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Ten Days in Manchester
An interactive intermediate business English course featuring Tony Marshall and May Hunter
Day 10
 Meet the People: Damien Smith

A head waiter

Many people like to eat out when they go travelling in other countries. But what do you do in a restaurant when you have a waiter? Do you have to tip them? Is the tip included in the bill? How much should the tip be?

Damien Smith works as a head waiter and he's here to answer those sorts of questions.

(none) Quiz
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Now test how much you understand about Day 10 >>

A restaurant

Interviewing Damien

What does a head waiter do and how much should you tip? Listen to Damien to find out and as you do, try to work out what these three words and phrases mean: oversee, rotas and huge staff.

Audio The company

My name is Damien Smith. I'm from Capetown, South Africa and I work in Belgo Centraal which is in Convent Garden, the west end of London. I'm the head waiter. There are four of us and I oversee the head waiters and all the waiters.

Audio The Job

From an administrative point of view, I do all the rotas and I do the other small admin such as the hours. And then, otherwise, I train all of the new waiters and if I'm not training them directly, I oversee their training. So I have to train the new waiters in the beer knowledge.

There are eight different styles of beer; you get dark beers, beers brewed by monks, beers brewed in caves, you have fruit beers, banana beers, mango beers, so there's a huge selection of beers to choose from. So I have to train everybody up in that field.

Audio Other restaurants

In the larger restaurants they definitely have head waiters. They are also known as supervisors in other restaurants. In a lot of the smaller restaurants, in London, where there's maybe eight or nine waiters, there are usually one or two people that are supervisors, but that's not really a position such as it is here and in some other restaurants where there's huge staff.


Did you work what those words meant? Well, test yourself with this quick quiz. Click on the answers that you think are right and then press 'Check Answers'.

oversee look across the heads of people
be in charge of people
rotas a list of the duties of the staff
the food provided free to the staff
huge staff really tall people who work for the company
a large number of people who work for the company


Damien's four top tips on restaurants

Tip 1: Audio

The first tip would be, if you want tap water then specify tap water. In restaurants in London, if you ask for water you will be given mineral water which you have to pay for. The mineral water, they say, is better, but personally I don't see anything wrong with the tap water.

Tip 2: Audio

As far as tipping goes, if there is a service charge on the bill, then if you think the waiter has gone over and above what you expected, then leave some cash and that will normally go directly to the waiter; he'll put it in his pocket and have a beer after work or whatever.

If there is a service charge and it's suggested, well I would always pay it because that's how the service charge works. If there isn't a service charge on the bill, I would leave anywhere between ten and twenty per cent depending upon what you thought of the service.

Tip 3: Audio

Another tip as far as reservations go. If you're going on a busy night, such as a Friday or a Saturday night, then I would generally reserve. But most restaurants in London have webpages now that you can see. Always phone and just find out whether it's a good idea to reserve or not. If you're going to the movies or a theatre and you have tickets then definitely book because you might get to the restaurant and there might be a queue and people queue up for an hour.

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