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Jorge Arellano Fuentes ENGL 1101-009 11/7/2013

Server life

Serving is a job done where people work on satisfying the customer. Servers work as part of a bigger discourse community. They are a part of a group of people whose job is to make food and create good customer service within the restaurant that they may be in. Along with good service the staff in a restaurant want the business to do well by bringing in more money, and also making people want to return to that restaurant. There are many of these communities and each may have a different discourse within them, but the ultimate goal is always the same. Each restaurant community strives to outdo the other with different promotions and with the quality of their service. The research in this paper will show how one restaurant in particular handles their situations to be among the best in their area. At El Vallarta Mexican Restaurant, a dine-in restaurant located in Waxhaw NC, is an example of this community. The workers here have come up with their own lexis to convey among each other to make their job easier and the service of the customer better. Common things one hears from the staff is the use of numbers. For example is the hostess were to tell a server 4 at 12 that simply means that the server has just been seated four people at table number twelve. If the server were to tell the chip boy 4 at 12 then that would mean that the chip boy would need to take four baskets of chips and salsa to the table 12.
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Table numbers are common among restaurants. They are used as an organizational structure of the table seating in the building of the restaurant. Table numbers are used as a resource in assigning sections to servers. This organization also allows for a customer to be seated quickly so that they can get attended to. The hostesses job is to seat people and by having a number chart and knowing where to sit people next is beneficial for her as it makes her job flow more smoothly. The hostess job is to sit people at the next table that corresponds on the table on her list categorized by table numbers. She is to get the customer menus, and silver wear and any other conveniences that they may, whether it be a high chair or a booster seat. At El Vallarta Mexican restaurant the servers have a method of starting off at a table. They would lay down some napkins according to the amount of people at the table before taking their drink order. Afterwards they would suggest an appetizer such as cheese dip or guacamole dip. This is done to up sale. Up sale is a term used in the restaurant business to build up a customers bill. By building up a customers bill the business is then making more money, which in turn leaves room for growth and new renovations, and the higher the tip the server makes as well. Joseph, a server at El Vallarta, explains that by up selling he is making a better tip, but thats not it, he is also offering the customer a better experience, possibly at a higher price but it will make them want to come back because they received higher quality food (Lee). One could say that he is part of a community of practice, but the grand scheme is to create a better experience for the customer. Another common term used in many restaurant businesses is the term weeded. When one refers to a server as being in the weeds they generally mean that the server who is stuck in the weeds is really busy also referred as being slammed. Usually this person has been double or triple sat and is not yet quick enough to take drink orders, give refills, take food orders, and take
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the food to their tables all at the same time which is the job of a server. Being double or triple sat means to have people sat in a particular servers section back to back. After observation of the happenings in El Vallarta Mexican restaurant one is able to point out those who are new due to the fact that they are relatively slow in their duties and more specifically in using the computer systems to enter an order. The computer systems are considered to be a type of discourse. One must know how to operate these in order to plug in a food order. They take a card to be swiped in order for a server to be able to access their tables and place orders under them. After this the tickets go to the cooks. The cooks have a machine that prints out orders where then they rack the tickets and cook the food according to the ticket. The cooks have assigned jobs to make their job easier and the process quicker. They have different jobs for example one cook will make the taco salads, another will rice and beans, another may cook the meats and then finally another will make sure the food is done the way its supposed to be. After the food is prepared they place it on the line. The line at El Vallarta refers to where area where the food gets placed and is between the cooks and the servers. After the food gets placed on the line, usually the food runner whose only job is to take out food takes it out in order to keep the servers from being busy. It also helps the customers receive their foo quicker. At El Vallarta the owner is also the head manager. He can generally be seen talking to customers and helping out any of the staff that may need help. After the head manager there are regular managers who can also be found roaming the restaurant helping anybody that may need help. One of the managers main tasks is to apply discounts for coupons and to set up gift cards as well. There is also a head cook. The head cook is the cook that all of the servers need to talk to if there is a problem with any of the food. He is also in charge of hiring or firing anybody that
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pertains to the kitchen. Also at this restaurant, El Vallarta, most of the cooks do not speak English as well as say the servers do, so it is the head cooks job to relay any info to them that may need to be said. Since El Vallarta is a Mexican restaurant most of the staff is Hispanic. For this reason the common language spoken among the staff at that restaurant is Spanish. This way they are able to communicate among themselves in the restaurant without having customers know what they are saying. One of the main uses for this second dialect is to call other servers to go sing happy birthday to a customer. Vamos a cantar is the phrase most commonly used at El Vallarta meaning lets go sing. When one hears this they usually know to meet up by the line to go sing to a birthday boy/girl. Joseph, who is a Caucasian male, stated that starting out working at the Mexican restaurant was difficult for him since he didnt speak the same second language as the rest of the staff, but explains that after a while he got used to it and can now even say a few sentences in Spanish himself (Lee). Promotions are a way that the restaurant tries to make profit. There are weekly specials at this restaurant like at many others. A special is when an item is at a marked down price compared to what it typically is. El Vallarta hosts many different events such as wine night, which are Thursdays and when the wine are on special. Along with that there are other drink specials and food specials depending on what day it is. They are done so that a customer spends more money buying that item. Also for holidays the restaurant becomes adorned with decorations and hosts many more special events. Since it is a family restaurant it is done to target families. The restaurant community is part of a discourse community as each has their own discourse related to their job to satisfy a customers needs at that restaurant and make them want
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to return and continue to spend their money at the restaurant. El Vallarta Mexican restaurant has been able to create their own discourse to better the business in all aspects.

Work Cited Lee, Joseph. Personal Interview. 4 Now. 2013. S, Cesar. How to handle being double or triple sat. Tiporgohome.com, 10 Oct. 2013. Web. 8 Nov. 2013. <http://www.TipOrGoHome.com/>.