined and enriched. Walter Dublanica (known here as "the Waiter") does a good job of showing us the considerable skills and great patience needed to be a server in a good restaurant. Also, as a former seminary student, he is sensitive to the moral dimensions of the situations he often finds himself in.

Note: there are two appendices, each worth the price of the book: 1) 40 Tips on how to be a Good Customer, and 2) 50 Ways to Tell You are Working in a Bad Restaurant.
Profile Image for Petra on hiatus, really unwell.
2,457 reviews34.4k followers
February 9, 2017
Too much waffle. More brunch than dinner. So much filler in the body of the book and the appendices just to make up enough pages for a book I think. The author was very didactic about how we should behave as a customer in a restaurant. EXCUSE ME - I'm the one paying!

You don't tell me how to behave. You don't tell me that I can't ask to change tables when you have seated me by the toilets. You don't tell me that I don't have the right to complain the food is undercooked. And you certainly don't tell me tell me how much I should tip (although he did in another book of his). No, you should be earning your tip by giving me good service because that is your job.

Diversion. This is mega-bad service, happened to me last night Jan 11th 2016.

You know, I've worked as a server, managed and owned restaurants and the most disposable of people are the wait staff. There are always people for that job and if you have a successful place, you only need to pay the minimum wage because they earn far more in tips than the manager does (a point also made in the book) and replacing uppity servers is only an hour or two's work on the phone. Good dishwashers and cleaners are harder to find than wait staff.

It's easy to be a good waiter. It's all about good manners and giving the service that you yourself would like if you were dining in that establishment. That's all.

Totally rewritten 12th January 2016 in light of bad experience at the Fishing Line last night.
Profile Image for Lindsey.
333 reviews15 followers
February 4, 2011
Don't get me wrong- this book seemed like it would be right up my alley. I like cynicism, I like bitchy people... and if you're funny I'll listen to you complain all day and night. The Waiter was just whiny. Half the time he was trying to link a boring story into some grander theme (like wanting to be a firefighter when you're a kid- WTF?) and the other half of the time he was wistfully talking about how writing this book was going to save him from his woeful life of being a waiter.

Also, while ripping on snobs and foodies, he was pretty stuck up himself the whole book. There were parts where I actually stopped reading and wondered who his intended audience was because at parts it seemed like he was writing for the very people he was insulting.

I quit reading at chapter 15 because it wasn't funny. Tell me more about the staff interactions. Tell me more about the bitchy entitled customers. Tell me more about anything but trying to get a book deal, how people think your blog is hilarious, or how you're middle aged and stuck in a dead end life. This is the farthest I've read a book and decided to give up on it so I guess that's why you're getting this long review. I wanted to like it, I really did, the writer just got in the way.
Profile Image for Amanda.
282 reviews313 followers
December 16, 2013
How did I come to possess this book? Well, the combination of a Books-A-Million going out of business sale, my mistaken assumption that it would be a collection of essays written by various people who had once waited tables, and a cover blurb from Anthony Bourdain calling it "painfully funny" was apparently a heady combination that led to this bit of buyer's remorse.

To be fair, this is not a bad book, nor is it a terribly interesting one. Alas, Waiter Rant is by one waiter who depends upon his anonymity as he blogs about his job while still in the trenches (he has since been revealed to be Steve Dublanica). Dublanica finds himself middle-aged and without steady employment, so takes a wait job as a stopgap between careers--and then never really leaves. The rest of the book follows his adventures and misadventures with the surly kitchen staff, incompetent wait staff, and the snooty, entitled patrons who can make a waiter's life a living hell.

I assumed (based on the description and various blurbs) that all of this would be funny. Except it's not. By one-third of the way through, it failed to elicit a chuckle, a twitter, a smirk, or even one of those weird laughs that consist of basically blowing air out of your nose really hard when something catches you kind of off-guard and you're not sure if it's appropriate to laugh. And I like to think that I'm not humor impaired. I laugh and laugh often. The problem here is that being cynical is not the same as being funny. Now when funny and cynical come together with a dash of acerbic wit, it can be a beautiful and miraculous thing (I'm looking at you, Anthony Bourdain), but there's no magic here and I'm reading it because--once again, I'm looking at you Anthony Bourdain.

