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Great Service, Fastest Server

Eight restaurants compete for fastest honors

Teams from eight local restaurants competed in the Fastest Server on the Bay race at Sandy Point State Park.

    You’ve got thick skin, you work well with a team, you know how to handle difficult people and your job is sometimes high-stress. What are you?
    If you answered food server, you’re correct.
    I’ve worked in restaurants for seven years. There’s a general hierarchy to restaurant work. If you want to serve or bartend but have no experience, you’ll probably start as a host. In an unusual twist, I began as a server.
    I was not good.
    If you’ve never waited tables, you can’t know the juggling act that is the job. Over time, I learned that time management is the key — paired with a smile. While it’s impressive when your server can hold four waters in one hand, it may be necessary. Servers who took orders without writing them down always fascinated me. Now I know that sometimes writing takes too much time.
    At one point during most dinner shifts, I’ll find myself in the weeds. One table needs bread, another wants drinks and a third is ready to order. I’ll be talking to one table, explaining the menu — and see the host seat a party of eight in my section.
    Years ago, I would panic. Now I know what to do.
    So do the servers who competed in the Fastest Server on the Bay race on June 25 at Sandy Point State Park. The race put local servers to the test to find out which restaurant has the fastest team. The Point Crab House in Arnold hosted the eight teams along with BBQ, orange crushes and live music. The Point fielded two teams, competing against servers from Main and Market, Mother’s Grille, Ketch 22, Lures, Federal House, Deep Creek Restaurant and Marina and O’Loughlins.
    Around midday, crowds gathered under the shade, orange crushes in hand, to cheer on their chosen team. As a cool breeze drifted over the shimmering Bay water toward the starting line, the first team exploded out of the gate.
    Carrying trays topped with beer, Red Bull and open cups, the competitors jumped through pool noodles, ducked under limbo bars and weaved through chairs. At each station, they handed off their tray, sometimes successfully. At one checkpoint, the server with the tray got an order to memorize. Next, while still holding the tray, each first kicked a soccer ball into a net, then repeated the order. Across a balance beam they went, wobbling along with their drinks, until they reached the food toss. Then, one team member from each restaurant braved the Bay by wading into the surf to retrieve a key from a buoy — tray still in hand. The waders then raced back up the beach and used the key to open a chest of instructions for mixed drinks. Once the drinks were assembled — with building blocks — they dashed for the finish line.
    Each team faced challenges with the tray and obstacles, but every team had fun. Lures may have had the worst time but they had the best attitudes, laughing all the way. Each team had its own strategy, but The Point’s teams had the most crowd support, and they carried the day. Ketch 22’s competitors were decked out in war paint, while Federal House’s mostly male team went shirtless.
    The day wasn’t just about fun and games. All the proceeds from the relay benefited the Annapolis Immigration Justice Network. The network has assisted more than 30 immigrant families by connecting them with legal, medical, and other support services. The Point Crab House partnered with the Immigration Justice Network to show support for immigrant coworkers and neighbors in the wake of recent immigration policies and enforcement.
    “This is an important cause,” said Kristen Walter, manager at The Point. “This is a fundraiser run by folks in the restaurant industry, to help support those who work in the restaurant industry.”