22 Aug /14


“The sum is six pounds and be pleased to remember the waiters” is the first reference to the waiter in English. It appears in a play Parsons Wedding written by Thomas Killigrew and published in 1664. It is spoken by a character called drawer, which was the original English word for waiter.

Somewhat later Steele in the Spectator (1712) writes about how difficult it is to organise dinner parties at various restaurants. One reason to change the location for dining is “bold rebellion in the point of attendance by the waiters”.

In what appears to be an early example of syndication, an article on politeness published in many newspapers in 1799 describes just how rude people can be. Domestic servants have it bad, but a waiter serving at an inn or tavern has it much worse. A waiter often suffers monstrous abuse because “every man who enters an inn thinks he is entitled to vent his own ill humour upon them”.

The waiter is a key element in an eating experience. As the Jewish proverb goes “In a restaurant choose a table near a waiter”. But this should not be too difficult. In the United States today there are approximately 2.4 million people with the job description of a waiter. With approximately 635,000 restaurants in the US this makes approximately 4 per restaurant.