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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.