The other reason it failed to entertain me is because its main message seems to be that people suck. And they do, I'll not argue against that. But waiters don't have the market cornered on I-don't-get-paid-enough-to-put-up-with-ungrateful-and-crazy-all-day-long. Anyone who has any job that requires contact with the public knows this spiel. I've been a waiter, a cashier, a secretary, a teacher and the dynamic is always the same--as long as there's a customer, someone's going to be an asshole because you're there to serve them and, by God, that means doing precisely what they want when they want it and if not then they will be talking to your supervisor. Having lived this, reading about it is not how I want to spend my hours away from work.

Throughout, Dublanica comes across as some kind of super-waiter and, while I have no reason to doubt that he was good at his job and took it seriously, his stories fail to come to life as he seems incapable of portraying himself as flawed. He always seems to have the upper-hand and becomes the sage keeper of knowledge for the younger employees. It also makes the dining experience seem all about the waiter: what's best for the waiter, how to keep your waiter happy, tips that help make the waiter's job easier, etc. as though it's the customer's job to cater to the waiter. Now, as previously mentioned, I've been a waitress (briefly; as part of my training, I was seriously told to "kiss the babies and flirt with the old men"--homey don't play that game so apparently my "perkitude" wasn't up to their standards and I was unceremoniously fired). And, yes, people can treat waiters terribly and there are things one can and should do to make a dining experience pleasant for all involved. Most of those things involve simple human decency. But Dublanica makes it sound like such a one-sided affair that waiters should be leaving tips to customers who jump through all the hoops outlined in the book to make it a pleasure to serve them.

While some of the information about the dynamic that exists among the employees in a restaurant is mildly interesting, there's nothing really surprising here.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder
Profile Image for Scott.
1,797 reviews130 followers
February 7, 2020
"How the hell did I end up becoming a waiter?" -- the author, on page 13

Written by Steve 'The Waiter' Dublanica - which sounds like an old-school or low-rent pro wrestler's name, right? - Waiter Rant details his time in the trenches at two New York City-based eateries at the start of the 21st century. At that time Dublanica was in his 30's, somewhat older than average for someone in that full-time position. (As he notes, in the U.S. - unlike Europe - is it not often a lifetime career choice or decision, but is usually done temporarily by those in their early 20's while waiting for 'real' or more ideal work.) He briefly explains, via a biographical chapter or two, how he came to be working such a job, after a brief stint in the seminary and then a few gigs in the health care field. He first kept an anonymous blog (waiterrant.net) but used his material to form this book.

The meat of his story (ha-ha) is Dublanica reminiscing about and giving a behind-the-scenes peek into the turbulent restaurant business and environment. He was in the position as head waiter, so in addition to the known or obvious responsibilities of a server he also had to wear an assortment of other hats: liaison between owner and employees, amateur paramedic and traffic cop, marriage counselor, custodian, and many more. He speaks of trying to keep the peace between fellow wait staff and kitchen employees, the creative handling (sometimes delicate, sometimes hard-nosed) of many types of customers, bad tippers, meeting celebrities (including a pleasant anecdote about serving a certain A-list actor), and suffering under some paranoid restaurant owners that ran their establishments with the intensity of Mussolini . . . on a bad day. It was an eye-opening experience.
Profile Image for emma.
1,868 reviews54.4k followers
June 7, 2022
it's literally so funny that we used to just...give people book deals because they were, like, good at twitter or whatever.

anyway, i read this when i was 15 and had genuinely no taste and it is still to date one of the worst books i've ever read.

part of a series i'm doing in which i review books i read a long time ago
Profile Image for Wealhtheow.
2,447 reviews548 followers
March 20, 2012
Although this is ostensibly a collection of a waiter's experiences on the job, I hesitate to shelve it in non-fiction. Dublanica so clearly takes artistic licenses that very little rings true. There are a few sections that seem real, but the majority of this book is either Dublanica talking about how he's so much smarter than all other waiters&customers or psychoanalyzing himself. Not even half of the book actually concerns actually waiting tables. In every one of those stories, customers are either A)hot women who hit on him B)sophisticated patrons who understand how wonderful he is or C)twits he outwits&humiliates but gets huge tips from. I've collected some of these stories in the "status updates" section, but here's one of my particular favorites:

"'You make the best cosmopolitans.'
'Thank you, madam.'
'I always tell my husband you're a great waiter,' she says. 'Very capable.'
'Thank you.'
The woman looks at me. She's about 50, her face shows the life she's led, but her eyes are warm and young.
'But overly capable,' the woman says. 'I saw how you handled that woman. I was watching. You're more than just a waiter. Aren't you?'
I smile broadly. Customers can be very observant.
'Yes, madam,' I reply. 'Yes, I am.'"

