The Challenges of Working in the Restaurant Industry

Working as a waiter or waitress in the restaurant industry can be tough, especially for those between 45-65 years old. Dealing with impatient and disrespectful customers and being on your feet all day can take a toll. However, one of the biggest challenges is the low pay. In the United States, restaurant owners are allowed to pay their employees less than the federal minimum wage, relying on tips to make up the difference.


It’s shocking to know that in 21 states, servers can be paid as little as $2.13 an hour before tips. As a result, nearly 15% of the nation’s 2.4 million waiters and waitresses live in poverty, compared to just 7% of all workers. It’s disheartening to see that restaurant workers are more likely to rely on public assistance and less likely to have access to paid sick leave or health benefits.

Unfortunately, despite the expectation of being tipped, there are customers who choose to be rude and tip below the standard 15% or even nothing at all. A recent incident shared by waitress Taylar Cordova highlighted the disrespectful treatment faced by restaurant workers.


Cordova posted a bill online where she received no tip despite a total amount of $187.43. A standard 15% tip would have been around $28.11. Her post quickly gained attention, being shared more than 12,000 times. It clearly struck a chord with many people.

Cordova’s caption on the post revealed the frustration and hardship faced by servers. She explained how her struggles to provide for her daughter are directly impacted by such incidents. Cordova emphasized that every decision, including whether to tip or not, has consequences, affecting the livelihood of servers and their families.

Hard work

To understand the reality of a server’s income, it’s important to note that they typically earn a base pay of $2-5 per hour, depending on the employer. When customers choose not to tip, regardless of the service they received, it severely impacts the server’s ability to support themselves and their family. Cordova urged customers to reflect on how they would manage on such a low income and whether they could pay all their bills and feed their family solely based on that pay.

Thankfully, there is hope for servers in the future. Seven states, including New York, have already increased or eliminated the lower tipped minimum wage, and seven more are in the process of doing the same. This change is necessary as the restaurant industry continues to grow, employing an estimated 12.9 million people by the end of this year, making up 10% of the U.S. workforce.

It’s crucial to spread awareness about the challenges faced by restaurant workers and the importance of tipping. So please, share this article with your family and friends and remember to show your appreciation for the hard work of servers.