5. Christmas Eve
Some of the same principles that apply to Christmas Day apply to Christmas Eve, but there’s a noticeably higher incidence rate of snotty customers to cut into your overall profit margin. I had a night where I got a $27 tip on a $270 check and a $75 tip on a $150 within half an hour of each other. Why people are so much more jolly on Christmas Day itself is a mystery that -- at least for now -- will have to go unsolved.
4. Fourth of July
This may only apply (at least on this scale) to restaurants in DC, but the Fourth of July is an annoying holiday for a unique reason: It’s dead for almost the entire evening, then you get hit with a massive rush at 10pm as people leave the fireworks. There’s never a time when massive rushes are a fun experience.
3. New Year's Day
Take all of the shortages of New Year’s Eve and combine them with all the hangovers possible from the night before and you get angry, irritable customers who make your day rotten as hell. The worst part about New Year’s Day is there just is no upside to it. It’s like having to watch the New England Patriots play the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl -- you know it’s going to be miserable, and you kind of just hope for a direct meteor strike on the place where the horrible thing is happening.
One would think the same principles that apply to Christmas Eve/Day (“Oh man, our server has to work today? That sucks, I’m going to tip extra to make up for it.”) would apply to Thanksgiving. One would be more wrong than Charlie Sheen on Jeopardy!. Look, I have no explanation for why Thanksgiving turns restaurant customers into screaming assholes, but it does. Maybe having to corral an entire family for a Thanksgiving meal has them in a tiff. Maybe they’re furious their dining out Thanksgiving experience at a chain seafood restaurant with designs above its station paled in comparison to their actual Thanksgiving growing up at home (at least the parts before Mom and Dad started screaming at each other and the sweet potato casserole wound up coating one wall). Maybe restaurant customers are just pricks and Thanksgiving is the rule rather than the exception. Whatever the case, this is a genuinely horrible holiday to work.
1. Mother's Day
We have reached the nadir. Every server knows Mother’s Day, and every server dreads it. It’s the busiest restaurant day of the year, with the meanest, nastiest restaurant customers of the year, an all-day nightmare that starts with brunch (even at places that don’t normally serve brunch) and doesn’t end until midnight... and you’ll probably be working that whole time with no breaks. Add onto that the fact that for some reason, restaurant managers are incapable of ordering enough product to actually meet capacity and you have an evening where you WILL run out of everything by 7pm and have to spend the rest of the evening dealing with moms furious they can’t get their fresh oysters they love so much.
I’m begging you: Have your special Mother’s Day meal the day before, or the day after, or better yet, the week after. Take your mom out for a special day, sure, but just DON’T MAKE IT ON MOTHER’S DAY ITSELF. Everyone involved in the process -- you, your mom, your server -- is going to hate the experience, so why would you subject yourself to that over some dumb need to have it be on that specific day? Just... just don’t.
You may also be thinking Father’s Day should appear on here somewhere, but my general opinion is a) it barely counts as a holiday, and b) it’s a totally normal restaurant day since for Father’s Day, most dads just want everyone to leave them alone for one day out of the year. In honor of that wish, we’re also leaving dads alone by not including Father’s Day in this post.