The initiative, established by Galvin at Windows general manager Fred Sireix, was set up in 2013 to recognise the work of front-of-house staff and to challenge negative stereotypes of the industry.
Around 300 waiters took part in the flagship waiter’s race in Hyde Park. Edgar Qudrhasovs from the London Hilton Metropole was crowned the fastest waiter, while Hattie Clark from Aqua Group was the fastest waitress.
Mobile payments company Zapper supported the initiative by matching all tips received by staff on the day at the 555 restaurants which use its systems around the UK. The company reported a 12-13 per cent increase in tipping between 6-11pm compared to an average night during the same time period.
Gerry Hooper, CEO of Zapper UK, said, “Waiters have been an incredible source of knowledge and charisma for the hospitality industry for hundreds of years and we’ve made it our mission to ensure they are championed and celebrated on a day dedicated to them. Whilst some mobile payment apps miss the value that waiters offer, we believe that the technology should support waiters in their job and not replace them.”
National Waiters day is supported by The Springboard charity, which will use proceeds from the event to develop programmes for schools to encourage young people to consider a career in front-of-house service.
Businesses around the UK held their own races and tweeted their support for the initiative.
Trade Union protests
Trade Union Unite marked the day by organising protests across London calling for businesses to ‘give waiting staff a better deal’ by offering better pay and ending the use of zero-hours contracts.
Protestors at Pizza Express’ flagship Leicester Square site called for an end to the company taking an eight per cent ‘admin fee’ off all tips left to waiters.
However, the company denied the allegations, telling City A.M the claims were ‘false and completely without merit’.
A second protest took place outside the Grosvenor House Marriott Hotel on Park Lane later in the afternoon, calling for an end to zero-hours contracts.
“What the industry isn't tackling are the poor conditions and poverty wages that have left waiting tables top of the list of the UK's worst paid jobs,” a statement on the Unite website read.