I am a professional food server who wants to shake things up in this industry. I want to light a fire inside each and every person who wears a service apron. I want to connect with other servers and feel supported by a vibrant community.

I crave a network that reflects my values, and I know I'm not alone.

I want to meet other servers who are serious about their craft, and are willing to participate in a network of empowered professionals. I want to lift the conversation above the din of ranting, b*******, and moaning currently dominating our industry. I already know my job is stressful, that certain customers don't 'get it,' and that my coworkers are often cynical and jaded. I need to be elevated and encouraged, not steeped in a form of groupthink that is limiting and negative.

I want to explore other forms of post-shift relaxation besides smoking, boozing, and drugging. I am tired of waking up tired. I want to come down from my shift without getting high, have a drink with my fellow servers without getting drunk, and take a breather without tobacco smoke filling my lungs. I want to be healthy, balanced, and radiant. I am tired of feeling toxic. Introduce me to exciting beverages that promote relaxation without intoxication, and breathing techniques that center me without destroying my lungs. Teach me how to stretch my weary limbs, strength-train my wrists and arms, and use alternative medicine to bolster my immune system. It would help if the leaders in my industry acknowledged substance abuse as a significant problem, and actually supported me in this effort.

I want to expand my food and wine knowledge using social media tools. I am responsible for knowing and describing hundreds of products and culinary terms, ranging from South African Shiraz, locally distilled and handcrafted spirits, and specialty cheeses, to sustainable growing practices, pronunciations of foreign cuisines, and proper wine decanting protocol. This is a lot of information, and I often feel overwhelmed and under-prepared. Give me an online resource where this information has been aggregated, allowing me to study it from different angles. Give me an environment to interact with my peers, vendors, and industry experts. I will run with it!

I don't receive a regular paycheck, so I have to be mindful of how I handle my money. Introduce me to financial advise and products tailored to my profession. Surround me with other servers who have similar savings goals, investment ideas, or who want to pay off debt. Encourage me to stay on track through contests and challenges. I am tired of blowing my hard earned money.

Finally, I want to share my passion and experience in this industry with younger, newly minted servers. I want to support behavior and lifestyle choices that promote longevity and professionalism within this field. I want to access profiles of servers from all around the world who have used their skills to fund college degrees, trips abroad, and entrepreneurial endeavors. I want to chat with new servers who are just discovering wine regions, and line them up with experts who are also members of our community. I want to see information democracy at work in this industry. If social media can transform other trades, why not ours?

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Tags: front of house, learning

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Comment by Dan Smith on November 23, 2009 at 11:14am
Thank you Michael,
BTW, look up the poem "Desiderata" by Max Ehrmann if bringing the human side of people into the equation is really a goal for you. This business is stressful, but is manageable when people take the time for each other. Boss to employee to guest seems so structured at times, where human being to human being only requires people to care. Good luck.
Comment by Michael Biesemeyer on November 23, 2009 at 10:32am
@Melissa: Restaurant work is often the first step in many people's professional/career journey. What an opportunity to shape and inform positive behavior right from the start. I also think that the hospitality industry, perhaps more than any other, would benefit from programs that target 'holistic' well being. We work with food and alcohol in a high stress environment. We need to introduce meaningful strategies to manage these elements and produce healthy, well-balanced employees.

@Paul: As always, thank you!

@Dan: I appreciate the wine info. I'll be sure to add it to my toolbox.
Comment by Dan Smith on November 20, 2009 at 7:21am
Michael,
I love the passion (I may be old, but after 42 years in my selected profession, I adore the sentiments that you are asking for.) I am sending you some wine things to your e-mail address. The things are about wine, you may have more knowledge than what I am sending, but since i don't know you, there will be no harm in me sending some utilitarian tools for selling wine.

Non-Operator
Comment by Paul Paz on November 19, 2009 at 9:20am
Hey...
You can teach old dogs like me new tricks too!
:-)
Paul

PS... Congratulations to your new twins who arrived yesterday! You thought you were busy before! (From a single dad of three now adult children.)
Comment by Melissa Papaleo on November 18, 2009 at 11:24am
Michael- this is one of the best blog posts I have read in a LONG time! Well done and such great ideas on how to improve our industry through simple and meaningful ways. It is refreshing to hear your point of view.

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