A Waiter Explains the Food Wastage Policy in a Buffet & The Rationale Behind It

You should find this scene familiar: you’re having a buffet in a restaurant and see a poster that states something like this: “Food wastage will be charged $1 per 100g”.

You will then turn to your friends and say that it’s just to deter people from wasting food—they won’t really go and charge us.

That was what I’ve thought as well…until I heard this from my friend who works as a waiter.

While it might not be a full representation of the industry, it would most likely be the case since it’s straight from the horse’s mouth.

Working for a few years now, he has become accustomed to people wasting food. The SOP was often to take note of diners who grabbed excessive amount of food—so much that it could feed fifty hungry people in a table of five.

If this seems exaggerated, it isn’t—and the food is obviously not taken to be consumed Some diners took the food, to quote my friend, “for fun”.

But usually, it would either be for a challenge among themselves or they were playing a game. Whenever my friend spotted that, the staff would keep an eye on the table, because these inconsiderable people will get greedier and take more food.

While it may seem innocuous, other diners might be affected as the food are cleared from the buffet area faster than usual. Playing by ear, if the diners seemed indifferent to stares from others, a server would step forward and remind them politely about the food wastage policy.

At this point in time, if they stopped the “game”, they would not be charged. However, there lies another group of people who like to challenge the system. When reminded about the food wastage policy, they would ignore it and continue, or in some instance, get offended.

Sometimes, they would be defensive and say ugly stuff like “You’re just a waiter…etc”. This is why usually, only an experienced server would do the approach—let a new waiter hear that and he’ll most likely quit the next day.

Okay, so those who refused to heed the reminder and challenge the system, taking even more food for fun, will be charged.

Obviously they’ll make a lot of noise—but even if the police is called in, they will still be liable for the charges.

Usually young people, this group of people do this often to show their muscularity—I would say that they’re doing this due to their insecurities. If you think that this is uncommon, think again.

Another friend of mine, who works as a supervisor in a café, related to me on how people have unreasonably stayed in the café to study despite a policy that doesn’t allow them to do so. They would make noise and even claimed that they’re not disturbing anyone: some took the effort to look around and point fingers at others.

In fact, cases of people leaving their bags to “chope” seats in café are so common, there’s also to policy for them not to do so. Once, someone “choped” it for the entire day (my friend has removed the bag after an hour or so)!

With the influx of strawberries and durians, maybe it’s about time we show this to more people. Let them know that unreasonable people exist, and let them know that they shouldn’t be the next unreasonable people.


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This Singapore love story set in the 90s shows you why you should never wait for tomorrow. Watch it without crying: