AnnaMarie Houlis
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What is National Waitstaff Day, what's the history of it and how is it recognized? Here's everything you need to know!

What is National Waitstaff Day?

National Waitstaff Day is a day to recognize and pay respect to waitstaff across the country.

National Waitstaff Day was founded to pay respect to waitstaff who make dining experiences pleasant, according to National Day. It's also a holiday for restaurant and cafe owners and managers to recognize their teams and show their staff how much they appreciate them. After all, without waitstaff, these places couldn't survive. Waiters and waitresses are necessary, but they're not all created equal; the ones who are attentive, respectful and show a positive attitude and a willingness to work hard are highly valued.

When is National Waitstaff Day?

National Waitstaff Day occurs on May 21st every year. Here are the next five years for National Waitstaff Day, so you can go ahead and mark them on your calendars.
YearDay of the WeekDate
2020ThursdayMay 21
2021FridayMay 21
2022SaturdayMay 21
2023SundayMay 21
2024TuesdayMay 21

What is the history of National Waitstaff Day?

National Waitstaff Day celebrates a long history of waitstaff.

"In the days when the Roman Empire was expanding, it was common for peasants to travel several days at a time to bring their goods into the city markets," according to National Today. "They would stay at inns along the way, eating at a common table with other travelers, with the innkeeper and his family doing the cooking and serving of the meals. There were no menus — every meal was the chef's choice."

By 1787, the French Revolution had changed the dining experience.

"Prior to the French Revolution, guilds controlled how food was sold," according to National Today. "For example, if you were a charcutier (producing cooked meats), but didn't belong to the charcutier's guild, it would have been illegal for you to sell your goods. But after the Revolution, guilds were banned, which resulted in many chefs losing their jobs in aristocratic homes. The more enterprising of these chefs started their own restaurants, introducing a style of fine dining based on their experiences in private chateaux and manor houses, with linens, china, and crystal gracing their tables. Serving the sumptuous menus were men who, in many cases, were previously employed as footmen or butlers in fine mansions."

Then, in the 1800s, the restaurant scene started growing in Europe and North America. Trains and automobiles fueled a rise in luxury tourism, which created the demand for restaurants that were more than just a necessity while traveling. This, of course, let to new job opportunities for the waitstaff we still celebrate today.

In 1900, chain restaurants then started becoming popular.

"Beginning with White Castle and White Tower, two popular hamburger restaurants in the early 1900s, the restaurant industry would become transformed before the end of the 20th century, largely credited to one man: Ray Kroc," according to National Today. "Contrary to popular belief, Kroc did not actually start the McDonald's chain; rather, he bought the business from the two McDonald brothers, and it was Kroc who devised the successful franchise model still in use today, not just by McDonald's, but also by countless restaurant chains across the country. And fast-food restaurants employ a significant percentage of servers in the U.S."

Fast forward to today, and there's been an onward trend towards families with two working parents, which contributes to the popularity and accessibility of dining out. 

How is National Waitstaff Day celebrated?

There are several ways to celebrate National Waitstaff Day. Here are four ways to do just that.

1. Thank your waitstaff.

There's no better way to celebrate National Waitstaff Day than by saying thanks to your waiter or waitress. Thank your waitstaff for their hard work in person. You may even want to stop in to thank the manager for hiring such great and helpful waitstaff, as well. This is not only flattering for the manager, but it also helps the waiters and waitresses in their jobs.

Either way, thanking someone is just a small, simple gesture, but it will certainly go a long way and be appreciated.

2. Share some kind words about your waitstaff on social media.

Get on Facebook or Instagram to share a photo of your favorite place to dine out. If given permission, you can even share a photo of the waitstaff there to celebrate their hard work. Just be sure to post your thanks online and to use #NationalWaitstaffDay to show your support. Doing this will help to spread the word about National Waitstaff Day for those who aren't already aware of it.

3. Leave your waitstaff a nice tip.

One surefire way to show your waitstaff that you appreciate them is by leaving them a nice tip. You may want to go above and beyond on National Waitstaff Day, and maybe leave a note on the receipt so that they know why you're doing it. You can just say something along the lines of, "Thanks for your help! I hope you enjoy National Waitstaff Day. You deserve it!"

4. Leave your favorite place a positive review.

Leave the restaurant or cafe where you've dined out a positive review online. But don't just mention how much you liked the food; also note how great the waitstaff there have been. This shows how much you value their help, and it helps them grow in their jobs because it sets a good reputation for them.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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