Oh, he's more than "just" a waiter? Is that why this book has all the life and realism of a lump of dirt? This book delivers very little insight into life "behind the scenes" of a restaurant, but a great deal of unwanted insight into Dublanica's narrow little mind.
Profile Image for Joshua.
237 reviews119 followers
August 19, 2008
The buzz surrounding this book likens it as a front of the house version of Anthony Bourdain's Kitchen Confidential . While superfically, they both concern themselves with working in a restaurant, that is where the similarities end. While Bourdain uses his mystery-noir style writing to tell a gripping tale of working as a chef, "The Waiter" is a competant writer at best. Bourdain's work is scathing and the mesmerizing. This author is a waiter trying to be a writer. I know this book used to be a blog, and all the while I was reading it I kept thinking, "why did I pay for this when it indeed feels like I'm reading a blog and not a novel?"

However, not all is bad. I've worked in the front of the house of a restaurant before and the author does give away some trade secrets: like Open Table and how we use that computerized reservation system to comment on customers (like if they have bad hygiene, how they dress, who wears too much make-up, etc) and how every customers credit card information can be taken by a disgruntled employee and used since all numbers are stored on Open Table and anyone can view it.

Still, most of the time this book discusses issues that are impotent at best. There are people out there that tip less than 15% and the waiters don't like it? No way!! Waiters are human and don't like being treated like second class citizens? Zounds!! People open up more when they're eating and waiters hear incredible things that should never be said in public? I'm almost fainting this is so incredible.

Like I said, there isn't really much here that some common sense couldn't figure out.

Waiter Rant might be interesting for someone who rarely eats out, but for any one who enjoys food and has been to at least 2 restaurants before, this book will bore you to tears. Medicore at best and redundant at worst.

People really tip less than 15%? Shock I say. Shock.
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,520 reviews8,987 followers
October 21, 2022
EDIT 10/20/2022: Please do tip higher than 15%!! I wrote this review 12 years ago and apologize for this bad take.

My family and I eat out at least two times a week, so reading Waiter Rant was definitely an interesting experience. I'm almost convinced that if I tip under 15% that my waiter is going to hate me for the rest of their lives. Hm.

Anyway, Waiter Rant was filled with meaningful anecdotes - some of them were emotionally driven and powerful, others were more on the cynical and disturbing side. The book managed to hold my interest, and the writing was good but not superb. Recommended for people who are interested in what goes on behind the waiter's ever smiling facade.

Want to read more of my reviews? Follow me here.
Profile Image for Davytron.
310 reviews33 followers
August 4, 2020
I honestly can't bring myself to finish this book. What a terrible, self-indulgent, boring, unfunny rant.

The whole book is formatted like "I don't normally hate _________, but _____ really gets my goat" or "I'm not racist, but [race] are the worst people ever" or "I don't hate homosexuals but I will readily engage in homophobic banter for fun." He prefaces every rude statement with a prior statement that tries to make up for the following statement. If the words you are saying make you sound like an asshole and you have to contextualize and make an excuse for every sentence because you know this, maybe you are in fact an asshole.

This book was boring. The rants centred mostly on interactions with his co-workers and employers and up to the point I stopped reading, the author had barely even mentioned customers. If he is so willing to disparage his colleagues I can't imagine (but can't be bothered to find out) what's in store for customers further in the book.

Memory index:
Expected: 0
Actual: 0
Profile Image for Katie.
230 reviews116 followers
October 12, 2008
I had a couple of problems with this book...

1. The Waiter isn't a particularly good writer.
2. He could at times be a little condescending, which kind of pisses me off.

So in regards to numero uno...this wasn't necessarily a deal-breaker. I don't think Waiter thinks he's writing epic literature here, so his less than stellar writing didn't ruin my life or anything. It read like a blog - I suppose because it is a blog - so really, just like with any blog, I was hoping just to get a few laughs and an insider's peek in a world I don't know.

Waiter does take you into his world, but - this brings us to numero dos - I don't especially like the way he sees his world. Granted, there were a few little vignettes that I adored (e.g. the tale of the couple who came into the Bistro for Valentine's Day and were embarrassed to realize it was way pricier than they could afford; Waiter saved the day and went the extra length to give them a special night), but Waiter could get a little arrogant, too. I'm going to preface this by saying I can't imagine being a waiter - I really don't like being around people enough for a job like that - but if you are a waiter, you gotta know what comes with the territory.

Wait - backtrack again. Waiter doesn't seem like a bad guy, or a bad waiter even, but little things that he said irked him (such as when someone who only orders a moderately priced bottle of wine dares to ask for one of the cool extra-large balloon wine glasses instead of the cheap ones), I had to roll my eyes. I'm sure there are seemingly normal people who turn into lunatic bastards when dining out, but most people are just looking for a nice time and a chance to be waited on for a change. If they want the nice wine glass - if that's what's standing between them and happiness - give them the nice wine glass.

I read this book so quickly I can't quite remember many more examples, but I think you get the picture: if you want an easy read that spills a bit of restaurant industry gossip, this will do you right, but don't expect - which some people have erroneously called it - a waiter equivalent of Anthony Bourdain's infinitely superior Kitchen Confidential .

Profile Image for Anina.
315 reviews23 followers
October 28, 2008
If you ever waited tables at a fine dining restaurant, this is amazing. It so happens that's me. If that isn't you, I might guess you would rate it more like 3 stars. Anyhow, I'm giving it five and i could not put it down.
Profile Image for Riccol.
69 reviews2 followers
August 10, 2016
I agree with everyone else who thought the Waiter comes across as an insufferable, pompous know-it-all. He speaks Arabic to the busboys, Spanish to the kitchen staff, lectures co-workers on finances and immigration, lectures customers on food, performs the Heimlich maneuver on one customer, is ready to perform first-aid on another who has a stroke, mediates relations between front and back of house and owner, presents himself as a kind manager who helps "his" employees when they need it, and claims to make hundreds per shift from manning his own tables. Seriously? Is he a waiter or SuperMan?

He comes in late, sits around drinking coffee and reading the newspaper instead of helping with sidework, and he assigns himself the best section and best customers. If he was my co-worker I would throttle him.

The biggest problem for me is that his experience was limited to only two wait jobs, both in fine-dining establishments. I've done my time in the hospitality industry, in all manner of positions and types of establishments, so I found it incredulous that he would see himself fit to make the sweeping generalizations he did about the restaurant industry and its workers and customers based on his limited experience.

That said, not liking a character is not a reason in itself to say a book is bad. So I give this 3-stars, meaning not particularly good or particularly bad, just an average read.
Profile Image for Aaron.
1,711 reviews46 followers
January 14, 2009
Having been a waiter for a while, I knew that I wanted to read this one when I heard about it. The anonymous author first caught the bug of pseudo-fame with his blog of the same name. Basically, the book (and the blog, too) share the waiter's experiences of becoming a server and his history in the field over the course of 10 years. Each chapter is a short essay focusing on different aspects of the job from the unique interaction between the servers and the kitchen staff to the challenges of having a social life with the wacky schedule that is demanded of servers.

In many ways, I found myself relating to his experiences, though, he often tends to have a superiority complex about the people he works with/for and those he is serving. Don't get me wrong, there is no shortage of challenges when it comes to working for the public, but I find that sometimes some of the sass he experiences is due to the fact that he forgets that he is there to serve. The onus of responsibility falls on servers in a relationship.

I have never worked in a high-end urban eatery like The Bistro he was at for a number of years, but I have worked at a nice family restaurant and a high-end restaurant based in a rural historic farmhouse. He definitely knows his stuff and should be proud of the level of service he usually provides when his ego is not getting in the way.

The Waiter started in a less than optimal working environment, where his brother helped him get a job after being down and out on his professional luck. The manager is horrible, having employees bribe him for prime shifts, and the owner was a major ego who literally lorded it over the staff. Thankfully, the Waiter moves on to another restaurant, where he seems to find happiness and no shortage of interesting situations from people having various forms of sex to people demanding a higher level of service as someone is being worked on by EMTs, which is something I have experienced myself.

He does do a great job of revealing the dark underside of working as a server. There are things in the book that would probably horrify most restaurant visitors, but there are also no shortage of stories that will make people realize how much their server will do for them (or to them if they are rude).

