Restaurant labels wait staff as “trainees”

I took the family to dinner in San Jose’s Japan Town last week.  As luck would have it, I ended up taking them the very first restaurant I ever ate at in Japan Town several decades ago.

My comfort level faded once we sat down.  About half the female wait staff were wearing brightly-colored construction paper tags about 7″ wide and 3″ tall with hand-printed, black printing declaring that they were a “TRAINEE.”  No name on the tag; just “Trainee.”

One “trainee” was able to work alone and seemed to do very well at servicing her customers.  I wondered how long she had been a “trainee” and how much longer she’d have to wear that preposterous label.

Why did I need to be warned that the woman accompanying our waitress was a “trainee?”  This was a restaurant; the person was a waiter.  The trainees weren’t operating a nuclear reactor, they weren’t doing surgery, they weren’t creating a safety hazard,  and I never once felt in danger nor did I fear for my family.

It just seemed over the top.  And, I felt it denigrated the young women who were working there.

Customers don’t need to be warned that the wait staff is new.  If the wait staff feels the need to tell the customer that they are new, that’s one thing.

I’m not going to name the restaurant. In this challenging economy, I don’t want to undermine any hard-working group of people and a business owner. I plan to send them this posting in the hope that they will do something about it.

The owner needs to think about what message he’s sending his customers and, more importantly, his employees.  I, for one, wondered if this guy was having trouble keeping his hired help.  After all, at least half the staff was adorned with the “trainee” label.  This is a mature restaurant.  Something doesn’t add up.

For this ill-advised practice, I award this restaurant the Business Execution Hall of Shame.

Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting


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