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I have to veto the statement that in Europe most waiters are career waiters. This may have been the case until the 1970s; in Southern European countries there may well be a few of those well-trained pros left, mainly blokes, in fact. The one exception I can think of is top-notch fine-dining.

Outside of university cities restaurants in many Northern European countries struggle to find capable waitstaff; in rural areas we are hard pressed to find anyone at all willing to work at a restaurant. In uni towns at least there are lots of young, untrained people to choose from. Hardly anyone stays in this job for more than a couple of years.

Without exception, waitstaff in Europe are on an hourly wage (anything else would be illegal), and the vast majority earn minimum wage (the equivalent of 10 USD in Germany) plus tips, around 4-7% of checks.

The overall quality standard is very low, with a few notable exceptions that really stick out when you meet someone like that or have the opportunity to employ them. Most waitstaff you have to train like puppies - they don't know their red from their white wine. The best you can hope for is that they are naturally friendly and accommodating to the customers. All too often, waiters appear like they're doing you a favour. But that was the case even when there were still a few career waiters around - Italian 'penguins' being the most notorious ones.


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