While I enjoyed the book, I thought Waitress: The True Confessions of a Waitress by Debra Ginsberg was a little closer to my experiences. She has less of an ego and shares a lot more personal experiences with customers, co-workers, and owners.
Profile Image for Allison Floyd.
496 reviews57 followers
September 2, 2009
Entertaining, but mostly for the wrong reasons, including but not limited to: the narrative voice (a little too preciously enamored of its own cleverness); the heavy influence of Kitchen Confidential, especially the author's attempt to cultivate the burnt-marshmallow-with-a-heart-of-gold persona (charred and crispy on the outside, squishy and tender on the inside--Bourdain does it better); his Humbert Humbert-reminiscent ruminations on young girls blossoming into women; his keen insights into women (direct quotes: "Sophie giggles the giggle all women giggle when they're in love;" "I consoled her by saying that that's what happens when women swim in the unmarried, bitter, and over-the-age-of-thirty pool. But I digress."); the fact that dude, within spitting distance of forty at the time he wrote this, uses expressions like "hottie" and "you the man"; the frequency with which dialogue scenes end with the other participant laughing (or giggling, as the case may be) appreciatively at some not-particularly-clever bon mot uttered by our hero; the endless references to nubile twenty-five-year-old blondes, strippers, miniskirts, body parts and Girls Gone Wild, to the point where one begins to wonder if the point is that yes, he's straight, he's really, really straight; and the frequency with which our narrator "chuckles" rather than "says".

All in all, a delightful little bonbon for a hater like me, as there was so very much to hate on in one little morsel.
Profile Image for Les.
2,813 reviews2 followers
September 13, 2018
If you have read my reviews I am often snarky, cruel, nasty and disdainful toward bad books. So I figured I would love a book where someone else is the same way. I've read other books, blogs and sites that are filled with servers, salespeople and chefs venting their spleens on to the public at large.

This book was rather disappointing. Sorry Steve I don't care that you don't like your coworkers, get an ass rash or drink too much. I want amusing anecdotes about annoying foodies, drunk customers, and that I didn't get.

I also didn't appreciate the Appendices that tell us how to be good customers including 'don't over tip it is embarrassing.' I'd love to take a survey of serving staff who don't want to be over tipped.

Also I don't care about your childhood, education, friends, family etc. And talking about how as you got closer to your book deal made your coworkers jealous was petty.
Profile Image for Stefanie.
8 reviews
January 10, 2018
Any merit this book has about the amusing insights to the behind the scenes experiences of workers in high end restaurants and the individual struggles of finding one's true place in the world are vastly overshadowed by the repeated and blatant normalization of sexism and objectification of women. "Soon miniskirts will be replaced by long pants, and shapely legs will disappear into unshaven hibernation. I tell myself I should move to a town where short skirts are a 365-day-a-year proposition—someplace like L.A. or Vegas—but I'd miss having seasons too much." The writing is also exceedingly weak with countless mentions of "inward sighs", "inward grimaces" and "inward smiles." In a post Weinstein #metoo movement, this book does not fly.
Profile Image for Rose.
12 reviews1 follower
March 17, 2009
I loved the blog, but if I read one more memoir about how somebody became a writer I'm gonna scream. If only there were some way to find out about people in other professions who actually are those professions, and not just a writer pretending to be that profession or somebody who's disappointment with said profession leads them to become a writer. I guess I need to read more ethnography and less memoirs, will I ever learn?
24 reviews
April 1, 2013
TERRIBLE!!! Don't waste your time on this one. I tried and tried to get through this but threw in the towel after being a third of the way in. This writer thinks he is God's gift to women and all his customers have the hots for him. He tries to be the super coolest dude ever, but instead comes across as being a complete jerk. he supposedly waits tables at a very high class restaurant where customers buy $1500 bottles of wine and leave $250 to $500 tips...yet these same customers need to be dragged out of the restaurant's bathrooms for tying up the facilities by having wild sex, and of course it is this waiter who has to rescue the day by getting them to come out?....and this supposedly high class restaurant only has illegals doing all the cooking, and the only English these cooks can speak is f---- you?? I just didn't buy it. I think the author embellished everything and tried to make himself sound more important in each different story he related. His writing just wasn't in the least enjoyable and I wouldn't read any other of his books.
Profile Image for Y..
240 reviews
January 14, 2019
Waiters should be properly salaried, and not receive tips at all. If not for their livelihoods, then definitely to stop the feeling of entitlement (from both waiters and customers). But, of course, livelihoods come first. Anyway, Dublanica is really irritating. Just as he judges his customers, his customers judge him. It's a two-way street. Sometimes deserving, sometimes not. I mean, steering yuppie couples towards the most expensive items and bragging about it?

Calling 20% tippers "average pains in the ass"? The amount (normal) people tip depends on the waiter and level of service.

Also... Telling readers to tip the post-tax amount? :/

It's a weird game, the way Dublanica writes. Waiters are at the mercy of customers for tips, but customers are at the mercy of waiters. The difference is that waiters see how much customers give in tips (and can publicly shame customers in person and online), but customers can't know what untoward things waiters did to their food. Though I guess this occurs more in less reputable establishments.
Profile Image for Mazola1.
253 reviews12 followers
February 2, 2009
Waiter Rant is a quick and breezy read. If you eat out fairly often, it won't tell you anything you don't already know or suspect about the restaurant trade, but it will probably confirm some of your most cynical suspicions. It's a little heavy on stories about how customers can be such self absorbed, insensitive and demanding shits. The Rant drips with resentment. But then, the author proudly brands himself a "cynical waiter," so what else would you expect?

The Waiter is an OK writer, but he comes across as an embittered man who harbors a not so secret fear that he wasted his life waiting tables. After washing out of two prior attempts at establishing himself in a profession, the Waiter fell into waiting by default, and although he never seemed to really like it, he became successful at it. All the while he was beating himself up for not doing something more meaningful with his life and feeling abused by his customers. Waiter Rant is apparently his way of getting back at all his tormenters. Nonetheless, it is entertaining, sort of the in the same way that gawking at a roadside accident is.
Profile Image for Helen Dunn.
942 reviews51 followers
September 15, 2014
Got this as a bargain book on Kindle and spent the whole book wishing it was more interesting than it was.

I guess I've read too many kitchen/restaurant books because nothing in this seemed new or original to me.

Writing is fine and I think many will enjoy this but I think I came too late to this party
387 reviews14 followers
December 8, 2009
If you are a fan of the blog this book is an extension of, or work in the food service industry, or just enjoy watching an amateur take a crack at writing you might find this exercise in naval-gazing interesting; otherwise just skip it. The author was known at publishing only as “The Waiter” but has recently unmasked himself. I didn’t bother to google his real name.

My chief complaint is presumably the editor didn’t insist the writing quality be brought up to non-blog writing standards. The most annoying quality issue is The Waiter’s near constant substitution of obscenity when Thesaurus.com fails him (that writing trick is like, you know, uh, shitty.) Of course, when he does score a Thesaurus.com hit, he often copies words that he clearly doesn’t fully grasp the meaning of (he’s like, totally grandiloquent).

If you can plow the occasionally unintentionally funny writing style, you find some odd narrative decisions. A section tracing the blog’s and later book’s genesis shows up round about chapter 13 in a section that also includes a passage wrapping up the book even though it doesn’t end until quite further on. In rapid succession The Waiter suffers through a friend’s death, a breakup and a job loss, the retelling of which warrants only a few paragraphs. Yet, hanging around on a slow day in the restaurant (known only as “The Bistro”) is worth page after page of ludicrous (thanks Thesaurus.com!) Potemkin Village references. Where is the editor?! No, a swanky Manhattan restaurant is absolutely nothing even remotely like fake villages erected to whitewash starvation and failed imperial policy. No, it’s not, not even a little.

In the previous paragraph you’ll note I indulged in a little rant, something, despite the title, The Waiter does little of. Early on we are promised tales of psychotic diners and outrageous behavior. However, with only a few exceptions, the diners’ antics are pretty much what you would expect from liquored-up people with the means to drop a minimum of three bills on a meal. Yes, they are immature, spoiled and overly demanding but so are most Starbucks’ customers and baristas pull down just a fraction of the coin that The Waiter claims he earned. Anecdotes about customers complaining over cold coffee and commercial-quality bread are related as if Charlie Manson wandered in for the Friday-night fish special. Maybe I get out too often, but tales of drunks and bathroom trysts just aren’t that shocking. Again, a more active editor would have flagged The Waiter’s passing references to having been taken home by female diners and to serving Manhattan celebrities for further exposition (although there is a short, uneventful, story about Russell Crowe).

There is a celebrity in one of the most unintentionally funny lines in the book. Apparently, The Waiter was star struck when the guy from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off came in - no, not Matthew Broderick, no not Jeffrey Jones who played the principal, no, the tall guy who played the best friend with daddy issues (yeah, I would have melted too). Another unintentionally hilarious line was The Waiter bemoaning that his boss, Fluvio, doesn’t believe in his dream of writing full-time and no longer working in the restaurant. Seriously? This comes as a surprise to you? I know if I owned a restaurant I would set up a little artists’ studio in the back where my staff could hone their aesthetic skills so they could give me the opportunity to spend time and money recruiting someone new.

The Waiter bemoans – at very great length - his fate but while he talks about not wanting to be a waiter, he never appears to be actively doing anything about it. Yes, he eventually started the blog which ended in a book deal but it appears to all be happenstance. No where in the book does he talk about applying for other jobs, going on interviews, going back to school, saving to start a business, etc. Hell, Russell Crowe all but offered to get him a movie role and he made no move to seize it. He is very hard to sympathize with particular after he is fired after the Bistro falls apart one Halloween evening and just winds up waiting tables at another restaurant despite having a book deal.

While it may not work as memoir it does work as business book. The Waiter offers some useful insights into at least frequenting restaurants (avoid holidays, Friday and Saturday nights, places with unkempt bathrooms, etc.) Some of his advice may also be useful for those employed by or who own or would like to own dining establishments. His next book should be a self-help or customer service book where the dearth and simplicity of text would be better-suited to his writing style.
Profile Image for Emi Yoshida.
1,493 reviews85 followers
February 5, 2009
I'd never heard of the website waiterrant.net before I picked up this book by Steve Dublanica. The cover touted it as an "instant NY Times bestseller" and also there was a big blurb from Anthony Bourdain, and him I do know. As soon as I started reading this book, I knew I would hate it. This unfunny author writes as if he is hilarious, like a jolly king who has a whole sycophantic court on hand to boost his ego, exactly the way Anthony Bourdain sounds on TV as a matter of fact.

I kept notes while reading, of absurd metaphors ("giving a waiter a religious tract is like giving Mephistopheles a parking ticket"); uncomfortable turns of phrase ("restaurants are magical places designed to jerk off their tastebuds"); and preposterous theories("waiting tables is as addictive as crack cocaine"). And by the third chapter I noticed grammatical errors circled in pencil by another annoyed library reader who'd checked this copy out before me. But I feel guilty attacking somebody for their pompous, pedantic buffoon self-description when their whining lectures about their own talent read as overt pleas for approval.

So, I did learn a few interesting things about the world of waitering: what a scam holiday dinners are, Wolfgang Puck's rise from humble beginnings, and the onset of food poisoning.
Profile Image for Kevin Fink.
25 reviews
August 16, 2009
Oy. The first chapter starts out really promising, but the book soon dissolves into boring drivel. This is not a memoir. This is a how-to on how to be a waiter/patron, and if you've worked even a week in an upscale restaurant none of what Dublanica writes will be a revelation, as it's all extremely common knowledge. Dublanica is not a writer - and that's completely obvious. His writing is tedious, with little - if any - personal anecdotes and reflection, so the book comes off as more of a boring manual than a memoir. People who work in restaurants will find it pedantic and un-surprising; people who never have will find it stale and humorless; and everyone will find it completely boring. This was a great idea, and if it had been executed by someone who knew how to craft a story, it could have been great. Instead, it falls flat and thin as a crepe. I have no idea how it received such amazing reviews, but I say don't waste your time or money.
Profile Image for Baba.
3,619 reviews987 followers
April 27, 2020
Based on the blogging entries of a waiter, recounts the life and times of a waiter 'Steve', who spent most of his life waiting tables in high-end restaurants in New York. One of those books that sound a lot better than they actually are. 5 out of 12.
Profile Image for Katherine Coble.
1,231 reviews259 followers
July 11, 2013
This is a bargain Kindle read for the month of July. It may be worth the $2 I gave for it. Maybe.

I didn't read the book when it first came out because
1. I don't trust books based on blogs as so many of them merely compile the free-to-read blog entries and sell them to people too lazy to click through the blog archives.

2. When I had read the blog in the past it struck me as alternating between smug pretension and snarky whining.

3. If I want to hear waitstaff grumble about tips I can go to Reddit or LiveJournal.

Well, so far the book is at least safe on #1...there is actually some semblance of new material. Unfortunately that "new"
material hurts the #2 category in a big way. Because now The Waiter takes anecdotes from the blog and weaves them into the most tiresome story device ever...the "here is the deeper life meaning revealed by this little story."
Knowing that the author went to seminary should be a warning. The book is indeed so far a series of secularised homilies. It's a sermon collection for people who worship food.

I'm writing this review while I'm only halfway through the book because I'm honestly not sure if I'll finish the book itself. The voice he writes with just does NOT make me want to root for him. He's snottily making snap judgements on the diners whose patronage kept him fed, clothed, housed and patronizing lap dancers for the better part of a decade. I like how a guy who can't get it together in his own life decides that he can automatically declare a person a villain for leaving him a $7 tip instead of the more mathematically correct $9.50.

I tip well for a variety of reasons, mostly because I know what it's like to have a hard job and I appreciate having someone else carry my plate and bring me sodas. But the difference between a bad tip --10%-- and a good tip of 15-20% is often only a couple of dollars. I err on the side of generosity unless the service has been a huge failure. But I can understand the reasoning behind some folks' decision to tip the lower amount and I don't think it's particularly fair for someone like The Waiter to be so rude about it. Yes, I know servers don't make minimum wage. But he himself repeats endlessly that he stays in the job largely because he's addicted to the lifestyle and has little financial discipline. With these confessions out in the open it hardly seems sensible for him to complain about the people whose whims underwrite his drunken strip club crawls.

Any amount of patience I had for this guy went out the window when he told the story about giving espresso to a woman who was annoying him with her repeated requests for a very hot cup of decaf. I understand being upset about not getting paid what you deserve. (Try being an executive assistant for a couple years and then come crying. They're always underpaid and don't get free food and booze). I understand wanting an outlet for the various gripes that come with any job.

But when you begin medicating people against their explicit requests, that crosses a major line. Caffeine is a drug that many people cannot have due to medicatons for heart disease, migraine, autoimmune disease, Type 2 diabetes and many other common ailments. When a person says "decaf" fifty times it's obviously important. In what may come as a shocking twist, Mr. The Waiter, the world does NOT revolve around you so the lady's request for decaf is most likely not some plot cooked up in an underground bunker to annoy your precious self. The fact that you'd go ahead and give her not only caffeine but a highly-concentrated dose of the stuff is proof of what a self-absorbed twit you really are.

I think I'm officially done spending time in your world.
Profile Image for Brianna Lawcock.
12 reviews
November 3, 2014
I related to this book, and I work retail. Dealing with customers is never fun. It was a decent book, I flew through it, and a good easy read.

That said, it's probably best if you're in the customer dealing circuit and feeling particularly bitter that day, and even then, it can get aggravating. I can agree with the types of customers, you can see them everywhere, and while this is supposedly nonfiction, it does feel like fiction half of the time.

He's bitterly honest about his faults, and the faults of those around him, so at least he's open on that. Yet, it does get very tiring when he starts on his minirants. Whether he's talking about financial situations (Which CLEARLY he has a grip on, right?), where he goes on a 'teaching' moment with another coworker about how to save up money, or cell phones, and I can't remember them all. All I can say is it was like being at work, hearing a coworker spout their personal beliefs and you can't get away from them. You can just nod, smile, and try to plow through it to get to what you really care about. Or you just block it out, and then, like me, you can't remember those sections very well.

There are some valid points in this book, though, that I did walk away with. It does manage to remind you about waiters and waitresses and their reliance on tips to get by. If you need reminding that they're human, there's a little practical essay to remind you of that too.

It's not a horrible book, but it's not the best in the world either. I'm choosing to treat it what it is. Another blog writer who made it into book form. This isn't a bad thing in general, or at all, but sometimes you need to keep in mind that anyone can write a blog, success in that blog is based on luck, and getting a book out of that blog is based on success. You don't have to be an amazing writer, just successfully be related to- and that is what this man does well.
Profile Image for Charlotte.
310 reviews2 followers
April 7, 2009
Only marginally interesting and occasionally annoying, this is the waiter/front-of-house version of "Kitchen Confidential," only with worse writing and less juicy gossip. Apparently the author has a successful (and formerly anonymous) blog about the trials and tribulations of being a waiter at an upscale New York restaurant. Alas, his insider stories don't translate all that well to book length. There are a few interesting tidbits, particularly the details about the personalities who are drawn to/forced into the hospitality industry: alcoholics, drug addicts, psychopaths, and misfits who probably couldn't hold a job or be productive anywhere else. The prose style could be described as "self-conscious undergraduate creative writing course," and the populist whining pitting hard-working waiters against selfish customers ("We're just trying to make a living like everyone else!") gets old fast. My biggest problem, though, was that the author never considers (or even admits) that some waiters actually do provide lousy service. He spends a lot of time making the case for 15-20% tipping, treating waitstaff with respect, and behaving properly as a restaurant customer; this is fine advice and it's true that many diners are in need of such basic instruction. But the fact remains that sometimes the service just really sucks. What's the appropriate response in such situations? Waiter Steve is silent on the matter.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,817 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.